ACCESS 26, Spring 2005

Editorial: Earmarking Threatens University Research

Martin Wachs and Ann Brach

Earmarking occurs when Congress allocates funds to specific recipients for specific purposes. Legislators have long designated funds for highway and transit projects in their home districts, fulfilling commitments made to their constituents. But funds spent for strictly political reasons can divert financial support from potentially productive projects, bypassing formal evaluation processes, economic, social, and environmental appraisal of alternatives, and citizen involvement and debate.

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2017-05-30T22:29:24+00:00Categories: ACCESS 26, Spring 2005|

Paying for Roads: New Technology for an Old Dilemma

Paul Sorensen and Brian D. Taylor

Who should pay for roads? How should they pay? These frequently debated questions echoed through the first two decades of the last century as motor vehicle use accelerated. It seemed only fair to ask users to pay for roads, but collecting road– side tolls was costly, slowed traffic, and was feasible on only the most heavily traveled highways. Paying for roads with general tax revenues was far simpler, but was seen as unfair to the many people without cars or trucks who would be forced to pay for roads that they would seldom use. The eventual solution—the motor-fuel tax—was a brilliant one: the tax was cheap and easy to collect, and it charged travelers in rough proportion to their use of roads.

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Unnoticed Lessons From London: Road Pricing and Public Transit

Kenneth A. Small

Observers of city life have long looked to mass transit to create urban vitality. Transit is supposed to promote a healthy high-density street life within economically vital business and retail districts, and to concentrate new developments into attractive patterns. Above all, it’s supposed to limit road congestion without resorting to ugly high-volume roads everywhere. These goals have been frustrated by the limited ability of mass transit to attract travelers out of automobiles and by the enormous expense of building and operating mass transit. While many recently built transit systems have achieved some desirable effects, none have seriously lessened traffic congestion. Furthermore, few cities have been able to afford a system extensive enough to make more than a small change in urban form; and the share of trips by mass transit continues to fall virtually everywhere.

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Which Comes First: The Neighborhood or the Walking?

Susan Handy and Patricia Mokhtarian

These days it's hard to miss the story that Americans spend more time stuck in traffic than ever, that they’re fatter than ever, and that the suburbs are to blame—or at least so goes the talk in the public media and in city planning and public health circles. The logic is simple: suburbs were designed for driving rather than walking, leading people to drive more and walk less, thereby contributing to increased traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, declining physical activity, and increasing waistlines. Recent studies show significant connections between suburban sprawl and traffic congestion, air pollution, and obesity. The solution as proposed is simple: redesign suburbs for walking rather than driving, so that people will walk more and drive less, traffic levels will decrease, and physical activity will increase. Problem solved.

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Discounting Transit Prices

Cornelius Nuworsoo

Public transit operators in the United States have long known that fare hikes do not increase total revenues. Although while fare reductions might boost ridership, they can also reduce total revenues and thus increase reliance on subsidies. Transit operators trying to balance their budgets need new strategies that can produce more revenue than costs. Some transit agencies have tried selling steeply discounted unlimited-ride transit passes to groups, such as students at a university or employees at a large company. Such deep-discount group-pass programs are paid for either by participants through payroll deductions or school fees, by an employer or school, or by some combination of both. Most existing programs are either employer-based or campus-based. A few neighborhood-based passes are issued through neighborhood associations. Programs typically include: (a) universal coverage of members of an identified group, (b) unlimited rides by group members within a specified period, and (c) deep discounts of from forty to ninety percent of regular pass prices. Some programs also include guaranteed rides home.

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2017-05-30T22:30:45+00:00Categories: ACCESS 26, Spring 2005|Tags: |

Economic Consequences of Transport Improvements

T.R. Lakshmanan and Lata R. Chatterjee

Transportation specialists agree that investments in transport infrastructure can generate large developmental payoffs throughout society. But how those effects come about is not readily understood.Variables such as the state of the transportation network, the region’s stage of economic development, the competitive structure of the region’s markets, and technological and institutional changes in transportation, communication, and production systems all affect improvements and the changes they generate, as well as how the overall economy responds. As these contexts vary, so do underlying forces of change, and the consequent social and economic effects. To study them, we can classify these effects along temporal (short-term, long-term) and spatial (local, regional, global) scales. Short-term effects tend to be easier to recognize than long-term ones, but many of the richest effects are subtle and take a long time to be realized.

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