Transportist: May 2022

Welcome to the latest issue of The Transportist, especially to our new readers. As always you can follow along at the  transportist.org or on Twitter.

PhD Students

I’m recruiting PhD students in Transport at the University of Sydney. Get in touch if interested.

Five Years Car Free

I have celebrated this past month my fifth year in Sydney and thus five years without a car.1 As Stephen Colbert might have said “I am carless, (and so can you!)”

This is not to say everyone in Greater Sydney could be carless, just a large fraction of the people. About 22% of the population lives within a 15 minute walk of a rail station, while 43% works within 15 minutes of a station. The number within walking distance of a bus is much higher, or 15 minutes by bus to rail.

Presently, by strategy not luck, I live 11 minutes downhill in one direction and 13 minutes downhill in the other direction to rail stations on different lines, only the second of which goes to Redfern which is 8 minutes from my office. So I have a 21-minute walk and 13-minute ride, if I time it perfectly without waiting time. To be clear, if I wanted to and didn’t have other family members to consider, I could optimise the arrival time, given the fairly high reliability of Sydney Trains in non-COVID, non-Industrial Action, non-Rainy times (which I guess is to say “cromulent” reliability given the circumstances, and better than similarly sized US transit systems would deliver). My previous commute in Minnesota was a 30-minute walk. My commute from my previous home in Alexandria was a 19-minute walk, circumnavigating Redfern station, but would have gotten shorter once the southern concourse opens.

That’s right, I am calling “BS” on many of the people who say they “need” their car. Cars are nice to have sometimes. Private cars are convenient and allow dynamically choosing destinations without planning or forethought. But cars themselves can be rented when they are needed. Taxis can be called when urban point-to-point transport off convenient public transport routes is required.

We can imagine a hierarchy of preferred modes:

  • Avoid the activity
  • Telecommute, work from home, etc.
  • Walk (or Cycle)
  • Delivery
  • Public Transport
  • Ride-sourcing
  • Car rental
  • Intercity Trains
  • Aviation

Now there are people, e.g. tradies who work at different sites every day and have equipment to carry with them, who would be much better off if everyone else didn’t drive and congest the roads, pollute the air, and endanger their lives.

In our five years without a car, we have used ride-sourcing (i.e. Uber, Didi, Bolt, etc.) multiple times, but probably no more than one round trip per week for the five-person household, so maybe $AU2000 per year tops, probably less with COVID. This is significantly less than the cost of car ownership.

We have rented cars on exactly 3 occasions in the past 5 years. 

  • Once shortly after arriving, for about 2 hours of GoGet, a car sharing service, to drive on the wrong side of the road. I disliked it, the lanes are narrow and drivers aggressive.
  • Second when my family arrived, to collect them and their stuff from the airport, and do a road trip to Brisbane for WSTLUR, while we were between housing.
  • Third for a road trip to Coonabarabran to see the stars in a Dark Skycommunity.

This is for a family of five, three of whom attend school, two work, thus none are in car seats or strollers.

No one in the family has really asked for more long car trips, though I am sure they would like to be driven to work or school on a rainy day (which seems like every day now in Sydney) or when they are carrying stuff because their school has implemented some stupid anti-COVID no locker policy (since retracted).

So do I not drive to save money, save the earth, save my sanity, be able to lord it over others? Who knows?

Conferences

Master of Transport

I will be talking about the University of Sydney’s interdisciplinary Master of Transportprogram at Post-Graduate Information Evenings on

  • Tuesday 10th May, 4.30pm to 7.30pm at MacLaurin Hall
  • Thursday 12th May, 6.30pm-7.30pm online, email for details.

