Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Can we solve the traffic jam problem?

Traffic jams are one of the major social blights in the big cities of the developed - and developing - world.

The obvious issues are the resulting pollution, stress and time wasting familiar to all of those who undertake the daily work day commute in a big city.

Perhaps not so well known is the enormous cost of traffic congestion. In Australia the estimated cost of avoidable traffic congestion will be $20 billion for the year 2020, making this one of our major financial issues of the next decade. (See the graph below)

These costs reflect the extra travel time, fuel usage, travel time unreliability and pollution arising from congestion, compared to a situation of optimal traffic flow.

Traditionally Governments have reacted by building more roads and increasing public transport , with the latter the better solution. But the cost of either is immense.

Today we have a much cheaper and more easily implemented solution, and that is - working from home. The wonders of the e-mail and Internet have given us the necessary tools to bring this in.

If the various Governments were to give tax breaks to those companies who allowed their employees to work say one day a week from home, the potential is there for a massive reduction in traffic congestion, to the benefit of all. Other flow on effects such as reduction in insurance premiums would likely follow.

Costs to the Government in the form of taxation benefits would be well less than the costs of the escalating congestion and the concept of working from home is generally very popular with the electorate.

On the down side the Government would experience a drop in revenue from decreased fuel consumption, but this would be well balanced with reduced costs in road maintenance and public transport infrastructure.

In the past, successful nations, corporations and individuals are those who have been able to grasp and efficiently use the new technologies, and we have a perfect opportunity here to do just that, in effectively addressing the issue of traffic congestion.  e-mail and Internet show us the way.

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