Jim Bacon and EMR tune in on different MainStream Media outlets and today they saw different stories and came to different conclusions. Bacon reported on a Richmond Times-Dispatch op ed column by the US Secretary of Transportation (“Mary Peters on Virginia Transportation Policy”). EMR has been reading WaPo.

In SundaySource, WaPo splashes a lot of colored ink on “An Airfare To Remember: As the Cost of Travel Soars, Couples in Long-Distance Relationships Are Feeling the Pinch.”

True and touching but WaPo would do better to alert citizens to the economic, social and physical impact on citizen’s well being due to a deteriorating Mobility and Access system in the air, on the water and on land.

It is all well and good to chew over the cratering of IntraRegional transport – roadway congestion, deteriorating bridges and other realities – but let us not forget InterRegional transport. The headline from a 22 June WaPo Op Ed by David Ignatius puts the air issue in perspective: “Failing Airlines, Failing Government.”

We considered the impact of the declining health of Air Enterprises in a column “The End of Flight as We Knew It” on 21 April 2008. Things have gotten worse since. Last week the EU finally voted (640 to 30) to start forcing Air Enterprises to pay the cost of their upper atmosphere impact. That on top of fuel costs…

For years Air interests have pumped Agency and private Capital into a system of air Mobility and Access based on cheap fuel. They have convinced smaller urban enclaves that the saviors of their community’s economy will fly in and out of town. Uncle Sugar’s pork barrel has doled out grants to build a system that now will be so expensive it will only serve a few at the top of the Ziggurat.

Just yesterday WaPo reported that airport managers have come to the federal trough for help. (“Feeling Airlines’ Pain, Airports Seek Help in D.C.”) Sorry, Uncle Sugar has spent all his money in the casbah – protection money for cheap petrochemicals – and he has nothing to show for it but war casualties and debt.

On the water and on land, the problem is no better. In “Interstate Crime,” (28 February 2005) we outlined some of the problems with the Interstate System and the ideas floating around to “fix” it.

Most now understand the profound negative impact the Interstate Highway system has had on human settlement pattern – for a refresher see “Interstate Crime.” A growing number are coming to realize dysfunctional result of relying on Autonomobiles for Mobility and Access – See THE PROBLEM WITH CARS.

The foolishness of building a system of roadways that must be used by vehicles with vastly different weights and driven by persons with different skills is coming into focus as drivers get older and energy costs will result in vehicles that are smaller, lighter and more dangerous. See our 13 June Bacon’s Rebellion Blog Post “Aprera and the Tiger Riders.”

The dialogue in Jim Bacon’s Friday 11 July post “Get Over it” on the physics of InterRegional Mobility and Access via rail makes it clear how far citizens, even citizens of good will, are from coming to a well considered judgement on a course of action with respect to any mode of travel.

Where have the 100s of millions of dollars in transportation “research” gone over the past 60 years? To the Enterprises and Institutions that are the Haliburtons of the Autonomobile, the vehicle of choice of Business As Usual.

It would be so nice not to have torn up the street railway system – the Federal District hopes to have its system rebuilt by 2030. And what about those thousands of miles of abandoned railroads?

Seems like Ms. Peters should be worrying about the big picture, not giving op ed advice on finding money for IntraRegional short-term fixes. On the other hand she has not been in office for 60 years so it is hard to put all the blame on her.

Where is Will Owen when we need him?


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  1. Rodger Provo Avatar
    Rodger Provo

    The national disaster for our
    country includes:

    – a weak dollar because of our
    interest rates, debt and trade

    – a manufacturing base damaged
    by low wage economies around the
    world that has bled many our jobs
    away from communities devasted by
    the lost

    – high fuel costs driven by world
    wide demand, the weak dollar,
    speculators and a transportation
    system built to be service by cheap

    – a nation which needs to become
    more energy efficient and not
    dependent on others

    – a country continuing spend billions abroad on our military
    and nation building, while many
    needs at home for our people are
    going unmet

    – a political culture unable to come to grip our problems and to
    provide the country meaningful

  2. Rodger Provo Avatar
    Rodger Provo

    Note: Correction

    – a political culture unable to
    come to grip with our problems
    and to provide the country mean-
    ingful leadership

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Adding to Rodger’s comments.

    Mainstream media that is driven by ideology and a desire to appease advertisers, such that it will not report all sides to a story.

    Governments that have too much money to spend and are easily persuaded into spending it on whatever the lobbyists propose.

    Too many businesses that are totally dependent on government spending or regulation.


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    $45 million for 1.3 miles of streetcar?


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Fuel Prices are up, airline tickets are up, and travel is down.

    Big surprise.

    They are not going to uninvent the airplane anymore than they are going to uninvent the automobile. Rather than gleefully priedicting their demise, along with that of the general economy, we should be figuring out how to use them wisely.


  6. Anonymous Avatar

    With regard to land use, and transportation, EMR would have everyone move to the same point so there’s no distance.

    Either people are free to move or they are not, and their distribution is fixed by others. Obviously, to get at the problem of the geographical distribution of production and housing, you need to get away from constant returns to scale. Otherwise you would have a miniature, full featured capitalist economy could in each backyard, No costly and wasteful transportation required.

