"Commander" Chuck Street has had a bird's-eye view of the increasing volume on U.S. highways.
Long a helicopter-borne staple of Los Angeles radio until financial cutbacks ended his latest run in February, Street regularly informed listeners how traffic was -- or wasn't -- flowing. While still on the job, he took host Yul Kwon (winner of CBS' "Survivor: Cook Islands") up in the air for a transportation-oriented episode of the new PBS miniseries "America Revealed" that airs Wednesday, April 18 (check local listings).
"It takes a rider to sort of point out something that I didn't notice or forgot about," the affable Street says of having had Kwon literally along for the ride. "Somebody will say, 'Gosh, what a great morning; look at that sunrise,' and then you kind of snap out of it. I'm usually just so focused on trying to get the information correct and getting it out to our audience, sometimes you miss that."
Subtitled "Nation on the Move," the "America Revealed" hour also considers the responses by air and rail systems to the ever-rising demand in getting people where they're going.
In his daily time aloft, Street often didn't have to worry about traveling someplace by the modes most people use. He recalls that in 2010, "I had jury duty. I remember fighting my way over to the courthouse, and I thought, 'This is what people have to deal with.' "
So what happens in the future in terms of transportation congestion, especially in a metropolis at or near the size of LA? "If I knew the answer to that question, I would be a millionaire," Street reflects. "I think it just has to get so bad that people are forced to change their behaviors.
"I know a few years ago, there was a huge push for ride sharing. It worked to a certain point, but it plateaued; they could only get it to a certain level of participation. Perhaps it will take gasoline becoming so expensive, we'll see a reduction in traffic because people are sharing the ride or taking public transportation. I really wish I had the solution for that."
Photo/Video credit: PBS