Remarks by Prof. Michel Strawczynski at the conference on “Removing Traffic Jams"

10/12/2018 |  Strawczynski Michel
Remarks by Prof. Michel Strawczynski, Director of the Bank of Israel Research Department, at the conference on “Removing Traffic Jams – Solutions for Opening Transit Arteries in Israel”

 

The conference took place at Tel Aviv University on December 10, 2018.

 

Main points:

  • In the past three decades, employees have tended to choose traveling to work by private vehicle over public transit.  While 34 percent got to work by bus in 1983, only 18 percent got to work by bus in 2016, plus an additional 4 percent by train.
  • In contrast, there was an increase during the same period in the rate of those traveling by private vehicle, from 31 percent (about 400,000 employees) to 60 percent (2.3 million employees).
  • In recent years, the rate of commuters—individuals who do not work close to their place of residence and are forced to travel to more distant localities—increased.  The percentage of employees who travel daily to their place of work increased from 34 percent in 2006 to 53 percent in 2016.  During the same period, the rate of those who answered that their travel duration was “bothersome” relative to those who answered “not bothersome” in the Social Survey increased from minus-18 to minus-2.  It should be emphasized that the lack of satisfaction of these employees increased not only as a result of the lack of a public transit alternative, but also from the increased duration of travel.
  • The solution to opening the transit arteries in Israel that is proposed by the Bank of Israel’s Research Department includes six directions of action, some of which are already in the process of being implemented:

a.  Continuing to promote a transportation master plan while significantly increasing public transit infrastructure and coordinating the various means of transportation;

b.   Establishing metropolitan transit authorities and shortening the planning processes;

c.   Preference for underground transit in metropolitan areas;

d.   Concentrating all PPP contact with the private sector in a single entity, and examining the involvement of the business sector as early as the planning stage;

e.   Promoting means of public transit in localities with low socioeconomic backgrounds;

f.    Completing the “Moving to Green” trial as an initial stage in formulating a congestion levy.

 

Existing employees and those that were between 1983 and 2016 tended to choose traveling to their jobs by private vehicle, in view of the poor public transit alternatives that were available to them.  In 1983, 34 percent of employees got to work by bus.  In 2016, that rate had declined to 18 percent, and an additional 4 percent got to work by train—an alternative that was not significant in 1983.  The lack of a public transit option was a factor in the increase in the number of employees traveling to work by private vehicle during that period.  In 1983, 31 percent, about 400,000 employees, chose to travel to work in their private vehicle, while in 2016, that number had increased to 60 percent, about 2.3 million employees.  This increase is causing a significant overload on the existing road infrastructure, and leading to dissatisfaction in view of the increased travel time.  It is also important to emphasize that some of the decline in satisfaction in recent years is a result of employees’ decision to commute.  The percentage of commuters increased from 34 percent in 2006 to 53 percent in 2016, with a significant increase in travel time to work.

 

According to our recommendation at the Bank of Israel Research Department, it is important to direct government activity into two main areas:  first, improvement in overall planning that includes looking at the planning of new neighborhoods with advance consideration of the means of transit that will serve the population; second, creating an efficient public transit alternative that includes coordination between the various means of public transit (“feeder lines”).

 

The Research Department’s recommendations include the following directions of action: a. Continuing to promote a transportation master plan while significantly increasing public transit infrastructure and coordinating the various means of transportation; b. Establishing metropolitan transit authorities and shortening the planning processes; c. Preference for underground transit in metropolitan areas; d. Concentrating all PPP contact with the private sector in a single entity, and examining the involvement of the business sector as early as the planning stage; e. Promoting means of public transit in localities with low socioeconomic backgrounds; f. Completing the “Moving to Green” trial as an initial stage in formulating a congestion levy.

 

The first stages of the “Moving to Green” trial showed positive potential in adopting means to manage demand.  Therefore, we can consider adoption of a congestion levy on vehicles traveling on jammed arteries during peak road congestion times.

 

The Research Department recommends completing the trial along the outline that was planned in advance, and if the initial findings that showed that individuals are prepared to change their travel habits in response to financial incentives are confirmed, then it will be possible to continue to the next stage—planning a system that uses congestion levies on travel arteries where very serious traffic jams are observed.

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