Is Austin's Transportation Policy Really About Transportation
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This paper explores transportation policy in Austin, Texas in light of an observable and paradoxical gap between the implication of the new proposals and empirical evidence needed to support them. The paper examines the issue in light of four common explanatory rationales of new transit expansions developed by a review of the literature. These are: traffic congestion, sprawl, air pollution, and federal governmental influence. Each rationale exerts pressure in the transportation debate.
As a means of approaching the research question, the paper examines Capitol Metro Transportation Authority for its stance on the issue. This is done by use of a content analysis. A videotape of the AIM presentation, a program designed by the agency to inform the citizenry on the issue, was chosen as a key document. The analysis recorded and weighed all statements and compared them against the research models. The results indicate that many statements were made about qualities, vague ideals such as choice, quality of life, and urgency, and that quantitative-based supportive research was lacking.
Additionally, the research examines the implications of ridership methodologies as measures of transit significance. It develops a predictive model based on the national experience with light rail systems. The model creates a novel Reduced-Traffic constant (RT constant) for estimating the potential numbers of automobiles likely to be removed from traffic due to a light rail system. The study concludes that while the message is largely about congestion, the empirical findings reveal that relief for the average commuter is likely to be unobtainable.