Research

  • Wu, Hao, and Levinson, D. (2022) Ensemble Models of For-hire Vehicle Trips. Frontiers in Future Transportation. 3. [doi]
    • Ensemble forecasting is class of modeling approaches that combines different data sources, models of different types, with different assumptions, and/or pattern recognition methods. By comprehensively pooling information from multiple sources, analyzed with different techniques, ensemble models can be more accurate, and can better account for different sources of real-world uncertainties. The share of for-hire vehicle (FHV) trips increased rapidly in recent years. This paper applies ensemble models to predicting for-hire vehicle (FHV) trips in Chicago and New York City, showing that properly applied ensemble models can improve forecast accuracy beyond the best single model.
  • Wang, Yadi and Levinson, D. (2022) Time savings vs Access-based benefit assessment of New York’s Second Avenue Subway. Journal of Benefit Cost Analysis. (online first, open access) [doi]
    • Under the current practice of benefit-cost analysis, the direct economic benefits produced by a newly built transit facility are assessed based on how it affects travel time and various costs that are associated with transport needs and travel behavior. However, the time-saving-based benefit calculation approach has been questioned and criticized. Given the strong correlation between accessibility and land value, we propose the access-based land value benefit assessment as an alternative, and apply this assessment method to analyzing the Second Avenue Subway project in Manhattan, New York. The primary principle of the access-based method is that the economic value of a transport project’s intangible gains is largely capitalized by nearby properties’ value appreciation, which is directly caused by improved transport accessibility. We find that: (i) the actual travel time saving is lower than originally forecast; (ii) a strong positive correlation between residential property value and job accessibility by transit is observed; (iii) the appreciation in sold property value and rented property value both far exceed total project cost; and (iv) such results support the decision to approve and construct the Second Avenue Subway.
  • Rayaprolu, H., Wu, H., Lahoorpoor, B., and Levinson, D. (2022) Maximizing Access in Transit Network Design. Journal of Public Transportation. [doi]
    • This study adopts an Access-Oriented Design (AOD) framework for optimizing transit network design. We present and demonstrate a method to evaluate the best combination of local and express alternative transit system designs through the novel concept of ‘iso-access lines’. Two bus network system designs were explored for a greenfield development in suburban Sydney: through-routed transit lines (T-ways) with higher speeds and more direct service, but longer access and egress times, and local routes that provide additional spatial coverage. We developed scenarios with T-ways only, local routes only, and both, and computed transit access to jobs as a cumulative-opportunities measure for each scenario. Local routes offer greater overall access, while T-ways provide greater access-per-unit-cost. The optimal combination of the two was established by generating ‘iso-access’ lines and determining access-maximizing combinations for a given cost by applying production-theory principles. For 15-min access, the optimal combinations had T-way service frequency equivalent to 0.48 times that of local routes. This ratio increased to 1.45, 2.05 and 2.63 for 30-min, 45- min and 60-min access respectively. In practice, the method can be applied to determine optimal transit combinations for any given budget and desired access level.
  • Congratulations to Ang Ji for “satisfying the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney.”
    • Thesis Title: Traffic programming: Aligning incentives for socially efficient lane changes among non-connected vehicles.
    • Lead Supervisor: Professor David Levinson.
    • Abstract: This dissertation explores the rationality of drivers’ risky and aggressive behaviors in lane-changing scenarios and discusses some feasible ways to hold selfish drivers accountable for their decisions. Regardless of potential congestion and crashes suffering by other road users, rational drivers prefer to maximize their gains and demand others’ yielding. However, when all of them have such thoughts, conflicts (dilemmas) are embedded in their interactions, leading to unexpected consequences for the whole traffic. This question is investigated analytically by exploiting the game theory concept. A simplified 2×2 non-cooperative game is built to model strategies executed by human drivers without communications. This research learns driver behavior in two predefined sub-phases: `Stay’ and `Execution’ from empirical data. This procedure examines the factors that impact drivers’ execution of lane changes. From the results, we understand that lane-changing is motivated by the urgency to change and the dissatisfaction with current circumstances. The analytical model is then established by integrating driver incentives into payoff functions. The `greed’ and `fear’ of drivers in this process are quantified by speed advantages and possible crash costs respectively, so they trade off these factors and make decisions based on their own and opponents’ estimated payoffs. Using a numerical case study, we find that social gaps exist between user-optimal and system-optimal strategies when drivers mostly engage in selfish behaviors, significantly deteriorating the total system benefit. Pricing can be a sufficient tool to incentivize users to cooperate with others and achieve win-win outcomes. It is posited that the designed pricing schemes may promote the negotiation between drivers, reducing collision risks and improving operational traffic efficiency. Several simulation experiments are then conducted to evaluate this dissertation’s hypotheses on the performance of pricing rules. Overall, the proposed framework develops a behavioral model and improvement schemes from the perspective of microscopic vehicular interactions. The conclusions will hopefully find their applications in autonomous vehicle-human interaction algorithms and future transportation systems.
    • Journal articles related to the dissertation include: 
    • Dr. Ji now has a position at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, one of China’s leading transport programmes.
    • The idea of Traffic Programming was first raised in this blog a while back (in 2016).
    • We recently were awarded a grant from the Australian Research Council to examine this question in further depth.
      • Design of micro-decisions in automated transport. Australian Research Council DP220100882 Professor David Levinson; Professor Michael Bell; Dr Mohsen Ramezani; Professor Dr Kay Axhausen; Professor Dr Hai Yang.

