The Antiplanner will be in Littleton, Colorado tonight talking about housing issues. The event is open to the public and starts at 7 pm at the South Fellowship Church, 6560 South Broadway. If you are in the Denver area, I hope to see you there.
In the meantime, interesting news from Sacramento: the regional transit district is considering shutting down one of its light-rail lines for lack of ridership. As the Antiplanner noted two months ago, the agency has lost more than 26 percent of its transit riders in the past six years and has raised fares by 10 percent to make up for the lost revenue.
The light-rail line that it is considering shutting down is only 1.1 miles long–so it is more like a streetcar line–and it attracts just 400 riders per day. Despite this poor record, Sacramento still wants to build a 3.3-mile streetcar line.
The Antiplanner is at a conference in Montana for the rest of this week. In the meantime, take a look at this op ed about bus-rapid transit in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
In addition, a letter to the editor in the Washington Post by the Antiplanner’s faithful ally, Alan Pisarski, confirms a point made by the Antiplanner yesterday: Washington Metro’s problem is inefficiency and waste, not a shortage of tax dollars.
In the past week, the Antiplanner has visited Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and currently Romania. While I haven’t had time to sort through photos in detail, here are a few. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these countries based on my short visits, but I have learned quite a bit.
Many of the former communist nations received aid from the European Union and they have spent that money or local taxpayer money building roads and other infrastructure. Macedonia, however, has spent between 500 million and 750 million euros turning the center of its capital, Skopje, into a grand plaza surrounded by huge buildings reminiscent of Las Vegas. I was told that many of the buildings are shoddily constructed and probably won’t last a long time.
The Antiplanner is heading today for London, followed by a rail trip to Sofia, Bulgaria. From there, I’ll participate in a Free-Market Road Show, giving lectures in thirteen cities in Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans. That will be followed by a short rail tour of Britain where I’ll try to learn first-hand how well that nation’s rail privatization has worked.
I’ll try to keep up postings on the Antiplanner, but I’ll be spending a lot of time en route and so may miss some days. If you are in southern Europe, I look forward to seeing you during this trip.
The Antiplanner is flying today to Michigan, where I will speak tomorrow to students at Hillsdale College. Since I won’t be back before Thursday night, postings might be light this week.
Gabriel Roth, who turns 90 years young today, is a rock star among transportation economists, and a special inspiration for those of us who support reducing the federal government’s role in transportation. According to his C.V., Roth earned degrees in engineering from London’s Imperial College in 1948 and economics from Cambridge in 1954.
In 1959, he began research into improved road pricing systems. This led to his appointment to a Ministry of Transport commission that published a 1964 report advocating pricing congested roads in order to end that congestion.
In 1966, the Institute for Economic Affairs published his paper, A Self-Financing Road System, which argued that user fees should pay for all roads, and not just be used to relieve congestion. Roads should be expanded, Roth noted, wherever user fees exceeded the cost of providing a particular road, but not elsewhere.
The Antiplanner wishes you a happy and safe holiday.
Mt. Washington, Oregon Cascades.
The Antiplanner dogs, Smokey, Zephyr, and Buffy, wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Buffy will be 17 in a few days and is still going strong. The long-haired dogs are thankful for our first snow of the season.
I am thankful for my faithful readers and all of their polite comments (not so much the impolite ones). I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday.
The Antiplanner is going on a road trip from Oregon to Texas for the annual American Dream conference. Along the way, I’ll visit some national parks and national forests and probably wish I was in a fully self-driving car. Postings may be light for the next few days unless I find WiFi in the woods.
Speaking of self-driving cars, I keep reading articles arguing that we’ll have to teach ethics to self-driving cars. Given a choice between killing the occupant of a car or two people outside, should the car kill the occupant because the good of the many outweighs the good of the few? Given a choice between hitting a pedestrian and hitting another car full of people, should the car kill the pedestrian?
These are ridiculous questions. No one, not even a computer, is going to have time to count the number of occupants in another car and compare them with the number in a crowd of pedestrians before deciding which way to turn. The real ethical choice is to avoid the collision in the first place. A few accidents are inevitable, but something like 90 percent of auto accidents are due to human error. hose who want to argue ethics today are missing the point: take away the human error and everyone will be a lot better off.