TJIC points to an article in the local Boston news that planners are shocked -- SHOCKED -- that the carpool lanes they spent tens of millions of dollar on are going unused. I thought this was the best line:
I would never in a thousand years have guessed that people, -
if they have the means - prefer to commute to work on their own
schedules, in their own cars instead of in some sort of communitarian
Charlie Foxtrot where they have to coordinate schedules with their
neighbors, and have no flexibility to do errands on the way home, and
must welcome other people into their private domain.
And it's not just me - no one at all thought that people might
prefer privacy, individualism and freedom over enforced contact,
compromise, and obligation.
Quite a while ago, I made a counter-proposal for using the carpool lanes:
Several years ago, I sent in a proposal to the Arizona
Dept. of Transportation for their new HOV lanes in the Phoenix area,
though I never got a response back. I suggested that HOV lanes
probably did not really increase carpooling, since they probably just
shifted vehicles that would have already been carrying 2+ people into
the faster lane. Why should I get this artificial subsidy of a
dedicated lane when I am driving my kid to a soccer game but not when I
am driving myself to do productive work? Either way, the lane is not
changing my behavior.
Anyway, I suggested that instead, AZ DOT should create a
number of special passes for exclusive use of the HOV lane. The number
of passes should be set as the largest number that could be issued
while keeping the HOV lane moving at the speed limit at rush hour.
Maybe 5000? Anyway, they would have the stats to set the number, and
it could be adjusted over time. I proposed that they then auction off
these passes in a dutch auction once a year. I posited that the
clearing price might be as high as $1000, thus raising $5,000,000 a
year that could be used for other transportation projects.
I have friends that said I was crazy, that no one would
spend $1000. Back then, I argued it in two ways. First, thousands of
people in town spend not $1000 but tens of thousands of dollars, in the
form of purchasing a nicer-than-basic-car, to make their driving
experience better. In those terms, to the Mercedes or Lexus owner,
$1000 was nothing and in fact the price might go higher. Second, if
each pass holder saved 15 minutes per commute, or 30 minutes per day
over 250 work days, they would save 125 hours of their time each year.
Bidding just $1000 for this would mean that people would have to value
their free time (since commuting generally comes out of free and family
time) at $8 an hour. I certainly value my free time at a MUCH higher
rate than this.