Taking Taxpayers for a Ride

The trouble with Obama’s Department of Transportation

It's often been said of Barack Obama that his policies are "data driven"—meaning that whatever his ideological inclinations, he pays attention to dispassionate analysis of real-world evidence. His approach was a refreshing contrast to George W. Bush and John McCain, with their ostentatious reliance on gut instinct.

This administration gives due deference to nerds. Obama's former budget director, Peter Orszag, once boasted, "Whether it's health care, education or even the war in Afghanistan, the president and his team are big believers in the power of information."

But someone didn't tell the Secretary of Transportation. Ray LaHood is to information what kryptonite is to Superman: In his presence, it becomes powerless.

The former Republican congressman made that clear on a visit to Chicago last week, apparently smarting from a spate of unwelcome publicity about air traffic controllers. Some have been caught dozing off on the job, and others let the first lady's plane get too close to a military jet on its approach to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

One suggestion to promote alertness is to let controllers working overnight shifts take naps on their breaks. It was proposed by a joint task force of the Federal Aviation Administration and the controllers union. It's allowed in Germany and Japan. It was suggested by Mark Rosekind, a sleep scientist who serves on the National Transportation Safety Board.

But LaHood couldn't care less. "The one thing we won't let happen is let controllers sleep in control towers," he huffed in a meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board. Why not examine the evidence? "I've already decided that's not needed," he retorted. Would anything change his mind? "No."

He does not like to be confused by the facts. It's no surprise, then, to hear the secretary applaud the success of his rule imposing heavy fines on airlines that keep planes on the tarmac for more than three hours awaiting takeoff. In 2009, LaHood announced the regulation, proclaiming that "airline passengers have rights"—correcting an oversight by the framers of the Constitution, who carelessly omitted those.

Today, he scoffs at critics who predicted the change would lead to more canceled flights. But the evidence vindicates the criticism. The change did reduce the number of planes stranded for more than three hours. But aviation consultants Darryl Jenkins and Joshua Marks found that last year, flight cancellations increased by 42 percent.

Maybe those are a reasonable price to pay to prevent long waits on the runway. But you can't balance the cost against the benefit if you ignore the cost. LaHood, however, has no use for tedious number-crunching.

Nowhere is his indifference to data more obvious than on high-speed rail. "This is what the American people want," he declared. "If you build it, they will come."

The question, though, is not whether anyone would ride high-speed trains, but at what price. If Americans want a high-speed rail system so badly, will they be willing to pay fares that would cover the expense of operating trains?

"I think it will cover operating costs," said LaHood. "During better economic times, operating costs were covered by the Chicago Transit Authority."

No, they weren't. The CTA never comes close to breaking even on operations. In 2006, the last full year before the recession hit, its revenues from fares, advertising, concessions and the like covered only 55 percent of those costs.

No mass transit system in the country charges riders enough to offset the expenses of running trains—much less the cost of capital. Amtrak loses hundreds of millions a year, and it makes an operating profit only on its somewhat high-speed Acela Express between Boston and Washington.

That's why Republican governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida have turned down mountains of federal cash for high-speed rail. They fear being saddled with a big bill to build and operate expensive systems that will never live up to ridership projections.

Rail buffs counter that highways and airports get subsidies, too. In fact, motorists pay more in federal gas taxes than the federal government spends on roads. Air travelers get a small subsidy—about $6 per 1,000 passenger-miles in 2002, compared to $159 for mass transit riders and $210 for Amtrak passengers.

But all this is beside the point. In LaHood's Department of Transportation, data doesn't drive. Data gets run over.


Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • some guy||

    What's it called when you say one thing and do another? I know there's a word for that...

  • rather ||


  • Tim||


  • rather||


  • rather retarded||

    cunt vomit?

  • KPres||

    Yeah, libertarians are hypocrites, unlike you guys who were going to legalize pot, stop warring overseas, and want to give all your own money to poor people.

  • The Fringe Economist||


  • JoshINHB||

    Democratic President.

  • ||


  • Realist||


  • rather ||

    This administration gives due deference to nerds

    Another movie review?

  • ||

    Obama really does have a unique collection of absolutely awful department heads. LaHood at DOT, Pistole at TSA, Sibileus at HHS and Eric Holder at DOJ are probably the four worst department heads in any single administration in history. They are all four Randian villains.

  • Gaijin97||

    What would one expect from a man who has no experience in the world outside politics and not that much in the political world either?

  • JoshINHB||

    It's much worse than that.

    His only experience, which he bragged about, was being a community organizer, aka shakedown artist who had admitted that his efforts produced zero results for the people.

    But being a true believer, that experience told him that he had to be the man to successfully "spread the wealth around".

    The really crazy thing is that he was actually honest about his desires and experience in the campaign and enough americans were so mesmerized by "a well spoken black man with no Negro dialect" that the completely ignored the substance of his intentions.

