Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mayor Parker's legacy term, economists vs rail, Chicago vs us, GHP 2014 forecast, and more

Some smaller misc items this week:
"What conclusions can we draw from economists’ view of rail transit? Economists demonstrate a range of views regardless of the particular justification examined. Still some justifications receive more support than others. Although the matter is filled with disagreement and caveats, economists appear to be the most optimistic about rail transit’s impact on economic development, especially its impact on residential housing values. Economists seem to be less optimistic about rail’s ability to achieve environmental improvement and serve the transit dependent poor. Economists seem quite pessimistic about rail’s ability to achieve key transportation-related goals, like reducing congestion, and they tend to see other modes, primarily bus, as more functional and worthwhile. Economists often attribute rail’s political success to their belief that decision-makers are motivated by rent-seeking and romantic factors. Of those economists who offer a big-picture view, there appears to be wide, though not unanimous, agreement that rail’s costs exceed its benefits. And it seems that almost all economists who write about rail agree that various demographic features, such as suburbanization, the declining influence of central business districts, and increasing wealth will make it increasingly difficult to design successful rail systems."
"Transportation engineers are loath to support new streetcar lines because they cannot understand why it makes sense to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a rail line when a far cheaper bus service would provide similar, or even more, mobility benefits. From the pure perspective of moving people from one place to another, streetcars are irrational investments. Some Portland residents have expressed concerns that the streetcar has been excessively subsidized even as bus routes have faced service cuts and increasing fares because of declining revenue."
On a final note, after speaking with Mayor Parker last week at her holiday party, I do have very high hopes for her final term to finally address some critical long-term issues for Houston, including pensions sustainability and the Ike Dike.  These would be signature legacy accomplishments if achieved.  If you're in a position to support her on these issues (as well as others) in some way, I sincerely hope you do so (and yes, I'm talking to you, county, state, and federal legislators).  It's time to stop kicking the can down the road making these issues the next mayor's problem.

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At 9:57 PM, December 15, 2013, Blogger Kevin Whited said...

** Chicago vs. Houston in 4 charts. Zing! Hat tip to Chris **

Zing indeed -- those charts have been making the rounds of social media, but the Chicago murder rate statistic is inaccurate.

Chicago's murder rate is still higher than Houston's, but that figure is WAY too high (according to 2012 UCR data from the FBI).

At 3:38 PM, December 16, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tory, I think you posted the wrong link on the fifth bullet. All I see is this "http://2006-09-balakerkim-reach_concl.pdf/", which can't be a valid URL.

At 5:04 PM, December 16, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Good catch. Thanks for the heads up. Fixed.

At 12:57 AM, December 20, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your great information.


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