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Reason Foundation

Surface Transportation Innovations #104

How to increase transit ridership, Inefficiencies with electric cars, Managed lanes projects break new ground

Robert Poole
June 14, 2012

In this issue:

How to Increase Transit Ridership

For many years my intuition has suggested there was a contradiction between where most Americans live and work and how transit systems are trying to serve them. The ongoing trend for at least four decades has been the suburbanization of jobs that has followed the suburbanization of residences. Yet many transit systems have doubled down on providing radial service from suburbs to the imagined "central business district," seemingly oblivious to the growth of multi-centric urban areas.

Some new research that came to my attention last month has explored this question empirically. I first heard it presented by Prof. Jeffrey Brown, at a transit conference at Florida State University in mid-May. A week later, the same research was featured in a widely circulated article by Eric Jaffe on the Atlantic Cities site. (www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/05/what-really-matters-increasing-transit-ridership).

In their paper published online in Urban Studies, Brown and co-author Gregory Thompson set out to test whether a transit system's "service orientation" makes a difference in its performance. So they assembled a set of transit data from 45 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with between 1 million and 5 million people, with annual data for the years 1984 to 2004. Each transit system was identified as either primarily "radial" or "multi-destination" in orientation. And each was then measured on three performance measures:

  1. Riding habit (passenger miles per capita)
  2. Service productivity (ratio of passenger miles to vehicle miles)
  3. Cost-effectiveness (operating expense per passenger mile)

On all three measures, the multi-destination transit agencies did better. Brown and Thompson conclude that these results refute two assertions commonly made in the urban transportation literature. The first is that providing transit service to dispersed destinations is wasteful, compared to focusing on trips to and from the CBD. They conclude instead that "CBD radial orientation is in fact the most wasteful transit service orientation," based on actual performance in most large urban areas. Second, since their data distinguished between systems with and without rail transit, they challenge the premise (which I have long accepted) that "investing in expensive rail systems causes bus service cutbacks, thereby diminishing overall transit ridership." That would imply that bus-only MSAs would perform better than bus/rail MSAs, which was not supported by the data.

The paper goes on to present a pair of case studies, in which Brown and Thompson compare the transit systems of Tarrant County, TX (Fort Worth) and Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale). The former is a radial system, while the latter is a multi-destination grid system. In fact, Broward County Transit (BCT) originally operated as a radial system, but was re-organized as a grid system in 1980. They find that BCT offers four times as much service, with higher productivity for each mile of service. Passenger miles per capita is nearly five times greater in Broward County than it is in Tarrant County. And since BCT's productivity is also higher, its service is much more cost-effective than The T (Fort Worth's system).

Their main conclusion is worth quoting verbatim:

"Workers use transit to get to jobs in a multitude of locations that do not possess the built environment characteristics long thought to be important by most scholars in determining transit ridership. The results of this study suggest that most U.S. transit managers of bus-only transit systems and urban planners interested in transit are focusing on the wrong policy variables for improving transit ridership. For example, a destination can be very pedestrian-friendly, very mixed-use and very aesthetically pleasing, but if there aren't the right kinds of jobs in these places, hoped-for ridership will not materialize. Before we try to change the built environment, we need to make sure transit takes riders where they need to go. The emphasis on making transit trips direct and linking riders to employment centers, which tend to be located in suburban locations, are two important lessons for agencies seeking to increase ridership."

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Inefficiencies with Electric Cars

Several years ago in this newsletter (prior to the debut of the Chevy Volt), I celebrated the vision of a future of zero-tailpipe emission cars, powered by breakthrough battery technology. Articles on advanced batteries were appearing in respectable places like MIT's Technology Review, and Silicon Valley venture capitalists were ramping up funding of electric vehicle (EV) and advanced-battery startups. With the coming of practical, zero-emission vehicles, I hoped, a lot of the anti-car, anti-highway ideas that I disagree with could be dismissed as irrelevant.

