A number of important problems are associated with the current American system of urban transportation: high energy requirements, air pollution impacts, the large number of motor vehicle fatalities and associated serious injuries, and the equity issues posed by the fact that many handicapped, elderly, and very poor urban residents cannot achieve high levels of "auto-mobility." A number of key political constraints must be kept in mind in seeking to ameliorate these problems. The American governmental system is highly resistant to measures that directly constrain voters to alter their behavior, that threaten to disrupt sectors of the economy, that involve the repudiation of ongoing programs well-organized clientele, or that threaten neighborhood and environmental disruption. Fiscal ceilings have become another key constraint recently. It seems, upon analysis, that only inequity is susceptible to effective attack by spending measures. The most promising strategies for curtailing energy consumption, air pollution, and the motor vehicle accident toll all entail commercial regulation aimed at improving performance characteristics of automobile hardware. Since car owners have little incentive to maintain emission control of their vehicles without public regulation, inspection and maintenance requirements are the obvious next step in areas with ar pollution problems. Fuel economy might be pursued through pricing and/or rationing, but these are extremely unpalatable politically. Safety might be pursued effectively through mandatory seat belt and helmet use laws, strict speed limit enforcement, tough measures to keep alcohol-impaired drivers off the roads, and the application of more stringent brake and tire inspection standards; political decision makers, however, have viewed rapid progress through such measures as unfeasible. It seems clear that the major problems of urban transportation can be addressed effectively without significant behavior change.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Published in Urban Transportation Perspectives and Prospects.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Newcastle University, Australia

    Department of Community Programmes
    Newcastle, New South Wales 2308,   Australia 

    Eno Transportation Foundation

    P.O. Box 2055, Saugatuck Station
    Westport, CT  United States  06880-0055
  • Authors:
    • Altshuler, A
    • Womack, J P
    • Pucher, J
  • Publication Date: 1982

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00399703
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-037 987
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 31 1985 12:00AM