Measures against traffic congestion
Tremendous growth in road transportation and inefficient use of automobiles have worsened Japans traffic congestion. The Ministry of Construction estimates that traffic congestion is costing the national economy approximately 12 trillion yen a year, or approximately 42 hours per capita per annum. Traffic congestion is also creating environmental problems and lowering economic efficiency. Measures to fight traffic congestion have been initiated by the Ministry of Construction. The Ministrys 11th Five-year Road Development Plan (FY1993 to FY 1997) set up a new anti-congestion program, which has reportedly eased congestion at around 600 problem points nationwide. The 12th Five-year Road Development Plan, which started in FY 1998, created the 3rd anti-congestion program to cover FY1998 to FY2002. More specifically, the program envisages measures for effective use of existing roads, building by-pass routes to increase traffic capacity, developing more systematic road networks (such as introducing more circular routes), improving or introducing elevated intersections to eliminate traffic bottlenecks, and upgrading information services and traffic control systems to improve traffic control. The program will also implement Transportation Demand Management (TDM), asking road users to reconsider how they use automobile transportation by, for example, promoting Park & Ride, flex-time commuting, and car-pooling.
Transportation Demand Management
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is a set of measures to control congestion, air pollution, and other road traffic problems by changing how road users make their transportation choices. In large cities, where traffic capacity cannot easily be increased, the authorities must achieve smooth flow of automobile traffic while respecting the transportation needs of the public. TDM provides an answer. The concept has been introduced mainly in the United States, where HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) are assigned priority lanes, and people are encouraged to make car-pooling / van-pooling arrangements. In Japan, geographical constraints do not allow new HOV lanes. Instead, the authorities are introducing Park & Ride, shuttle-bus services for individual companies, and flex-time commuting while encouraging the use of public transportation systems and implementing logistics measures. In the anti-congestion program by the Ministry of Construction, 13 cities across the nation have been targeted since FY 1994 and TDM has been implemented as part of the Comprehensive Model Project for Anti-congestion Measures.