Los Angeles Transportation: Facts and Fiction

We at U.C.L.A. hear from reporters a lot, and they are often looking for a few quotes to help write a familiar script. In it, Los Angeles is cast in the role of the nation's transportation dystopia: a sprawling, smog-choked, auto-obsessed spaghetti bowl of freeways which meander from one bland suburban destination to the next. The heroes of the picture are cities like San Francisco, or especially New York, which are said to have created vastly more livable urban forms based on density and mass transit.

The Rebound Effect of Higher M.P.G.

In my last post, I blogged about my (mostly) favorable reaction to California’s program to increase fuel economy. But for the record, I should mention a few petty details — like the fact that these regulations will increase congestion, damage our roads, cut tax revenues, promote (for better or worse) low-density suburban development, and reduce […]

California Gets a "Green" Light

As you may have read, the Obama administration is moving toward giving California approval to cut greenhouse gas emissions by mandating better fuel economy. The California regulations should mean 40 percent more miles per gallon for new cars starting in 2016. The good thing is that the innovations that can make this happen are not […]


I can't help but wonder how many urban planners were inspired to enter the profession by computer games like SimCity or Railroad Tycoon. I can't help but admit to spending a few hours (O.K., more than a few) blasting virtual tunnels through the Rockies and rebuilding Tokyo after those annoying SimCity Godzilla attacks.

Why You'll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free, Part Two

In my prior post, I blogged about introducing variable tolls on America's highways. The basic idea: fight congestion by imposing tolls that vary in response to traffic levels. When roads are too crowded, hike the tolls, keep some drivers out, and thus keep traffic free flowing at all times.

Why You'll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free: A Guest Post

Eric A. Morris is a researcher at U.C.L.A.’s Institute of Transportation Studies, concentrating on a variety of transportation issues including history, economics, and management. He weighed in here earlier on the gas tax. Here is his first of two posts on road tolls. Why You’ll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free By […]

The Gas Tax Revisited: A Guest Post

It would seem to be a fantastic time to raise gas taxes right now: while the economic climate is so dire that all other tax hikes have been shelved (even the high-earner income-tax increase that Obama pushed during his campaign), gas prices have fallen so far in recent weeks that even an outrageously high per-gallon tax wouldn't hurt much right now. (It'd be kind of like a SMarT Plan in reverse.) But as with all tax matters, things aren't so simple.