Moving More Expensively

Environmental groups just published Moving Cooler, a report that argues we need to reduce driving in order to reduce global warming. Transportation expert Alan Pisarski has written a critique of this report, saying it is more of a sales document than a credible analysis.

“The benefits and the costs involved” in the report “are so corrupted to be meaningless,” says Pisarski. For example, the time penalty from forcing someone to switch from a 15-minute auto trip to a 60-minute transit trip is assumed to be zero, transit subsidies are not counted, and all mobility losses from coercing people out of their cars are counted solely as benefits.

Everything I have seen suggests that we can make technological improvements to cars and highways that will reduce greenhouse gases at costs ranging anywhere from minus $50 to $50 a ton. Meanwhile, rail transit and more compact development will reduce greenhouse gases at costs ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 a ton — if they reduce them at all. Until all technological options have been used, we shouldn’t even be talking about the behavioral ones.

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36 thoughts on “Moving More Expensively

  1. JimKarlock

    I always get a sad laugh out of the idiots that claim that herding people out of cars and in to mass transit will reduce CO2 or energy. All those idiots have to do is look at the energy consumption of buses and cars per passenger-mile. Average cars beat average transit buses. Small cars beat the best transit bus systems.

    Once you point out that little embarrassment, they frequently come back that we just need higher density to make transit better than cars.

    That’s just more BS from the planners: Here is the energy consumption and cost per passenger-mile (pm) of the 10 biggest USA bus systems (in the highest density cities in the country) the MPG a car must better to beat the bus and the cost of the bus (cars cost about $0.25):
    City………………….. BTU/pm……CAR MPG.to match…….BusCost/pm.
    …………………………………………….(1.3/car)(1.57/car)
    New York, NY ………..3,222………..29.6….24.5…………….1.26
    Los Angeles, CA ………3,649………..26.1….21.6…………….0.68
    Newark, NJ …………….3,446………..27.7….22.9…………….0.82
    Chicago, IL …………….4,590………. 20.8….17.2…………….1.38
    Philadelphia, PA …….4,634………. 20.6….17.0…………….1.05
    Seattle, WA ……………3,041………. 31.4….26.0…………….0.88
    Miami, FL ………………4,186………..22.8….18.9…………….0.98
    Washington, DC ……..5,189………..18.4….15.2…………….1.33
    Houston, TX …………..3,575………..26.7….22.1…………….0.89
    Minneapolis, MN ……..3,223………..29.6….24.5…………….0.88

    Readily available cars can beat the pants off of these top 10 bus systems for energy usage.
    The cheapest bus system is OVER THREE TIMES the cost of a car.
    See PortlandFacts.com for cost of car vs transit.

    Global Warming. Aside from the fact that there was never a CO2 problem, the less energy usage of cars means less CO2 emissions. And cars don’t emit all the soot of a diesel bus.

    This is just another of a long line or failed attempts to come up with justification for the planner’s fantasy of building a sense of community through cramming unwilling people into density.

    And, BTW THWM, who pays you to say stupid things on blogs?

    Thanks
    JK

  2. C. P. Zilliacus

    Alan Pisarski is probably the best person in the field of transportation statistics and data in these United States today, and his words need to be respected by everyone.

    It is quite possible that he has more years of experience than all of the people that cranked out the Moving Cooler combined.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I regard Alan as a friend.

  3. Borealis

    I am not an expert on transportation, so I can’t evaluate the numbers. But the topic of whether or how much public transportation saves in fuel and CO2 is very important right now. I hope Anti-planner friends and foes have a serious debate that results in some reliable numbers and ideas for policy considerations.

  4. msetty

    My reaction to people like Pisarksi who turn the sensible virtues of the market mechanism into a fetish is summarized by this aphorism:

    “The economy is like sex. It is essential but is hardly all of life.”

    People who fetishize “the market” like those who fetishize sex have a similar problem.