Research by Others

News and Opinion

Maximizing Access in Transit Network Design

Recently published:

  • Rayaprolu, H., Wu, H., Lahoorpoor, B., and Levinson, D. (2022) Maximizing Access in Transit Network Design. Journal of Public Transportation. 24 [doi]

This study adopts an Access-Oriented Design (AOD) framework for optimizing transit network design. We present and demonstrate a method to evaluate the best combination of local and express alternative transit system designs through the novel concept of ‘iso-access lines’. Two bus network system designs were explored for a greenfield development in suburban Sydney: through-routed transit lines (T-ways) with higher speeds and more direct service, but longer access and egress times, and local routes that provide additional spatial coverage. We developed scenarios with T-ways only, local routes only, and both, and computed transit access to jobs as a cumulative-opportunities measure for each scenario. Local routes offer greater overall access, while T-ways provide greater access-per-unit-cost. The optimal combination of the two was established by generating ‘iso-access’ lines and determining access-maximizing combinations for a given cost by applying production-theory principles. For 15-min access, the optimal combinations had T-way service frequency equivalent to 0.48 times that of local routes. This ratio increased to 1.45, 2.05 and 2.63 for 30-min, 45- min and 60-min access respectively. In practice, the method can be applied to determine optimal transit combinations for any given budget and desired access level.

Fig. 4. Schematic representation of transit connections designed for the development area. T-ways connect superblock centers with rail stations on either end. Local routes originate at rail stations, loop around superblocks and terminate at the origin stations.

Time Savings vs. Access-Based Benefit Assessment of New York’s Second Avenue Subway

Recently published:

  • Wang, Yadi and Levinson, D. (2022) Time savings vs Access-based benefit assessment of New York’s Second Avenue Subway. Journal of Benefit Cost Analysis. 13(1) 120 – 147. [doi]

Abstract

Under the current practice of benefit-cost analysis, the direct economic benefits produced by a newly built transit facility are assessed based on how it affects travel time and various costs that are associated with transport needs and travel behavior. However, the time-saving-based benefit calculation approach has been questioned and criticized. Given the strong correlation between accessibility and land value, we propose the access-based land value benefit assessment as an alternative, and apply this assessment method to analyzing the Second Avenue Subway project in Manhattan, New York. The primary principle of the access-based method is that the economic value of a transport project’s intangible gains is largely capitalized by nearby properties’ value appreciation, which is directly caused by improved transport accessibility. We find that: (i) the actual travel time saving is lower than originally forecast; (ii) a strong positive correlation between residential property value and job accessibility by transit is observed; (iii) the appreciation in sold property value and rented property value both far exceed total project cost; and (iv) such results support the decision to approve and construct the Second Avenue Subway.

