I propose what may be a very unpopular traffic solution.
But before I do I must first explain my justification for my placement of blame.
The source of the problem I will focus on is actually on the corporate level. Now this isn't a "hating the man" tree loving anti-establishment tirade. It is, what I believe to be a logical and realistic explanation of one of the major causes of terrible traffic in metropolitan areas as well as a proposed solution that will not completely abolish traffic, but perhaps improve the situation noticeably.
Major corporations feed our families, they build cities and breed other businesses. They are not the "enemy." But they have become a bit too confident for their own good. Instead of building these corporations to serve us, we have tried with all our might to dehumanize these creations and use them instead to protect us from any liability. We have created these autonomous beasts for an urban jungle that we only work to serve. Too abstract? Look at it this way. We trade them publicly and disperse control amongst a board in order to protect ourselves from any blame and perhaps lawsuit. It is a self standing unit that even has legal rights in some countries.
How does this affect traffic? Well, indirectly because of this dehumanization it has become easy to request more and more of its employees. The beast is never satiated.
"I give you more money, you work harder and longer."
Most every major corporation I have ever worked for expected the most out of you. It (or they) expected you to work yourself to the bone. Some elder folks often did exactly that. They gave it their all. Their hard work, their loyalty and the beast just fed. Once these older employee's are surpassed by the younger more "ripe" employee's they are cast out as empty shells. Replaced with no concern for their continued well being.
As time goes on these beasts make more and more demands. Humanity breeds to serve them and compete amongst each other to become the next victim.
Remember the days of suburban commute? Those images of nice clean houses when all the husbands drove off to work at the same time and arrived at exactly the same time? That's long gone but not due to the staggering schedule that would seem to make society more productive.
In its place was a demand. A shift from hourly pay to salary so the employee would work as many hours as "the beast" deemed necessary. No worthy compensation for the extra hours of life the human sacrifice.
Why do I claim that employers are to blame? The slight increase of salary pay is the excuse. Working excessive overtime requesting odd hours of employment, days off, travel etc. only take more and more out of an individual and require that he/she show up at rarely even hours making van pooling and the use of public transportation nearly impossible.
I'm not in a position of power really and yet I can never hope to van-pool with anyone. I'm lucky if I can even get away for lunch. If I take my lunch anywhere local it is always interrupted and multiple times. So I must leave the general area if I want a moment of peace. Lunch breaks aren't long enough for bus transportation to and from your eating break so you MUST have a car of your own or also carpool with others. That rarely works with the strange work and meeting schedules of your average company that schedules them all at the highest ranking employee's whim.
A improvement? Force a range of hours to apply to wage, salary AND more importantly place a cap on the hours employees work in a month, not just week and day.
So an employee would not be salary or wage exclusively but both, depending on how many hours he/she worked in the week and throughout the individual day according to their own individual contract. For example, less than 2=hourly, 2-8 salary, 8-12 hourly. That way they get the overtime they deserve but don't get away with ripping off the company too much either by clocking in and out one hour and still getting a full days pay.
Traffic accidents will also most likely reduce since drivers will be more well rested.
Basically, gradually reducing the amount of overtime that is expected from your employee's would help.
This is what I believe would be the most effective way to reduce traffic. This is a world economy and even keeping up with East and West coast U.S. differences becomes a challenge. East coast days are half over before West coast even gets started. Some companies, most of the larger ones responsible for the traffic, should switch to a multiple shift work schedule. Employee redundancy is one of the benefits they can look forward to.
Essentially employee's would have their hours reduced (as well as their pay) but more people would be employed which in the long run, money saved in commuting costs included, could stand to improve the standard of living for everyone involved.
I'm talking about a 3 a.m. to 12 a.m. function. 2 or 3 shifts not including the cleaning crew and maintenance work between 12 a.m. and 3.
It would be an experiment I would like to see at least attempted. We ARE running out of options so in the big picture I don't think my ideas are THAT outlandish.