I've been reading Stephen Goddard's Getting There: The Epic Struggle between Road and Rail in the American Century, and it's a great book with lots of excerpable content, but here's one thing that caught my eye on page 170. I should note that when Goddard talks about "the highwaymen," he's talking … [Read more...]
Urban[ism] Legend: Transportation is a Public Good
In a recent post, commenter Jeremy H. helped point out that the use of the term "public good" is grossly abused in the case of transportation. Even Nobel economists refer to roads as "important examples of production of public goods," ( Samuelson and Nordhaus 1985: 48-49). I'd like to spend a … [Read more...]
When are user fees just redirected sales taxes?
Ben Ross at Greater Greater Washington has an excellent post about the pernicious habit of states (and maybe the federal government?) mislabeling sales taxes as user fees. Sorry for pulling such a long bit, but it's good: Maryland is considering raising its gas tax. This long-overdue measure would … [Read more...]
If highways push traffic onto local roads, why not toll them too?
Peter Gordon blogs about a paper he presented at the Transportation Research Board conference in DC: My friends and I just presented this paper at the Transportation Research Board meetings in Washington DC. We tested the effects of tolling Los Angeles' freeways in the peak hours (we tested 10 … [Read more...]
The origin of user fees?
I just started reading Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880-1956by Michael R. Fein, and though I don't have time to talk as much about it as I'd like, I will say that I'm only a couple pages in and I can already tell it's going to be great. Its thesis is essentially … [Read more...]
LaHood’s revealingly stupid reply to the WaPo’s HSR criticism
The WaPo earlier this week ran an editorial against California high-speed rail, and on Friday ran a response from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. As the dedicated anti-California HSR blog High-Speed Train Talk says, the letter does a pretty good job of summing up everything that's wrong with … [Read more...]
1. Planners in the Twin Cities have decided to "back away from the age-old compact in which the state tries to keep pace with suburban expansion" (i.e., they're canceling new outer road projects) and add toll/bus lanes to highways in the inner metro area. Republican governor and business on one … [Read more...]
The Great American Streetcar Myth
by Stephen SmithAmong liberals in the planning profession today, the story of the Great American Streetcar Conspiracy is widely known. There are more nuanced variants, but it goes something like this: Streetcars were once plentiful and efficient, but then along came a bunch of car and oil … [Read more...]