GRIDLOCK – Why We’re Stuck In Traffic And What To Do About It

GRIDLOCK by Randal O’Toole can be purchased at

COST Comments:

Gridlock may be the finest writing available which captures and provides a depth of insight and presentation of complex subjects and the relationships between them in a simple, understandable way; including private and public transportation, mobility, standard of living, environment, energy use, access to oportunity, housing affordability, population growth, technology and public policy at the local, state and federal level.

O’Toole draws insightful and logical conclusions regarding the future, but, Gridlock’s greatest benefit may be in its lessons regarding issues which can be more effectively addressed now in most communities to improve everyday quality of life.

Gridlock addresses many transportation related issues being considered and debated in Austin today. O’Toole provides an excellent, brief history of U.S. transportation and insightful, knowledgeable, well studied and researched coverage of a wide range of transportation and related issues with projections and recommendations for the future. He addresses the realities of numerous myths, miss-perceptions and miss-guided approaches to addressing transportation and mobility which have been major foundations of American’s high standard of living. Gridlock addresses the following and much more:

-The impact of transportation and transit on congestion, energy use and the environment.
-The relationships between population density, transit use, driving and congestion.
-The true costs and results of “Smart Growth.”
-The ability to build out of congestion and the myth that more roads create more driving.
-The cost-effectiveness of transportation and transit modes.
-The reasons for poor transportation policy and planning.
-The dire funding situation facing all major transit agencies.
-The negative impact of spending limited transportation dollars on lower priority projects.
-The unsustainable nature of transportation which is not cost effective.
-The negative impact to the low income of wasteful spending on transit which is not cost effective.
-The negative overall transportation impact of spending disproportionately, much greater amounts on systems being used by very small numbers of people.
-The population density and driving trends near urban train stations.
-The impact of rail transit on development, the subsidizing of developments and retail experience near train stations
-The real costs and benefits of ‘High Speed’ rail.
-The trade-offs of freight rail and passenger rail.
-The future funding approaches for transportation facilities.
-The impact of technology applications on future transportation.
-The needs and recommendations for federal, state and local transportation policy changes

Below is the summary printed in Gridlock’s cover jacket:

America is the most mobile society in history, but out transportation system is on the verge of collapse. Traffic congestion is today five times greater than it was 25 years ago, yet many transportation plans and projects are making it worse.

As Randal O’Toole reveals in Gridlock, the prime causes of our ailing system are a government transportation planning philosophy whose primary goal is to diminish auto use-hence, personal mobility-in combination with federal budget incentives that perversely encourage transportation planners to increase congestion.

As a result, the automobile-which is accessible to almost every family in the nation and provides unparalleled access to better housing, low-cost consumer goods, a choice-driven affordable life, and freedom-is being deliberately forced off the transportation grid by the expensive solution of little-used high speed trains and urban transit lines.

Not only is this costly, illustrates Gridlock, it won’t even accomplish the goals of saving energy and protecting the environment. “We can spend tens or hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on transportation projects that sound good but really only serve a small elite,” writes O’Toole, “or we can restore a user-fee-driven system that will continue to improve personal mobility and reduce transportation costs for generations to come.

Gridlock presents a wide range of innovative ideas and policy recommendations for creating an effective transportation system-improvements that will increase our mobility and pay for themselves, whether it’s cars, buses, planes, or trains. At the center of O’Toole’s solutions are three core principles: Those who use transportation facilities should pay for them; negative effects should be dealt with in a cost-efficient manner; and new technologies that will increase mobility at a low cost must be embraced.

In Gridlock, Randal O’Toole brings energetic and unconventional thinking to transportation strategies that have, until now, only driven us into the breakdown lane.

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