Manville Speaks to Inevitability of Congestion Pricing

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the logic behind congestion pricing. While the idea of paying for freeway use has prompted backlash from drivers, transportation experts argue that congestion pricing is the only way to combat the traffic problem in California. “What happens on the 405 every day is what happens at Best Buy and Target on Black Friday,” Manville said. With the implementation of congestion pricing, “those who can afford to pay the fees are able to avoid congestion for a reliable daily commute, while presumably lessening traffic for those who don’t pay and use the general lane,” he said. Toll lane expansion is in the works across the state, including plans in Los Angeles, Riverside, Alameda and Orange counties. “People who study congestion have known for a long time that the only thing [that will relieve congestion] is dynamic pricing,” Manville said.


Manville Endorses Pricing to Manage the Roads

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to LAist about LA Metro’s plans to study toll lanes on the 405. Manville said he is not surprised toll lanes are being considered — he is surprised it took this long, since Metro express lanes on other freeways generate a lot of money. “It’s really one of Metro’s most successful programs, honestly, and so we should not be surprised or upset that they want to expand it,” he said. Manville predicted that winning public support for the tolls will be a challenge. “Yes, we pay taxes right now to provide the roads,” he said, but “saying that because we’ve already paid to bring the road into existence we shouldn’t use prices to manage it is sort of like saying once you have paid to build a house you shouldn’t be able to sell it at a price.”


 

The Game Is Rigged, Manville Says

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to the Denver Post about the challenges facing the next general manager of the Regional Transportation District (RTD), which serves Denver, Boulder and surrounding areas in Colorado. The current general manager recently announced that he will step down, and the agency’s board of directors is looking for a replacement who will be able to reverse RTD’s declining ridership. Despite the addition of new commuter rail lines and bus rapid transit services, ridership has dropped nearly 5 percent over the last four years. According to Manville, the greatest challenge will be operating in a “metropolitan area that favors those who drive themselves around.” He warns, “The game is rigged. This is what your next director will face, no matter who he or she is.”


Manville on Proposal to Add Toll Lanes to the 405

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to ABC7 News about a proposal to add toll lanes to the 405 Freeway. If approved by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the lanes would be open to drivers in 2027, in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Manville acknowledged that the toll lanes would be likely to draw opposition, as “a lot of people are very accustomed to the road being free.” But he added, “The only thing anyone has ever found that actually reduces congestion is using prices on the roads. So if we are serious about reducing congestion, something like this is what we have to do.” Manville is on the research faculty of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin.


 

Manville on Efforts to Reduce Congestion Near Utah Resorts

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville told NPR Utah that public transportation improvements may not be enough to solve a congestion problem in the state’s Cottonwood ski resort area. Utah transit officials recently upgraded the area’s bus service in an effort to reduce traffic during the winter ski season. The officials predicted that the improvements, including an increased number of trips, faster service between routes and more seat space, will increase bus ridership by at least 25 percent. However, Manville pointed out that, while improved public transit is a positive step, it’s not necessarily going to solve the problem. “At its best, public transportation offers people the chance to avoid the headache of driving in traffic,” he explained, “but it has never been demonstrated to actually reduce congestion.” According to Manville, “The textbook solution is a toll on the road based on the level of demand for it.”


Congestion Pricing Is Good for Drivers, Manville Says

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, was featured in a Government Technology article about Los Angeles’ plan to study congestion pricing to reduce traffic. City officials and LA Metro, the region’s public transit agency, plan to complete the feasibility study within the next two years. Manville said that, while the public should be informed of environmental benefits, such as cutting back emissions and reducing transportation’s total footprint, people should also be aware that congestion pricing would also make driving easier. “If you have a region full of drivers, it’s real important to frame congestion pricing as a policy that is good for drivers,” said Manville, who was speaking at CoMotion, a recent conference on urban mobility.


 

Manville Compares ‘Blade Runner’ Predictions to Los Angeles Today

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to LAist about how Los Angeles today has lived up to the predictions of the 1982 sci-fi cult classic “Blade Runner,” which takes place in an imagined future 2019. The film presents a “vision of a sort of hyper-dense metropolis of the future … that’s really not pleasant at all,” he said. While the film’s characters have been left behind on Earth, Manville points out that present-day Los Angeles is actually planning for a future with more people. Furthermore, he explains that the film presents aerial transit “in a highly stylized way that ignores most of the actual logistics,” whereas a real-life flying car service in a major city would cause huge congestion problems. “Blade Runner,” Manville concluded, “is one of the great urban backdrops, especially dystopian urban backdrops, in film, but its relevance to the Los Angeles we live in is probably pretty limited.” 


Land Is Finite, but Housing Is Not, Manville Says

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to Architectural Digest about Apple’s announcement that it would invest $2.5 billion to address California’s housing crisis. The plan includes converting a 40-acre plot of land the company owns in San Jose into space for affordable housing. Manville said much of San Jose is reserved for detached single-family homes, “making for very inefficient use of valuable land.” Residents may be hesitant to change zoning rules because they like how their neighborhood looks or the fact that their house has tripled in value, Manville said. But he urged, “We must build up, so that the same plot of land of one home can accommodate many families. You know, the elevator also exists in Silicon Valley.” The alternative, he said, is a place that has the economy of a megacity and built environment of a suburb, “and that’s simply not sustainable.” Manville concluded, “Land is finite, but housing is not.”


 

More Lanes Does Not Mean Less Congestion, Manville Says

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to WWJ Radio’s The Break Down: Road Work Ahead about the impact of deteriorating infrastructure on traffic congestion. Governments cannot keep up with road repairs, and adding more lanes has proven to be ineffective, the podcast noted. In Los Angeles, an additional lane was added to Interstate 405 in the hopes of alleviating congestion. This project ultimately failed, which was “actually entirely predictable,” Manville said. “Anything that you’re doing to try and add capacity will not reduce congestion,” he said, explaining that adding lanes simply attracts more drivers. “It lowers the price in time of using the road, and you can’t reduce congestion by making driving on a busy road at a busy time less expensive. It becomes fundamentally self-undermining,” he said.


 

Parking Is a Money Pit, Manville Says

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to The Real Deal, a real estate news site, about a Los Angeles Planning Commission proposal to eliminate required parking spaces in new downtown housing developments, with the goal of creating more room for housing and decreasing the number of cars on the road. Manville said this policy is in line with cities such as San Francisco and Portland, which have begun easing downtown parking requirements. If eliminating parking requirements becomes the standard, business would improve for developers, he said. “As a conservative lender – and most institutional lenders are conservative – you might not loan on something that’s not the market standard,” he explained. But a developer with non-institutional funding who builds housing without parking spaces would spur more of this kind of development, he said. In the long term, eliminating parking requirements would lower the cost of development because “parking is a money pit,” Manville said.