In fast-growing metropolitan areas like the Bay Area, Boston and Seattle, sub-par infrastructure and pricey housing threaten to put the brakes on rapid economic growth. In struggling areas, infrastructure can be an important obstacle to growth. In either case, as these studies argue convincingly, coordinated regional strategies that include private participation would offer an important competitive advantage.
The meta story here is the Industrial Age, metro-centered model is hitting the wall. As the Bay Area Economic Council report referenced in this article points out, housing market economics work to push people to the far reaches of ever-expanding metro areas. That in turn drives transportation demand and lengthens commutes. In response, regional and transportation planners keep looking for transportation-oriented solutions to bridge the widening time and distance gap. But they cannot work because the underlying template is fundamentally broken, having reached the point of diminishing returns.
The good news in the new century is information and communications technology (ICT) is permanently disrupting this struggling model and its time and life sucking daily commutes to distant, centralized commute-in offices over congested highways and inefficient public transit systems. It’s no longer necessary to move people back and forth daily between home and the CCO. Workers can now easily leverage ICT to work at home or in regional co-working centers located in their home communities. Their work gets done, they can skip the daily commute and pressure on the overburdened transportation system is relieved.