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What’s the best way to modernize our transportation?
The Christian Science Monitor ^ | October 26, 2010 | The Christian Science Monitor

Posted on 10/27/2010 11:10:25 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks

With a lagging economy, high unemployment, and aging transportation systems, Americans debate the best ways to invest in their infrastructure and stimulate economic activity – from high-speed rail and congestion pricing, to cutting pork and tapping private capital.

High-speed rail is a big part of the answer

During the Great Depression, businesses and governments agreed that transportation modernization was essential to restoring prosperity. The 1930s saw the emergence of the freeway (the first one opening in Los Angeles in 1940) and the airport as important modes of transportation. Together with the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, these Depression Era investments helped produce the long postwar economic boom and brought widespread prosperity to the United States.

As we face another dire economic crisis, we have a similar need for modernization and economic recovery. When gas prices soared in 2008, it helped push the unstable economy over the edge. Even in the depths of the worst recession in 60 years, gas prices remain at 2006 levels. Analysts such as those at Deutsche Bank predict that oil prices will rise again once job growth returns, threatening to strangle a recovery in its infancy.

High-speed rail will not only stimulate the economy during construction, but it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, helping our economy to avoid future oil price shocks. It will also tie together the economies of mid-sized urban areas to the economies of large metropolitan cities through increased accessibility.

(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: choochoos; congestionpricing; highspeedrail; highways; infrastructure; p3s; ppps; privateinvestment; reasonfoundation; roads; robertpoole; tolling; tolls; trains; transportation; williegreen
Read the whole thing. It's not just about high-speed rail.
1 posted on 10/27/2010 11:10:27 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
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To: Willie Green; B-Chan; Diddle E. Squat; Ben Ficklin; Paleo Conservative

PING!


2 posted on 10/27/2010 11:11:53 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Lower prices for cars, lower car insurance, and lower gas prices.


3 posted on 10/27/2010 11:14:04 AM PDT by wastedyears (Know this, I will return to this land... rebuild where the ruins did stand)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Rethink the federal role in transportation to focus federal gas-tax money on highway projects that deliver the largest benefits to mobility and congestion relief.

Congestion isn't happening so much on the interstates which was the purpose for federal funding.

4 posted on 10/27/2010 11:14:04 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise
Congestion isn't happening so much on the interstates which was the purpose for federal funding.

LOL... you aint from around here are you?

I missed a job interview recently because traffic on I-95 north of Philly was stop and go for 20 miles. Left the house 45 minutes early... got there 45 minutes late.

5 posted on 10/27/2010 11:20:09 AM PDT by Rodamala
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

How about high speed chair lifts like at ski areas? They move 4000 people per hour. I guarantee you a couple hundred of those would still be cheaper than the toy trains.


6 posted on 10/27/2010 11:21:15 AM PDT by crusty old prospector
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Let the government do it................./s


7 posted on 10/27/2010 11:25:53 AM PDT by Red Badger (WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE MEGHAN MCCAIN A BOX OF KRISPY KREMES SO SHE'LL SHUT THE HELL UP?!)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
No need. It's the CSM so it's a call for yet more Federal 'investments'.

What do I win?

8 posted on 10/27/2010 11:31:01 AM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks; Willie Green
What’s the best way to modernize our transportation?

Tar and feather the likes of Willie Green. GPS guided autonomous vehicles with sensory radar are where it's at for single-driver vehicles, scaling up through rentals, jitneys, buses, and then buses on dedicated ROW. Rail is only appropriate for very high density population corridors, which themselves represent a misallocation of land because of crooked zoning and regulation.

9 posted on 10/27/2010 11:40:33 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to manage by central planning.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
The 1930s saw the emergence of the freeway (the first one opening in Los Angeles in 1940)

Don't they read their own stuff?

10 posted on 10/27/2010 11:42:13 AM PDT by T. P. Pole
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Most of this I wrote almost eight years ago.

When one starts to redefine sectors of the transportation problem such that strategic solutions become apparent, government is obstructing change at every step. Some of the barriers are surprising.

