Road pricing and asset publicization: A new approach to revitalizing US infrastructure

Rick Geddes and Dimitar Nentchev write Road pricing and asset publicization: A new approach to revitalizing US infrastructure – Economics – AEI:

“This study offers three key insights:

1. Pricing the use of transportation assets that are presently “free” liberates massive latent economic value currently trapped in those assets;

2. Latent value can be best realized through competitive bidding among a group of firms on the basis of the largest upfront lease payment to operate the asset; and

3. A portion of the realized value can be invested in perpetuity through a permanent fund that generates income for all citizen-owners of the asset. The investment income from the permanent fund helps encourage citizen-owners to accept the pricing necessary to release the asset’s latent economic value.”

Parts 1 and 3 are very similar to the idea I had in Enterprising Roads.

I am not convinced of the value of point 2 (i.e. competitive bidding for upfront leases) vs. just having a utility manage the stream of revenue and provide an annual road dividend to users. That’s mostly a risk transfer. I can see the advantage of getting government out of the road management business, but then I look at private monopolies, and I don’t see much better performance, and so many PPPs have gone bad.

The influence of light rail transit on transit use: An exploration of station area residents along the Hiawatha line in Minneapolis

My student Jessica Schoner and colleague Jason Cao recently published:

Cao and Schoner (2014) The influence of light rail transit on transit use: An exploration of station area residents along the Hiawatha line in Minneapolis. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Volume 59, January 2014, Pages 134–143

Highlights

  • We compare transit use of residents in LRT corridor and control corridors well served by bus transit.
  • People moving into LRT corridor before its opening use transit more than those in control corridors.
  • Transit use of people moving into LRT corridor after its opening is similar to that of urban controls.
  • LRT-related land use and transportation policies are necessary for ridership growth.

Abstract
Rail transit is often implemented in the corridors already with high transit demand. When evaluating their ridership benefits, previous studies often choose the city/county/region as control groups, rather than comparable corridors without rail, and hence overstate their impacts. In this study, we employ propensity score matching to explore the impact of Hiawatha light rail transit (LRT) on transit use. We find that compared to residents in similar urban corridors, the Hiawatha LRT promotes transit use of residents who have lived in the corridor before its opening, and that residents who moved to the corridor after its opening use transit as often as new residents in the comparable urban corridors without LRT. We conclude that besides LRT, land use and transportation policies are necessary for ridership growth.

Keywords
Propensity score matching; Self-selection; Transit-oriented development; Travel behavior; Urban form