Tracks are not enough: “A Call for Minimum Service Standards”

Article: A Call for Minimum Service Standards « The Transport Politic.

Lately, I’ve been in a mode where I can’t seem to read anything that is “too long”, which means I haven’t been keeping up with  This is unfortunate because Yonah usually has smart things to say.  Like the article above.  It may also explain the time of day this entry was posted.  :-/

The feds don’t subsidize transit operations, but they are happy to cut you a check for transit infrastructure.  Not that there’s anything wrong with building more transit infrastructure, but the thing is that once it’s built, really, you should use it.

He picks on recent streetcar systems, and rightfully so, and notes that many have been built for non-trivial sums of money and then the number of cars per hours is abysmal.  Two cars per hour, Little Rock?  Really?

If you’re going to spend 8 or 9 digits on a system (LR’s was $16M), my dog, run it more than 2-3 times per hour!

Oh, come on: “Durbin: Earmark ban preventing federal transportation bills”


Durbin said of the suggested gas tax increase, which has been pushed by transportation advocates, that he will “try find a way to put an infusion of money into the federal highway trust fund and be sensitive to the fact many highway users are struggling with their paychecks and this is an expense that hits them hard.”

via Durbin: Earmark ban preventing federal transportation bills | TheHill.

Raise the damn gasoline excise tax (sitting at $0.184 since 1993) to where it should have been had it been indexed to inflation and then index it to inflation. This is so simple for regular people and so hard for people on The Hill.

“Justice” (Season 1, Episode 8): “A System to Cut City Traffic That Just Might Work”

Article: A System to Cut City Traffic That Just Might Work | WIRED.

I like the idea of the token system.  This is not unlike token signaling systems used on British railways on single track branches – if you have the token, you can enter the branch.  The difference here (aside from it being cars, not trains) is that there is more than one token.

At first glance, I like the idea of limiting the number of cars in the congested area, rather than just charging a fee to anyone that comes in.  The challenge, though, is that you’d need to know how many tokens is the “right” number; a non-trivial exercise.  With a congestion charge, there isn’t a hard limit to the number of vehicles because you rely on prices to discourage vehicles from entering the zone.   If you set the prices appropriately, and that has to include a rise in price as more vehicles enter the zone, then it should be OK.  If you set the price too low, however, then more and more vehicles will enter the congestion zone.  You’d have the same congestion and a bunch of revenue.

The thing I don’t like about this method is the idea that you can change the congested area on the fly.  How does this work?  If you’re in a zone that was just designated as “congested” by the controller, do you have the chance to move out of it?  How would you even know?

This is not unlike the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Justice” (Season 1, Episode 8), where there are random “punishment zones”.   Anyone caught in them is, of course, put to death (because Star Trek).  Guess where Wesley Crusher ends up?

Though the penalty is less harsh here, I don’t see the “moving zone” working out very well.  Different areas on different days?  Sure.  But no changes during the day.