A short time ago, I wrote a post about how Austin is ranked highly among telecommuters. Well it better be, because, as a city, we are REALLY bad when it comes to traffic. It’s hard for me to dog on my city. Really it is, I love Austin, but traffic isn’t going away.
A little under a week ago this story came out from the Austin Business Journal about how bad traffic is in Austin. Now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know from attending meetings with State Senators and Legislators, the top issues Texas will be facing in the next few decades seem to be traffic and water issues.
The ‘Urban Mobility Report’ ranked us has having the third worst traffic time index in 2009. What does that mean? That the time it takes to travel at non-traffic hours compared to traveling the same route during traffic times pretty much sucks. I tend to avoid I-35 as much as possible… but the times I do have to take it, I try to time my drive at non-peak hours. Overall we are spending 39 hours a year in traffic. Ouch.
What are the solutions? Well it’s not an easy one depending on who you are talking to. Building more roads isn’t always feasible (think the Mopac area around 45th Street). The access point is already going through a neighborhood. Not to mention the cost, and building more/multi-level highways aren’t going to encourage citizens to change their behavior.
In my opinion, and from listening to those in control of our budgets, it seems that the options will have to get pretty painful before people will change their behaviors. Part of that is going to be to increase the cost of traveling on the roads. Partly in hopes of encouraging drivers to use public transportation, and partly driven by the severe budget cuts that are coming. The funds will have to come from somewhere, so penalties on driving at the peak times are sure to be in future plans. That’s my opinion anyway.
My takeaway: expect higher fees to maintain your car (higher car registration fees etc). More emphasis on public transportation, and more fees and inconvenience parking downtown at at peak times.