Wachs on the Past, Present and Future of L.A. Traffic

Urban Planning Professor Martin Wachs joined the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy’s Then & Now podcast to discuss the history of traffic congestion in Los Angeles. Wachs was joined by MURP student Yu Hong Hwang and history Ph.D. candidate Peter Chesney. The three described the findings of their recent report, which challenged the myth of Los Angeles’ car culture. Wachs also noted that increasing transit capacity does not necessarily reduce traffic congestion. “Transit is important, but it is not an antidote to congestion,” he said. Instead, he explained that investing in transit means providing people with alternatives to driving so that they can choose to take a bus or train instead of a car. Looking forward, Wachs suggested implementing congestion pricing in Los Angeles. “We will have to learn to live with traffic congestion as long as there is a strong consensus that we would rather sit in traffic than pay a fee to avoid it,” he concluded. The report’s authors also discussed their findings in a recent webinar.


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