Friday, June 15, 2012

New Pico y Placa: Fiddling With Failure

A traffic jam this afternoon on Carrera 30 near Palo Quemao.
Notice that the Transmilenio bus, pulling out of the station, is belching a huge plume of smoke.
Why is there no control?
Mayor Petro's plan to expand the Pico y Placa system to six days a week, now including Saturdays, makes sense. Saturday, after all, suffers from some of the week's worst traffic jams. And, three days on and three off seems fairer and simpler than the current rotating system.

The trouble is that the Pico y Placa has very obviously failed, and needs to be replaced by something which works - such as a congestion charge.

The fundamental trouble with Pico y Placa is that it discourages use of specific cars, but not necessarily of driving, which is the real problem. Because each car cannot be used several days each week, those who can afford to simply purchase second cars. That makes traffic congestion and pollution worse in the long term, particularly since those second cars are usually older and highly-polluting.

City officials have said that Pico y Placa will not apply to electric cars, as a way of promoting clean transportation. The only trouble with that idea is that there are no, or almost no, electric cars in Bogotá. But why not give the same benefit to natural gas-powered vehicles, which are almost pollution free?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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