Alas, several years later, things don't look so bright for EVs. Canadian columnist Margaret Wente, writing in The Globe and Mail last fall, summed it up as follows: "As Dennis DesRosiers, a leading auto consultant points out, consumers simply won't pay a $20,000 premium for a vehicle that doesn't go very far, isn't very convenient, and runs out of juice as soon as you turn on the air conditioner." And that, I think, neatly explains why sales of the highly touted Chevy Volt totaled just 7,671 last year, and the Nissan Leaf did only marginally better at 9,674. The Daily Mail in London reported that only 2,149 EVs have been sold in Britain since 2006. Wall Street Journal auto industry analyst Joseph White in February penned a detailed comparison of the Chevy Volt and the conventionally powered Chevy Cruz, about the same size but selling for half the Volt's $40,000 price. The Cruz is breaking sales records, while the Volt is a dud.

The underlying problem is simply that despite lithium-ion batteries being far superior to the lead-acid batteries that powered GM's previous electric car (the EV-1), they are still heavy, costly, and vastly less efficient at storing energy than that miracle fuel, petroleum. For EVs like the Volt, Leaf, and Ford's Focus, the battery pack costs $12-15,000, about one-third the cost of the vehicle. And that is despite $1.26 billion in federal subsidies to battery producers over the last several years. There may be some future battery technology that will represent a breakthrough in energy storage, but lithium-ion clearly is not it.

But that has not stopped the government's multi-front program of jump-starting an EV industry based on flawed technology. Besides grants and loans to battery companies, the Department of Energy and the Administration's stimulus program have put some $9 billion for EV production into major auto companies like GM and Nissan as well as a whole raft of start-ups such as Tesla, Fisker, Bright Automotive, Think, and even truck-maker Navistar, which got $2.4 billion to jump-start production of an electric truck called eStar that has found few buyers. (A number of the smaller start-ups have already filed for bankruptcy.)

In addition, of course, buyers of EVs get a $7,500 tax credit (which the Administration's current budget proposal would increase to $10,000). That credit applies not just to the low-end Leaf and Volt but also to the $100,000 Fisker Karma and Tesla roadster. The average household income of Volt buyers is around $170,000, and I'm sure those who have put down deposits for Fisker and Tesla EVs are in far higher brackets. What kind of public policy sense does it make to subsidize playthings for the rich?

The whole federal push to jump-start an EV industry is misguided. As former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has said, "The government is a crappy venture capitalist." In a field where true breakthroughs are needed if a practical, cost-effective EV is ever to emerge, government funding of basic research and development might be justified. But the attempt to shape and micro-manage the development of an industry is a recipe for massive wasting of resources. As former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Michael Boskin put it in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in February, "Industrial policy failed in the 1970s and 1980s. Letting governments, rather than marketplace competition, pick winners and loser is just as bad an idea today."

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Weighing Risks of Rail Project Cost Estimates

Many people were greatly upset when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in late 2010 cancelled the project to build a new passenger rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River. Called Access to the Region's Core (ARC), its estimated cost had been revised upwards by a Federal Transit Administration risk assessment at between $9.8 billion (low) and $12.4 billion (high). Yet the full funding grant agreement being negotiated between FTA and New Jersey Transit was based on a 2009 baseline cost estimate of $8.7 billion. Gov. Christie understood that the standard FTA full funding grant agreement commits the feds to a flat dollar amount (appropriated by Congress) and that any cost growth above that amount is the grant recipient's problem. Unwilling to take on the higher potential cost, he cancelled the project.

The issue roared back into life in early April of this year, when the normally very thorough Government Accountability Office issued a report on the subject (GAO-12-344) that could be cherry-picked to imply that the higher cost projections came from New Jersey (rather than from FTA's own risk assessment) and that the feds might have come up with a way to cover part of the overrun. A New York Times news story fanned the flames, selectively and misleadingly quoting from the GAO report. Both NJ Transit chief Jim Weinstein and state Sen. Jennifer Beck responded to those claims, and in the end, PolitiFact New Jersey verified that Beck, Weinstein, and Christie were right: "Based on a federal rule for such projects, New Jersey would have been responsible for cost increases beyond the $8.7 billion budget."

But that didn't stop Streetsblog Capitol Hill from publishing Angie Schmitt's vicious piece a week later titled "Christie, Walker, Kasich, and Scott All Deceived the Public to Kill Rail." Schmidt wrote, "Now that the GAO has exposed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's distortions (a.k.a. lies) to justify killing the ARC rail tunnel project to Manhattan, it makes you wonder if similar investigations in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida would reveal the same." She goes on to quote rail activists in Wisconsin and Ohio making such claims. She also attacks Florida Gov. Rick Scott's reliance on a Reason Foundation policy study in rejecting federal money for the high-speed rail project between Orlando and Tampa.