  5. Mike

    msetty:
    That marks both you and Dan as the lefties here swinging the word “fetish” around in an attempt to marginalize free-market advocates. Doug Reich cannily observed (emphasis mine):

    “To the modern philosopher (or left wing intellectual), everything is subjective, there are no black and whites, i.e. nothing can be proved. This doctrine also gives rise to the false alternative between religion and subjectivism. In other words, if the world is unknowable and secular arguments unprovable, then a man who seeks certainty in any field has only one alternative – belief in the absence of evidence, i.e., faith or religion. Consequently, the modern philosopher equates a principled approach to ideas with religious faith and dismisses it as dogmatic or simplistic and smears its adherents as “fetishists” or “cultists”. Therefore, to any group who takes reason, logic, and principles seriously, the writer is led to ask: “How can we take these people seriously?”

    In other words, it’s a typical ad-hominem attack, but it betrays something about the attacker: the subjectivist sees another person’s certainty and consistently dismisses it as faith or fetish. In fact, it could be a principled argument based on objective reasoning. Broadening your perspective to encompass that possibility should be possible now that you know. By comparison, my certainty drives Dan completely off his nugget, so I don’t have any expectations of him.

  6. Andy Stahl

    Antiplanner, et al.,

    The Moving Cooler website offers its publication for sale (through the Urban Land Institute, one of the report’s sponsors) at a cost of $34.95.

    But you can get the same report free on-line, which is also part of the Urban Lane Institute’s website.

    Bemusedly,

    Andy

  7. MJ

    Andy,

    Thanks for the note. Whatever interest I had previously had in reading the report was waning due to the fact that they wanted to charge $15 to download the e-book version. Good to know that you can get it directly online.

  8. the highwayman

    The Autoplanner: Environmental groups just published Moving Cooler, a report that argues we need to reduce driving in order to reduce global warming. Transportation expert Alan Pisarski has written a critique of this report, saying it is more of a sales document than a credible analysis.

    THWM: Alan Pisarski, credible analysis?

    Sounds more like highway lobby political bias.

  9. msetty

    Mike:

    The fundamental flaw of your worldview and “certainty” is that your reasoning is deductive, not empirical. “Objectivism” and “Austrian Economics” has the same problem as theoretical physics and astronomy, and the “elegant” math behind these pursuits: with every new discover, the theoreticians have to do mental handstands and other intellectual tricks to come up with new math–or convoluted philosophical gymnastics–to explain the new information.

    Apparently unlike you, I can live with the idea that I am “not certain” about many things, at least things that require a lot more empirical evidence.

  10. the highwayman

    msetty said: The fundamental flaw of your worldview and “certainty” is that your reasoning is deductive, not empirical. “Objectivism” and “Austrian Economics” has the same problem as theoretical physics and astronomy, and the “elegant” math behind these pursuits: with every new discover, the theoreticians have to do mental handstands and other intellectual tricks to come up with new math–or convoluted philosophical gymnastics–to explain the new information.

    Apparently unlike you, I can live with the idea that I am “not certain” about many things, at least things that require a lot more empirical evidence.

    THWM: Well, to pretty much sum up the entire political agenda of Mr.Cox & Mr.O’Toole.

    The convenience of motorists is the only thing that matters. If you don’t drive, you don’t count.

  11. mimizhusband

    THWM said: if you don’t drive, you don’t count.

    Arnie: The question in my mind remains about why I should be forced to pay to transport someone else, and also of concern, in a manner that is not earth sensitive (as suggested above by Karlock).

  12. Mike

    msetty: I was going to write a long post in reply, but I’m not going to bother. I’ll just say that you are grossly mischaracterizing Objectivism and leave it at that. Certainty does not mean everything is already known, but the knowledge that reality is knowable and that reason is the tool for knowing it. What is empirical science but idea and experimentation? It is core to Objectivism that “mental handstands” are NEVER necessary — reality rules ALL, even if reality dislodges a previous “best guess.” My reality stands up pretty well to scrutiny, but you are welcome to try to prove it wrong — with facts, not faith.