Dr. Ang Ji

Congratulations to Ang Ji for “satisfying the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney.”

Thesis Title: Traffic programming: Aligning incentives for socially efficient lane changes among non-connected vehicles.

Lead Supervisor: Professor David Levinson.

Abstract: This dissertation explores the rationality of drivers’ risky and aggressive behaviors in lane-changing scenarios and discusses some feasible ways to hold selfish drivers accountable for their decisions. Regardless of potential congestion and crashes suffering by other road users, rational drivers prefer to maximize their gains and demand others’ yielding. However, when all of them have such thoughts, conflicts (dilemmas) are embedded in their interactions, leading to unexpected consequences for the whole traffic. This question is investigated analytically by exploiting the game theory concept. A simplified 2×2 non-cooperative game is built to model strategies executed by human drivers without communications. This research learns driver behavior in two predefined sub-phases: `Stay’ and `Execution’ from empirical data. This procedure examines the factors that impact drivers’ execution of lane changes. From the results, we understand that lane-changing is motivated by the urgency to change and the dissatisfaction with current circumstances. The analytical model is then established by integrating driver incentives into payoff functions. The `greed’ and `fear’ of drivers in this process are quantified by speed advantages and possible crash costs respectively, so they trade off these factors and make decisions based on their own and opponents’ estimated payoffs. Using a numerical case study, we find that social gaps exist between user-optimal and system-optimal strategies when drivers mostly engage in selfish behaviors, significantly deteriorating the total system benefit. Pricing can be a sufficient tool to incentivize users to cooperate with others and achieve win-win outcomes. It is posited that the designed pricing schemes may promote the negotiation between drivers, reducing collision risks and improving operational traffic efficiency. Several simulation experiments are then conducted to evaluate this dissertation’s hypotheses on the performance of pricing rules. Overall, the proposed framework develops a behavioral model and improvement schemes from the perspective of microscopic vehicular interactions. The conclusions will hopefully find their applications in autonomous vehicle-human interaction algorithms and future transportation systems.

Ang Ji
Ang Ji

Journal articles related to the dissertation include: 

Dr. Ji now has a position at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, one of China’s leading transport programmes.

The idea of Traffic Programming was first raised in this blog a while back (in 2016).

We recently were awarded a grant from the Australian Research Council to examine this question in further depth.

  • Design of micro-decisions in automated transport. Australian Research Council DP220100882 Professor David Levinson; Professor Michael Bell; Dr Mohsen Ramezani; Professor Dr Kay Axhausen; Professor Dr Hai Yang.

Ensemble Models of For-Hire Vehicle Trips

Recently published:

Wu, Hao and Levinson, David (2022) Ensemble Models of For-Hire Vehicle Trips. Frontiers in Future Transportation. 3 [DOI]

Ensemble forecasting is class of modeling approaches that combines different data sources, models of different types, with different assumptions, and/or pattern recognition methods. By comprehensively pooling information from multiple sources, analyzed with different techniques, ensemble models can be more accurate, and can better account for different sources of real-world uncertainties. The share of for-hire vehicle (FHV) trips increased rapidly in recent years. This paper applies ensemble models to predicting for-hire vehicle (FHV) trips in Chicago and New York City, showing that properly applied ensemble models can improve forecast accuracy beyond the best single model.

Transportist: April 2022

Welcome to the latest issue of The Transportist, especially to our new readers. As always you can follow along at the  transportist.org or on Twitter.

Follow-up

  • Sydneysiders will get  12 days of free travel across the public transport network after “the NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union threatened to strike every Friday in June unless the government instituted a period of free travel for commuters as an apology for last month’s fiasco when trains shut down for 24 hours.” This occurs during the school holidays when demand is lower.

Evaluating Evaluation

We need a way of assessing strategic (i.e. UTPS-like ‘four-step’) transport models. 