The most obvious question relating to transportation issues is "Why drive at all?" Several things obstruct elimination of much of the need.

Telecommuting could reduce fuel consumption, smog, and would produce high-paying jobs in equipment and software. It also makes more time for family. Telecommuting has been severely hindered by the lack of the "last mile" of the specialized cable capable of carrying high-speed Internet service into the home. The Public Utilities Commission effectively delayed telephone companies from running fiber optic cable into the home by forcing phone companies to rely exclusively upon their copper wires (supposedly to protect the poor and seniors from rate increases, of course, such a strategy didn't mean anything to cable operators).

25% of all local trips are for errands. Whether driving kids to school, shopping, or making deliveries. The Internet could provide the link that allows coordination all purchases for the home to be bundled into a single delivery. Guess who is in the way?

It is amazing how much more traffic there is after Labor Day. The reason? Schools. Why are we driving to classrooms and libraries when we have the Internet? Why do we have bricks and mortar schools at all? One could put lectures online, with Q&A over Skype, and testing proctored at the local strip mall. There is no legitimate reason for that many trips other than paying bad instructors too much money while wrecking family integrity in the process.

It's not just the teachers either. The US Postal Service is expensive and inefficient; the virtual monopoly they hold in daily home delivery restricts the opportunity to bundle mail delivery with food, clothing, and other purchased items. From an economic perspective, it's time to end it.

To improve the competitiveness of Internet sales, customers need a better sense of what they are buying online. Interactive voice and picture communications not only rapidly improve transactions, they also broaden the market to include the computer illiterate. Without high-speed cable into the home, none of it is possible. Maybe that's a reason why the dot-com bust was as bad as it was?

Another reason for high-speed cable is to enable customized mass communications necessary to eliminate the need for commuting to schools. It is most instructive to drive a major highway before and after Labor Day. The traffic flow for education alone is significant.

Many Californians would swear that they can't afford to stay at home with their kids, but if they understood how much of their income from that second job went to taxes, daycare, extra driving, or tutoring and counseling to deal with the mess public schools make of their kids, they would probably quit now. Add the prospect of telecommuting and the choice becomes truly compelling.

With that broadband, there would also be less reason to fly, a fact being proven every day by web-conferencing. Considering the security concerns associated with air or rail travel, the costs of hotel accommodations, car rental, restaurant food, and the absence at home, web-conferencing looks quite attractive.

The above is still insufficient to eliminate the need to buy that extra car. There will always be the need for an occasional day-trip while at work, an emergency delivery, or a non-emergency trip to the hospital where the bus just doesn't cut it. Here again, the market is headed toward the solution and government is in the way. It is increasingly common for car rental companies to disperse their fleet for day use and deliver the car. Jitney services, similar to the airport shuttle vans could coordinate trips online, and provide more customized services than a bus ever could, but what do you know but that counties almost always restrict the number and type of cab licenses!

We need simply deregulate taxis, and put them on the web with GPS and AI to optimize trip combination. A bidding system could access closer cabs for shorter wait times. Put it all together: telecommuting, web-conferencing, Internet shopping with consolidated home delivery, online home education, intelligently distributed rental cars and jitney services and many traffic problems would virtually vanish. It only happens if government gets out of the way. But what about the poor? How do they get around in this system?

Government could obviously fund transportation vouchers or discounted ticket prices as they do now for bus or light rail service, especially after having reduced the need via communications services. It certainly beats paying off bond debt and operating subsidies necessary to support massive mass transit projects.

Finally, there is a future in making our highways more efficient that bears discussion. We could load the highways with many more cars and run them at higher speeds than is currently safe for traffic if all the vehicles were under some form of automatic control. For most people, that is rightly a very scary issue, because who wants to cede control of their car to a government agency?

It doesn't have to be that way. One can either control the cars on an automated road, or automate the cars and have them work things out among each other. The latter, being a distributed control system, is actually more robust but would require the very sophisticated global positioning systems now in development.

The big advantage of a distributed system is that the cars could conduct negotiations. Think of what it would be like to be paid to get out of the way so someone could whip through traffic at a 100mph while you were working instead of paying attention to the wheel. Freedom makes it possible. Don't accept anything less.


