Tag Archives: Philip Shucet

Tony Downs — an Influencer

Tony Downs

Editor’s note: Anthony “Tony” Downs, long-time Virginia resident and scholar at The Brookings Institute, died in October. His thoughts about the economics of transportation had a profound effect on many.

by Philip A. Shucet

Tony Downs didn’t need social media to be an influencer.

Tony published “Stuck in Traffic” in 1992, and in that book, he said that the best way to ease traffic congestion was to charge people a toll to drive during the busiest times of the day. Price supply, and demand decreases. An economist’s advice put down for the taking.

Tony’s work influenced congestion pricing programs in London, Stockholm, Milan and Singapore.

In recent months, the full body of Tony’s transportation work — two dozen books — was on my mind as New York City explored a program to charge people to drive south of 60th Street in Manhattan. The Metropolitan Transit Authority started public meetings in September to collect input. Those meetings wrapped up on December 9. The MTA wants to start charging by the end of 2023.

I wondered what Tony might think of the city’s plan. But Tony died on October 2. He was 90. Continue reading

Act 9: Free Toby Cole

by Philip Shucet

Toby Cole had something to say.

Students with VIP administrators on the drill field, April 1970. Toby Cole in the circle. (Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, unidentified photographer.)

In early April 1970, you had to push tension out of your way when you walked across the drill field at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Tucked between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, Blacksburg was slow to experience the unrest of the 1960s. In October 1965, when David Miller burned his draft card in New York City, there was barely a ripple in Blacksburg.

But in that first year of a new decade the full force of student angst was bearing down on this small college town. Continue reading

Scenes from the Quarantine

by Philip Shucet

Sunshine was an invitation to take a walk yesterday. Since March 9, I’ve been out only twice for grocery store runs. Both trips were on rainy days.

Streets in my Norfolk neighborhood are generally quiet, but now they are nearly silent. There’s more time between the sounds of passing cars. Parking spaces that usually jump around like checkers are mostly stationary. The street has settled into its own brand of calm.

Across the street a woman came out to walk her dog. But even such a familiar sight came with an exception: She was the only other person on the block. Should I be out, I wondered. And then I remembered every good reason to take a walk. Especially on a sunny day. Continue reading

Final Day of Quarantine

by Philip Shucet

Since the beginning of the year I’ve driven through fifteen states from Florida to Iowa and have been around tens-of-thousands of people to photograph political rallies. Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in every one of those states.

On Monday, March 9, I came down with chills and a fever of over 101. These weren’t just chills. These were uncontrollable shivers that sent shock waves through my body. Even in bed with three sets of quilts over me, I couldn’t keep my body still.

My doctor sent me to the Emergency Room. The fever was confirmed. Flu swab was taken. Blood was drawn. That’s all I’ll say about the ER visit. After four hours, my wife, an on-duty nurse, and I concluded that leaving the ER was less risky than staying. So we left.

First thing Tuesday morning my doctor had me in her office for a battery of tests. Fever normal. Flu test negative. Strep test negative. Chest x-ray clear. All good news. Except there were still those unexplained symptoms experienced on Monday. The conclusion was that I lay low for the next 48 hours. Continue reading

Trump Came, He Saw, He Did Not Tweet

Photo credit: Philip Shucet

President Trump conducted himself with the dignity one normally expects from a president earlier today at the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first legislative assembly in the New World and the arrival of the first African slaves. For a day at least, he set aside sharp words and divisive tweets. Following his controversial criticism over the weekend of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and what he described as the rodent-infested condition of Cummings’ Baltimore district, Trump took the opportunity to praise the first people in North America to form a representative government, to condemn slavery, and to honor African-Americans’ contributions to U.S. history.

Photo credit: Philip Shucet

Wherever Trump goes, controversy is sure to follow, even when he is not instigating it. Not only did the General Assembly’s black caucus refuse to attend ceremonies in which he appeared, Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah, D-Herndon, caused a brief disruption during the president’s speech when he raised a sign, saying, “Go back to your corrupted home. Deport hate. Reunite my family and all those shattered by systemic discrimination.” Continue reading