Road Supervisors and Traffic Congestion.
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Introduction. Parking problems around cities
Efficient Roads.
Congestion Charging.
Toll Roads.
Parking.
Public Transport.
Mega-Stations.
Carpooling.
[London Congestion Charge]
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Introduction.
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Congestion in Britain.  Traffic jams and hold-ups... as a rough guide... 65% caused by volume... 25% caused by accidents and breakdowns... 10% by roadworks.  Traffic congestion just seems to get worse every year... it robs you of more of your time... causes more stress... more pollution... and generally, reduces the quality of life... and there are no signs of that changing.  In fact, the Government predict that vehicle numbers will increase by 25% over the next 8 years.
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We don't want to generalise too much here because the problems of a large sprawling City like L.A. will be very different from those of older European type cities, like London.  Many of these older cities [which were not built with the car in mind] do face similar problems.  [See blinkx Videos on the subject of Traffic Congestion.]
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Simply introducing a Road Supervisor type scheme is not going to end serious problems with congested Towns, Cities and Roads... that requires a multi-strategy approach... but it could help in a few areas.  As with other articles... everything mentioned is open to discussion and new ideas.  The following is not meant to be a carefully researched plan... just some observations... and a few ideas to think about...
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Efficient Roads.
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Increase Capacity.  In Britain... motorists pay a fortune in various Taxes [2007 circa 44billion] but never really see the benefits... there has been a massive under-investment in roads for years... in both building and maintenance: [2007 circa 8billion spent.]  So, the first option is simply to increase spending, either... building more roads... widening existing roads... clearing existing arterial roads of parked vehicles and obstructions.  In fact, doing everything possible to make sure the flow rate is maximised... and bottle necks cleared... rather than spending huge sums of money on chicanes, speed humps and road narrowing schemes... so as to deliberately slow everything up.
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Spain.  Travelling down through Spain... they now have some very good motorways... paid for by the EU [i.e. courtesy of the British Taxpayer... for many years net contributors of circa 3billion p.a. while Spain received similar amounts in grants]... with relatively light traffic... making long journeys much quicker.  Previously... a journey which might have taken up to 12 hours... can now be completed in half that time.  A road system with greater capacity... means, each vehicle spending less time on it... better for the driver and the environment.
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Limits.  Obviously, there is a limit to what you can achieve like this... you could become like L.A... freeways everywhere... which means even more people buy cars... the countryside covered in concrete... and you still end up with serious traffic congestion... and pollution.  So more roads can only be one part of the solution.
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Reduce Demand.  The population of Britain is rapidly increasing... with 500,000+??? immigrants arriving every year... both legal and illegal: [not even the Government knows, they say!]  A significant percentage settling in the most densely populated area... London and the South East.  This huge influx puts enormous pressure on all Infrastructure... not only Roads, but also... Public Transport: Housing: Schools: Hospitals: Water Supplies: etc. etc.  "New Labour" must bear sole responsibility for the present situation... they have deliberately facilitated this huge increase in demand... [against the wishes of the majority]... while failing to make any provision for it.  With no attempt to increase road capacity... or reduce the demands of mass immigration... this situation will only get worse and worse.  Some other options for reducing demand...
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  • Give incentives to Companies... Government Departments... to relocate.
  • Introduce more flexible hours for schools and businesses when possible.
  • Introduce a school bus system... wherever possible.
  • Build more cycle-routes: [away for other traffic... as they do in the Netherlands] and encourage more pupils to cycle to school.
  • Enable as many people as possible to go online and work from home.
  • Or... create lots of small local office complexes so Government employees from different departments can all share the same space... so they can work online close to home... rather than travelling right into a city centre.
  • Enable people to work 4x10hr days rather than 5x8hr days... where possible.
  • Encourage more commercial vehicles to travel and deliver at night.

More efficient... use of the available road space...
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  • Inefficient because of... poor Lane Discipline... not keeping up with the flow... slow off the mark at traffic lights... blocking intersections... illegal stopping in Clearways... poorly maintained vehicles breaking down... running out of fuel... high accident rate... etc. etc.
  • Parking problems around Town... not catering for working vehicles, like... Buses, Taxis, Delivery Vehicles, Construction Vehicles, etc. [which results in... double parking, congested roads, blocked intersections, etc.]  And usually... far too many private cars driving around and around looking for some on-street parking.
  • Structural problems... like no place for Buses to pull over... uncoordinated traffic lights... blocked intersections... dangerous T-junctions... roads being dug up too often and for too long... etc.

