Club Soda and Salt

No more stains

In which I talk about traffic policy again

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on December 30, 2007

As discussed here and elsewhere, Trinidad is currently suffering from a serious traffic problem, which is the focus of an article in the Express today. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the traffic officers interviewed hits the nail on the head:

The main cause of traffic: Too many cars. ASP Jackson stated that there were more than 400,000 cars on the nation’s road according to the Licensing Division. He said he would not be surprised if there were significantly more.

“What is the need for all these cars? Families that used to have one car, now have two and three,” said ASP Jackson.

Pretty much. Among the trappings of economic development: greater access to private vehicular transportation. Naturally, respondents in the article mention things like “more roads” as being the solution, but any transportation engineer worth her slat will tell you that that’s a short term solution. Besides, it’s also a solution that comes at great expense, what with having to tear down homes, businesses, and farmland to accomodate the new cars. In reality, the solutions that are likely to be effective aren’t likely to be popular:

  • Eliminate the massive gasoline subsidies
  • Introduce congestion pricing in downtown POS
  • Toll the major highways
  • Reform parking policy — no more free parking in POS, and stop building parking garage after garage!
  • Improve public transportation: build the promised train lines, keep going with the ferries, and make the PBR into a BRT corridor (and please please don’t allow private cars onto it as some people suggested! That is insanity!)
  • Improve bike and pedestrian friendliness of downtown POS and environs

These are the quicker solutions. Of course, there’s also the important long-term solution of focusing on transit-oriented development, which gets no attention that I can see in Trinidad (just look at all the weak attempts we make to emulate the worst of American suburban sprawl; Trincity is particularly horrifying).

You’ll  be shocked to hear that the government isn’t talking about any of this, even as it drives construction in POS to a fever pitch. After all, solutions are hard, and buildings are shiny! Instead we depend on traffic management serendiptity to save us. After all, God is a Trini.

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