Linklist: June 6, 2012

Opposition to the Gateway LRT is starting to get organized: RIP Gateway Corridor: There is a petition at the previous link. Sven Streat writes:

“If Central Corridor was misguided, a plan to put a light rail train in a residential neighborhood is absurd. Front yards should not be rail yards.
Gateway Corridor is a $1.2 billion, 25+ ton “light” rail train that would run through residential neighborhoods, very close to several schools and hundreds of homes, and cut access to streets and businesses — zig-zagging from St. Paul’s Union Depot to E. 7th St. to White Bear Av., then down to I-94 and out to Woodbury.
Putting a train on residential streets doesn’t leave room for traffic, emergency vehicles, parking, school buses, truck access to businesses, and puts a giant barrier across the Eastside of St. Paul.”

David A. King @ Getting from here to there: Queuing, Congestion and Productivity:

“Ultimately, however, not all queues are created equally, and in some cases congestion queues demonstrate economically vibrant areas, and in some cases congestion queues represent scarcity, lack of options and wasted opportunities. The optimal amount of congestion is not zero. If there isn’t any congestion or queues in an area the area will seem dead, so we do want some congestion and waiting. A more nuanced understanding of the challenges presented by queues and congestion is needed.”

Tim Lee @ Forbes: Infrastructure Socialism and the New York Subway:

“The New York metropolitan area has generated massive quantities of wealth over the last century, and the city’s wealth-creation capacity is enhanced by the network effects created by having a large number of smart people living and working in close proximity. A subway-less New York would not only have a smaller population, it would likely be poorer per capita, as each New Yorker would have fewer potential employers, employees business partners, customers, and so forth. Maybe over the long run, those subsidies paid for themselves through the expansion of the city’s tax base.
In any event, I’d like to see more libertarian exploration of the tricky questions raised by this kind of infrastructure project. As far as I know, no libertarian has written a history of subways or a white paper describing an optimal regulatory scheme for subways. That seems like a significant omission.”

USA Today: Public transportation use up across the nation in 2011 :

“Americans last year took 235 million more trips on buses, trains and subways than in 2010. That’s the most ridership since 2008, when gas prices soared to a national average of $4.11 a gallon in July.”

[Where are the press releases when transit ridership drops? Ridership rising and falling with gas prices hardly indicates it is people’s preferred mode. David King has a more intelligent response.]

Kurzweil: Mars One plans to establish human settlement on Mars in 2023:

“Netherlands-based Mars One hopes to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. It has created a technical plan for this ambitious mission that is ‘as simple as possible’ and says it has identified potential suppliers, such as SpaceX, for every component of the mission.”

Urban Demographics: US Newspapers, 1690-2011: “”

Diana Lind @ Greater Greater Washington: Deregulate our streets! :

“If we opened our streets and rails more transportation operators, undoubtedly it would benefit our intertwined problems of high prices, congestion and slow service.

[The best book on this is Curb Rights by Klein Moore and Reja]

Matt Yglesias @ Slate: Passenger Aviation in the United States: 40 Years of Failure: “… basically the entire passenger aviation industry in the United States is [unprofitable over the long term]. For decades people have been flying around the country in airplanes and yet in the aggregate the whole thing is a stunning business failure. Southwest has made money and basically nobody else has. “
[There is data on airline profitability going back to the 1920s I can no longer find (not at IATA, not at, and would appreciate a link to]

Yonah Freemark @ The Transport Politic: Chicago Plans to Shut Red Line South to Perform Quick Rehab:

“In less than a year’s time, the Chicago Transit Authority will eliminate service on the portions of the Red Line that run through the city’s south side, affecting roughly 80,000 daily journeys for a period of five months. The effort is designed to allow for the quick renovation of this rapid transit segment, replacing about 10 miles of degraded track with desperately needed new infrastructure. It’s a risky move, likely to enflame tensions in an area of the city that has suffered decades of economic difficulties. But if the CTA pulls the project off successfully, Chicago may be setting a precedent for other cities to follow.”

Herbert Mohring

Herb Mohring
Lee Munnich passes on news that famed transportation economist, Herb Mohring, passed away on June 4. His biography in wikipedia is below:

Herbert Mohring: “Herbert Mohring was a transportation economist who taught at the University of Minnesota from 1961-1994. He received his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959.
He is widely known for his identification of what was dubbed the Mohring effect of increasing returns in public transportation (see: Mohring (1972) for details).
Mohring and Harwitz (1962) also showed that the revenues from the first-best congestion tax exactly cover the construction costs of highways when highways possess constant returns to scale.
Important Works

  • Mohring, Herbert, Optimization and Scale Economies in Urban Bus Transportation, American Economic Review 62, no. 4 (September 1972): 591-604.
  • Mohring, Herbert, The Peak Load Problem with Increasing Returns and Pricing Constraints, American Economic Review 60, no. 4 (September 1970): 693-705.
  • Mohring, H. and Harwitz, M., Highway Benefits: An Analytical Framework, Ch 2, pp 57–90. (1962)”

Much of his widely cited scholarly work can be accessed here.
A review of a paper extending Mohring’s work: Cost recovery from congestion tolls with random capacity and demand and risk aversion by Robin Lindsey was given at the session in honor of Herb Mohring International Transport Economics Conference. June 16, 2009.
A policy presentation by Herb’s friend David Lewis presented at the same session: America’s Traffic Congestion Problem: Toward a Framework for Nationwide Reform.
Update 6/15/2012: Obituary published in Star Tribune.