Bus Lanes - Transit Lanes.  Bus Lanes are a very good idea... if they are full of Buses... which are full of people.  An empty Bus Lane is an absolute waste of time.  Any 'Special' lanes should be free-flowing... but full.  So, if a "Bus Lane" takes... Buses: Taxis: and Emergency Vehicles... and the Lane still has plenty of spare capacity... just turn it into an HOV Lane [High Occupancy Vehicle] or Transit Lane for any vehicle with 4 passengers or more [T4-Lane.]  If it still has spare capacity make it a T3-Lane [3 passengers.]  Still not full? then make it a T2-Lane.  [If you have lots of cameras and electronic signs, you can alter the 'Special' Lane status as the traffic flow changes.]
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Hard Shoulder.  Again: on urban motorways... if you have a sophisticated control centre... in really slow traffic, allow... Buses... Taxis... Emergency Vehicles... Breakdown Vehicles... Motorbikes??? etc. to use a modified hard shoulder as an overflow lane... [as sometimes happens in Germany... where they manage to maximise road usage without compromising safety.]  Build proper "lay-bys" every few hundred yards... where vehicles with punctures or mechanical problems can pull right off the road in complete safety.  Provide... some shelter... a phone... lighting... water... etc.  Also a place for Emergency... or Breakdown Vehicles to park-up.
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Tidal Lanes.  There could also be a greater use of Tidal Lanes.  Quiet common in places... especially on Bridges.  It is very common to see a busy road with, say, 3 Lanes in each direction... solid traffic going into the City in the mornings and almost nothing heading out the way... with the complete opposite during the evening rush-hour.  With some modifications to central barriers and the like, it may be possible to have additional Lanes going in during the morning peak hours... and extra Lanes heading out the way in the evenings.
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Emergency Vehicles.  Why is it that the Emergency Services... particularly the Police... don't use a greater range of two-wheeled vehicles?  The Police either use large motorbikes... or they use bicycles... but very little in between.  Why don't they use small 50cc mopeds... or 125-250cc trail bikes... something they can use on pavements... around pedestrian precincts... in parks... to control bicycle couriers... etc.  But something that is still useful if they need to respond quickly to emergencies elsewhere.
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In a similar vein... we have Police on motorbikes... we have Paramedics on motorbikes... but you never see Firemen on motorbikes.  Obviously one (or two?) Fireman on a motorbike cannot do the same job as a Fire-Truck with a crew... any more than a Paramedic on a motorbike can replace an Ambulance.  But... very often two or three Trucks race through heavy traffic to find they have a non-emergency situation... in which case the man on the motorbike could have establish this fact and let the Trucks know.  On the other hand... if it was an emergency situation... having a trained professional at the scene... even just a few minutes ahead of the main force could make all the difference.  Just one motorbike... geared up with some basic essentials and ready to go... could have a minor blaze under control or extinguished before the Trucks even arrived.
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Road Supervisors... could help make the roads more efficient by...
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  • Reporting: providing feedback to drivers about their various inefficient practices... like lane-hogging, [which they may be unaware of.]
  • Deterring bad behaviour... [i.e. drivers stopping in clearways... blocking intersections... something which they are often aware of.]
  • Identifying congestion blackspots in need of structural changes... [i.e. building a roundabout at a dangerous T-junction.]
  • Assisting at minor accidents or breakdowns... [i.e. photographing: exchanging details: calling for assistance: clearing roads of vehicles and debris.]
  • Informing the Authorities about illegal vehicles... [i.e. untaxed: unregistered: abandoned by illegal drivers... etc.]  Or serious defects on the roads... like, bad potholes, [particularly dangerous when filled with water] or diesel spillage... [both serious problems for bike riders.]
Villages... should consider the benefits of "communal parking".  A typical example... our village has severe parking problems in the centre... with residents and visitors parking on a fairly narrow main road.  There are a number of facilities near the centre... [a Shop, Doctor's Surgery, Pub, British Legion Club, Bowls Club, Cricket Club, 2 Churches and 2 Village Halls.]  All have some limited parking... which they jealously guard.  Most of it is empty... most of the time.  None have enough for their busiest times... so the overflow always ends up parking on the roads.  They are never all busy at the same time... so there wouldn't be a problem if everyone shared!  [i.e... No Parking on the main road... deliveries and 5 minute Parking outside of the Shop... all other Parking... "communal"]
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Congestion Charging.
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Central London... now has a congestion charge.  The basic idea is that you charge drivers about 8.00 per day to come into the city... and you use those funds to improve the Public Transport system.  Unfortunately, it takes a significant percentage of the revenue just to administer the system... so there is very little left to reinvest.  And while there has been little noticeable improvement in Public Transport... the Authorities still claim the system is a success... simply because there is less traffic in the City Centre.  But really, how can this alone be considered a measure of success?  [London Congestion Charge]
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The core problem is... how to transport millions of people around the city in an efficient, cost effective way?  All the Authorities are doing is closing off one of the options... by making it more and more expensive.  What they should be doing is offering people a better alternative to bringing their cars into the City Centre... something which is faster and cheaper.  So far, the Government has only solved its own problem... how to reduce traffic congestion around the City Centre... they have not improve things for the ordinary man in the street.
