Category: Transportation

Friday Facts: February 5, 2016

It’s Friday!  A REMINDER: Friday Facts made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. Enjoy them? Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Then and Now My, how we’ve grown: In 1991, the year the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, there were 1,350 public schools in 185 school districts with 1.2 million students and 68,000 teachers, according to federal statistics. The latest data show 181 districts contain more than 2,400 schools, 1.7 million students and 109,000 teachers. The staffing surge is even more remarkable at the administration level, as Foundation Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi points out here.  Events  February 17: Register now for, “… View Article
A PDF version of this Issue Analysis is available here. By Baruch Feigenbaum (This Issue Analysis is published by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation in response to a legislative request for an update of the Foundation’s August 2013 transportation study published jointly with the Reason Foundation.) Several Georgia legislators and members of the business community are supporting a sales tax increase to fund an 11.9-mile MARTA rail expansion from North Springs Station in Sandy Springs to Windward Parkway in Alpharetta. Given the high cost of expansion of rail and the corridor’s low population and employment densities, a bus rapid transit/express bus line using SR 400’s soon-to-be-constructed express lanes would be a much better option.   The Georgia General Assembly passed… View Article
Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute writes on the dangers of regulation delaying automated vehicles. Self-Driving Regulation Pro-Market Policies Key to Automated Vehicle Innovation By Marc Scribner Leonardo da Vinci first sketched the design for a self-propelled cart with programmable steering in the late 15th century. Fast forward to 2010, when Google announced its fleet of self-driving cars had quietly racked up over 140,000 miles on public roads. Robotic cars found in science fiction, as well as Leonardo’s sketch books, will soon be science fact. To ensure innovation is fostered and fleet deployment is rapid, policy makers must prepare for this new reality. Google’s announcement surprised even those who had been tracking vehicle automation developments. As of this writing,… View Article
A January 22, 2016 article by Dave Williams in The Atlanta Business Chronicle quotes Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd on the folly of rail expansion for metro Atlanta. The article is below; access the article online here. Market forces will power state’s new transportation plan By Dave Williams Toll lanes across the entire top end of the Perimeter and on Georgia 400 north to Atlanta’s far suburbs. Rebuilt interchanges at Interstate 285 and I-20 east and west of Atlanta. And new truck-only lanes on I-75 from Macon to McDonough. All are part of an ambitious $10 billion, 10-year transportation plan Gov. Nathan Deal announced Jan. 12. After some initial experiments, the plan’s unprecedented scope shows theGeorgia Department of View Article
By Robert Krol Each year, state and local governments decide on which transportation infrastructure projects to build. Often, priority goes to projects directed at reducing highway congestion or air pollution. The economic backbone of the decision process is supposed to be an objective cost-benefit analysis. However, calculating the costs and benefits of any major project is technically difficult. Cost estimates require a determination of labor and material quantities and prices. Benefit estimates require forecasting economic growth, demographic trends, and travel patterns in the region. Clouding the analysis is the fact that this decision process takes place in a political environment. Politicians love the publicity they get at the opening of a high-occupancy vehicle lane or the expansion of a mass… View Article
The New York Times quoted Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd in a January 1, 2016, article by Alan Blinder about the Atlanta Streetcar System. The full article is below; the link to the newspaper is here. Atlanta Begins Charging for a Streetcar Named Undesirable by Some By Alan Blinder ATLANTA — The streetcar was stopped in downtown traffic, and before long Keisha Schwarzel figured that was enough of a first experience with the year-old addition to Atlanta’s transit system. “I’d rather walk,” Ms. Schwarzel, 35, said on a rain-drenched Wednesday morning. And that was when the ride was free. On Friday, looking beyond the setbacks that became grist for the mass-transit skeptics who populate the suburbs, Atlanta’s 2.7-mile,… View Article
By Ross Elliott  When’s the last time you heard some futurist or management guru suggest that in the future more of us will be working at the same desk doing routine tasks on a predictable working week schedule? No? That’s just one of many problems that advocates of limitless spending on public transport need to keep in mind in dealing with the issue of urban congestion. Increasing urban congestion is said to cost the economy dearly and if Infrastructure Australia is to be believed, it will cost even more in the future unless something is done now. They warn the current estimate of a $13.7 billion annual cost will balloon to $53 billion by 2031. Congestion is without dispute a… View Article

Georgia Gas Tax Hike: Much Ado About Nothing

By Clay G. Collins and E. Frank Stephenson  One of the most significant bills enacted by the Georgia Legislature in 2015 was the nearly billion-dollar Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170). A key provision of the bill was a change in Georgia’s gasoline tax, taking effect on July 1.  Before the change, Georgia had a two-part gas tax: a 7.5 cents per gallon excise tax and a 4 percent state sales tax. Gas was also subject to local option sales taxes, which run another 3 percent in most counties. Levying gas taxes as a percentage of the purchase price had drawbacks. One was difficulty in transportation planning because tax revenue fluctuated with gas prices. Another was the perverse feature… View Article
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed on May 19, 2015, about the Atlanta Streetcar by Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd, “A streetcar named denial.” Read it on the newspaper’s Web site here (subscription required); the full text is below. A streetcar named denial By Benita Dodd After almost five months of official Atlanta Streetcar operation, city officials are exploring route expansion to the Beltline. But storefronts boarded up and covered by newsprint along the route are their own news story on the economic-development promise. It may be that the promises are simply slow to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, looking ahead to Streetcar promises should require looking back on past promises. Deadlines: The streetcar was originally scheduled to begin operating in… View Article

The Concrete Road Less Traveled

By Benita M. Dodd What if you were told that 95 percent of Georgians are using a product that may not always be the best value for money? What if you were told that 95 percent of Georgia’s roads are asphalt, even though that may not always be the best value for money? “The whole point of competition in the market is to create economic efficiency which, by its very nature, means eliminating the less efficient producers,” economist and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell wrote recently. Georgia’s concrete paving companies aren’t inefficient, but they have been overlooked. Working to overcome decades in second place is like turning a tanker. The state has the nation’s 10th-largest transportation system, 121,000 miles of road… View Article

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