Here is the second installment of Streetsblog publisher and LimeWire founder Mark Gorton's essay, "Smart Para-Transit: A New Vision for Urban Transportation." Part 1 is here and you can also download the complete pamphlet.
Advances in information and communications technology offer
the possibility of optimizing the performance of our existing road network in
ways that were not possible even ten years ago. The ubiquity of web-enabled cell phones has put a mobile data input device into the hands of the vast majority of citizens. By applying cell phone, internet, and computer technologies, New York now has the opportunity to create a system
which can vastly speed travel times, increase the throughput of our road
network, carry more people, while at the same time, radically reducing the
number of vehicles on the road, gasoline usage, CO2 emissions, congestion,
traffic, and the harm that traffic inflicts on our neighborhoods.
A new form of mass transit can be created that offers trip
times highly competitive with the private automobile to nearly all points in
the region. This new form of mass
transit takes advantage of the existing road network and requires very little
in the way of capital investment. This
new form of transit is Smart Para-Transit.
The past 100 years have seen New York City and the rest of
the country spend huge amounts of money on road infrastructure improvements to
serve automobiles. With the advantage of
hindsight, neglecting investment in mass transit while promoting automobile
usage may have been a poor policy decision; however, highways, bridges,
tunnels, and roads have been built, and New York must now maximize the value it
receives from the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on its surface
Although cars have been a significant presence in our world
for as long as anyone can remember, from a historical perspective, the
automobile is still a relatively new invention. The first 100 years of our society’s infatuation with the automobile was spent without bothering to answer the key question: "Can we fit all the cars we
need to move around?" Congestion and traffic jams are a way of life in New York. The previous answer to congestion was to build more roads, bridges, and tunnels; however, the added road capacity only encouraged more driving and led to even more congestion. Our society now
knows that it is impossible to build its way out of its congestion problems. Read more...