collage showing cars entering tunnel

Manville on Musk’s Pitch to Ease Traffic

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to New York Magazine about Elon Musk’s Boring Company, which proposes alleviating traffic congestion through the construction of tunnels beneath U.S. cities. Musk has argued that this type of underground network could whisk drivers across town in a fraction of the time. Manville countered that if the tunnels succeeded in easing traffic above ground, city streets and freeways would then become more attractive to the same drivers, and congestion would return. An example of this induced demand is the expansion of Interstate 405 through Los Angeles’ Sepulveda Pass, which was meant to reduce traffic but instead lured more motorists to the freeway’s added lanes. Manville, who leads traffic research at the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, said a wiser course of action would be to implement congestion pricing for drivers traveling on existing roads and provide more alternatives to low-capacity vehicles.


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