My first real job was working as a transport modeler for the Montgomery County, Maryland Planning Department. At the time, models were about a third of a century old, dating from the mid-1950s, deriving from the work of Douglas Carroll et al. in Detroit and then Chicago. I worked on developing a new model for the Washington DC region, (as we didn’t really trust the model from MWCOG, and wanted our own), Travel/2, using then current data and ideas in transport modeling. It had some good features which are yet to be mainstream like ensuring travel time consistency between trip distribution and route assignment, and used then au courant logit mode choice models and detailed trip generation. It wasn’t an agent (activity)-based model, the world wasn’t quite ready, TranSims was just being developed, though we played with the idea some and I wrote not very efficient Fortran code for population synthesis. Route assignment was still static (though multi-class), DTA was not an off-the-shelf product. We tried to document everything, (which is probably sitting in WordPerfect files on my computer) though there was no internet or GitHub to host our code or macros, and of course the source code for the modeling platform (EMME/2) was and remains proprietary, not open access.

Models have not advanced as much in the past third of a century since I started as we would have hoped at the time. Certainly they have moved in the direction we anticipated, just very slowly. Ideally we would assess their accuracy, there is some literature on ex-post analysis of course, and we have done that, but that takes too long, years are required to know whether the forecast was accurate, and by then decisions have been made and the models have evolved, so anything that was wrong was obviously obsolete and cannot be used to criticise the new models.

It should however be possible to assess the models (and each component model) themselves on a number of criteria, e.g. (but not limited to):

  • Transparency,
  • Replicability,
  • Methodological Consistency,
  • Methodological Quality (without prescribing a particular modeling technique, but definitely proscribing those that are known inferior),
  • Internal Consistency (the input travel times to travel demand equal the outputs from route choice, e.g.),
  • Calibration and Validity (how does the base model compare with observed data of various kinds, has backcasting been done, are the results accurate, … is this done systematically, following standard documented procedures?),
  • Recency of Estimation Data,
  • etc.

And develop some kind of scorecard that individuals or teams can apply to strategic transport models, roughly similar to how the ITDP BRT scorecard works. The score should not be a weighted average, but a product of the scores of the components. A zero on any attribute would result in a 0 for the whole thing. Models could then be rated as Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Tin. This can be used to argue for model improvements by external comparison in some sort of systematic (rather than ad hoc) way, perhaps using league tables to compare models, as well as providing a means to discredit bad forecasts, which is what scares away modellers from this approach. 

The Zephyr Foundation aims to improve transport modeling, but it is largely organised by modelers themselves, and thus subject to political sensitivities.

Similarly, we need a way of assessing Business Cases (Benefit-Cost Analyses) (BCA) based on how good the methodology is.

Obviously many BCA in Australia often fail on the criteria of transparency and replicability, as they are tightly held as “Cabinet in Confidence” or “Commercial in Confidence”, so no one knows how the results were actually established. By the product rule, if they fail on that criteria, they fail on everything else, as none of the other criteria can be properly evaluated.

We can ask for some of the same kind of criteria as above. There are various industry committees (TRBATAP) that aim to improve and standardise methods, but I am not aware of anyone from outside the sector who is actually scoring the quality of the evaluation. Let me know of any.

Research

  • Lahoorpoor, Bahman, and David Levinson. 2022. “In Search of Lost Trams: Comparing 1925 and 2020 Transit Isochrones in Sydney.” Findings, March. https://doi.org/10.32866/001c.33040. Has Sydney lost access by removing its extensive tram network? We compare the 1925 tram network with today’s bus network, and conclude that the access provided today exceeds what would have been provided by just trams. The Sydney CBD would have had better access if 1925’s central tram lines were still in operation.
  • Access by Trams and Trains in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1920s. Sydney map by Bahman Lahoorpoor inspired by map of MelbourneMap of Sydney and Suburbs showing railway lines including trams. (1925)Map of Sydney and Suburbs showing railway lines including trams, buffered. (1925)Metropolitan Town Planning Commission Map of Melbourne and Environs: Minimum Railway and Tramway Time Zones.[Cam Booth sells a restored version of the Melbourne map, suitable for framing]
  • The latter image is on the Cover of Elements of Access,

Elements of Access: Transport Planning for Engineers, Transport Engineering for Planners. By David M. Levinson, Wes Marshall, Kay Axhausen.

