Saving on Gas By Design
February 13th, 2003 by Tim Evans
- With American dependence on oil an increasing concern, one area of New Jersey offers national leadership in using less gasoline.
- Hudson County has the highest percentage of commuters using transit in the state, at 34 percent. This high transit ridership helps lift New Jersey to the number two spot nationally, behind New York.
- In contrast, only 4 percent of commuters along the heart of the traffic-clogged Route 287 corridor (Morris and Somerset counties) use public transit.
- If workers in Morris and Somerset counties were able to use public transit at even half of Hudson County’s rate, it could take almost 50,000 cars off the road each rush hour.
DENSITY BRINGS MORE OPTIONS, LESS OIL DEPENDENCE
“Burn a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk” is the norm for sprawling communities. But it’s possible, and increasingly desirable, to design communities where there are options besides the car for getting around.
Mixed-use communities are one goal of Governor McGreevey’s call for smarter growth. This means creating places where homes, shops and offices are in close proximity, restoring travel options like walking or biking.
When the number of people per acre, or density, is high enough, additional transit options like train lines and bus lines become practical. Had new development in Morris, Somerset and other suburban counties been planned at densities high enough to support transit, traffic problems in these places would have been greatly reduced.
The growing desire for higher-density living, and the advantages it brings, is evident in the rising demand for homes in places like Hoboken and Jersey City, and in communities along newly opened transit lines.
Smart growth means growing our communities in a way that restores travel options not available in sprawling development. It means less traffic on our roads, less gas in our tanks – and a higher quality of life.