11 posted on 10/27/2010 11:52:52 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to manage by central planning.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Walt Disney had some interesting ideas for mass transportation. The original EPCOT was suppose to be an “Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. When Walt died the heirs decided to change his plans into just another theme park - guess they didn’t think it could be done... (Just like what was said about DisneyLand..) Anyhow, his 50 year old transportation plans could be adapted to something useful and cheap...


12 posted on 10/27/2010 12:04:18 PM PDT by GOPJ ('Power abdicates only under the stress of counter-power." Martin Buber /a Tea-nami's coming..)
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To: Carry_Okie

I’m not sure I agree with everything you posted there, but I absolutely agree with you about schools. Even something as simple as school buses is an enormous source of congestion in many suburban areas. In fact, I look upon the traditional yellow school bus as an indicator of what’s wrong with our whole approach to education.


13 posted on 10/27/2010 12:07:28 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.")
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Together with the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, these Depression Era investments helped produce the long postwar economic boom and brought widespread prosperity to the United States.

Interesting perspective. I'd make the case that the establishment of the U.S. interstate highway system and the invention of the shipping container -- both of which occurred in the mid-1950s -- were probably the two biggest developments in modern transportation as it relates to America's prosperity.

14 posted on 10/27/2010 12:10:25 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.")
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To: Carry_Okie; Red Badger
If the US passenger car fleet were powered by small displacement (2.5 liter and under) turbo-charged diesels, there would be no, repeat, NO demand for foreign oil for transportation. A 50 mpg fleet average is attainable right now, with known technology. The Green ani, Globull Warmers who have propogandized us to economic suicide are dead set against diesels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BoyEHeID8U

All of the suggestions, and they are splendid, do not take in to account that we will be a petro-based world for at least the next 150 years, for which there are more than adequate supplies. In fact, there is a surfeit of crude oil, with price maintenance done by limiting refining capacity.

IMHO, the biggest macro-economic calamity to hit the Western World is the phenomenon of the two-income family. Most women work now. That has (a) lowered western birth rates below replacement, and opened our world to fecund Third Worlders who ain't our friends. (b)Doubled available labor, lowering wages to the point that two incomes ARE REQUIRED to maintain a household. (c)Increased demand for housing, transport, etc. raising the cost of those commodities.

Can't and won't say whether this is "good,"or "bad," just saying that to avoid discussion of the obvious is rather foolish. Tax policy? It is against the two-income family already.

15 posted on 10/27/2010 12:21:00 PM PDT by Kenny Bunk (Revive The Poll Tax and Literacy Requirement for voter registration.)
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To: Kenny Bunk

The enviro-nazis want diesel dead.
Their agenda is not “clean air”, but destruction of the US economic system.
Diesel would empower the US, so it must be stopped..............


16 posted on 10/27/2010 12:24:25 PM PDT by Red Badger (WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE MEGHAN MCCAIN A BOX OF KRISPY KREMES SO SHE'LL SHUT THE HELL UP?!)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks; Willie Green
Are you taking over for Willie Green ? Of course if you want to see an urban transportation project that worked, instead of pie-in-the-sky socialist wet dreams, see the Katy Freeway.

Nearly every scheme advocated in the supposed "equal time" article argues for statist solutions.

The Christian Science Monitor used to be a newspaper worth reading. Now it's just another piece of 'Rat / Elite propaganda with declining readership.

My (and Willie's) local paper, the Houston Carbuncle, lost another 10% of readership again this year, continuing the long term death spiral caused by its unpopular and virulent advocacy of left wing candidates, causes and views. Like used toilet paper, it circles the bowl for a while before going totally down the drain.

17 posted on 10/27/2010 12:24:42 PM PDT by jimt
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To: Kenny Bunk
If the US passenger car fleet were powered by small displacement (2.5 liter and under) turbo-charged diesels, there would be no, repeat, NO demand for foreign oil for transportation.

