California’s high speed rail just won’t die

According to an editorial by Michael Dukakis, L.A.-S.F. train is a quick traffic fix – Los Angeles Times, California should build a high-speed rail line to reduce urban congestion. Clearly the former governor has never heard of opportunity costs . Spending money on intercity transportation means the money cannot be spent to solve real problems within metropolitan areas, where the traffic is.

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BART ridership to airport fails to take off

From SFGate SFO / BART ridership to airport fails to take off.
This is consistent with a lot of research on megaprojects. See e.g. Pickrell “A Desire Named Streetcar: Fantasy and Fact in Rail Transit Planning”. Journal of the American Planning Association 58(2):159-176,
and Flyvbjerg Megaprojects and Risk

Correlation is not causation

The Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece on speed limits: OpinionJournal – Featured Article which argues that raising the speed limit has been correlated with an increase in safety.

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Female labor force participation down

In the Washington Post article: Whither the Women? it is noted that since the turn of millenium the percentage of women in the labor force has been dropping. This has many important implications for travel demand.

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Bye bye PRT?

Ken Avidor has written an obituary for Personal Rapid Transit, at least in Minnesota: End of an era for Personal Rapid Transit | Twin Cities Daily Planet.

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Met Council endorse University Corridor LRT

From today’s Strib: Met Council vote embraces light rail for St. Paul central corridor.
Is the Central Corridor Light Rail a good or bad investment?

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Interstate is 50

The Interstate Highway System turns 50 this month and there are some interesting blogs about people part of the celebratory convoy. It was amusing to read about the RV industry’s difficulties maintaining the route on time (problems with weather, permits, etc.). Even something this well-planned goes awry, though things are certainaly better than when Eisenhower tried his convoy after World War I.

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Thought experiment: Financing public education

The overall quality of a public school is largely derived from two characteristics: the quality of the education provided (which depends in large part on teachers and facilities) and the quality of the learning (which depends on students). Hedonic models of house price indicate that the quality of public schools is capitalized in the value of land. Such matters are important. First, schools are a major determinant of property values and thus residential sorting by income, where the rich can isolate themselves from the poor. This introduces inequity into the system. Second, an analogy can be drawn to how roads should be paid for and whether users should pay or they should be capitalized into property taxes.

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Hell hath no fury like a schemer scammed

In a fascinating article: Rioting in China Over Label on College Diplomas – New York Times, students are in an uproar because their diplomas will bear the name of the lesser college they actually attended instead of the better college (with which the lesser school is affiliated) whose reputation they paid to acquire. Reputation is everything, and they are not doing much for the reputation of Zhengzhou University Shengda Economic, Trade and Management College by rioting. Of course they feel frustration, but they were trying to buy something they could not earn (the students paid extra for the lower ranked (and presumably less rigorous) school, but could not gain admittance to the better school).