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Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives

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530 Dayton, No. 202
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98020
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Reducing Congestion

"We've never said we will reduce congestion," says Joni Earl, Sound Transit's executive director. "What we're about is another option, out of the congestion." Quoted in Seattle Times by reporter Eric Pryne in "The bus tunnel tug-of-war," Sunday, May 12, 2002

In most corridors around Puget Sound, public transit does not move a large enough share of travelers during rush hour to make any difference to traffic congestion. Public transit does provide urban travelers with an alternative to driving in congestion, and CETA looks for ways to attract a growing share of travelers to transit. This is done by deploying transit that attracts and serves the most people for every hundred dollars invested. This approach maximizes the number of cars removed from congested roads, which provides the greatest marginal improvement in traffic flow. Twenty people on a bus takes less road space than 20 people driving alone in 20 separate cars. In the Puget Sound geography, buses are better than trains in attracting new transit customers per dollar, because many, many bus stops close to people's homes and jobs can attract more people for a particular level of investment than a few trains stations. At the same time, road and traffic signal improvements that keep buses moving despite congestion can simultaneously keep other kinds of HOV traffic moving as well.

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