The only real long-term solutions for traffic congestion are phased in steps of cooperative electric/hybrid vehicle production, a vehicle transport system and tax changes that fully engages a managed economy approach.
1) The managed economy challenge is to create the national cooperative business structure and organizational outreach that will mass purchase and produce standardized, lightweight, inexpensive but wired, HOVs and commuter cars – that pick up multiple commuters and are driven by trained unemployed people or by commuters. Large employers need mandates to support this evolution. This coop structure can then be employed as a model for a National Strategic Products Cooperative needed to dramatically change our local energy development equation. Nothing will happen in 50 years on key problems like congestion or energy without bypassing the profit corporation model in these strategic areas.
2) The next logical, and ONLY POSSIBLE future step in congestion reduction is ETS (an Electric Transport System). ETS is an overhead, lightweight, two lane tiered structure on which lightweight commuter vehicles are auto-guided and electrically powered (and charged) from the road for maximum efficiency and speed. All this technology exists today. The best feature of this inevitable development is that the vehicles go on and off the ETS structure, a huge disadvantage of train technology. LRT (Light Rail Transit) is ancient and inefficient technology only really supported by a huge lobbyist financing inertia. Lastly, ETS also carries lightweight freight, electricity, water and is a micro wind, solar and bio mass power corridor.
Additionally, Advanced BRT that looks exactly like and functions exactly like LRT, at a fraction of the cost, should already be supplanting LRT and a big part of the congestion solution in certain corridors. ETS vehicles could then share those HOV corridors. It is the lobbying money, and the name and image of a BUS that is keeping smarter BRT technology from prevailing.
3) We must also accept the premise that government economic management must finally and totally prevail in strategic challenges over libertarianism, or suburban “rights” of republicanism to continue exurban expansion and not pay a lot more for it. We have all been paying for the inherently inefficient infrastructure growth patterns of these past 40 years.
4) The government has to change not only the economic dynamics of incentives for high occupancy vehicle use but exercise tough disincentives (high taxes and fees) for exurban commuters, single cars, and heavy and large vehicles.