I have not studied either Ohio or Wisconsin, but since I was project director of Reason's Florida study, I can set the record straight on that one. The issue was quite parallel to that faced by Gov. Christie over the ARC tunnel. The official project cost estimate for the Florida HSR project was $2.7 billion, with the Federal Railroad Administration offering a grant of $2.4 billion. The Reason study reviewed global experience with HSR cost overruns, as well as comparing the per-mile cost of the 90-mile Florida project with the flat, simple "starter" section of the proposed California HSR line. Both comparisons suggested that the Florida project would likely cost far more—and under the same federal rule that applies to FTA grants, the state would have been responsible for any and all cost overruns. Once that risk became clear to Gov. Scott, he cancelled the project.

Critics of the decision consistently blurred the distinction between a projection and a fact, claiming that the state's cost would have been only $280 million (no overrun) and that Reason had said it would be $1 billion. But both were only estimates, and the job of a CEO or Governor is to weigh risks and act accordingly. Unfortunately, PolitiFact Florida in that case chose to accept the critics' case, and rated Scott's claim of cost-overrun risk as "False." You can read my detailed response to PolitiFact's error-filled assessment at: http://reason.org/blog/show/1012053.html.

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Managed Lanes Projects Break New Ground

The idea that at least some lanes on congested expressways should be managed via pricing, so as to ensure fast and reliable trips for buses and paying customers, continues to gain adherents. While not attempting to be comprehensive, this article focuses on what I consider to be some of the more notable projects around the country, some of which you have may not have heard of yet.

One of the most innovative proposals is to add premium lanes to a congested suburban toll road in metro Chicago. Working with the Illinois Tollway, an I-90 Corridor Planning Council has concluded that value-priced lanes should be added to 21 miles of the Jane Adams Tollway from just east of O'Hare Airport westward to Elgin. And from O'Hare eastward to the Loop (the non-tolled stretch of I-90 named the Kennedy Expressway) the plan is to also value-price the existing reversible express lanes, for another 7.3 miles. If implemented as planned, this would be the first case of variably priced premium lanes on an existing toll road. The idea was studied last decade for two congested toll roads in greater Miami—the Dolphin Expressway and the Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike, owned and operated by two different agencies. The two could not reach agreement and the plans were dropped, but the issue is once again being studied in Florida. And the express lanes being built on I-95 near Baltimore are on a section of I-95 that is nominally a toll road (though it has only one toll plaza, so only long-distance travelers pay tolls currently).

The world's shortest tolled express lanes project opened several months ago in Silicon Valley. It's basically the former HOV-lane connection from I-880 to SR 237, about two miles in length, and formerly a huge bottleneck of commuters backed up as they made the transition and exited to numerous workplaces in Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara. This is actually the first piece of a whole set of such express lanes being developed by the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority, as part of the Bay Area's planned 550-mile express lanes network.

In southern California, the nation's first-ever tolled express lanes (on SR 91 in Orange County) are being extended eastward to I-15 in Riverside County (which should have been done at the outset, but better late than never). That project has received approval of a federal TIFIA loan for part of its $1.3 billion construction cost. Other express lanes are now being studied for 13.5 miles of I-5 north of downtown Los Angeles and on I-405 in Orange County from John Wayne Airport north to the L.A. County line.

In Texas, another TIFIA loan approval will help to finance Phase 2 of the North Tarrant Express project, Phase 1 of which is already under construction as a long-term toll concession. The same project team doing Phase 1 will also finance, build, and operate Phase 2. And Austin will get its first express lanes project, adding a priced lane each way to 11 miles of the MoPac expressway.

An unusual application of the managed lanes principle has been proposed to Colorado DOT by Parsons Corporation (and is now subject to competitive proposals). The $3.5 billion project would target serious congestion, mostly on weekends, on the I-70 Mountain Corridor west of Denver. Full details have not been released, but Toll Roads News has published a rendering of a widened tunnel that is apparently part of the project. The Parsons proposal is reportedly self-funding from toll revenues and will be a "multimodal solution for the corridor." After reviewing expressions of interest received in April, CDOT plans to issue a formal RFP this summer.

