Free «Summary:

In the article "America's great headache", published in the Economist in 2005, the discussion involves various approaches to solving the problem of challenges associated with popular vehicle-based commuting to work. The article specifies that the problem is not about commuting in particular, but about the accompanying circumstances that this way or another will impact the work and even the health of all who are trapped in huge metropolitan areas because of the traffic congestion.

Commuting as a modern-day phenomenon seems to be inescapable. Contemporary cities spread beyond suburbs into exurbs where cars become of extreme importance for daily routine. As a result, spending more than a hundred hours for commuting a year with 47 hours of delay has surfaced as a painful reality for millions of commuters. However, the problem does not involve only the aspect of time, but also the issues of extra expenses for additional utilization of fuel. The scope of the issue becomes even more threatening when it is realized that, for example, in the case of California, 530 tons of exhausts may be yearly emitted into the air.

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The enhancement of public transportation network may be a solution, but it requires enormous investments and may function effectively when the metropolitan system incorporates a central hub (e.g. Manhattan), which is irrelevant for such cities as Los-Angeles.

Car-pool lanes are unpopular since people prefer driving alone. The eventual solution is suggested to involve emptying drivers’ pockets by means of realistic prices for fuel and road-pricing. In particular, opening up toll lanes for an additional fee has proved effective for both rich and poor. At the same time, a London-like congestion charge issued for all who enter central urban areas is unlikely to gather political support.

However, it may be wiser to think more about prevention of congestion rather than coping with it. One way is to require that office and residential buildings should provide parking areas for their tenants. Thus, to provide a comprehensive solution to the problem of congestion both outside factors (more realistic gas prices and toll lanes) and inside ones (a thoroughly considered use of space) should be taken into account.


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