Union leaders and their fantasies

Two union officers penned an opinion piece for the San Mateo Daily Journal that laid out their fantasy for transportation:

We can all dream of a future when today’s unbearable traffic congestion is a thing of the past. Traffic would flow freely on Highway 101, Interstate 280, State Route 92 and the Dumbarton corridor because smart, safe, reliable technology will have improved mobility on our traffic corridors, expanded the use of public express buses and maximized the capacity of our highway network.

The problem is, their fantasy is actually the unexamined assumption underlying all transportation planning in the U.S. When people use a catch-phrase like “congestion relief,” they are drawing upon this fantasy. Even though congestion relief never happens in the real-world (at least, not long-term), the fantasy blocks their listeners from thinking critically and asking for proof of feasibility.

When the authors conclude that “we can have effective solutions if we just work together,” the sole foundation for that hope is this fantasy. TRANSDEF is clear that there are no “effective solutions” that can give them the solo driving paradise they desire.

TRANSDEF’s message is that our society needs to grapple with–and get over–the disappointment that the fantasy can never become reality. Traffic is a reality we all need to face, bringing us to the realization that we’re going to have to share our rides, either by picking up a carpooler or by taking transit. It’s a bit like life after we grow up and recognize there is no Santa Claus: Once we have adjusted our expectations, we then plan accordingly, and develop the best available realistic solutions.

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