  13. t g

    Antiplanner,

    Though I know this will piss off Dan, write a post about the Cash for Clunkers. The government, by scrapping old vehicles, is limiting supply and will ultimately drive up the prices of new vehicles and necessarily drive consumers to NEW car dealers (for there will be no old cars left to buy). I can’t work on a new vehicle…but I can fix a 77 Chevy on the side of the road – but in a few years, there may not be any left – cause the government is throwing them all away.

  14. msetty

    MIke:
    Like Austrian economics, most objectivists hold that all human action is ultimately the results of actions and intent by individuals, disdaining and denying group or collective identity and actions. But such beliefs contradict daily reality: that individuals are not just individuals but also members of groups and collective assemblies of other human beings.

    If you know anything about statistics, you’d know that while is generally impossible to predict what action a particular individual might take in a given situation (unless you’ve known a person for many years–a situation where statistics are useless), in most cases predicting what a group or larger collective will do AS A GROUP OR COLLECTIVE is much easier, given adequate, statistically valid empirical data. While this is never highly precise, correctly constructed models (“statistically correct” that is) in most cases are very useful, particularly if correctly interpreted (again, that is “statistically correct”). Of course, the more empirical data, the better.

    This refusal to see the reality of human “society” or “groups” is the flaw I immediately noticed in my first ever encounter with an Objectivist, whom I thought was very smart in terms of raw brain power, but felt he completely lacked common sense when he insisted that “there is no such thing as ‘society’.”

  15. the highwayman

    Arnie: The question in my mind remains about why I should be forced to pay to transport someone else, and also of concern, in a manner that is not earth sensitive (as suggested above by Karlock).

    THWM: Call your self a libertarian, but act like a fascist.

  16. msetty

    From the same website, http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-ausmp.htm

    According to Austrians [cult leader is Von Mises, not Rand], only individuals “on the scene” know what’s going on in the market, and any attempt to manage it centrally is bound to fail.

    Perhaps the best way to highlight the error of [Austrian] market process theory is by analogy. Suppose you are the chief of a tribe of wandering nomads, and you wander into a region that is unfamiliar to everyone. Soon the tribe becomes thirsty, and everyone agrees to start searching for water.

    In the first version of this example, suppose you are an “anarchist” chief, and allow the tribe to conduct its own search without organization, coordination or planning. A lot of effort will be wasted and duplicated in the chaos that follows.

    Next, suppose you are a “mixed economy” chief — that is, you believe that individual effort should be balanced by group effort. You therefore organize the search for water, by sending everyone out in different directions. When they all return, one announces the discovery of a lake, and the tribe proceeds to the lake together. (Another possible result is that two scouts come back with different pieces of information, and putting them together results in the discovery of the lake.)

    Next, imagine that you are a “central-planning” chief — that is, you insist on controlling every action of every individual in the entire search. As they radiate from your central location, you shout out after each one of them to look under that rock, behind that bush, around that tree. As they get out of shouting range, you communicate with each other by smoke signal. One scout may signal that he has found a rock: may he look under it? You signal back: yes. Of course, this will slow down the search considerably, because you’ll be overwhelmed by messages from the field. And this is terribly inefficient as well, because you don’t know their local situation as well as they do, and they are much better placed to make these tactical decisions.

    Austrian economists love to criticize socialism and other forms of big government on the basis of the last example. They argue that a central planner does not have the fantastic knowledge needed to control individual members to such a degree, and the members should be free to act on their own knowledge. This is undoubtedly true. But is the solution to this problem the first approach? Of course not.