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Their system is reminiscent of something from the old Soviet Union... where all the plebs had to stand around waiting for Public Transport... while the "elites" where driven around empty roads in chauffeur driven limousines.  For politicians and the wealthy it is a great system... the roads are clearer... and any extra costs have little effect on their lifestyles.  But, if you happen to be an ordinary worker... who has an awkward journey across the city... or does shift work... then it certainly isn't... regardless of the costs... you maybe have little option but to pay up!  Not exactly what you would have expected from Labour... but something that seems to fit in very nicely with the "New Labour" ethos!
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Visitors.  As a visitor it is a nightmare!  You don't know where the boundaries are... it is only at certain times throughout the week.  Then if you have to pay... you have to find somewhere to stop and buy a ticket... phone up with a credit card...  or get onto the internet.  As usual... it is easy to fall foul of the system and anyone who is 'law-abiding' will get fined... whereas law-breakers who don't even bother registering their vehicles usually get away with it.
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If you want to reduce the number of private vehicles coming into a City centre you can easily do this by restricting the number of parking places... or just making them more and more expensive... [presently, all-day parking in central London will cost 20-30 which is already a very good reason to leave the car at home] and drastically reducing the amount of on-street parking.  But at the same time you need to offer some viable alternatives... a lot more Carrot and a lot less Stick!!
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Road Pricing.  The Authorities trot out the same old excuse... that something needs to be done before the whole system grinds to a halt.  Now they plan to extend the concept of 'Road Pricing' to cover the whole country... [i.e. paying a lot of money to use busy roads during peak hours.]  Their basic strategy is always the same... they miserably fail to tackle a problem... instead of developing a better/cheaper alternative... they simply make the existing system more expensive.  Many people have little or no choice but to use their cars... or to make their journeys at particular times... so, it will probably have the effect of forcing drivers onto small, local roads... when the whole point of building motorways and by-passes was to get traffic off these roads.  And if you were thinking of using the Trains... well sorry... more bad news... the Trains are full and fares are going up.
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World Cup 2006.  The British Government are talking about pricing "gas-guzzlers" off the road by charging up to 1,800 a year in tax.  If Governments think that reducing fuel consumption is so important why don't they start by putting their own house in order.  At the World Cup in Germany they played Group Matches in different cities each time forcing hundreds of thousands of fans to follow their team around the country instead of staying in the one place.  A match such as the Czech Republic v Italy could easily have been played in a convenient, southern location, like Munich... but instead they chose to play it in the northern city of Hamburg... while England v Sweden was played down south.  If you look at the schedule you will see this happened time and time again... the Authorities could easily have saved millions of people from making unnecessarily long journeys... but didn't bother.

UEFA Cup Final 2007: Savilla v Espanyol... two Spanish sides... final in Madrid?  No... Glasgow, Scotland... need we say more?
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The School Run.  There has been a change... in that many pupils do not go to their local school... they ride bicycles less... and they walk less... which adds up to a lot more traffic and congestion at the busiest time of the morning.  Pupils do not have 'flexi-hours'... so this will continue even if 'Road-Pricing' is introduced.  Some of this might be alleviated by some physical changes to the school environment.  Putting in roundabouts at the entrance... pull-in places outside... a one-way system around the block... a special 'drop-off zone' somewhere close by... a greater use of school buses... car-pooling... or more cycle-routes or lanes.
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Road Tax... may be scrapped in favour of 'Road-Pricing.  Getting rid of Road Tax would be a good idea... it is expensive to collect... requires annual paperwork from all owners... illegal drivers and visitors get out of paying it... there is little incentive to drive less miles... or drive a smaller vehicle.
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Alternative.  Scrap Road Tax and put a few more pence on the price of fuel... [the fact that fuel may already be horrendously expensive is another issue!]  It costs nothing extra to collect... no annual paperwork required by owners... all illegal drivers and visitors contribute... no need to police the system... there is more of an incentive to drive less... and use a smaller vehicle.  Basically, the more miles you do... the bigger your vehicle... the more hours you spend sitting in traffic, going nowhere... the more you end up paying.  [Obviously there will be some winners and some losers... but that is the case when you change any system.]
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Singapore.  We have seen the road pricing concept for Britain being compared to the system in Singapore.  It's hard to image a less relevant example.  Singapore is a very sophisticated... self-contained... little island of about 3 million people.  Private cars are very expensive to own... and all the funds are ploughed back into public transport which provides a good service for the whole island.  Barcode readers monitor vehicles as they pass in and out of the central area... and drivers are automatically charged [but, even this is not without its problems... cars will illegally pull over to the side of the road if they are about to enter a high-charge zone a couple of minutes early... and drivers face fines when pre-paid cards run out.]
