Here is a lesson in economics, friends. You see, when I was a senior in high school, approximately 14 years after the earth cooled and dinosaurs stalked the arboreal forests of Pangea, I took a class called Macroeconomics. This class, taught by the open-market loving Mr. Treman, taught me all about the basics of capitalism: Supply, demand, land, labor, capital, opportunity costs, taxes, tariffs, monopolies, all that good stuff. It also taught me about complimentary goods. And that, dear reader(s), is what this post is about.
<----hey - would you like your capitalism on the rocks, or straight up?
The conventional wisdom (especially in the DC "Crappy traffic capital of the region") is 'Golly! Traffic sure is heavy! Lets add more lanes!'...five years later...'Golly! Traffic sure is heavy! Lets add more lanes...five years later...'Golly! Traffic sure is heavy! Lets add more lanes!'
Seeing a pattern here? It's almost as if adding more lanes not only has zero effect on traffic problems, it's that traffic actually gets heavier/worse the more lanes you add. That's because boys and girls, roads and traffic lanes are complimentary goods to cars. If you add more lanes, having a car is a more attractive transportation option, so people buy more cars, and traffic gets heavier, and more lanes are added, and the cycle loops around and around. It comes down to this - we could have freeways running through the greater DC area with 10 lanes on each side, and in a few years, traffic would be just as awful as it is now.
So when traffic becomes a problem, the solution is not to add more roads and lanes. If only there were some other 'alternative' transporation technology that could move lots of people without adding lanes, or without even using roads at all.....hmmmm.....what could it be???