    I think there might be other factors at work.


  7. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    At least Mary Peters is consistent. Her approach for dealing with flight delays is a bigger dose of the marketplace.

    From “The Fast Lane” blog, July 10: “The Department’s final rates and charges policies that will give managers at busy airports the ability to use market incentives to help spread flights throughout the day. Because of the new rules, overcrowded airports will be able to move away from the decades-old practice of charging aircraft landing fees based simply on the weight of the plane, and instead have the flexibility to vary charges based on the time of day the plane operates.”

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Ms. Peter’s IS consistent.

    time of day/peak hour pricing is a reality for many products and services of which demand varies and outstrips supply.

    Whether it be for airline tickets or cell phone minutes.. “cheap seats” at stadiums or “Matinée” prices … or weekday prices lower than weekend prices for some things or even the reverse for things like motels and rental cars.

    If you believe the folks opposed to road-pricing… the entire concept is “anti-American” except that instead of them being opposed to the concept itself – no matter where it is employed… they apparently accept the concept just about for any purpose EXCEPT road pricing and electricity.

    I would say, in fact, that with virtually everything… except roads that demand pricing is the norm… and no more better example than gasoline.

    and the interesting thing is that not suprprisingly, many of those who are opposed to road pricing.. apparently also think that market-priced gasoline is wrong also…

    AND.. in both cases – they think the Government should do “something” about it – and guess what that “something” is ?

    well.. that “something” is raising taxes on everyone – even those that prefer demand pricing…

    very interesting…

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    The theater that offers matinee pricing doesn’t have a non-compete clause in it’s operating license.

    Don;t even think of trying to sel lthis as some kind of free market initiative. It simply is not.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    “that “something” is raising taxes on everyone – even those that prefer demand pricing…”

    Well, God forbid the government should raise taxes on those poor unfortunate souls who claim to hold the high moral ground.


  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: non-compete

    has absolutely nothing to do with demand pricing…

    You can – and do have absolute monopolies who STILL use demand pricing … a way to cap demand on expensive products and services.

    and what would you call the subset of airlines and rental car agencies that also use demand pricing?

    motels? do you think they use demand pricing?

    The examples of businesses – whether they have effective competition or not – that employ demand pricing are almost endless.

    Your idea that for instance, cruise ships charging seasonal rates – can only do that because they don’t have competitors is ludicrous. They ALL do it.

    re: taxes and moral ground

    talk about oxymoron…

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Whether you choose to believe it or not a freemarket condition requires some form of competition.

    When a monopoly raises prices, that is monopolistic pricing, not a free market.

    When a business in competition uses “demand pricing” it is usually just as the examples you suggest: it is those that LOWER prices to gain customers.

    The difference may be lost on you, but demand is based on a number of factors, which include competition, the relative cost of the goods compared to available income, and the definition of “the market”.



  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Demand pricing is the norm… when there is an opportunity to go elsewhere. Otherwise, you don;t have demand pricing, you have pricing by fiat.


  14. Anonymous Avatar

    re: taxes and moral ground

    talk about oxymoron…

    Tolls as presently planned for implementation are a punitive selective tax. Try to call them anything else and still hold the moral high ground….

    Talk about an oxymoron.


  15. Anonymous Avatar

    Where is Will Rogers when we need him? This post is a joke.


  16. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    demand pricing occurs whether there is a truly “free market” or a monopoly because demand pricing – allocates limited resources of which there is a greater demand than supply.

    econ 101

    your water/sewer company, your cable and electric company – all monopolies use demand pricing so that there is available to all customers a minimum allocation – and if you want more – it may cost a LOT more because – to provide you with more – for the same price will require that company to pay more to expand the available resources – something that may require rate increases for everyone – because of the demand from a few.

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    “demand pricing occurs whether there is a truly “free market” or a monopoly because demand pricing – allocates limited resources of which there is a greater demand than supply.

    econ 101″

    I don’t know where you took econ, but in my books this is simply not true. You can reduce the quantity demanded or quantity purchased without reducing the underlying demand.

    Only with viable competition and adequate supply can you determine a fair price and the true level of demand.


  18. Anonymous Avatar

    “something that may require rate increases for everyone – because of the demand from a few.”

    In the case of electricity the demand is from many many people, most in fact. In this case the “damands” of a few who think they are different is causing artificial shortages and cost increases for everyone.

    Throughout the energy sector, indidvidual usage has remained fairly constant over the last twenty years, and most of the growth comes from additional population. We can achieve some savings through conservation, but creating false or overpriced negative incentives is the wrong way to do it, and in the end we will still need more capacity.

    Instead of pushing one technology over another, or incentivizing some while penalizing others, we should be working from a blank piece of paper to figure out what combinations will work best.


  19. Anonymous Avatar

    For what it is worth, I think that both the roadways and mass transit should be priced such that they are free to use.

    I believe this will provide the maximum public benefit at the leasto overall cost. Roads and transit can compete for public funds on an equal basis – depending on how many people choose to use which one.

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