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Toll Roads.
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Again... as with the Road Tax... a bad idea.  On short stretches... Toll roads are a self-defeating exercise.  You go to great expense to build a bridge... tunnel... motorway... etc. with the sole purpose of making journey times quicker... and then you immediately undo all your good work by introducing toll-gates.  There must be innumerable examples of this all round the world...  
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Sydney Harbour Bridge... a personal experience... driving in Sydney and crossing the Harbour Bridge daily.  They charged a toll to cross the Bridge... [the Bridge had been paid for... so the toll could have been scrapped.]  At this point there was still a lot of congestion... so they got a private contractor to build a tunnel and the company was then entitled to collect tolls for the Tunnel and the Bridge for the next 30 years... or there abouts.  However, if they had simply done away with the Bridge toll the effect would probably have been much the same.
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What is this opinion based on?  Even with the Bridge and a new Tunnel... there was bad congestion during the rush hour as thousands of vehicles all stop to pay their toll money.  Occasionally, there would be a Public Transport strike and the Government would suspend the tolls for the day... and open up parks close to the city centre for parking... because there would inevitably be a big increase in traffic volume.  So, you did not have to imagine the change... you had some first-hand experience of it.  And the result... the traffic never built up... if flowed steady and even... and the congestion was much better than normal.
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Public/Private partnerships.  This kind of system... [getting private companies to build various infrastructure, like roads... and then allowing them to collecting tolls for years to come] is becoming increasingly popular with Governments... and is, to say the least, morally dubious!  Each generation inherits a wealth of infrastructure from past generations... and should build on that legacy for future generations.  The Government collect billions in road tax... they need to provide new roads [i.e. new M6 near Birmingham] they have them built... they have the benefits of using them... but they don't want to pay for them.  This is just like parents enjoying the good life on their credit cards knowing their kids will eventually be left with the bill!  You wanted it! You ordered it! You pay for it!!
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Oakland Bay Bridge: San Francisco... having recently been to the USA on holiday... it was surprising to see such horrendous queues in the morning rush-hour trying to get across the bay into the City.  A sight that is repeated every morning in innumerable cities across the industrialised world.  As with the Sydney Harbour Bridge... put a few cents on the fuel... scrap the tolls... and the queues would virtually disappear overnight.
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Parking.
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One of the biggest problems in any major city is simply, finding somewhere to Park.  If the Government want more drivers to use Public Transport for a part of their journey... then they need to make it easy for them to do so.  Around London... integrating a car with the Public Transport System is usually problematic.  Railway and Tube Stations tend to be right in the middle of urban centres where parking spaces are at a premium.  Every morning, something in the region of 200,000 drivers go cruising around residential streets within walking distance of Tube Stations looking for somewhere to park for the day.  Understandably, residents don't like losing all their on-street parking to daily commuters and get their local Council to introduce Resident's Parking Schemes.  Far from making it easy... various Authorities actually make it more difficult for drivers to catch a Bus or a Train.
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Sub-Contract Parking.  Some places run schemes whereby those private individuals who live close to city centres, town centres, main line stations, underground stations... or anywhere which has a severe parking problem... rent out parking spaces in their own gardens to daily commuters... or those working in the area.  If you have a space [or 2? or 3?] this could be a nice little earner... say 6 per day??? 25 per week??? 1000 a year??? per space.  If you don't have a scheme in your area... just check out the local parking fees... and then put a sign up in your front garden!
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Consequently... many drivers give up on the Public Transport option... and bring their vehicles right into the City Centre.  Eventually, they all need to find somewhere they can stop or park for the day... generally, in urban centre car parks and on residential streets.  This causes major problems... there is not enough space to accommodate them all... and trying to do so only clogs up the whole area.  The alternative is to accommodate their parking needs somewhere else... outside of the City... between Suburbs... or on the outskirts of Towns... but close to Public Transport links.
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Parking.  Most private cars spend something like 80 or 90% of their time parked... rather than being driven somewhere.  In streets around Cities, Towns and Villages... it is often a lack of parking facilities that is the main problem... rather than a lack of roads.
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  • Causes stress for drivers.  Looking for spaces... being late for appointments... late returning to their vehicles, and subsequently... getting Fined, Clamped or Towed.
  • There is usually a severe shortage of parking spaces at any popular destination... and little prospect of providing it in future.  There are simply... too many cars!
  • Main arterial roads are used as car parks.  Any two-laned urban road which allows on-street parking... instantly decreases its capacity by 50%. 
  • There are hold-ups because of illegal parking.  [Sometimes there are major hold-ups because people just pull up outside of a Newsagent to get a paper... but their convenience is quickly translated into a major inconvenience for a lot of other people.] 
  • A lot of congestion is caused by drivers going around and around looking for on-street parking spaces.  Often... they see someone about to move... pull over and double-park... causing a hold-up... and maybe causing vehicles behind them to block junctions.
