Transit Investment and Economic Productivity


I will be presenting at a DCRP Colloquium Berkeley with Dan Chatman, Dan Graham and Robert Helsley on Monday April 2, 2012 on the topic of Transit Investment and Economic Productivity. It is at 112 Wurster Hall Monday from 5 – 7 pm.
Update: April 10, 2012. The presentation is available for download.

Linklist: March 23, 2012

Seriously Steve Dornfield at MinnPost? Minnesotans are driving less, MnDOT says :

““It appears that as gas prices increased motorists began taking fewer trips, carpooling and using more public transportation,” it said. Transit ridership in the metro area grew from 67.2 million in 2004 to 94 million in 2011, an increase of nearly 40percent.”

[2004 was the year of a 6 week transit strike. of course ridership was low. Claiming a 40% increase in ridership off a distorted base is just misleading.]

Brad Plumer @ WaPo:
Why can’t we just leave infrastructure spending to the states? – The Washington Post

Yesterday, I pointed out that Rep. Paul Ryan’s GOP budget proposal would require the federal government to spend less and less on transportation over time. Reihan Salam asks whether this is really such a bad thing. Can’t state governments just pick up the slack?

That’s possible, sure. But it hasn’t happened so far. As a recent report (pdf) from the Congressional Budget Office detailed, the federal government’s share of infrastructure spending has already been shrinking since the 1960s and 1970s. And the states, which still provide the vast majority of spending on roads and highways, haven’t made up the difference. The end result? There’s less infrastructure spending overall as a percent of GDP:

Reihan Salam @ The Agenda on National Review Online: The Implications of the Path to Prosperity’s Long-Term Spending Trajectory:

Upgrading our transportation networks may well cost between $200 and $262 billion over the next decade, or perhaps even more. It’s not obvious, however, that all of this money has to come from federal coffers. Other approaches might involve relying more heavily on state governments and private investors, as Edward Glaeser has suggested, and perhaps focusing federal efforts on a “fix it first” agenda. This doesn’t mean that Ryan’s approach is the only answer. But it’s worth decoupling federal spending from transportation spending — the categories do not and should not overlap, and it seems entirely reasonable to argue that the non-federal share of the transportation spending pie should grow over time.

David King @ Getting from here to there: Crude Measures of Density:

“Density is a somewhat nebulous concept. It seems straightforward but it isn’t. Recently many proponents of increasing residential density (Glaeser, Avent, Yglesias among others support economic arguments for density) point to the constraints that land development regulations have on denser development. I am sympathetic to these arguments and agree on general terms, though I doubt that regulations are as onerous with respect to density in places like Manhattan. I’ll mention two reasons today and return to these issues in future posts.”

Urban Demographics: Motorways and slime mould’s rationality (!?) [A topic long-time transportationistas are long familiar with.]

James Meek at London Review of Books blog: Human Revenue Stream:

“The commodity that makes water and roads and airports valuable to an investor, foreign or otherwise, is the people who have no choice but to use them. We have no choice but to pay the price the tollkeepers charge. We are a human revenue stream; we are being made tenants in our own land, defined by the string of private fees we pay to exist here. If it’s not obvious that we’re being sold to investors, it’s partly because the idea of privatisation is sold so hard to us, in a way that is hypnotically familiar. First, the denigration of the existing service, as if a universally accepted truth is being voiced: the schools/hospitals/roads are crumbling/failing/ second-class. Then, the rejection of government responsibility: we’ve no money/bureaucrats are incompetent. Finally, the solution: private investment.”

Diamond Geezer on the new Exhibition Road Shared Space by the Museums and Imperial College in South Kensington.:

“It wouldn’t work in every street, nor would there be £29m to make it happen, but Exhibition Road’s transformation appears to have brought about an effective and efficient co-existence.”

Londonist (h/t Annie Mole) gives us a: A 3-D London Tube Map | Londonist:

“Every time a new addition is made to the Tube map, it gets a little more crowded. The clean lines of Harry Beck’s original get a little more confusing. Where will we be 100 years from now, when additional lines, stations, cable cars, hover rails and levipads are added to the diagram?
Slapping a third dimension onto the map could be one solution. The extra depth allows for extra layers of information.”

Annie Mole at Going Underground’s Blog has some 3D posters and other diagrams.

KurzweilAI reports: The ‘birdman’ is FAKE: Filmmaker behind wing suit flight video admits footage was a hoax and says it was ‘online storytelling:

“The Dutch “bird man” who posted a video showing a successful “test flight” of a wing suit contraption has admitted that the amazing feat was a hoax all along.
Viewers became sceptical after it emerged that no scientists actually knew “Jarno Smeets,” who claimed to have created the technology.
Now Smeets has confessed that he is actually a “filmmaker and animator” named Floris Kaayk, and has described the faked footage as “online storytelling.”