A Pattern Language.jpg

Research by Others

News and Opinion

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Access by Trams and Trains in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1920s

Access by Trams and Trains in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1920s. Sydney map by Bahman Lahoorpoor inspired by map of Melbourne

Map of Sydney and Suburbs showing railway lines including trams. (1925)
Map of Sydney and Suburbs showing railway lines including trams, buffered. (1925)
Metropolitan Town Planning Commission Map of Melbourne and Environs: Minimum Railway and Tramway Time Zones.

[Cam Booth sells a restored version of the Melbourne map, suitable for framing]

The analysis of Sydney can be found here:

  • Lahoorpoor, B. and Levinson, D. (2022) In Search of Lost Trams: Comparing 1925 and 2020 Transit Isochrones in Sydney.  Findings, March. [doi]

In Search of Lost Trams: Comparing 1925 and 2020 Transit Isochrones in Sydney

Recently published:

  • Lahoorpoor, B. and Levinson, D. (2022) In Search of Lost Trams: Comparing 1925 and 2020 Transit Isochrones in Sydney. Findings, March. [doi]

Abstract: Has Sydney lost access by removing its extensive tram network? We compare the 1925 tram network with today’s bus network, and conclude that the access provided today exceeds what would have been provided by just trams. The Sydney CBD would have had better access if 1925’s central tram lines were still in operation.

Figure 2a. 1925 Trams & Trains (Scenario 1)
Basemap: McCarron Stewart & Co. (1907)
Figure 2b. 2020 Transit (Scenario 2)
Basemap: OpenStreetMap.

Transportist: March 2022

“There’s panic on the switchboard, tongues in knots. Some come out in sympathy, some come out in spots. Some blame the management, some the employees. Everybody knows it’s the industrial disease.”

Welcome to the latest issue of The Transportist, especially to our new readers. As always you can follow along at the  transportist.org or on Twitter.

Making the Trains Run On Time, Or At All

Making the trains run on time, or run at all, is a core responsibility of a railroad, or really any dictator. We started hopeful. We were told two weeks ago that “Sydney train network to [Finally] resume full weekday services on February 28.” Yet at 2 am on Monday February 21, the day the Australian border opened to tourists after near two years of isolation, and on which the University of Sydney resumed in-person classes, and with the world on the precipice of war, those who assumed the mantle of “leadership” at Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW decided to play partisan games with people’s lives and lock-out workers. They misleadingly claimed this lockout was for safety reasons — when obviously it was a negotiating tactic, that turns out to have been planned in advance. They did this without telling the passengers. They passed it off as “industrial action” — implying a strike (engendering discord in the Sydney Morning Herald newsroom about what to call it, with the reporters siding with truth and the editor with fake news) — to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt. When they do all this you know they have failed in their core responsibility, making the trains run. The agency name is “Transport for New South Wales”, not “No Transport for New South Wales”. This is shambolic. 

While the party in power and transport minister were on the offensive for a few hours (calling the Union “Terrorist-like”, when all they were doing was working to rules, which while inefficient is hardly incapacitating), hoping to score cheap political points, they ultimately miscalcuated. In the before-times, which we are trying to restore Sydney relied on public transport to get to work. In 2016, the metropolitan transit mode share was 26%, in the CBD it was closer to 75%.

