Gridlock: Why We're Stuck in Traffic and What to Do About It (Hardback)

$24.95

By Randal O'Toole

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About the Book
America is the most mobile society in history, but our transportation system is on the verge of collapse. Traffic congestion is today five times greater than it was 25 years ago, yet many transportation plans and projects are making it worse. As Randal O’Toole reveals in Gridlock, the prime causes of our ailing system are a government transportation planning philosophy whose primary goal is to diminish auto use—hence, personal mobility—in combination with federal budget incentives that perversely encourage transportation planners to increase congestion. As a result, the automobile which is accessible to almost every family in the nation and provides unparalleled access to better housing, low-cost consumer goods, a choice-driven affordable life, and freedom—is being deliberately forced off the transportation grid by the expensive “solution” of little-used high-speed trains and urban transit lines.

Not only is this costly, illustrates Gridlock, it won’t even accomplish the goals of saving energy and protecting the environment. “We can spend tens or hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on transportation projects that sound good but really only serve a small elite,” writes O’Toole, “or we can restore a user-fee-driven system that will continue to improve personal mobility and reduce transportation costs for generations to come.”

Gridlock presents a wide range of innovative ideas and policy recommendations for creating an effective transportation system—improvements that will increase our mobility and pay for themselves, whether it’s cars, buses, planes, or trains. At the center of O’Toole’s solutions are three core principles: those who use transportation facilities should pay for them; negative effects should be dealt with in a cost-efficient manner; and new technologies that will increase mobility at a low cost must be embraced. In Gridlock, Randal O’Toole brings energetic and unconventional thinking to transportation strategies that have, until now, only driven us into the breakdown lane.
About the Author
RANDAL O’TOOLE is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who has written three previous books and numerous papers on transportation, urban growth, and public land issues, including his most recent book, The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future. Described by U.S. News and World Report as a researcher who “has earned a reputation for dogged legwork and sophisticated number crunching,” he has been a leader in innovative thinking on environmentalism, natural resources, and urban land use.


What Others Have Said
"A tour de force! O’Toole provides the relevant history, the keen diagnosis of our problems, and a prescient sense of the future in addressing our national gridlock. Every planner in America should be required to read it."
—ALAN PISARSKI
AUTHOR OF COMMUTING IN AMERICA

"This is an important transportation-planning book written from a free-market point of view. The primary thesis is that users and not the public should pay for transportation improvements. O'Toole rails against government policies that "encourage gridlock," e.g., "traffic calming" to promote "desirable" land use patterns and transit use. He equates miles of travel with mobility benefit (access to jobs, low-cost goods, etc.), and says "anti-mobility" and "smart growth" forces want to restrict mobility. O'Toole praises the automobile, which has provided unparalleled increases in miles traveled per person in the US, compared to other modes and countries. The book is severely critical of "little used" urban transit and intercity high-speed rail, citing their high costs and small reductions in energy use and air pollution. While most contemporary readers will not agree with everything in this book, they will be challenged to question many long-standing assumptions and beliefs. Highly recommended."
—D. BRAND,
CHOICE magazine

"O’Toole’s Gridlock is a brilliant ode to mobility. He blasts groups that have turned from promoting mobility to restricting it and punctures the pretensions of congressmen, bureaucrats, urban planners, and ‘smart growth advocates’ who want to spend billions promoting trains and rail transit systems that few people want to ride. Its policy arguments are too urgent and important to ignore. A must-read book."
—JAMES A. DUNN JR.
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY;
AUTHOR OF DRIVING FORCES: THE AUTOMOBILE, ITS ENEMIES, AND THE POLITICS OF MOBILITY

"Do you believe the conventional wisdom about mass transit? That most systems may never be able to pay back their investment but at least cover operating costs? That they provide transportation to people who cannot afford automobiles? That even without stellar economic efficiency, urban transit cuts pollution? Every platitude is factually incorrect—and that has been known for three decades. Learn the facts from Randal O’Toole, so we can stop wasting money on transit monuments to the egos of politicians."
—T. J. RODGERS
PRESIDENT AND CEO, CYPRESS SEMICONDUCTOR CORPORATION

"Traffic congestion is sometimes described as a market failure. In Gridlock, Randal O’Toole shows that it’s actually a government failure. He debunks the common mythology about congestion and shows that it’s a solvable problem if we’re willing to embrace market solutions and new technologies."
—JOHN CHARLES
PRESIDENT, CASCADE POLICY INSTITUTE

"A fascinating compendium that explores the economic and social consequences of high-speed travel—or, in many cases, the search for it."
—NEIL REYNOLDS
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
$24.95