Transportation

Why You Should Think Twice Before Building a Rail Transit System

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The Washington Metro system was shut down completely for a day recently to allow crews to inspect all of the power cables in the system. They found 26 cables and connectors in need of immediate repair.

This is just the latest in a series of safety problems and breakdowns that have plagued the system.

Metro has a large unfunded maintenance liability. This doesn’t surprise us because we expect American transit systems to have a backlog.  read more »

Mass Transit Expansion Goes Off The Rails In Many U.S. Cities

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Journalists in older cities like New York, Boston or San Francisco may see the role of rail transit as critical to a functioning modern city. In reality, rail transit has been a financial and policy failure outside of a handful of cities.  read more »

What Price Urban Density?

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We regularly hear the argument that living in a compact city is more affordable than living in one that is more spread out. But what does the data actually show about the cost of housing in compact cities, and the cost of transport in these dense places? The relationship between those two expenses and the compactness of a city could tell us much about which kinds of places are most affordable, since those two costs together dominate household budgets.  read more »

Just How Much has Los Angeles Transit Ridership Fallen?

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Los Angeles transit ridership has fallen even more than a recent Los Angeles Times front page story indicated, according to Thomas A.  read more »

Intercity Buses: 2015 Was A Smooth Ride

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As a former airline pricing analyst who once viewed the intercity bus as an inconsequential player in major markets, I am perhaps an unlikely champion of this mode’s potential. But since Megabus made its US debut just blocks from my Chicago office in 2006, I have become intrigued with this increasingly popular mode of intercity transportation.  read more »

Discount Airlines: The Cheap Seats Challenge

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Market forces in the airline business are, for the moment, a battle between state-owned carriers like Alitalia and Aeroflot, and start-up discounters like Ryanair and AirAsia. The conflict between state monopolies and under-capitalized start-ups is a perfect metaphor for the economic debates over subsidies and competition that divide much of the industrial world in America, Europe, and Asia. When my dreams come true, carriers like these will encircle the globe with two-hour, $49 short-hop flights.  read more »

Live from Honolulu: HART Rail, a Megaproject Failure in the Making

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Typically very few people pay attention to the goings on in the small state of Hawaii. How bad can possibly things get there? Well, a lot of people recall Boston’s Big Dig, the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco with a final price tag of about $15 billion. What if I tell you that tiny Honolulu is building a rail system that’s expected to cost at least one-half the cost of the Big Dig? On a per-capita basis it would be the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco by far.  read more »

Urban Residents Aren’t Abandoning Buses; Buses Are Abandoning Them

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“Pity the poor city bus,” writes Jacob Anbinder in an interesting essay at The Century Foundation’s website.  read more »

Traffic: Rome's Not-So-Smart Car Squeeze

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Who would have thought that city planners in Oklahoma City would be more bike and pedestrian friendly, and better at taming car traffic, than those in Rome?  read more »

2014 Journey to Work Data: More of the Same

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The major metropolitan area journey to work data is out, reported in the American Community Survey ‘s 2014 one year edition. The news is that there is not much news. Little has changed since 2010 despite all the talk about “peak car” and a supposed massive shift towards transit. Single occupant driving remains by far the largest mode of transport to work in the 53 major metropolitan areas (with over 1,000,000 population), having moved from 73.5 percent of commutes to 73.6 percent.  read more »