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OpenMarket: Transportation and Infrastructure

  • User Fees Are Not Taxes: The Case for PFCs

    September 9, 2014

    I've noted in the past the natural appeal passenger facility charges (PFCs) should have with fiscal conservatives. These are the user fees airports are allowed to charge passengers leaving their airports. Unlike federal Airport Improvement Program grants (funded via an array of taxes through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund) and local debt financing, PFCs offer a fair, transparent, and direct way for users to pay for the infrastructure investments from which they benefit. The monies collected by the airports are kept by the airports, who then use the funds to make Federal Aviation Administration-approved airport improvements. There are no Washington...

  • Michael Grunwald's High-Speed Rail Fantasies

    August 13, 2014

    Perhaps the one thing Time magazine's Michael Grunwald loves more than drone assassinations of American citizens and dissident journalists is heavily subsidized passenger rail. This is not the first time I’ve criticized Grunwald’s sloppy high-speed rail reporting, and it probably won’t be the last.

    Over at Time, Grunwald takes issue with a recent New York Times story on President Obama's high-speed rail initiative. In particular, Grunwald attacks the Times article for referring to the over $10.5...

  • Uber and Regulation: Pro-Business Is Not Pro-Market

    August 7, 2014

    “Republicans love Uber. Young urban voters love Uber. And Republicans hope that means young voters can learn to love the GOP.”

    That was the opening line of Byron Tau and Kevin Robillard’s piece for Politico after the Republican Party rolled out a pro-Uber petition/prospecting campaign. Notice I say “pro-Uber” rather than “pro-market” or “free market.” Here’s the GOP appeal in full:

    Our country was built on the entrepreneurial spirit. Our cities deserve innovative and effective solutions without government getting in the way. 

    That’s what innovative businesses like Uber provide. And that’s why our cities need Uber. 

    ...
  • Public Still Favors Transportation User Fees over Tax Increases

    August 6, 2014

    Voters in Missouri yesterday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have imposed a 0.75 percent sales tax to fund transportation, with nearly 60 percent opposing a plan that would have increased annual state road funding by approximately $500 million. User fee advocates and progressive activists strongly opposed the measure, arguing that it was less efficient than direct and indirect user charges, and unfair for low-income urban residents to pay for the road use of wealthier households and businesses. These concerns have merit and supporters of sound transportation...

  • New Report Highlights Driverless Car Urban Impact; Takes Techno-Dystopian Stance

    July 29, 2014

    Earlier this month, Professor David Begg of Transport Times published a new report on automated transport technology focusing on the potential impacts on London. This is one of the first attempts to apply this new technology to urban areas in a systematic way.

    The U.S. Institute of Electrical Engineers has estimated that up to 75 percent of all vehicles will be autonomous by 2040. Automated vehicles are the future but they are also quickly becoming the present. The chief concern among proponents is the potential for burdensome government regulation. It is absolutely critical lawmakers and regulators do not stand in the way of automated vehicles.

    In his report, Begg explains, like many others have ...

  • Uber, Regulation, and Free Markets

    July 23, 2014

    Libertarians are justifiably excited about the prospects of ridesharing companies such as Uber and equally justified in their disgust of regulators intent on preventing the expansion of ridesharing services. However, supporting the regulatory accomodation strategy that Uber appears to have adopted and supporting free market policies are two very different things. Over at The Skeptical Libertarian, I attempt to briefly outline these concerns and urge libertarians to keep their eye on the prize: dramatic transportation services deregulation. Read it here.

  • Labor and Employment Scorecard: Pension Smoothing as a “Pay-For” in Highway and Transportation Funding Act

    July 16, 2014

    On July 15, 2014, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) scored U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Vote #414 on final passage of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 5021), a bailout of the Highway Trust Fund and extension of the current federal transpiration law, MAP-21. 

    Critically, funding for this bill involved “pension smoothing,” a pernicious accounting gimmick that encourages deficit spending and increases the risk of pension insolvency.

    The vote is included in CEI’s Congressional Labor and Employment Scorecard, which can be found at CEI’s labor and employment policy project, ...

  • One Year Later: TSA Still Flouting the Law on Body Scanners

    June 18, 2014

    CEI Research Associate Matthew La Corte contributed to this article.

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses more than 700 full-body imaging scanners in 160 airports nationwide. In addition to the empirical evidence that shows they don’t actually make us safer and the questions on the intrusion of traveler...

  • Distracted by Paranoia, Obama Administration to Regulate Map Apps?

    June 17, 2014

    story in The New York Times is making the rounds about an Obama administration proposal to clarify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) authority to regulate smartphone navigation apps: the administration supports giving NHTSA this clear authority.

    The tech industry is...

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