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Can Americans be weaned from their automobiles? Moreover, should they be? In a work of extraordinary scope that touches on virtually every dimension of urban transportation problems since World War II, the authors find that most problems can be solved through a sustained, systematic effort that must include a prominent, though refined, role for the automobile.
Following a brief review of the way in which urban travel patterns and systems have evolved, the authors discuss mass transportation and the largely misdirected government policies aimed at increasing its effectiveness. They discuss not only buses, trains, and subways, but also more unconventional possibilities like vanpooling, dial-a-ride, and taxis. They clearly state where public policy has gone wrong and what it can still do to make public transportation more efficient and more cost-effective in the future.
The authors turn next to the automobile’s impact on land use, energy, air pollution, and aesthetics. They discuss small-car safety and the transportation of the poor, the handicapped, and the elderly, and offer concrete suggestions for dealing with problems in these areas.
The book concludes with recommendations that are both compelling and controversial. While providing clear guidelines for the future improvement of public transportation, the authors recognize that many transportation problems can only be solved by adapting the automobile to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of urban life.