For the first time, I will briefly list all of the hypotheses in one post.
My coauthors (alphabetically) include John Bedell, Peter Gordon, Michael Iacono, David King, Dick Mudge, Randal O’Toole, Lisa Schweitzer, Stephen Smith, and others who posted anonymously. It goes without saying (which means it doesn’t since I am saying it) that not everyone agrees with everything. At the bottom, I have grouped the causes into larger meta-causes where appropriate.
Standards have risen [Smith’s Man of System].
There are in-sufficient economies of scale (Excess Bespoke Design).
Projects are scoped wrong.
Benefits are concentrated, costs are diffuse [Logic of Collective Action].
Decision-makers are remote [Fatal Conceit].
No one actually does B/C analysis.
The highest demand areas for maintenance and new stock occur in places that are expensive.
Envy is a much bigger problem in public works than in personal life.
Benefit cost is only as good as the integrity of the data and the analysts.
Federal funds favor capital-heavy technologies and investments.
Design for forecast.
Planners and engineers are paid as percentage of total project cost [Principal-Agent Problem].
Materials are scarcer (and thus more expensive).
Regulations like ADA and environmental protection are driving up costs.
Formula spending reduces the incentive or need to worry much about costs. This is obviously related to many of the other hypotheses already considered but I think deserves it’s own number.
The State Aid system and associated standards.
Separation of design and build.
Doing construction on facilities still in operation.
Union work rules (not wages)that inhibit productivity gains through new technologies.
Fragmented governance leads to large and meandering projects rather than centralized projects. Politicians have to “share the wealth” of projects. This is perhaps a cause of “project creep.”
Environmental Impact Statements (Reports) lead to “lock-in”
Public-private partnerships trade additional up front costs for faster construction.
Open government/costs of democracy.
Climate change adaptation is increasing the costs of projects.
Baumol’s cost disease.
Transit investment isn’t realizing any productivity gains from labor.
Utility works are uncharged.
Experience and Competence.
Ethos, training and prestige.
Lack of user fee funding.
Some other points:
1. Standards arguably includes 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 27, 29, 30,
4. Insufficient scale economies, there is some relationship to 1, since bespoke probably means higher quality (better local fitting).
5. Scoping, includes 10, 14, 22, 26
“St. Paul, Minn. — The Twin Cities light rail system is getting a new name.
Under a plan the Metropolitan Council approved Wednesday, the light rail and rapid transit lines will be known as “Metro” once the Central Corridor line opens in 2014
The system will feature a “T” logo instead of an “M,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.
The decision was made after brand testing a variety of logos.
“The qualities that people associated with the “T” logo are really solid ones that we really want to build the system around,” Lamb said. “That’s reliability [and] the system approach toward transit.”
Lamb says the Hiawatha light rail line will become the blue line and the Central Corridor will be the green line.
Readers of this blog of course know the real name they stuck with a “T”, it was so they would not have to change all the Bus Stop signs. One only hopes they thought about buses when choosing the name, since you know, buses carry some 90% of transit users in the region.
Alternatives names were considered but rejected. These include:
Hennepin-Ramsey Transit (HeRT)
Ramsey-Hennepin Transit (RaHT)
METRO – Moving Everyone (without a car) Through the Region On-grade
MeToo – Minnesotans Emulating Transit names of Other Organizations
“Well, you have to hand it to the strategy team over at Zipcar. Arguably the largest on-demand car-sharing network, Zipcar went public last year and not long after saw its market cap cross $1 billion. It’s since fallen back, and with collaborative consumption and the market for car-sharing heating up, the big players have to make moves. Zipcar has since forged a partnership with Ford, making it the largest provider of cars for Zipcar’s University program, and, in December, the company took a controlling stake in Spain’s largest car-sharing network, Avancar.
Today finds Zipcar making another strategic move to get its mitts in fellow car-sharing companies, again with a focus on universities, whose students are among the most eager adopters of car-sharing models. What do I mean? The company today announced that it is a lead investor in the $13.7 million Series A financing of Wheelz, a junior, university-focused version of itself.”
“A secret network of 20 roadside listening stations across the UK has confirmed that criminals are attempting to jam GPS signals on a regular basis, according to New Scientist One Per Cent blog.
Jammers seem to be being used by truckers to prevent their journeys being tracked by their bosses, or by thieves stealing commercial vehicles.”
“To enable all that, Google introduced a new standard in 2011 called GTFS-realtime. It builds on GTFS, but is a different animal, since it includes new feed types for trip updates, service alerts, and vehicle positions, as well as provisions for constantly refreshing this data throughout the day. In an advisory to agencies, Google puts it this way: “Because GTFS-realtime allows you to present the actual status of your fleet, the feed needs to be updated regularly—preferably whenever new data comes in from your Automatic Vehicle Location system.””