MDX Should Not Build More Unnecessary Highways to Justify Its Existence

This is a great blog post from the NY Times about the economic structure of our transportation network.

Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner’s “Fundamental Law of Traffic Congestion: Evidence From the U.S.” states that vehicle-miles-traveled increases roughly one-for-one with miles of roads built. More highways mean more drivers, so we are never going to build our way out of traffic congestion. People will keep on driving until they are made to pay for that privilege.

Privatization, in principle, offers the possibility of working on both the engineering and economics fronts.

Private road operators or airports will charge higher fees during peak periods to cut down on congestion, and they have incentives to innovate technologically to attract customers and cut costs. Mr. Winston notes that capsule, or pod, hotels, “which enable fliers to nap between flights,” happen to be “available in private airports, but none is available in the United States.

Because the public sector controls almost all roads, airports and urban transit, we see the downsides of public control on a daily basis, but we don’t experience the social costs that could accompany privatization …

This issue is all the more relevant here in Miami where elected officials struggle to provide even a basic level of public transit. While privatization might bring unknown social costs, a social cost is already being incurred because of our deficient transit system. The lack of convenient and frequent mass transit opportunities exacerbates problems of social inequity.