Few cities are built around highways more than Atlanta. So when a heavily-traveled section of I-85 collapsed in a fire last week, the traffic predictions were dire.
A few days into this rearrangement of the local highway system, however, Atlantans are adjusting their travel behavior in ways that keep gridlock at bay. MARTA ridership is up 25 percent, for example.
While it’s still early going, the I-85 collapse appears to be another case of “carmaggedon” that never materialized — and that should inform the way we plan our transportation systems, writes Joe Cortright at City Observatory:
Arguably, our mental model of traffic is just wrong. We tend to think of traffic volumes, and trip-making generally as inexorable forces of nature. The diurnal flow of 250,000 vehicles a day on an urban freeway like I-85 is just as regular and predictable as the tides.What this misses is that there’s a deep behavioral basis to travel. Human beings will shift their behavior in response to changing circumstances. If road capacity is impaired, many people can decide not to travel, change when they travel, change where they travel, or even change their mode of travel. The fact that Carmageddon almost never comes is powerful evidence of induced demand: people travel on roadways because the capacity is available for their trips, when when the capacity goes away, so does much of the trip making.
If Atlanta can survive for a month or two without a major chunk of its freeway, that’s a powerful indication that more modest steps to alter road capacity don’t really mean the end of the world. If we recognize that traffic will tend to adjust to available capacity, we then end up taking a different view of how to balance transportation against other objectives. For example, this ought to be a signal that road diets, which have been shown to greatly improve safety and encourage walking and cycling, don’t have anything approaching the kinds of adverse effects on travel that highway engineers usually predict. So in the next few weeks, keep an eye on Atlanta: If the one of the nation’s most sprawling and traffic ridden cities can survive the loss of a freeway segment that carries a quarter million vehicles a day, its a strong sign that more modest changes to road systems really don’t have much impact on metropolitan prosperity.
More recommended reading today: The State Smart Transportation Initiative reports on how fire codes are interfering with safe street design in Celebration, Florida. And Pedestrian Observations considers the proper ratio of branch lines to trunk lines in a transit network.
There was no congestion crisis on the Atlanta highway system this morning. Image: Google Maps via City Observatory http://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/04/04/atlantas-i-85-bridge-collapse-another-carmaggedon-that-wasnt/
UBER LAUNCHES “COMMUTING TOGETHER” DISCOUNTS FOLLOWING I-85 COLLAPSE
Julie Wolfe, WXIA
ATLANTA — Uber has pledged $5 million to keep prices low in the aftermath of the I-85 collapse.
They plan to offer discount rides and fare guarantees for drivers to encourage specific commuting behaviors: carpooling and riding MARTA. Uber said the move matches their data showing hundreds of Uber rides beginning and ending at MARTA stations already.
UberPOOL is the carpool version of the app. Users share a ride and a fare with another person. It’s an option users choose when ordering a ride though the app.
“Atlanta, let’s come together and keep on Commuting Together,” the company said in its launch announcement. Here’s the changes riders will see:
- All uberPOOL rides that begin or end at a MARTA station are discounted 50%
- All uberPOOL rides in Metro Atlanta are discounted 25%
- Those discounts are only available 6:00- 10:00 am and 4:00 – 8:00 pm.
- Guaranteed hourly fare rate for drivers to “help make the experience positive and rewarding for our partners – and ensure riders can get a reliable and affordable ride no matter how busy it is during rush hour”.
An Uber spokesperson called the initial plan “an evolving process for Uber and the City of Atlanta”.
AS ROADWAYS FILL-MARTA LOTS FILLING
ATLANTA — MARTA officials have been saying trains are the best option to get into and out of the city. Now, they’re facing a new problem – parking lots filling up by morning commuters.
With MARTA being a highly promoted commuting option since the fiery bridge collapse last week, more people have been riding trains to get around the city.
On Tuesday morning, the Doraville and North Springs lots were full before 8:00 am. Sandy Springs had just over 100 spots left, while Dunwoody had two decks available.
But Monday morning, commuters noticed parking lots at train stations quickly fill up — something some of them said they’ve never seen.
“This is a first. Not even on a Falcons game is it this full,” Michael Hepburn said.
Highway signs warned commuters that the North Springs station parking lots were full. Some drivers were not shocked.
A MARTA spokesperson said lots were filling up by morning commuters looking for an easy way to get to work. They’re now encouraging motorists to car pool.
An Uber driver said that the MARTA option is taking away some of her business.
“It’s to be expected with the bridge. And it makes sense why I haven’t gotten any calls today,” Claudia Pop, an Uber driver, said.
She said that she usually gets five calls an hour. But with people taking the train, her revenue has drastically decreased over the last few days since the Interstate 85 collapse.
“Usually within five hours [I make] over a $100 and now, I’ve made like $30,” she said.
Despite several lots filling up, people tell said it’s still worth the hassle because of all the traffic congestion on the main roads and interstates.