Letter to the Editor: ‘Induced Demand’

Letter to the Editor: ‘Induced Demand’

— The Gazette published Phillip Boughton's letter on July

24, in which he advocated easy solutions to the congestion on Route 1. In essence, he advocated making Route 1 eight lanes wide from the Beltway to Fort Belvoir.

It’s easy solutions like this which have gotten us to the mess we're in at the moment. The reason is “induced demand,” otherwise put as “build it and they will come.” The West Side Elevated Highway along the edge of Manhattan illustrates the obverse; this elevated highway was torn down in 1973 because of poor maintenance (and the fact that everyone hated it?). The pre-existing surface streets again became the only way through the area. All the traffic on the Elevated seems to have disappeared; certainly gridlock did not ensue.

If we widen the road to eight lanes, more people will fill it up because the only thing holding them back is congestion; there is virtually no other cost associated with using the road and people will nearly always use a free good to the maximum.

Mr. Boughton's secondary solutions amount to “get the other guy out of my way;” he advocates limiting bus stops to locations where there are pull-outs, and providing yet more lanes for left turns.

Mr. Broughton does say that he only goes to businesses on Route 1 on his bike. If he means “bicycle”, I heartily applaud his example. If more people living within two miles of the business they wish to patronize on Route 1 and elsewhere used bicycles, they would be healthier, happier, pollute less, cause less congestion, and very probably get their errand done quicker.

Meanwhile, the current transit study is necessary to provide the political cover to add transit to the corridor. I often ride the REX and Connector 171 buses, and they always have lots of people, especially the REX. One reason for low ridership is that many of the Connector routes run once an hour in the middle of the day. Run the 171 every five minutes and you'll probably see lots more riders within six months.

See “induced demand” above.

Larry D. Huffman