Back-Seat Driver

A future of light rail, trains and driverless cars?

Riders of regional transit board a train headed for Folsom at the 16th Street station on Tuesday, April 10, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. Addressing traffic congestion in the region, we asked readers what may alleviate future traffic issues, with several readers calling for light rail to Roseville, Elk Grove, El Dorado Hills and Arden Arcade. Plenty want to see it run to Sacramento International Airport. “It’s about time,” reader Margaret Rice says.
Riders of regional transit board a train headed for Folsom at the 16th Street station on Tuesday, April 10, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. Addressing traffic congestion in the region, we asked readers what may alleviate future traffic issues, with several readers calling for light rail to Roseville, Elk Grove, El Dorado Hills and Arden Arcade. Plenty want to see it run to Sacramento International Airport. “It’s about time,” reader Margaret Rice says. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Congestion is a growing problem in Sacramento. What to do about it? This week, readers offer thoughts on how to keep the region’s residents from getting stuck in neutral.

Some strategic road widening might help. But we asked readers to think beyond building more lanes because, frankly, that sometimes just invites more traffic and re-clogged roads.

▪ Shirley Sayers is among those who’d like more employee flex-time “so that people would be on the roadways at differing times.” Ann Cony points out on Facebook that a lot of people don’t even need to hit the streets; they have the technology to work efficiently at home.

▪ Driverless cars, an idea that once seemed wild, are now getting traction. Reader Joe Chasko is a believer: “Traffic jams will disappear. Cars can travel closer together. Add two to three lanes to the freeway by utilizing the shoulder. This will double to triple the capacity of highways.”

▪ Several readers are calling for light rail to Roseville, Elk Grove, El Dorado Hills and Arden Arcade. Plenty want to see it run to Sacramento International Airport. “It’s about time,” reader Margaret Rice says.

▪ There is a plan in the works to add more daily Capitol Corridor commuter trains between Roseville and Sacramento. The current daily train is popular. William Burg says on Facebook that expansion makes sense: “Considering the number of Bay Area transplants used to BART and Caltrain, it seems like the customer base is already there.”

▪ Richard Raisler mentioned the idea of a congestion charge for drivers who choose to travel during peak hours, but he predicts congestion will get worse even with the fee. But we do seem to be heading toward a dynamic-pricing economy, where the cost of goods or services goes up during peak demand times. You know that if you’ve ever hailed an Uber car during one of its “surge” pricing moments.

▪ Speaking of money, some brave readers suggested we raise the federal gasoline tax, which has been 18 cents a gallon since 1993.

▪ John Keller of Davis had an intriguing thought about the freeway bottleneck in West Sacramento at the Yolo Causeway. Widening the causeway bridges would be costly and would face environmental hurdles. How about, he says, a smaller fix ... in Woodland! Build a connector between I-5 and State Route 113; it would encourage some commuters to loop up that way instead of the causeway.

▪ Dirk Benson put it simply: “Stop building houses.” Regional planners put it another way: Stop building so many houses so far from jobs.

Here’s our plug on that: Infill-style housing near jobs, such as Sacramento’s plan for 10,000 units downtown, is a regional benefit. Those residents can walk, bike or bus to work in downtown, leaving more room on freeways and major streets for others. Suburban cities are doing some of that in smaller doses. And there’s always talk of more development ringing light-rail stations.

That’s when non-car commute options get real.

  Comments