Mobility Choice

Tuesday, May 21st

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Points to Ponder

The Traveler’s Tradeoff: Comparing Intercity Bus, Plane, & Train Fares across the United States

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New study from the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul compares prices of travel on various modes of transportation—air, bus, and rail—in 52 city pairs in the United States with travel distances between 100 and 500 miles. Click here for study.

Reason Magazine: HOT Congestion Insurance

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"Today, you can forget it if you need to get somewhere quickly during rush hour. Which is why toll lanes provide a valuable service.

"Toll lanes offer "congestion insurance." They ensure you can get somewhere on time when it really matters.

"You won't need it every day, but you're glad it's there when you do. And you only pay when you use the lanes."

Robert Poole & Shirley Ybarra, A Transportation Project that Pays for Itself

No Place Like Home

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"Nothing allows for geographic choice more than the ability to work at home. By 2015, suggests demographer Wendell Cox, there will be more people working electronically at home full time than taking mass transit, making it the largest potential source of energy savings on transportation. In the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, almost one in 10 workers is a part-time telecommuter. Some studies indicate that more than one quarter of the U.S. workforce could eventually participate in this new work pattern. Even IBM, whose initials were once jokingly said to stand for "I've Been Moved," has changed its approach. Roughly 40 percent of the company's workers now labor at home or remotely from a client's location."

Joel Kotkin, There's No Place Like Home

Reason Foundation: HOT in the SF Bay Area

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"The San Francisco Bay Area is building the most extensive network of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes in the world, something Reason Foundation suggested for San Francisco and other urbanized areas in 2003. The HOT Lanes concept was introduced by the Foundation in 1993.

"Under the current proposal moving forward, 450 miles of existing carpool lanes in nine counties are expected to be converted into HOT Lanes, with tolls varying by time of day and level of congestion. Another 350 lanes will be added later. [...]

"It's not quite privatization, but HOT Lanes are proving to be an efficient, effective, and manageable market-based tool for putting the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time based on the most useful criteria of all: willingness to pay."

Samuel Staley, HOT Lanes Show Diverse Benefits

CATO: How Government Highway Policy Encourages Sprawl

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"Taxpayers, however, shouldn't have to pick up the tab for other people's preferences for suburban living, yet that has been the effect of the federal interstate highway program since the mid-1950s. The construction of free beltways and expressways has subsidized suburban development. The "correct" or efficient amount of suburban development is the amount that consumers are willing to pay for so long as they bear the incremental costs of land acquisition and expressway construction.

"To be sure, user charges and gasoline taxes approximately equal the construction and maintenance costs of major highways. But the financing of urban beltways and radial expressways from the Federal Highway Trust Fund represents a subsidy to suburban sprawl -- because all highway users pay taxes in proportion to their gasoline usage, but urban beltways and expressways are the most expensive to build and maintain. And because the number of lanes of urban highways is based on peak-period rather than off-peak travel needs, the cost of constructing and maintaining urban expressways should be paid by peak users only. For example, a 1975 study showed that urban interstate highway costs averaged about 1.3 cents per vehicle-mile; however, the cost of serving peak-hour users in Boston and San Francisco was as high as 10 to 30 cents per vehicle-mile. If the users of such roads during peak times had to pay for their costs, the supply of and demand for such roads would be much less."

Howard Wood, How Government Highway Policy Encourages Sprawl