  • Or they just suddenly stop and want to reverse into a space even though they have a vehicle right behind them.

In City Centres.  The Authorities need to strike a balance between the parking requirements of various groups... Workers, Commuters, Residents, Tourists, Shoppers, Businesses, etc. and the need to keep traffic flowing...

Double parking chaos

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  • "Working Vehicles".  There should be plenty of spaces for... Buses, Taxis, Tourist Coaches, Service, Post Office, Delivery and Construction Vehicles, etc. etc.  Otherwise drivers of these vehicles will double park... they have no realistic alternative.
  • Arterial Roads.  Busy roads should not be used as "car-parks"... and any parking spaces should be big enough to drive into... [i.e. no reverse parking.]
  • Stopping places.  Where drivers can just pull over for 5-10 minutes... make a delivery... make a quick purchase, etc.  [Perhaps they could just make it a rule... if you stop in these places you must put on your hazard lights?.. head lights?.. so you can only stay a short time before your battery goes flat.]
  • Short-term parking.  On-street parking... Metres at say 2:00 for 15 minutes?.. good for a short stay of an hour or so... but not for a long stay.
  • Long-term parking.  Should be off-street.  Apart from residents... those wanting to stay all day would need to... have their own parking space... or go into a proper car park.  But at the same time you need to offer a viable alternative to driving into City Centres.

Catering for Bicycles.  Bicycles could also help to reduce congestion... even if riders only used them for part of their journey.  But in order to do that, the needs of the cyclist must be accommodated.  [For a great deal on bicycles...

We use... Halfords... No 1 for types of car accessories.

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  • Holland... many people living in the inner cities use bicycles or small mopeds... [less than 50cc] as they have built an extensive system of cycle-routes and lanes.  Plus, they also supply... cheap: [or free] secure: under-cover parking.
  • London... introduce large-scale, secure, undercover parking for personal bicycles at all mainline stations... that way commuters have another viable option for the final leg of their journeys.  Also more local parking so it is easier to leave bicycles at... or close to their work.
  • Towns... many Towns have 'Park-and-Ride' schemes... but as well as providing buses, the authorities should cater for those who would like to cycle the last mile or so... i.e. cycle lane into the Town centre... with secure parking facilities at both ends of the journey.
  • Parking.  Some Bicycles are very cheap these days... so, if there were secure parking facilities at all railway stations... people could keep a bicycles at either end of their journey... rather than having to take one on the Train with them every day.
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Public Transport.
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If you happen to live close to a Public Transport link: [i.e. near a Station, or along a Bus Route] then using the system may not be a problem.  If not, then some part of your journey may need to be done by car.  Environmental issues aside... the private motorcar is a great way to get around.  Public Transport cannot offer a viable alternative to everyone... all the time.  It is not very efficient when it comes to providing door-to-door transport for a complete journey... unless it is all within an area of high-population density, [i.e. metropolitan London or New York.]
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But, can often provide an efficient alternative for a part of the journey... particularly if there are large numbers of people travelling the same basic route, [i.e. commuters going to the centre of large cities.]  If you want to get more people to use Public Transport more of the time... then you need to concentrate those efforts on doing the parts where they can genuinely offer a better alternative... rather than trying to get drivers to ditch their cars completely.  You probably can't offer a better alternative to those...
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* Carrying any kind of "freight" - [cannot compete on convenience.]
* With numerous passengers - [cannot compete on price.]
* With old people - young children - [again, cannot compete on convenience.]
* Working unsocial hours - [you cannot service all destinations 24/7.]
* Making very short return journeys... [5-10 minutes by car... an hour by Bus!]
* Making multiple stops... [i.e. running around... Shops, School, etc.]
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With a Car.  As an example... someone travelling to central London from one of the surrounding counties.  They could... drive to their nearest Train Station in their local Town... drive to the outskirts of London and get on a Train or the Tube... or drive to the inner City before trying to park their vehicle.  Whichever option they choose... when they want to get on the Train... they will be funnelled into the centre of an urban area where they will use up a valuable parking space.  All too often drivers are force to park in places they don't want to be... or they don't need to be.
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Without a Car.  When you live out of Town and are commuting into a major city like London... relying wholly on Public Transport can be a real problem.  It could mean... walking to a Bus Stop... waiting for the Bus, [which might be late] walking from the Bus Station to the Train Station... [if your Bus was late, maybe you've missed your Train] wait for the Train... once in London, get a Bus or Tube... then walk the last bit.  And a similar experience for the return journey.  [Even if you use a bicycle there are still problems connecting to the system... there is simply nowhere you can securely leave a bicycle... not at Railway Stations, Bus Terminals, Park-and-Ride, Town Centres or City Centres.]