    In the second approach, the chief did not need to know the Absolute Truth of the land to organize an effective search. And individuals were free to search as they needed on their individual jaunts. When they returned with their reports from the field, the chief did not need to know exactly what each one of them had learned or experienced in order to choose the correct policy: send the entire tribe to the lake. The idea that the chief could not form an effective strategy because he did not personally see everything for himself is absurd.

  17. the highwayman

    t g said:
    Antiplanner,

    Though I know this will piss off Dan, write a post about the Cash for Clunkers. The government, by scrapping old vehicles, is limiting supply and will ultimately drive up the prices of new vehicles and necessarily drive consumers to NEW car dealers (for there will be no old cars left to buy). I can’t work on a new vehicle…but I can fix a 77 Chevy on the side of the road – but in a few years, there may not be any left – cause the government is throwing them all away.

    THWM: Well that’s a great thing for auto makers.

  18. t g

    THWM said: Well that’s a great thing for automakers.

    tg: Which is why we probably won’t hear about it from the AP. But it’s enough to make a libertarian out of me. I want my old cars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. the highwayman

    tg: Which is why we probably won’t hear about it from the AP. But it’s enough to make a libertarian out of me. I want my old cars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THWM: I can’t blame you, I have a friend that has restored a 1959 Bentley. An other friend of mine has an older car too, though she rebulit almost every thing underneath with stainless steel her self, she hates rust.

    The auto industry does have planned obsolescence, built into their products.

    Disclaimer: I once had a job making parts for Ford.

  20. Mike

    msetty, your argument against the Austrian School of Economics does not address anything I have advocated, because Objectivism rejects the Austrian School’s central notion that progress is the result of all the unknowable “happy accidents” that result from an unregulated free market. Hayek and von Mises were not Objectivists. An Objectivist would believe those effects knowable, based on rational observation and study.

    An Objectivist would hold that an individual would generally act in that individual’s own rational best interest — but that some individuals do not, and this must be considered in the equation. Indeed, Rand has written vast material on how humans are alone among animals in having the capability for self-negation. You’d never see a starving dog walk away from a fresh steak so that other dogs could have it instead.

    An individual may act in accord with a group from time to time, either accruing to rational benefit or irrational detriment. Far too many do join to mob to irrational detriment, thanks to the human capacity for self-negation, but ultimately an initial decision has to be made at the individual level for anything to proceed further.

  21. Frank

    Leave aside the fact that CO2 is a trace gas comprising just 0.0374% of our atmosphere, and also discard the climate cycle’s ups and downs over the last 2000 years which suggest that climate is not static; if the global warming religious zealots want to focus on the real CO2 culprit, focus on freighters crossing the Pacific; studies from the last few years have shown more CO2 is produced by ocean-going vessels carrying cheap crap from China than cars. Now look in your closet and look for the “Made in…” tag on your clothes and all your consumer items for that matter.

    And now stop being a hypocrite and a statist. If you don’t like climate change, change your actions (even though the IPCC has found that oceans will rise for the next 1000 years no matter what we do now), and stop trying to shirk your personal responsibility in favor of coercive state action.

  22. the highwayman

    Mr.Setty, don’t expect to be rational with people that have hard line political agenda.

    They will defend it tooth & nail.

    Real objectivism is about being impartial, not about having an objective.

  23. the highwayman

    Frank said: If you don’t like climate change, change your actions (even though the IPCC has found that oceans will rise for the next 1000 years no matter what we do now), and stop trying to shirk your personal responsibility in favor of coercive state action.

    THWM: Things change, though what kind of a change and the rate of change are other things.

  24. the highwayman

    JK: BTW THWM, who pays you to say stupid things on blogs?

    THWM: No one pays me to write any thing.

    Though Mr.Karlock if you want to be on the offensive, act like a diva and try make other people lives more difficult, then expect people to fight back.

  25. Francis King

    Andy Stahl wrote:

    “But you can get the same report free on-line, which is also part of the Urban Lane Institute’s website.”