In Phoenix, the Maricopa Association of Governments has commissioned a detailed Managed Lanes Network Development Strategy, nearing completion this summer by Parsons Brinckerhoff. A set of preliminary reports is available online. One of them includes the following statement:

"It is the vision of MAG to develop a system of managed lanes serving the freeways in the Phoenix metropolitan area, extending to major urban and suburban arterial streets, and incorporating essential support facilities. The development of an encompassing managed lane system can evolve to accommodate bus rapid transit and be complimentary to other fixed guideway transit investments made to move more people." (www.azmag.gov/Projects/Project.asp?CMSID=1009&CMSID2=4190)

Two other managed lanes projects, which I've written about previously, have also been designated for TIFIA assistance. One is the U.S. 36 Phase 2 project between Denver and Boulder. The other is the I-95 express lanes in northern Virginia.

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Daniels Defends Toll Road Privatization

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels came to Washington, D.C. on May 31st to defend highway privatization against anti-PPP provisions in the Senate reauthorization bill at a series of meetings with members of Congress--and also at a media roundtable sponsored by the Reason Foundation. "Long-term, we are going to need to invest more money [on infrastructure]," Gov. Daniels said at the briefing. "The next step is to open the spigot on private investment."

Indiana's "Major Moves" initiative was launched in late 2005 to improve and expand the state's highway infrastructure. In 2006 after competitive bidding, the state reached an agreement with the Australian-based Macquarie Group and the Spanish concessionaire Cintra to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years. The consortium paid $3.8 billion up front and is required to maintain and upgrade the road for the length of the lease. Indiana is using the proceeds (after paying off the Toll Road's debt) on a fully-funded 10-year highway investment program statewide. "It's hard to state how good a deal we made," Gov. Daniels said. "The company is actually losing money on the deal [short term] . . . but the state of Indiana did quite well."

Daniels fought back against claims that the privatization deal has led to unfair toll increases, pointing out that in the prior two decades, toll rates had not been raised at all. As part of the lease agreement, the joint venture company may increase toll rates only in line with inflation. Because of the low baseline, they were permitted to raise rates significantly at the start of the lease.

It is a "disappointment" that private investment in infrastructure has not been an area of agreement between groups on opposite sides of the political spectrum, Gov. Daniels said. As an example, he pointed to the failure of the Pennsylvania legislature to approve the $12.8 billion proposal received in 2008 for the lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. "[Former Gov. Ed] Rendell had a $13 billion check, waiting to be cashed," Daniels said. "The opposition is more than political . . . it's theological."

Reporters asked Gov. Daniels whether he would support ending federal funding of highways altogether. "That is a very interesting idea," he said. "That would end all of the red tape and encumbrances" of federal involvement. Still, Daniels believes that most states would elect to continue using a tax on gasoline as the dedicated revenue stream for highway funding.

Daniels panned President Obama's continued push for a national infrastructure bank, saying that he himself "has never seen an infrastructure bank I like." However, if the proposed bank were to take advantage of private investment and management, Daniels suggested that he might be in favor.

At the end of the discussion, Gov. Daniels strongly denied interest in the Secretary of Transportation job, adding that he would like to see a nominee "who embraces the rebuilding of America and is aggressive about pursuing private investment."

–Preston Cornish

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Upcoming Conferences

Note: I don't have space to list all the transportation conferences going on; below are those that I am (or a Reason colleague is) participating in.

OMW: Market, Communication and Policy Trends in Tolling, June 17-19, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA. (Bob Poole speaking) Details at: www.ibtta.org/Events/EventDetailwithVideo.cfm?ItemNumber=5680.

ITE/TRB Urban Street Symposium, June 24-27, Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL. (Sam Staley speaking) Details at: www.urbanstreet.info.

American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Meeting, June 24-27, Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City, UT. (Adrian Moore speaking) Details at: www.alec.org/meetings/39th-annual-meeting.

TRB/AASHTO Policy Committees Summer Meeting, June 27, Beckman Center, Irvine, CA. (Adrian Moore speaking) Details at: www.cvent.com/events/2012-trb-aashto-policy-committees-summer-meeting-mapping-the-future/event-summary-f3ab6e6622264a9ea602ced04cf8a1a8.aspx.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Transportation Forum, July 12, Georgia Public Broadcasting Studio, Atlanta, GA (Baruch Feigenbaum speaking) Details available from nancyktao@gmail.com.

