Increasing Mobility in Southern California: A New Approach

This study examines Southern California’s mobility challenges in detail. While the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) Long Range Transportation Plan includes some new capacity, it does not allocate nearly enough resources to improving mobility. The region’s planned transportation approach of investing heavily in fixed-rail transit and land-use changes to reduce the extent of driving can benefit the region but the approach will not significantly reduce traffic congestion or improve transit service in Southern California. The current plan would lead to only a modest increase in transit’s market share, while overall congestion would continue to increase. While non-automobile alternatives—including a larger and better-designed bus network, sidewalks for walking and a bike network for commuting—definitely have an important role to play, they alone cannot reduce congestion.

The new approach we recommend is a comprehensive plan to improve mobility. It reduces congestion by dealing with both major sources: recurrent and non-recurrent. For non- recurrent congestion, which is caused by incidents (accidents, work zones, weather, etc.), Southern California should expand efforts under way, such as quicker identification of, response to, and clearance of incidents. On arterial streets, improvements in traffic signal coordination and access management will also help.

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