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While those who need to travel a relatively short distance across country... say, from home to work... it can be even worse.  It might involve going into Central London and out again in a slightly different direction: [i.e. travelling in from the South-West... and going out to the West.]  Just using Public Transport, going from A-B could involve a...  walk, Bus, walk, Train, Tube, Train, walk, Bus, and finally, another walk.  Where as, it might only be a pleasant half hour drive by car.
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Victorian Model.  The present system does not reflect the reality of modern Transport requirements... it is a model direct from the Victorian era... linking City Centres to Town Centres... coordinating Trains with Buses... [and not even doing that very well!]  It needs to undergo a radical transformation in the same way that Supermarkets retailers have.  Not so many years ago nearly all Supermarkets were located right in the centre of Towns... but now nearly all the big new Supermarkets are out of the centre... sometimes on the very outskirts of Towns.  They cater for the new reality... the fact that so many people now own cars.  What people require is parking facilities... they don't all need to be dropped right in the centre of Towns or Suburbs.
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Out-of-Town Stations.  In the counties surrounding London there are a multitude of small Towns... many with a Train Station.  To use a local example... we are located near a Town called Guildford about 35 miles SW of central London.  Another 3 miles further down the track is a Town called Godalming.  Both have Train Stations where commuters park... right in the centre of Town... all day.  Half way between the two is a large Park-and-Ride area servicing Guildford.  This Parking area also happens to be right next to the main Train-line to London.  There is plenty of room to increase the parking capacity if required.  Wouldn't it make more sense to build a platform here so commuters could get on Trains direct to London.  With a minimal amount of construction you could provide plenty of free/cheap parking for commuters to London... and free up several hundred parking spaces in the centre of two Towns for those who actually work there.
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This does not mean that you have to stop servicing the old Town Centre Railway Stations... it just means there would be a few more stops to service... between Suburbs... and between Towns.  That might make it a little bit more difficult to offer a good service, but... if you want more people to use Public Transport then the capacity will have to be increased in some ways.  Trains are already very crowded... so, you are going to have to provide... more Stations... more Trains... larger Trains... or have even more crowded Trains.
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Bicycle share schemes... as used in some European cities.  Should consider a greater use of "Public" Bicycles for getting around the inner-city.  For instance... in Lyon they have started a system with computerised bikes... locked into strategically located stands.  Register... put in your credit card... and be charged for the time you use it.  [Also about to be tried in... Amsterdam: Barcelona: and Geneva.]
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There are also a number of car-sharing schemes which work on a similar basis... like Streetcars.co.uk and Whiizzgo.co.uk.  Pay a joining fee and then book a car for anything from an Hour to a Month.  Just pick it up and drop it off at strategic points around the city.
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Mega-Stations.
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Point-to-Point... Public Transport.  Many people just use their cars for a part of their journey rather than the whole journey... and thousands more could be encouraged to do likewise.  At present traffic is funnelled into the centre of old Towns which were not built to cater for large numbers of motor vehicles.  There is limited parking [which, ideally, you would like to make available for those who work in those Towns.]  Geographically... the catchment area for each Town is quite small... but if you were specifically targeting people with cars... the catchment area could be much larger.
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Enter the "Mega-Station".   When driving to London from surrounding Towns you can usually get to within the region of the M25 orbital motorway before you hit heavy traffic... soon after that it becomes incredibly slow... parking is limited and expensive.  But, say you had the option of taking a Train from this point... car drivers might be enticed by the services offered by a "Mega-Station".  Build a short spur off the main Train-line... a huge multi-story car-park [capable of taking thousands of vehicles]... and then a Shuttle-Train service that just runs between two points... the Mega-Station and one of the main-line Stations: [i.e. Waterloo] every 5-10-15 minutes??... [with some kind of service right through the night.]
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Nov. 2007... the Eurostar Trains have now moved from Waterloo to their new home at St. Pancras... leaving 5 spare platforms which are going to be mothballed.  This would be an ideal opportunity to try out a new Mega-Station.  Say... anywhere that the railway line crosses, or is close to... the M25/A3 intersection... means, for the cost of a car-park and a short spur of the main line... a whole new option could be opened up to commuters.
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With... easy Access... plentiful Parking... cheap Fares... and frequent Trains... drivers would use the service.  While it is not very cost effective to try and supply every small Town with a regular service it would be possible to supply a limited number of "Mega-Stations".  If every major arterial road heading into London had a Mega-Station... you could entice thousands of drivers out of their cars.  [It might also be possible to build some Mega-Stations to become a part of the Tube Network.]
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New Stations.  Rather than simply trying to restrict one of the options for commuters... the Authorities should be trying to provide them with more choices.  Ideally, drivers would choose the new alternative because it was a better option... faster, cheaper and more convenient.  [Geographically... catchment areas for Train and Tube Stations could be much larger than at present... with some new Stations being situated on the outskirts of Towns... or between Suburbs.]
