Friday, June 6, 2008

Randal O'Toole

Recently I have had a chance to take a look at the work of Randal O'Toole. I am impressed with the work that he has done looking at urban growth management and rapid transit projects.

In reading his work he has finally twigged with me what has been bugging me about a lot of local government approaches to the communities we live in. Local governments are still working within a statist top down imposed model of planning.

Light rail is declared to be good and something we must pay for out of our taxes, though no private operators will be allowed. Why is it good? In my mind because there is a body of people in urban planning that like big projects and dislike people living in single family homes and driving cars. If light rail makes sense, buses make more sense because they are faster, cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate and more flexible.

There has been a huge expansion in light rail in the last generation in North America and what is interesting from O'Toole's work is that light rail systems produce more CO2 than bus transit and even tend to produce more CO2 than vehicle travel.

O'Toole has also produced the research to show that growth management strategies tend to increase the cost of housing by slowing down the number of housing units being built or adding costs to housing construction. I have tried to say the same sort of stuff, but did not have the data to back it up, now I have one more source of data.

I was really fascinated to read about the reason why LA suffers from so much congestion - it has less miles of freeway per million people than any other urban area in the US. Also, LA is not the sprawl it is portrayed as, it in fact has among the highest population densities in the US.

His work is very thought provoking.
Post a Comment