    Unfortunately the on-line version is broken. It’s 30MB (for no very obvious reason), and my cutting edge Vista box is having some difficulty showing it. The version on the web-site for sale uses the more effective paper technology, offering impressive display resolutions and a very high power efficiency and battery life. That’s why it costs more. 🙂

    C. P. Zilliacus wrote:

    “Alan Pisarski is probably the best person in the field of transportation statistics and data in these United States today, and his words need to be respected by everyone.”

    Well, maybe. But his response looks a lot more like the usual hatchet job on somebody else’s work.

    “I am sure the millions affected by these policies, particularly the middle and working class people who can now just barely afford a car, who would be priced out of the system by these policies, will say thank you for this “benefit”.”

    It relies upon the belief, stated without evidence to support it, that the car is the best form of transport, and those complete bastards in the FHWA (one of the co-signatories) are trying to stop people from having this bliss, for their own peculiar reasons. This does not explain why the cul-de-sac is a popular form of residential development – people appear to be trying to get away from this new blessing. I note that in the past we have had forms of transport which clearly were the future of transport – until the next thing came along.

    “As we work our way through the recession, workers will be willing to travel farther and farther to find the right job – or any job. With continuing increased specialization in our society larger and larger market sheds for jobs and for workers, quality transportation will be critical to our national productivity. This is the work that transportation does and it is totally dismissed by this report. It can not be addressed adequately by rail or transit even with a complete radical reorganization of work and society.”

    That’s why we have cities – to bring people together. Transit is part of the solution, owing to practical issues of road capacity – he dismisses this all without evidence, or even an attempt at an argument. His solution –

    “Those who see the solution of so many of our present ills by cramming people into ever higher densities miss the point. Residential density is one of the most fundamental choices households make. Changing residential densities to make transit work better is the smallest tail wagging the biggest dog I can think of. It puts planning dogma ahead of the most basic human needs and rights.

    It is clear that most people, excepting a small but often very loud minority, opt for lower density living when income permits. As the society changes and choice patterns evolve, the marketplace must be ready to respond with development that is both responsive to household choices and to the demands of environmental needs. Any public policies that inhibit a market trend toward higher densities must be addressed. But the market place must be the final arbiter in a free society. People do not live “efficiently” in order to optimize some imposed societal goal, certainly not commuting.”

    Let’s get rid of cities! Let’s sprawl!!

    It’s odd, isn’t it, that high density living often has the highest worth per housing unit? – that traditional high-density Dutch housing along canal sides and housing in Venice (car free!) is so expensive – so much at odds with his conclusions.

    And isn’t it odd that one of his highest human rights is being able to live in a larger lot. Not freedom from hunger, the right to life, or anything like that.

    Conclusion – Mr. Pisarski needs to have an old-fashioned rethink of his position. The ‘Moving Cooler’ team need to republish their document in a more realistic form, one that people might actually want to read. Ditching hi-resolution images of blurred cars might be a good place to start.

  26. Contrarian

    Francis King wrote,

    “It relies upon the belief, stated without evidence to support it, that the car is the best form of transport . . .”

    Er, Francis, the evidence that the automobile is the “best form of transport” is rather overwhelming, and it is staring you in the face. The evidence is that it is the mode chosen for 90%+ of all urban travel. That means that it has been deemed “best” by all those people. No doubt you overlooked that evidence because you have bought into the invalid criterion of “efficiency” assumed by planners. A method is *efficient* when it best meets the *actual needs and goals of the user*; the abstract, synthetic goals and Utopian fantasies of 3rd parties, such as planners, bureaucrats, and “green” ideologues, are irrelevant. Most people travel by auto because it best meets *their* needs and goals, hands down. No other mode of transport equals it for convenience, flexibility, comfort, privacy, and travel time. None of them come anywhere close.

    Like the planners, you have adopted some arbitrary (and no doubt ideologically inspired) goal of your own for deciding which modes of transport are “best,” and like all “true believers,” are determined to impose that goal on everyone else. But others have no duty to abandon their own goals and adopt yours.