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  • Local Trains - In some cases... extend the local train system one stop... to service a new Mega-Station... could also provide access to the Tube further up the line.  [See Map 1.]
  • The Tube - Extend the Tube by one stop... or create some new Stations between Suburbs... close to a main arterial road... with plenty of space for parking.  [See Map 2.]
  • Trains - Create some new main-line Stations on the outskirts of Towns... close to main arterial roads... with plenty of space for parking.  [See Map 3.]
  • Trains - At several locations... build a short spur off the main line... near the M25... so that a one-stop shuttle could service a new Mega-Station.  [See Map 4.]

The Trouble with Trains.  How are you going to get people out of their cars?  The alternative [Trains, Buses] is very often overcrowded... you can't get a seat.  They're... expensive, unreliable, infrequent, unsafe, dirty, don't operate at unsocial hours... and you often have to wait around in unpleasant weather conditions.  If you want drivers to use Trains... you need to address all these issues... enter the Mega-Station!!
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  • Overcrowded... no seats.  Lots of Shuttle-Trains just moving between one Mega-Station and a main-line Terminal Station would be much easier to cater for... and if it was overcrowded... at least it would only be on a short journey.
  • Expensive.  Servicing one Mega-Station would be much more cost effective.  Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly Tickets might include any combination of... Parking, Train, Tube and Bus.
  • Unreliable.  Servicing one Mega-Station is much easier... if a Train is cancelled then the next one should only be a matter of minutes away.
  • Infrequent.  Same thing... one Mega-Station could be serviced every 10-20 minutes... you cannot service a large number of small Stations like that.
  • Unsafe.  At present many Station car parks are dark, quiet and do not feel very secure.  Easier to monitor... having on-board cameras in the Trains... security personnel available at the Mega-Station... [in the event of an "incident"... the Train driver could just keep the doors locked until security had arrived.]  Cameras could also monitor all floors of the parking and pick up anyone acting suspiciously.
  • Dirty.  This comes down to service... but it would certainly be easier to clean a small number of modern Shuttle-Trains than some of the old rolling-stock which is being used at present.
  • Unsocial Hours.  One of the problems of taking Trains is that there is very little service beyond midnight.  There are relatively few passengers so it is uneconomical to service a large number of Towns... but a Mega-Station could have a regular shuttle service right through the night.
  • Unpleasant Weather.  With Mega-Stations there would be very little waiting around.  As they would be custom-built, modern buildings... specifically catering for the needs of commuters... the whole place could be protected from the elements... with comfortable waiting rooms... shops... cafes... etc. etc.

Inter-City Trains.  You could also allow inter-city Trains to pick-up at these Mega-Stations.  For example anyone going to a city up North would probably go into central London to catch the Train... but could just drive to a Mega-Station on the outskirts... park for free... and pick up the Train as it leaves Greater London... heading North.
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Park-and-Ride.  In many ways this is a similar kind of system.  Mega-Stations would enable drivers to link into the Public Transport Network... but, Park-and-Ride schemes are not usually offering a faster, more convenient alternative... just something which is cheaper than paying exorbitant Town Centre parking fees.
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Integrated Transport.  Purpose built Mega-Stations could provide plenty of cheap parking for those taking a Shuttle-Train.  Facilities for car-pooling.  Comfortable, secure waiting areas for those... being picked-up by private cars... catching Buses: [local, city and airport] and getting Taxis.
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Summary... every parking space used in a Mega-Station would free up another space somewhere else, in a... Town Centre, Suburb, Residential Street or City Centre.
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* Purpose built parking for 5-10-20,000??? vehicles.
* Multiple entrances and exits... [to avoid hold ups.]
* Large parking spaces... [to avoid damaging other vehicles.]
* [Build one near a main arterial road to test.]
* Design so parking capacity could be increased if required.
* Regular Shuttle-Trains running... 24/7.  
* [Easier that servicing lots of Provincial Stations.]
* Connection to pick up inter-city Trains.
* Cheap Tickets... [could include Parking: Train: Tube: Buses.]
* Free parking for car-poolers.
* Undercover pick-up area for car-poolers.
* Standing area for cars waiting to picking up from Trains.
* Bus Stop... [for local, city and airport buses.]
* Taxi Stand.
* Secure journey monitored by cameras from Start to Finish.
* [Could have a security check before boarding if necessary.]
* Cameras in all carriages.
* [Late Night... close down excess carriages... as required.]
* 24/7 security at Mega-Stations.
* [In the event of an 'Incident'... keep carriages locked until security arrives.]
* Cameras covering all parking, platforms, waiting areas, etc.
* [Terror strike?.. easier to secure one platform... and get people out of the city.]
* Secure, undercover bicycle parking at main line Stations.
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Carpooling.