Everyone soon enough figured out what really happened, (compare the URL address: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-21/nsw-train-strike-halts-all-passenger-services/100846938 with the revised headline: NSW train chaos could continue tomorrow, commuters warned to ‘avoid rail travel’) and the finger pointing began: the Premier began to collect a Dossier on the Minister for Transport (To be clear there are four Ministers for Transport in New South Wales at the moment; my insider friends said the Premier didn’t think Elliot, who is responsible for Trains, was up the whole portfolio, it turns out he wasn’t up to even a quarter of the portfolio. This is being debated by his colleagues.) Elliot said it was a staff decision, and they didn’t wake himThe ABC says: “By 5pm, Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland had claimed responsibility for the decision to shut the network down.” If The Australian newspaper, owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation, is criticising the LNP,1 you know the process to lockout workers and shut trains in the middle of the night without informing passengers (or updating the GTFS Feeds the map apps travellers rely upon) was a fiasco. One has to ask: Do these officials or ministers ride the trains themselves?2

My own tale, after going to a closed train station and figuring out it was closed (this was not obvious, the monitors just had a logo instead of a schedule, but people were waiting at the platform and nothing was chained closed, I walked most of the 8 km to work, catching a bus along the way for some of the distance (obviously no one bus serves the entire route, since it is so well served by trains). I’m fine, I am healthy, I have flexibility.

But this displaced ‘essential’ workers, school students, people with limited time due to carer responsibilities, people with limited cognitive abilities, people for whom English is not a first language, people with disabilities, and so on, who rely upon the reliability of the service. Despite her faults, the former Premier (and transport minister before that) Gladys Berejiklian never would have let this happen.

This all indicates a government less serious about governing than the world requires, a government which thinks this is still student union politics. New South Wales state elections are next year. Australia federal elections are in May. In a huge decadal reversal, LNP is now behind Labor in the polls at both the state and federal levels. The tick-tock of governance between major political parties in a democracy is, in principle, healthier than one-party rule, keeping power from become absolute. It looks like we will see it again.

Post-script: Trains indeed were restored to full service on Feb 28, with 3 times as much service they were far less crowded. The same industrial action by the labour union apparently is continuing, drawing further into doubt the lock-out rationales of a week ago.

Related

Posts

  • Mutual Co-Colonisation – If one were to look solely at the coal and iron ore, China would be seen as the colonizer despite Australia’s higher standard of living. And if one were looking at some metrics of urbanisation and development, like the deployment of high-speed rail, China is also more ‘developed’.
  • A Grand Bargain – Hypothesis: Raising speed limits on motorways and lowering speed limits on local roads in urban areas reduces traffic deaths per capita. This might be a politically acceptable way to lower speed limits in cities.
  • The Pessimist’s Dilemma – The self-negating prophecy of the pessimist does not reward the pessimist, who had to be wrong to warn people off the wrong path.

News

Flag of Ukraine.svg
The subways in Ukraine also stopped running, so the tunnels could be used as air raid shelters. 

1

You might think the Murdoch papers are the house organ for the LNP, but the reverse is nearer the truth.

2

Note: When I was in Minnesota, I generally refrained from criticising the Minnesota Department of Transportation in print because they funded my research, so that would have been a conflict of interest (I had no such compunctions about the Metropolitan Council, who only provided funding indirectly once). Despite submitting a few proposals, I have not been funded by TfNSW, (though obviously have colleagues who are), nor are there any immediate prospects, nor, after years of request, have they even provided the kind of data one could easily get in the US; so can use my free speech rights without any kind of direct repercussions. I suppose there could be an “I’ll hurt your family” type of threat, I haven’t seen it, but will be sure to report it. 

I got that vague threat once back in Minnesota from a public official (the head of the local transit agency who complained about an above-the-fold interview I gave talking about “dogfooding”), which I discussed here

Obviously tenure in Australia isn’t the thing it is in the US, and state transport agencies have leaned on highly ranked universities to punish academics like the late Paul Mees in Victoria; I trust that won’t happen at Sydney. I am instead a taxpayer and customer. Governments “buying” academics through research grants, who should have the freest of free speech freedoms, is a significant problem. The push for universities to be more like consulting firms, and the pressures on academic staff to get more and more research grants, exacerbates this problem, where many of the smartest and most knowledgeable experts are conflicted out of commenting on public affairs.