    “And isn’t it odd that one of his highest human rights is being able to live in a larger lot. Not freedom from hunger, the right to life, or anything like that.”

    Now how would you know that? The article dealt with transportation; those other issues were not discussed, not being germane to the topic at hand. And you also missed the point. The right in question is not “to live in a larger lot.” It is the right to live the lifestyle *you prefer* — whether that involves a McMansion on a large suburban lot or a downtown loft — not one someone else prefers and schemes to impose on you.

  27. the highwayman

    Contrarian said: Er, Francis, the evidence that the automobile is the “best form of transport” is rather overwhelming, and it is staring you in the face. The evidence is that it is the mode chosen for 90%+ of all urban travel. That means that it has been deemed “best” by all those people.

    THWM: Mr.King, welcome to quagmire that is function following form.

  28. Francis King

    Contrarian wrote:

    “Er, Francis, the evidence that the automobile is the “best form of transport” is rather overwhelming, and it is staring you in the face. ”

    Suppose we had to do a complex calculation. Suppose also that we had the following calculation tools available – slide rule, Napiers bones, pocket calculators. 90% of us may choose the pocket calculator. However, the shop nearby has some laptop computers, with Excel. If we are able to get these, that might be a better choice, and most people will swap their calculators for the laptops.

    So it is with transport. Right now, people have a choice between 20th century transit, bicycles, etc., and 21st century cars. 90% of people, given that choice, pick the car, which is a good decision. But if 21st century transit and other forms of transport were offered as a choice, would most people stick with the car? – I don’t think so, cars are too expensive for people to not consider the alternatives.

    The slightly odd thing is that the 21st century transport technology exists, but the UK and US governments are not in any hurry to push it forwards – I suspect an equal measure of ignorance and arrogance. So, we end up with wall-to-wall cars, congestion, and the inevitable calls for tolls and congestion charging.

    By contrast, in continental Europe, they have made great strides in moving to non-car transport. Because they give a damn.

    If the history of transport shows us anything, it is that just when people think they have discovered the best form of transport ever, someone comes up with something better. Then most people switch, sometimes in less than a decade. Examples – horse drawn trams converted to electric trams, and the 1865 Red Flag Act.

    “Like the planners, you have adopted some arbitrary (and no doubt ideologically inspired) goal of your own for deciding which modes of transport are “best,” and like all “true believers,” are determined to impose that goal on everyone else. But others have no duty to abandon their own goals and adopt yours.”

    I’m an engineer. I don’t do ideology. But I can do sums, and I can work out just how many cars we can get through a road junction. More cars than that, and we’ve got a traffic jam.

    “Now how would you know that?”

    Because he said so. Quote – “It puts planning dogma ahead of the most basic human needs and rights.” Is living in a bigger lot/ choosing what size house to live in, a basic human right? I would suggest that there are many far more fundamental human rights than that.

  29. Contrarian

    Francis King wrote,

    “Right now, people have a choice between 20th century transit, bicycles, etc., and 21st century cars. 90% of people, given that choice, pick the car, which is a good decision. But if 21st century transit and other forms of transport were offered as a choice, would most people stick with the car? – I don’t think so, cars are too expensive for people to not consider the alternatives.”

    Automobiles are in fact the *least* expensive mode of passenger transport, after aircraft. See the tables in ROT’s latest post (“Guide to Reauthorization”) and the sources cited therein. And even though dollar costs for auto travel compare very favorably with those of other modes, they are not the only costs travelers consider when choosing a mode. They also consider their costs in time, comfort, privacy, flexibility, and convenience, all of which can justify some increase in dollar costs, just as one is willing to pay more for hotel room with an attached bath and a comfy bed than for a cot in youth hostel. All of those factors enter into the traveler’s calculations, and until the planners likewise take them into account, their economic analyses will remain irrelevant.