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Car-pooling as a "system" simply does not exist around the London area... although the Government are now talking about introducing car-pool lanes.  In theory... having a special high-occupancy lane during peak-hours is a good idea... provided they are busy.  Some cities have Bus-Lanes [Buses, Coaches, Taxis, Emergency vehicles] or HOV, Car-pool/Transit Lanes [may be referred to as T4: T3: or T2 lanes... depending on how many occupants a vehicles needs to qualify.]  If there are sufficient cameras and electronic signs... the status of these lanes can be adjusted to ensure that they are busy... but still flowing freely.  [See blinkx Videos on the subject of Carpooling.]
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However... for a "system" to be effective you need to do a lot more than just open up a "Special Lane".  Done badly you will just end up with an empty lane and even worse congestion than you started with.  For older cities like London there is a lot of traffic moving from the outer Suburbs and Towns towards the centre of the City in the mornings... and the reverse in the evenings... so a car-pooling system should be perfectly feasible.  Presently... for those who do unofficially, "car-pool" there are a few difficulties.  Basically...
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  • Meeting for the pick-up.  Someone has to drive around and pick everyone up... or everyone drives to a meeting point... or pick-up point on route: [or some combination thereof.]
  • All day Parking.  Where do you leave your vehicle all day?  It can be very difficult to find a convenient meeting point where you can leave your vehicle for the whole day... knowing it will be safe and secure.
  • Coordinating the return.  Then you have to coordinate the journey home at night which makes it very inflexible.  What if someone has to work late?.. either they make their own way home... or, everyone else has to wait around.
  • Getting back to your vehicle.  If you do have to work late... miss your ride... getting back to your vehicle may be very difficult... [unless you are parked close to a Train Station... where the parking is usually limited... and expensive.]

Mega-Stations... would address many of the inherent problems associated with coordinating a car-pool system.  It could also provide a very convenient meeting point... or 'staging-area'.
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  • Meeting for the pick-up.  Where you could provide a large under-cover area... so people could sit down and wait.  [It would be much easier for individuals to form car-pooling groups if there were lots of people leaving from the same point.]
  • All day Parking.  You could provide plenty of free... secure... undercover parking... close to a main arterial route... [where people would feel safe returning to at any hour of the night.]
  • Coordinating the return.  Does not make it any easier to coordinate the return... but, if someone does have to work late... it offers the person a viable alternative.
  • Getting back to your vehicle.  If you were parked at a large Mega-Station which was being serviced 24/7 by a Shuttle-Train... then you only need to get a Tube-station... which gives you access to main-line Stations... and you could be back to your vehicle within a reasonable time.
Hire-and-reward.  All members of The Association of British Insurers have agreed that if your passengers contribute towards your running costs your insurance cover will not be affected... as long as... lifts are given in a vehicle seating eight passengers or less... and... "so long as a profit isn't made".  Unfortunately... this term is very much open to interpretation... Companies should also clarify/relax the rules on hire-and-reward.  [Perhaps... Tax incentives for Companies to supply someone with a mini-bus (people-carrier) rather than a car... so they could carry fellow workers.]
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There are a number of car-pooling schemes around the U.K. where you can register with the aim of being pooled with other people doing a similar journey, such as Liftshare.org and Carplus.org.uk.  This would be so much easier if you had hundreds of people leaving from the same staging area each morning.

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The Bottom Line is...
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if you want to alleviate the current situation... then you will need to introduce some fairly fundamental changes.  You can either... lower your sights... take away peoples' choices... make car ownership more and more expensive... and more and more inconvenient.  Or you raise your sights... offer car owners a viable range of alternatives for some of their journeys.  Something which is faster, cheaper and more convenient than using their own personal car.
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Summery... points to consider... making the road system more efficient by...
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* Building more Roads... increasing capacity.
* Reducing mass immigration... cutting demand.
* Introducing some kind of "Road Supervisor" system: [increasing efficiency.]
* More Parking for "Working Vehicles".
* No Parking along main arterial Routes.
* No long-term Parking for non-residents on streets around the City Centre.
* No Congestion Charging: [just make city centre parking limited and expensive.]
* No Road Tolls: [a self-defeating exercise.]
* No Road Tax: [put all costs onto the fuel price.]
* Building more cycle-routes and mark more cycle-lanes.
* Creating a lot more secure parking facilities for bicycles.
* Building new "Between-Suburb" Tube Stations
* Building new "Out-of-Town" Railway Stations.
* Building new "Close-to-Motorway" Mega-Stations.
* Introducing car-pooling schemes... departing from Mega-Stations.
* Promote the use of car-sharing clubs for inner-city residents.
* Converting under-utilised Bus Lanes into "High-Occupancy" Lanes.
* Introduce more "Tidal Lanes".
* Upgrading hard-shoulders to become "Low-Speed-High-Occupancy" lanes.
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