The combined ability of HOT operations to introduce additional traffic to existing HOV facilities, while using price and other management techniques to control the number of additional motorists and maintain high service levels, renders the HOT lane concept a promising means of reducing congestion and improving service on the existing highway system, says FHWA.
There are, of course, still carpools. Washington, D.C., has more than its share, and that city has also given us “slugging” and “slug-lines.” Simply, a driver heading for the city stops at a predetermined spot, often a bus stop, where people are waiting in (slug) lines for rides. He calls out his destination and one, or two or three people hop in, and off they go. The passengers don’t pay the driver anything because he benefits by using HOV lanes. Everyone wins.
There seems to be some doubt on where the term comes from. The best explanation appears to be that when bus drivers saw lines of people at stops, they’d pull and open the doors. But sometimes none of the people got on, and other times only a few. The nonriders were, of course, waiting for an instant carpool. Since “slug” is slang for a take token used by cheating bus riders, drivers began calling the nonriders slugs.
Productivity Demands Infrastructure Upgrade
By John Latta
If America is more productive, she will be more competitive is the message beyond a new report.
The report, Growth and Renewal in the United States: Retooling America’s economic engine from the McKinsey Global Institute, identifies productivity as the key factor with reigniting growth and renewing the American economy. Productivity is “the engine that has powered U.S. growth in recent decades and has been a source of U.S. competitiveness,” say the researchers. “The United States needs to accelerate labor productivity growth to a rate not seen since the 1960s.”
While the report concedes this a daunting challenge, the researchers not only say it can be done – to a point of actually outperforming historic GDP growth rates – but also identify seven “major imperatives” that need to be addressed by business leaders and policy makers if it is to happen:
1. Drive productivity gains in the public and regulated sectors.
2. Reinvigorate the innovation economy.
3. Develop the U.S. talent pool to match the economy of the future and harness the full capabilities of the U.S. population.
4. Build 21st-century infrastructure.
5. Enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. business and regulatory environment.
6. Embrace the energy productivity challenge.
7. Harness regional and local capabilities to boost overall U.S. growth and productivity.
The report states bluntly that America’s infrastructure is inadequate to meet the needs of a growing, dynamic economy. It will either astonish or frustrate most American to see this country ranked 23rd in the world for its overall infrastructure. That infrastructure, including transportation, has been declining and now reached this miserable rating that is “undermining competitiveness” in the global economy.
“Multinational companies consistently rank infrastructure among the top four criteria they use to make decisions about where to invest,” says the report. There is also considerable scope for the United States to “identify and implement leading-edge practices in infrastructure development from project selection to financing and delivery, sometimes using the vehicle of public-private partnerships.”
There is also scope to improve the use of demand-management techniques; for example, city center congestion pricing and bridge tolls that vary by time of day, says the McKinsey researchers.v
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