    BTW, both bicycles and transit are 19th Century technologies, the auto a 20th century technology. There is as yet no 21st Century transporation technology.

    “The slightly odd thing is that the 21st century transport technology exists, but the UK and US governments are not in any hurry to push it forwards – I suspect an equal measure of ignorance and arrogance.”

    Which technology would that be? And where did you get the idea that it is the role of government to “push it forward”? There is no need for government to push any particular technology forward, nor any justification for it’s doing so. Travelers are quite capable of deciding for themselves which mode of transport best meets their needs. Humans did not require government bureaucrats to sell them on horses, bicycles, streetcars or passenger trains in their heyday, automobiles, or air travel, all of which were invented and provided by private entrepreneurs and were freely adopted by travelers who perceived their advantages over other technologies available at the time. Governments had no role to speak of in the development or adoption of any of those technologies. The judgments and preferences of planners and bureaucrats, far being being superior to those of the travelers themselves, are actually greatly inferior, since they cannot possibly possess the knowledge of each traveler’s personal needs and goals necessary to make such decisions. That means they will substitute some abstract, idealized, or Utopian goal of their own for those of the actual traveler.

    Government is responsible for maintaining public rights-of-way, which are public goods. If it is to exercise that fiduciary duty responsively and diligenty, it will configure and maintain those rights-of-way to best accommodate the desires of the public — their owners — as those desires are expressed by their *own* freely chosen modes of travel and travel behaviors. It will not presume to herd them along a path dictated by some fashionable ideology or created to lavish pork on its political patrons.

    “So, we end up with wall-to-wall cars, congestion, and the inevitable calls for tolls and congestion charging.”

    If governments devoted the resources available to them — fuel taxes and other fees collected from auto users — for the purposes for which they were originally imposed, there would be much less congestion. Instead nearly half of those revenues are now diverted to transit boondoggles of one flavor or another. Increasing congestion is now the effective policy of many transit bureaucracies, in order to force people to use the archaic technologies and submit to the “greenie” lifestyles they champion.

    “By contrast, in continental Europe, they have made great strides in moving to non-car transport.”

    Nope. Europe relies somewhat more heavily on transit than N. America for three reasons: because they are less wealthy (their GDPs are comparable to those of America in the 20s and 30s), because they had no domestic sources of fuel, making gas more expensive, and because they have more densely populated, older cities where transit systems actually make economic and personal sense, as does Japan (yes, they do make sense in some circumstances). But as incomes in Europe increase, auto travel replaces transit, just as it did in America. Auto use in Europe is increasing, transit use declining, even though most large European cities have extensive, well-developed rail transit systems.

    “I’m an engineer. I don’t do ideology. But I can do sums, and I can work out just how many cars we can get through a road junction. More cars than that, and we’ve got a traffic jam.”

    I’m reminded of von Mises’ observation that “[The planners] . . . want to deal with their fellow men in the way an engineer deals with the materials out of which he builds houses, bridges, and machines.”

    “Quote – ‘It puts planning dogma ahead of the most basic human needs and rights.’ Is living in a bigger lot/ choosing what size house to live in, a basic human right? I would suggest that there are many far more fundamental human rights than that.”

    You’re still missing the point, Francis. The “basic human rights” referred to are the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Do those sound at at all familiar? “Basic human rights” do not attach *a priori* to any particular material good or activity. They attach to the liberty to decide which goods and activities are worth pursuing, and to pursue them freely, without interference from others intent upon conscripting everyone else into some ideological crusade with which they have become enamoured.

  30. the highwayman

    BTW, automobiles are 19th century technology.

    FK: I’m an engineer. I don’t do ideology. But I can do sums, and I can work out just how many cars we can get through a road junction. More cars than that, and we’ve got a traffic jam.

    THWM: Just as what is the objective, to move cars or to move people?

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