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It’s really about Timing !

Peak traffic loads can be dealt with most economically by dispersing traffic loads over time, rather than building more and more roadways.

Photo of Mark Lind
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I’m afraid that we could build more and more roadways and still never be able to avoid congestion as long as we all get on the roads at the same time! Let’s face it, although Austin is becoming increasingly crowded, the roads are really only congested during peak hours in the morning and evening. Ultimately it’s a moral decision: do we spend our resources on building enormous road systems designed to carry loads primarily during peak times that are required only several hours a day, or do we spend that money on schools, parks, etc.? Wouldn’t it be smarter to spread out these peak loads throughout the day, rather than use the money and available space required to build larger and larger roadway systems?? It would be remarkably cost-effective to work with at least the two largest employers in Austin— UT and the state government— to have their employees work staggered shifts, reducing peak loads during what is normally rush-hour times of the day. I think that most people would actually want to work at different times of the day, depending on whether they have kids, where they live, etc. Let’s give people the choice! It’s a fairly 19th-century idea that everyone has to sit at a desk from 8-5 every day! It derives from factory workers all having to be at the factory at the same time. Those conditions no longer exist; why are we continuing to perpetuate this work cycle? This wouldn’t require new roads or “smart devices”, only smart people! Let’s do it now !!

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Photo of Casey Henry

I love this idea. Not sure how to get there, but what about the city creating zoning and incentivizing businesses (property tax credits or some sort of transportation credits) to adjust their business hours to meet a target number of businesses within each zone? The same thing could be achieved by committing to staggering shift start times if business hours don't apply. The incentives could offset road expansion costs. If we had a platform that could identify the sources of traffic (gps data) at peak hours cities could easily use that to decide which areas to incentivize for what hours. The cities need help - it's not that they don't want to be better - it's that they don't have the resources (and budgets).

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