Friday, December 04, 2015

Slow learners

The Economist reports "Demand, meet supply: Most Americans would get married, if only they could find someone suitable." This is a very old story. Finding Mr or Ms Right is not easy or simple.

Why then do planners and politicians think that they can somehow succeed at jobs and people matching? They believe in land use planning that prompts some kind of local area "jobs-housing balance" -- to reduce big-city unemployment, reduce commuting, highway congestion and air quality problems?

Officials around the world under-price most modes of transportation. This is why we have so much crowding and traffic. Having created the problem, they then propose "solutions." One could stop there and wonder. But there is more. International comparisons (below) show that U.S. urban traffic is some of the best in the world. Why? Because we use more cars and highways and less transit.

The recently passed five-year federal transportation bill contains the usual 4:1 allocation for highways vs transit. But transit use (for commuting purposes) has been knocking about 5% for some years. Auto use in 2013 was about the same in 2013 and 1980. Look at Fig 3 here. Lopsided funding allocations have not budged mode choice. Error correction is slow to non-existent in our democracy.