FBT/TEAMFL Transportation Summit, July 12-13, Renaissance Orlando at Seaworld, Orlando, FL. (Bob Poole speaking) Details at: www.cvent.com/events/2012-fbt-team-fl-transportation-summit/event-summary-7e26aba84d78466b93ab61fccd9581dd.aspx.

IBTTA Summit on All-Electronic Toll Collection, July 22-24, Loew's Hotel, Atlanta, GA (Daryl Fleming speaking) Details at: www.ibtta.org/Events/EventDetailwithVideo.cfm?ItemNumber=5681.

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News Notes

How Lower-Income Citizens Commute. Work-trip data from the American Community Survey for 2006-2010 show that 76.3% of lower-income commuters use a car, van, or truck to get to work in the largest 51 metro areas. That is less than the 83.3% of all workers, but is far higher than most people assume. And only 9.6% of lower-income commuters use transit for the work trip (compared with 7.9% of all workers). Lower-income was defined here as those earning less than $15,000/year. Source: "How Lower Income Citizens Commute," Wendell Cox, www.newgeography.com/content/002666-how-lower-income-citizens-commute. The article includes a table showing the figures for each of the 51 metro areas.

State DOTs Support Expanded Tolling. Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation in April, North Carolina Transportation Secretary Eugene Conti urged Congress to expand states' tolling options and avoid adding new federal regulation of toll rates. Conti was speaking on behalf of AASHTO (American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials), whose board recently adopted this provision. North Carolina is one of three states (along with Missouri and Virginia) taking part in a three-state pilot program to reconstruct an aging Interstate highway via toll finance.

Megabus Expanding into California and Texas. The nation's leading upscale intercity bus operator, Megabus, announced in April that it will purchase up to $160 million worth of assets from ailing Coach America (currently in Chapter 11) enabling Megabus to expand its operations into California and Texas.

Public Employee Union Opposing Light Rail Plan. The firefighters' union of Virginia Beach, VA has come out in opposition to a proposed light rail transit system expansion in that city, and other municipal unions are discussing similar moves. Virginia Beach opened a 7.4-mile "starter line" in August 2011, and has plans to spend $807 million to extend it to the Oceanfront. The proposal is up for a public referendum in November. Municipal unions object to the city committing to large new expenditures while holding pay and benefits flat.

Amtrak Conductors Enter 21st Century. By this summer, conductors on Amtrak trains will abandon the 120-year-old technology of punching customers' tickets in favor of using an iPhone 4S to scan each ticket and send the information to the Amtrak data center. Currently, each conductor assembles the ticket stubs, fills out a form, and mails them to a service center in El Paso where the individual ticket stubs are scanned by 24 workers. The new system is costing Amtrak $7.5 million, but the company expects savings in operating costs to offset the initial capital expenditure.

How Did Federal Transportation Program Get So Screwed Up? An excellent analysis of "12 key decisions that put surface transportation programs on the path to endless extensions and financial insolvency" ran in Transportation Weekly's April 11th issue. It's far too detailed to summarize here, but very well done—and very much worth reading. Unfortunately, the article is not online, so the only way you can read it is if you subscribe to this excellent (but pricey) newsletter. Details available by email: mail@transportationweekly.com.

More California HOT Lanes Foolishness. A bill before the California legislature would further undercut the financing of HOT lanes in that state. AB 2405 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfeld (D, San Fernando Valley) would require operators of HOT lanes to let vehicles that qualify as Clean Air Vehicles (ultra-low or zero emission) use the HOT lanes without charge. The legislature last year prevented LA Metro from increasing the occupancy rate of carpool vehicles from 2 to 3 to qualify for free passage on the I-110 HOT lanes that are nearing completion.

New Website for Public Works Financing. This excellent newsletter on public-private partnerships in infrastructure (especially transportation)--and for which I write a monthly column—has a new website with greatly expanded content (including many of those columns). Go to http://pwfinance.net and check it out.

