Traffic, People Simply Don’t Understand

I went into Atlanta a couple of times last week. The first trip was to the Auto show at the Georgia World Congress Center. I drove to the nearest MARTA (subway/train) and caught a train downtown. A very pleasant ride. The next day my wife and I drove through Atlanta to visit our daughter. Traffic was terrible! The irony of the traffic situation in Atlanta became very clear. Everyone who has to drive in and around Atlanta complains endlessly about how bad the traffic is. They keep asking the Department of Transportation to build more roads, widen existing roads etc. While you are actually in that horrible traffic, hardly moving at all, you notice that you are surrounded by cars with one occupant and lots of tractor trailers. People will not car pool and they will not take public transit. Companies continue to ship freight all over the country by tractor trailer even though that is the most inefficient way to do it.

Seems that everywhere except Georgia, governments realizes that public transportation is essential to a well run city to both prevent traffic congestion and lower pollution. You could pave the whole state and still not have enough roads for all those single occupant cars. Asking for more roads is not the solution! Recently in the news, Gwinnette County held a referendum on extending Atlanta’s public transportation system (MARTA) into that county. As with all such referendums in the past, it failed. People in Georgia have always opposed public transportation. You can not have it both ways people! Where is the logic; you demand less traffic, but refuse to car pool or use public transit. You get to choose one or the other, not all of the above!

The number of tractor trailer that are clogging up our highways annoys me greatly. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates started investing in railroads a few years because they knew the reality. For moving freight, trains are hundreds of times more efficient than trucks. However most long haul freight goes by truck these days. This may be convenient but it is expensive and polluting. Freight moved between cities should be done by train, and trucks only used for local deliveries. We endure higher than necessary prices because companies will not ship goods by the most efficient means and we endure higher that required levels of traffic on our roads. A looser all the way around.

Bottom line, don’t complain about the traffic and then refuse to do the logical things to fix it.