Linklist: January 3, 2012

Tyler Cowan @ Marginal Revolution sends me to gine-delivers-twice-the-power-of-all-the-titanics/250698/”>The Atlantic: A Single Boeing 777 Engine Delivers Twice the Horsepower of All the Titanic’s in “Facts about engines”:

The RMS Titanic weighed almost 50,000 tons and could carry 3,500 people. Before it sunk, it was world-famous as the massive titan of the sea. Its multiple engines, powered by 159 coal furnaces, were designed to deliver 46,000 horsepower.
Compare that to today’s beastly mode of transport: the Boeing 777. Bangalore Aviation points out that a single GE90-115B engine puts out over 110,000 horsepower, or more than twice the design output of all the Titanic’s steam engines.
And that power is obviously hooked up to a much smaller vehicle. The Titanic had to carry 14,000,000 pounds of coal alone; the 777 has a total weight of only 775,000 pounds.

Competitive Market Pricing vs. Ownership
Competitive Market Pricing vs. Ownership

Yglesias @ Moneybox: The Perils Of Privatization: “Mike Konczal attempts to construct a 2 x 2 ideological classification of different modes of municipal parking provision in order to attempt a critique of a deal whereby Chicago have J.P. Morgan a 75-year lease on all its city’s parking revenues:

Bill Lindeke @ Streets.Mn Cars vs. Phones: The Battle Begins n: “Over the next few days, I’m going to make a few observations about this debate. My main point is that the debate between cars and phones is interesting because it pits two crucial technologies, and two forms of urban space, against each other. The automobile and the ubiquity of driving is something that’s been fundamental to both 20th century cities and the 20th century economy. Meanwhile, smart mobile devices and the ubiquity of the internet are the prime example of what is predicted to dominate 21st century cities and the 21st century economy.”

Michael Cooper @ NYTimes: For High-Speed Rail, Support in the Past From G.O.P. Presidential Hopefuls : “President Obama’s program to bring bullet trains to the United States has been left on life support by the strident opposition of Republicans in Congress and in statehouses around the nation. But the idea may carry more favor with some of the Republican candidates vying to unseat Mr. Obama, who have a history of supporting high-speed rail.”

Anonymous @ The Economist: Crowd dynamics: The wisdom of crowds : “IMAGINE that you are French. You are walking along a busy pavement in Paris and another pedestrian is approaching from the opposite direction. A collision will occur unless you each move out of the other’s way. Which way do you step?” [Some nice quotes from Dirk Helbing, I have a Helbing number of 2]

Lauren Goode at AllThingsD: Uber CEO Responds to New Year’s Eve Complaints – Lauren Goode – Commerce – AllThingsD: “Complaints arose on Twitter about the high price of Uber car rides due to so-called surge prices that were put into effect across multiple cities. One user, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur named Brendan Mulligan, described in a blog post how a two-minute, half-mile Uber ride cost him $75. He also offered some tips for improving the app.” [Uber calls it Pulse pricing rather than Dynamic pricing or Congestion pricing. Customers dislike all the same. Yglesias also has some comments].

JS sends me to Wendell Cox at New Geography (via Sam Staley): The Driving Decline: Not a “Sea Change” : “The Decline in Context: Among the potential causes, certainly the most important is the economic situation,with steeply declining household incomes and the worst economic situation since the 1930s. The longer term driving trends will be more apparent when (and if) prosperity restores healthy growth in employment. Moreover, with only a small part of travel being attracted to transit, a more significant shift could involve substitution of access by information technology (on-line). Even with the decline, however, there has been nothing like a “sea change” in how the nation travels.”
JS then writes:

I agree with Dr. Cox and Dr. Stalely that this is not “a sea change”. However, it would not be hard to find MPO’s across the nation still projecting 1.5% to 2.0% annual growth. So while the change in vehicular travel is not a sea change, a sea change in forcasting future traffic is appropriate. New cheap mobile energy would spark renewed traffic growth, but is unlikely to be right around the corner, and the non-government tech sector is outperforming the bricks, mortor and pavement sector by a mile in connecting people.
My own comments reflected in February 2009 that traffic rates are not ever inceasing.
7. Based on FHWA Transportation Statistics 12 month moving average nationwide the November 2008 Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for the US is approximately equal to the January 2004 VMT (2.89 trillion VMT). The change in the last year is highly correlated to the higher gas prices. One should also look at the trend line of VMT growth over time and look at the trend growth.

  • a. January 83 to January 88 average annual VMT growth 3.8%
  • b. January 88 to January 93 average annual VMT growth 3.1%
  • c. January 93 to January 98 average annual VMT growth 2.7%
  • d. January 98 to January 03 average annual VMT growth 2.2%
  • e. January 03 to January 08 average annual VMT growth 1.0%

I would add that FHWA’s Oct 2011 traffic is at the same level as December 2004 level so it is looking nationally like a 7 year stretch without a significant rise.

[I guess it depends on what you mean by “sea change”. Something that used to always go up now goes down, seems striking to me. – dml]

Ed Stych @ Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal reports: Minneapolis opens its first new skyway in years : “A new skyway that links the Accenture Tower to the Ameriprise Financial Center in downtown Minneapolis opened Friday. Some Accenture Tower tenants along with building general manager Bob Traeger held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the $3 million skyway. … Traeger said it’s Minneapolis’ 84th skyway, and he believes it’s the city’s first skyway to be built in about 10 years.”