Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ed does transport

I try to avoid linking to things that are also linked to on Marginal Revolution, but this piece by my graduate school colleague Ed Glaeser on transport policy is too excellent not to link to.

I particularly liked this:
Infrastructure investment only makes sense when there is a clear problem that needs solving and when benefits exceed costs. U.S. transportation does have problems -- traffic delays in airports and on city streets, decaying older structures, excessive dependence on imported oil -- but none of these challenges requires the heroics of a 21st century Erie Canal. Instead, they need smart, incremental changes that will demonstrate more wisdom than brute strength.
And this:
There is an old joke that 40 years of transportation economics at Harvard can be boiled down to four words: “Bus Good, Train Bad.'
Most of this, of course, is Economics 101 (non-zero price good, zero price bad) or Public Finance 101 (have transport projects financed by the states or localities that actually benefit them rather than by the central government). But you can go an awfully long way toward improving the state of public policy in any area by just taking seriously undergraduate economics, undergraduate econometrics and cost-benefit analysis.

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