And if our effing goobermint would get the eff out of the way we would have enough US sources of oil and US refineries such that there'd be no NEED for foreign oil - we could export oil, gasoline and other petrochemical products.

18 posted on 10/27/2010 12:28:55 PM PDT by jimt
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To: Carry_Okie
Finally, there is a future in making our highways more efficient that bears discussion. We could load the highways with many more cars and run them at higher speeds than is currently safe for traffic if all the vehicles were under some form of automatic control. For most people, that is rightly a very scary issue, because who wants to cede control of their car to a government agency?

It doesn't have to be that way. One can either control the cars on an automated road, or automate the cars and have them work things out among each other. The latter, being a distributed control system, is actually more robust but would require the very sophisticated global positioning systems now in development.

The CATO Institute recently published a column about automated cars (the latter system). Automated cars are already undergoing test drives (off the public roads, of course). The first automated cars are estimated to roll off the assembly lines in 2018.

19 posted on 10/27/2010 12:47:14 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: Alberta's Child; Carry_Okie

If we absolutely must teach kids in groups, we can always organize classes in people’s family rooms, home school areas, or the aforementioned strip mall spaces and communicate with the rest of the “school,” if necessary, via internet.


20 posted on 10/27/2010 12:50:23 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: Kenny Bunk
If the US passenger car fleet were powered by small displacement (2.5 liter and under) turbo-charged diesels, there would be no, repeat, NO demand for foreign oil for transportation. A 50 mpg fleet average is attainable right now, with known technology. The Green ani, Globull Warmers who have propogandized us to economic suicide are dead set against diesels.

Yup. I agree completely.

All of the suggestions, and they are splendid, do not take in to account that we will be a petro-based world for at least the next 150 years, for which there are more than adequate supplies.

Actually, that's not correct; they do, but I don't address that specifically here. Most of what I was writing about in this excerpt is addressing congestion induced by unnecessary trips, which is far more expensive than fuel consumption, particularly where real estate costs are high. The point was to get people thinking about multidisciplinary approaches to problems through libertarian principles, to show that they can and do work.

IMHO, the biggest macro-economic calamity to hit the Western World is the phenomenon of the two-income family.

The purpose of which was to have the government raising the kids, a communist goal which would have horrified America only forty years ago.

Tax policy? It is against the two-income family already.

It's against families period.

21 posted on 10/27/2010 12:52:26 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to manage by central planning.)
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To: jimt; Willie Green
No, I'm not subbin' for Willie Green. Just postin'

Robert Poole's solutions don't exactly strike me as left-wing. However, it has been said that the Reason Foundation is a corporate front for international toll road companies.

And I thought it was called the Houston Comical.

22 posted on 10/27/2010 12:55:45 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

23 posted on 10/27/2010 1:04:29 PM PDT by Eepsy
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To: Carry_Okie
Interesting as hell. Of course, there will still be those who want to go to the mall because they want the socializing. There will still be those who want to go out to eat because they don't want to cook for whatever reason. And there will still be those that need a brick and mortar school because they lack the motivation and discipline to do things on-line.

But even accounting for those factors, something like 60% of fossil fuels are consumed by transportation and 60% of transportation is commuting to work and school. So eliminate even 40% of the commuting and you've eliminated, or at least postponed, the need for new roads, new sources of fossil fuel and all the problems attendant thereto.

The biggest barrier to such an outcome is, of course, government. Fewer people moving about mean fewer sources of revenue from gas taxes and payroll taxes because, face it, many jobs depend on the need for people to be constantly moving about and support the transportation infrastructure which bleeds much of that income off these same people.

24 posted on 10/27/2010 1:40:08 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Better batteries charged by nuclear power.


25 posted on 10/27/2010 5:27:31 PM PDT by WayneH (STCM USN Retired)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
The Comical is a good appelation when you think of the lengths they go to avoid reporting unpleasant news.

The Carbuncle (a pus filled boil) is better when looking a the foul opinions they publish instead of news.

Either way, they lost another 10% of readership this year alone. Good riddance !

26 posted on 10/28/2010 11:41:39 AM PDT by jimt
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