their cars at home and became passengers one day per week,
there would be 20 percent reduction in tra;c volumes and a
likely reduction of the worst kinds of congestion. With some
technological and policy adaptation—using radio frequency
identification (RFID) tags and big data analytics to track levels of
tra;c, using mobile applications like Carma or Hovee, and putting a value on passengership, even more could be done. “Value
pricing shouldn’t be about raising tolls — about tolling people o=
the roads. It should be about making the system visible, so that
communities of drivers can switch to become passengers when
it’s needed,” says Minett. He would also like to see a fair market
value put upon parking at the destination end of the commute,
so that when drivers opt to become passengers, they receive cash
or credit for the value of the parking spot they do not use on that
day. “People who are prepared to switch are the most valuable
people in the system,” says Minett, “and they should be treated
very well, because if they switch, it makes the tra;c better for
all.” If we can e=ectively incentivize passengership, according to
Minett, then we can deploy the power of communities to become
active agents in their own tra;c destiny.
Communities, by now it almost goes without saying, have
proven to be resilient and resourceful agents of change in human a=airs, and signs seem to indicate that they may be an
important part of the solution for the American commute, the
getting from home to work and back. The environmental and
economic consequences of the single-rider form of “modal
choice” are well known. Tra;c congestion in the United States
alone adds 56 billion pounds of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, wastes 2. 9 billion gallons of fuel annually, and costs
drivers $121 billion per year. It’s a very big problem that pre-occupies multiple agencies at the United States Department of
Transportation (DOT). And though that sprawling bureaucracy
is responsible for, among other things, improving the safety
and e;ciency of air tra;c, maritime shipping, pipelines, railroads, trucking, and even the continued management of the
St. Lawrence Seaway, the DOT has also begun to focus, at least
in principle, on leveraging the power of communities. Its “
Livable Communities” initiative, “a transformational policy shift,”
according to the DOT’s 2013 budget report, represents a new effort, at the largest level of governance, to bring federal funds to
bear upon tra;c congestion at the community level. And that,
like Minett’s idea of giving people an active role in solving their
own transport problems, goes to the heart of what it means to
commute — a word whose etymological origins, after all, embrace
both community and change. A
See an audio slide show about “The New Commute” at
Ah! And red; and they have peach fuzz, ah!
They are full of juice and the skin is soft.
They are full of the color of my village
And of fair weather, summer dew, peace.
Slid out of me like stones,
like peonies and roses,
pricked like a holly bush,
lulled me with the hymns of weevils.
Loud like the lion that kills.
Flew out of me like cheetahs,
took hold of me like lice, like love.
Ripped me open like a cougar.
Rose up at me like a cream-bellied cobra.
Ah! and red; and they have peach fuzz, ah!
Clattering and weeping. Diapering
and digging. Exuberant singing,
firecats leaping. Peaches, more
peaches! Crates of velvety freestones.
In a basket, at breakfast, with a wasp.
Hail, pale stranger, come down
from the Kunlun Shan Mountains.
Beware of leaf curl, brown rot, beware
the speckled emperor, the catapult moth.
They are full of juice and the skin is soft.
Bloodmeal, bonemeal, or stunted growth.
Peach wood arrows to shoot away evil;
peach wood wands to ward away the bad.
Caravaggio’s memorable discolorations,
molted and wormholed, Monet and Rubens
speaking the truth, through peach and leafage,
from their hearts and tongues. Budded or grafted
from a suitable rootstock. Budded or grafted,
my dear luscious darlings, my dappled courage.
They are full of the color of my village.
They grow like stars. They grow like mountains,
like fissures, an inch or six a year. Measure
themselves against a lazy yellow wall. Compete
to see who’ll ripen first. Stevens said,
of parenting, it’s a “terrible blow to poor
literature,” Holly, peach of his reason,
pen stilled till she reached the age of nine,
firecat closing his big, bright eyes.
They are not ours, not ours to keep, spice
of fair weather, summer dew, peace.
— Martha Silano