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OpenMarket: Marc Scribner

  • Voters Reject Three Rail Transit Boondoggles

    November 5, 2014

    Yesterday, voters across the country had the opportunity to vote on a number of transportation ballot measures. Three of these involved spending for new rail transit projects, and all three were rejected.

    In Austin, Texas, 57 percent of voters rejected Proposition 1, which would have funded a $1.4 billion, 9.5-mile light rail line, in addition to $400 million in road intersection improvements. Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute produced a devastating review of the so-called “Project Connect.” Project Connect was so nonsensical that the light rail boondoggle was even opposed by numerous transit advocates.

    In Seattle, Washington, ...

  • New Jersey's Driverless Car Bill: One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

    October 28, 2014

    Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate Transportation Committee in a unanimous vote reported S734, 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...
  • Misguided Regulations Threaten Automated Vehicle Innovation

    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...

  • Super PAC Attacks Kochs on Civil Rights, Endorses “Urban Renewal” Policies that Harmed Minorities

    October 8, 2014

    Last week, Alternet posted yet another bogus smear on the libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch. It has since been reposted by The article summarizes the “findings” of a report titled, “The Koch Brothers’ Record on Civil Rights and Race,” which was produced by an outfit called “The Bridge Project.” This front group is really an arm of a super PAC called American Bridge 21st Century, which was founded by Democratic party activist David Brock and in 2012 was described as “...

  • Results of "Cash for Appliances"

    October 7, 2014

    Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (commonly called "the stimulus"), a $300 million program to subsidize consumer purchases of energy-efficient appliances called the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program was established. A recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzes the results of the "Cash for Appliances" subsidy scheme. It turns out that "Cash for Appliances" was an incredibly inefficient energy-efficiency program. From the conclusion:

    We estimate freeriding rates of 73% to 92% across our three appliance categories. As a result, our measures of cost-effectiveness, ranging from $0.44 to $1.46 per kWh saved, are an order of magnitude greater than the $0.06 per...

  • Is Driving to Work in Decline?

    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.

    While the...

  • Are Consumers Smart Enough to Understand Airline Ancillary Fees?

    September 25, 2014

    In May, I criticized the Department of Transportation’s opening of a rulemaking on airline ancillary fees (baggage, seat assignments, etc.), noting that the primary motivation appeared to be continued expansion of the department’s unfair and deceptive practices authority. In addition, the department’s apparent opinion that consumers are unable to understand ancillary fees, and compare fares and fees across airlines, is completely unsupported.

    Yesterday, I filed comments on behalf of CEI fleshing out some of these objections.

    To be sure, no one is advocating that airlines be permitted to deceive and defraud consumers on ancillary fees. The core of the debate...

  • STB Reauthorization Bill Threatens Rail Investment

    September 16, 2014

    The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has scheduled a markup for tomorrow afternoon of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act (S.2777). If enacted, the bill (specifically, Section 14) would threaten much needed investment in railroad infrastructure and reverse three decades of progress on railroad regulation.

    Senate Commerce chair Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), irresponsibly joined by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), has for years sought to...

  • Regulator: True Ridesharing Illegal in California

    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 “...

  • 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...


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