How Broadband Gets People Out of Their Cars

Commentary, Global, Local Government, Owen McShane, Transportation, Urbanization

Politicians and central planners love to tell us:

“If we want to reduce congestion we have to get people out of their cars and on to public transport.”

We now have ample evidence that attempts to reduce congestion by boosting public transport are doomed to fail. From 1980 to 2000 the US increased its annual transit subsidies by 133%. The end result was a 26% loss in public transport work-trip market share.

Over the same period, solo-driving’s work-trip market share increased by 18%.

There is no doubt that getting people out of their cars during peak hours can reduce congestion. We notice this during school holidays, when many women take their holidays during school breaks so as to stay home and spend time with their children.

So the first part of the “solution” to congestion – getting people out of their cars – is a good idea. But the second part is now demonstrably wrong.

Curiously our backward looking transport planners overlook the one technology which actually does get people out of their cars during peak hours, which actually can reduce congestion, and which can provide all the benefits claimed for public transport.

This ideal alternative is called telecommuting, and it’s being driven by broadband – the higher the speed the better.

Since 1980, telecommuting is the only commute mode, other than single occupancy driving, which has increased market share right across America.

The figures are startling. In San Diego, Dallas and Phoenix, telecommuters outnumbered all transit commuters. In Oklahoma City telecommuters outnumbered all transit commuters by nearly five to one. In San Diego telecommuters outnumber light-rail commuters by 22 to 1 and in Denver by 47 to 1.

Broadband driven telecommuting requires no subsidies from ratepayers or taxpayers – and it works.

More (Pdf 3 pages) . . .