Solving traffic woes

Posted: Wednesday, May 02, 2001

In response to Mr. Milt Barker's April 29 My Turn column, I agree that encouraging people to carpool, walk, ride the bus and bike to work could improve the quality of life in Juneau. I also believe, however, that even if we are successful in getting more people not to drive alone to work, we will fall short of solving Juneau's traffic problems.

The state predicts traffic to increase by over 40 percent in the next 20 years. According to the Juneau Parking Study that Mr. Barker referenced, an areawide program to reduce travel could result in around a 10 percent reduction in vehicle trips.

While flexible scheduling may reduce rush-hour traffic, it seems to me that it encourages people to drive alone since workers arrive and depart at different times. Therefore, flexible scheduling would not reduce the total number of vehicle trips, improve air quality, or decrease energy consumption.

Is it fair to insist that lower-income workers use a larger percentage of their income to pay for parking than higher income workers do? How about offering workers a cash incentive to ride the bus or carpool instead? Even here some people can't take advantage of these incentives. Women make more trips than men and generally take care of household tasks and mind our children and elderly. Switching from driving to carpooling or riding the bus may not be possible for them. Is that fair? These are examples of issues that make programs like these less appealing.

Along with improving Egan with interchanges, I agree we should try to reduce travel demand. However, I don't agree with Mr. Barker that a program to adjust work hours, regulate parking and encourage carpooling is the panacea that can solve Juneau's traffic problems.

Jon Hanson


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