Wednesday, August 04, 2004

America's Industrial Policy

Just a week ago, the LA Times reported that the new LA-Pasadena light-rail Gold Line carries approximately 15,000 riders per day instead of the expected 30,000. Given the costs of the project, you don't want to know the costs per rider.

Today, the LA Times reports that local leaders have agreed to throw another $1.3 billion at the same project. It's other people's money. So, who's counting?

As a group, the 20 largest U.S. metro areas declined in transit use (all trip purposes; thank you, Wendell Cox) in the 1990s. Not relative decline but absolute decline.

As a group the areas with new (post-WWII) metros (San Francisco, Washington, DC, Atlanta and Miami) lost even more transit users than the group of 20.

There are a hundred ways to lay out the evidence and many have for many years. But it makes no difference. It's all part of "Smart Growth", this country's last bastion of Industrial Policy.

No wonder that developers are on board. Their trade group, the Urban Land Institute (, publishes all sorts of document that extol the idea.

That's the way Industrial Policy works.