January 26, 2015
The Niskanen Center is a new libertarian think tank that we at CEI look forward to working with on a number of issues. However, one where we are unlikely to agree is on the virtues of a real-world tax on carbon emissions. Sarah E. Hunt had a post last week over at the Niskanen Center's Climate Unplugged blog arguing that Senate EPW chairman Jim Inhofe's recent defense of the federal gas tax as an infrastructure user tax is at odds with his antipathy to a carbon tax.
Now, I have criticized Sen. Inhofe's blindspot on infrastructure spending in the past, as he has long admitted he is "...
January 15, 2015
In recent days, a growing number of congressional Republicans have signaled a willingness to increase the federal excise tax rates on gasoline and diesel. As I noted earlier, there is no fiscal conservative case for raising the federal gas tax. Thankfully, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal this morning decided to inject a much needed dose of fiscal conservatism into the debate, calling for an abolition of federal highway taxes and spending programs:
Some highways do need repair and modernization, and the U.S. does need more roads to relieve congestion...
Automated Vehicles Update: Big Feature at CES, California Rules Delayed, Georgia Cautious on RegulationJanuary 9, 2015
It’s been a few months since I last checked in on automated vehicles (AVs), commonly called driverless cars or autonomous vehicles. Below are some developments of note.
- California misses operations and licensing rule deadline. When the California legislature passed its AV bill in 2012, it ordered that the state Department of Motor Vehicles fully implement it by the end of 2014. While the final rules on testing came into effect in September 2014, the agency announced in late December it would not meet the January 1 deadline to implement its AV operations and...
December 16, 2014
A new poll from Benson Strategy Group and SKDKnickerbocker found that 67 percent of Americans oppose increasing the federal gasoline tax by 15 cents, or an 80 percent increase from the current 18.4 cents per gallon tax. This is broadly in line with previous polls that found Americans strongly oppose fuel tax increases.
But this poll posed a question that is nominally on the table. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the Update, Promote, and Develop America's Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act, which would increase the federal gasoline excise tax 14.9...
December 12, 2014
Earlier this week The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell suggested that new entrants in the transportation market, like Uber, should face greater government regulation—despite having fueled much of their initial success by their ability to offer services free of existing taxi regulations. She’s right that commercial enterprises do need a form of regulation that offers corrective discipline, but she’s incorrect that that discipline need be provided by the government.
Market competition itself provides the best corrective to consumer harm and dissatisfaction—if it is allowed to work. Firms in competition with each other must also simultaneously seek the cooperation of their customers,...
December 4, 2014
Yesterday, retiring Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) joined wacky Rep. Earl "United Streetcar" Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to endorse increasing the federal gasoline tax by 80 percent. While it is true that federal fuel excise tax rates have not been increased since 1993, the public, Congress, and the Obama administration remain strongly opposed to gas tax hikes.
Like many Republicans seeking to justify their actions as conservative, the outgoing chairman of the Highways and Transit panel of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure invoked the spirit and deed of former President Reagan to make his case for highway user tax...
October 28, 2014S734, a bill that would recognize the legality of autonomous vehicle testing and operations in New Jersey. It appears to be largely based on a 2011 Nevada bill that later became law...
October 16, 2014
Earlier this week, I appeared on a Cato Institute panel titled, "The End of Transit and the Beginning of the New Mobility: Policy Implications of Self-Driving Cars." Spurred by the release of Cato Senior Fellow Randal O'Toole's latest paper, "Policy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles," I joined Randal and Adam Thierer (see Adam’s new paper here) of the Mercatus Center to discuss various vehicle automation public policy issues, including the impact on transit and urban growth, state licensing and operations regulation, federal vehicle safety regulation, and data...
October 2, 2014
Over at The Washington Post's Wonkblog, urban affairs reporter Emily Badger has a post up on the recently released U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2013 commuting data. The title of the post, "The share of Americans driving to work is declining for the first time in decades," seems to suggest that a smaller share of commuters are driving themselves to work. Badger relies almost exclusively on a Brookings Institution blog post that makes similar claims.
However, what neither blog post mentions is that between 2007 and 2013, the share of Americans driving to work alone actually increased.
September 15, 2014
In the past, I’ve noted that carve-outs for ridesharing providers leaves more innovative and disruptive business models—particularly future automated services—illegal. While self-driving on-demand transportation services are still a ways off, California’s Public Utilities Commission last week sent letters to Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar warning them that operating commercial carpooling services they have proposed is illegal. (See the letter to Uber here.)
This is not surprising. The narrow carve-out secured by Uber et al. in California, the “...