New CAFE Standards Would Devastate Highway Trust Fund—CBO. The already ailing Highway Trust Fund would lose another 21% of its annual revenue by 2040 if proposed new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards—requiring new cars and light trucks to average 49.6 mpg by 2025—go into effect. The current regulation requires average fuel economy of new vehicles to reach 34.1 mpg by 2016, and CBO's previous projection is the baseline against which it projected this further drop in revenue from the gasoline tax, which generates 60% of HTF's funding (with another 30% coming from the diesel fuel tax, which is not affected by the proposed CAFE standards). The May 2012 study, "How Would Proposed Fuel Economy Standards Affect the Highway Trust Fund?" is available on the CBO website, www.cbo.gov/publication/43198.

Poole Leadership Award from TRB Committee. Reason Foundation's public affairs people would be upset if I did not mention that at the 14th International Conference on Managed Lanes, last month in Oakland, I received the Leadership Award from the Transportation Research Board's Managed Lanes Committee. The statement accompanying the plaque recognizes research and advocacy dating back to 1988 that has helped to bring about growing acceptance of tolled managed lanes by federal, state, and metro area transportation agencies.

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Quotable Quotes

 "Advocates insist that the government should help them crank up mass production of electric vehicles. Once economies of scale kick in, they argue, electric vehicles can compete. Four decades after the 1973 oil crisis, this logic is wearing thin. Any company that figured out how to build a practical mass-market electric car would be swimming in cash. That no one has done so suggests we are bumping up against the limits of nature, not just politics or economics. Certainly, the many hundreds of millions of dollars that the U.S. government, GM, and GM's competitors have poured into the effort might have been better spent on more plausible energy-efficiency efforts, such as advanced internal combustion engines. Instead, Big Government and Big Business have focused on the Volt, the Fisker Karma, or the Tesla Roadster, none of which is remotely affordable for the '99 percent' of Americans. And yet in his 2013 budget, Obama proposes to boost the tax credit or electric vehicle buyers to $10,000. What's 'progressive' about that, I'll never understand."
—Charles Lane, "Electric Cars and Liberals' Refusal to Accept Science," The Washington Post, March 5, 2012

"The combination of the almost invisible way we collect our gas taxes, coupled with the absurdly low amounts we pay creates the illusion that roads are 'free.' A common belief: roads are free and they always should be. . . . So if we believe we are entitled to good roads, and they are supposed to be free, of course we support increased investment, but we don't want to pay for it! Funny, though, none of us think electricity or water should be free. We expect to pay for phone and internet service. Today, almost everyone pays for cable or satellite TV, even though in days of rooftop antennas this was also considered 'free.' But transportation? We're entitled to that and it should always be free. If we are ever going to increase investment in transportation infrastructure, we will need to increase funding. It will continue to be difficult to do that as long as most American drivers think good roads are a 'free' entitlement. An argument can be made, therefore, that we should begin to increase the use of more direct road user charging as we look for new, sustainable sources of revenue for transportation, like the user charges we are all willing to pay for other essential network services."
—Edward J. Regan, "Schizophrenic Public Opinion on Infrastructure Investment," forthcoming in Ed Regan's "Funding Future Mobility" series at http://cdmsmith.com

"The rehabilitation and expansion of U.S. transit systems began nearly four decades ago. This length of time is long enough to observe changing urban development patterns, given the rapid population and employment growth that has taken place over the same period. The evidence is clear on overall spatial patterns: population and employment have continued to decentralize (Giuliano, Redfearn, and Agarwal, 2009). However, transit investments are discrete and hence should be examined at the sub-metropolitan level. Is there evidence that transit-oriented development is taking place, and that the expected shifts in travel behavior—essential for [reductions in] congestion, emissions, energy use—are coming to pass? . . . Giuliano and Agarwal (2009) examined evidence on the impacts of rail transit investments on urban spatial structure. . . . Empirical studies that use appropriate statistical models, methods, and data show little or no impact of rail transit on land values or its proxies (population or employment density, commercial or residential building)."
—Genevieve Giuliano, "Transportation Policy: Public Transit, Settlement Patterns, and Equity in the U.S.," Chapter 25 in Oxford Handbook of Urban Economics and Planning, Oxford University Press, 2011

"One of my favorite pranks is to ask a Tesla Roadster owner how he likes his coal-fired car. The owner always gasps, as if kicked in the shins. But the truth is coal supplies 42% of America's electricity. No electricity, no electric cars. No movies, computers, smartphones, or Internet, either."
—Rich Karlgaard, "The 4% Solution: America Needs Growth," Forbes, May 7, 2012

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Robert Poole is Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow and Director of Transportation Policy


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