Monday, October 14, 2013

To the rescue

Here is Russ Roberts' interview with Cliff Winston re Cliff's recent JEL paper. Various important points are made. 1. Try privatization of facilities; we would be surprised at what entrepreneurs come up with in terms of innovation; 2. Try experimentation; give cities and states the leeway to experiment (even as they receive federal money); 3. Get the prices right before you decide that more "needs" to be built.  Hear, hear.

My one quibble with the discussion is over the discussion of congestion on U.S. roads and highways. Of course, there is too much of it where we do not price. But it is also true that average commuting times are remarkably constant over time. ACS (site shut down for some strange reason) reports the U.S. average at between 25 and 26 minutes for every year between 2000 and 2010), over metro area sizes, as well as within metro areas (between cities and suburbs).

We have recently found that even travel time variances are remarkably invariant to metro areas size. Workers and their employers do a fairly decent job of staying within each other's range.  Land markets are quite encumbered with rules and regulations, making this result interesting.  The land market comes to the rescue of transportation policy.