May 10


Congestionmatch all of the people driving by themselves during rush hour so every car would have two to three commuters in it, leaving half the cars at home.

It is a sad fact that the majority of cars on the roads during rush hour have just one person in them.  Ridesharing to date has a very lackluster track record.  Americans are just too tied to their little slice of the American dream – which in most parts of the country includes driving to work by yourself in your own car.

Minnesota is investing heavily in managed lanes – toll lanes where carpoolers can drive for free.  The first was I394, then I35W, and several more are being planned.  If all of the interstate highways running through the Minneapolis/St. Paul area have managed lanes, there would be a massive incentive for commuters to figure out carpooling.  It wouldn't be a silver bullet, but reducing peak traffic flows by a few percent is the difference between rush hour moving at 45 mph versus stop and go.

The Ridesharing Institute and the Transportation Research Board are holding a joint symposium on the topic in Oakland, CA on May 24th.  A portion of the symposium will be a free two hour webinar.  Details here.

p.s.  Another crazy option – instead of the two seat small car that is as wide as a normal car (and takes up the same long following distance as a normal car), put the seats in line like a fighter jet cockpit.  These 3 feet wide cars could get away with a lane that is roughly half as wide as the standard lane.  We could squeeze in a lot of these lanes and shift folks to a commuter car.  I know, good luck…..


  • We won’t even allow motorcycles to lane split in this state, so I’m guessing that having 3-foot wide cars would go over about as well.

  • I think the robo-car movement is the way to pursue for long term congestion relief. Automated stock-car-like drafting will triple capacity at least, and have fuel-efficiency advantages too. I’ve been a little surprised at the lack of intererst in the transportation planning/engineering community so far. Besides the safety and capacity advantages to the basic driving task, combining robo-cars with complimentary techs like car-sharing could have huge impacts on other fields like urban design.

  • Car pooling has been a topic for a long time, but with the obvious benefits I have yet to see an article dealing with the other pertinent issues:
    1) How will liability be handled? Should I pay higher insurance rates if I routinely drive additional passengers? This subject can’t be ignored in our litigious society.
    2) If I start car pooling with strangers, am I putting myself at greater personal risk with unknown people? People who I don’t know well who will know my work or vacation schedule, where I live, etc.
    3) There is something inherently unfair about everyone paying the same tax burden yet only a privileged group being allowed to use certain assets paid for by all. People routinely complain about this when referring to congressional perks; adding another group in society isn’t the best idea.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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