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Chief Clerk

Another question might be "how much of people's time is spent (a) in transit [transport of all forms] + (b) earning the money to pay for that transport?". If external costs are included, the answer would be even more complex. I've never read Ivan Illich, but remember someone summarising his argument that economically developed nations are spending more and more resources on transport in total.

Eric O

Google is currently crowdsourcing the data from smartphones to get at real-time travel time and route frequency, but, get this, they have to distinguish the data coming from pedestrians and cyclists from those on the roads, so that they can use the data to update their real-time traffic data for secondary roads on Google Maps.

So...somewhere in the bowels of big-brother Google-land the capacity to get at the multi-modal mobility question is in development, if not already existing.

Alon Levy

Sigh. According to the TTI, Chicago has much higher extra congestion per person than Charlotte, regardless of the travel time index. And average commute length is longer in Chicago than in Charlotte (and, more generally, in larger cities than in smaller cities). So CEOs for Cities has a lot more to explain about its methodology than "Chicago has lower total travel time."

El Segundo Can't Win

I've never met a commuter who was interested in travel speeds. What they're interested in is total travel time, and sure travel speeds affect that.
But if you're managing a city, and you're interested in commuting, you should be focused on decreasing average commute times across the whole city.
You could try and do that by busting congestion (if that's at all possible) or you could create an urban form with more local employment opportunities. It may not even need to be denser.
I loathe reporting on travel speed or congestion, and when I worked for a transport agency I always pushed the use of travel time over travel speed.

Jack Horner

"Amount of congestion" aka travel speed is not a good measure of transport system efficiency, and "reducing congestion" aka making travel faster, is not a good measure of project benefits, without more information.
Urban consolidation in low density cities will almost certainly increase congestion, because it is unlikely that the desired extra transit use will fully make up for having less road space per person. It may still be worthwhile if it brings people closer to the places they want to be, to an extent that outweighs the slower travel.

Chris Bradshaw

An assessment of any city's mobility will need to include movement by all modes, and also to account for multi-mode trips. Such an exercise will probably show that walking and cycling are pretty much congestion-free modes. What they lack is speed. And transit on its own rights-of-way is also pretty much congestion-free, but at a cost of longer walks and more transferring.

In a light-hearted vein, an easier way to get rid of congestion on regular roads is to lower the speed limit at each period of the day to match the actual speed, since congestion is simply a failure to achieve the posted limit.

And, as to the speed vs. travel-time argument, I find that speed is what people want, even if they use it to travel further, rather than put their time savings into a 'bank,' to be used for other activities other than being 'en route.'

Gen Y seem to be coming to the realization that traveling further is not necessarily a 'good' and that achieving location-efficiency is a wise strategy. And they also are learning that time behind the wheel, even where the car is not going very fast, is downtime with regard to staying 'connected.' Driving is a big sink-hole. The statistics on driving distances is showing we have achieved 'peak car.'

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