  • ||

    And what am I, chopped liver?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    In a perfect world, you would be - literally.

  • fish||

    Yeah....10 lbs of it in the proverbial 5 lb bag.

  • Realist||

    ...a sack of shit at the top!

  • Ted S.||

    A second page for four lines??

    (At least I, surfing with only cached images, don't register as a second ad hit.)

  • Bee Tagger||

    Your large images being squeezed into tiny boxes complaint is quite valid.

    This one is nit-picking.

  • Erisian||

    Hey, at least they put copy on the second page. Over at TownHall (and a few others), sometimes all you get on the 2nd page is the author's bio.

  • Adblock||

    reason has ads?

  • NoScript||

    No joke... I have never seen a single ad on reason.
    You mad, Reason?

    I do have a subscription though, just so I don't feel bad about reading this every day at work.

  • ||

    Mmmmm..pork vs. data...which will win..mmmm..I wonder...

  • DJF||

    Its funny, 20th century progressives fought against the evil railroads and trolley companies and created “good road” societies advocating government building of roads. Now 21st century progressives fight against evil roads and want to bring back railroads and trolleys. I guess progress means going in circles.

  • ||

    I guess progress means going in circles.

    Perpetual Motion, bitches!

  • Obama||

    I refer to it as the ultimate circle jerk.

  • ||

    Yeah, and you're the pivot man.

  • some guy||

    I was going to say something here about "twirling towards freedom" but I keep getting spam-blocked. C'est la vie.

  • ||

    They're Oscillationists.

  • Blanche DuBois||


  • cynical||

    More like circling the drain, amirite?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Its also funny that, had we had a free market for transportation, energy, and land use all along, it probably would have resulted in something that looks a lot more like what progressives today claim to want.

  • Doc S||

    Do you actually oppose public transportation?

  • ||

    If it is inefficient and can't pay for itself, yes. Do you actually support wasting money on money losing projects? Do you support burning hundred dollar bills to?

  • Doc S||

    Do you have solutions to improve its cost effectiveness?

    I actually do support it even if it loses money (that doesn't mean I support the status quo or do not believe that it could be improved since it obvioulsy could) due to the importance of public transportation for cities:
    Allowing lower income people to actually get to their jobs
    Reducing the amount of congestion and thus wasted time, fuel, and money.
    Reducing fuel consumption and emissions
    Limiting the need for wasted spaces due to parking areas.

    If I supported burning $100 I would drive an SUV into work everyday rather than walk/take a bus

  • Tim||

    Well he has a point. Poor people are too stupid to manage their own lives, and they need a benevolent overclass to put them on the bus every morning, tune them to NPR and feed them carrot sticks.

  • Tim||

    Ban energy drinks, malt liquor and drive thru food. Happy meals, twinkies, cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Disposable shopping bags. Private cars, leaf blowers, gas powered skateboards...

  • Doc S||

    At least you aren't going to an extreme that's completely off point. Glad you're able to stay on topic, great job. I shouldn't have responded to a comment as obvioulsy stupid as yours in the first place. That's what I get for thinking you would have something of value to offer to the conversation.

  • Tim||

    Who says liberals are humorless?

  • KPres||

    Extreme? Every one of those is on the liberal hitlist.

    Well, maybe not powered skateboards.

  • Doc S||

    Not sure how allowing people access to to affordable means of accesible reliable transportation implies at all that "poor people are too stupid to manage their lives... put them on a bus"
    Nothing forces them to use the bus, but they seem to know it's a lot smarter than trying to buy and maintain a car, doesn't seem very stupid to me.

  • Highway||

    Poor people don't think it's 'smarter.' They think it's the only choice they have. The most popular reason to get a car for those folks?

    "So I don't have to ride the bus anymore."

  • Realist||

    They "live" in big cities, which in it's self is fucking stupid.

  • Doc S||

    Wait... what????

  • tarran||

    I actually do support it even if it loses money
    If I supported burning $100 I would drive an SUV into work everyday rather than walk/take a bus

    The cognitive dissonance! It burnsss the eyesssss!

  • JoshINHB||

    He supports burning your hundred dollar bills, not his own.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Riddle me this, Doc: If there is such a need for these services, then why aren't entrepreneurs attempting to make money by offering urban mass transit?

  • tarran||

    The local governments outlaw such entrepeneurship (or at a minimum raise significant barriers to entry).

    During the waning days of state supported racial segregation, there were a few high profile cases of black entrepreneurs fighting (and generally losing) local governments that were attempting to shut down the entrepreneurs' gypsy bus and gypsy cab companies.

    I am pretty certain that I could start a bus company that would eat the MBTA's lunch here in Boston. I'm sure that other people feel the same way. Since 'Mumbles' Menino would shut any competitor down and take their money in 'fines', nobody even tries.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    T, I think you nailed it. I think that the best approach would be: a) deep six the city buses and trains and let the private sector provide transportation for the masses and b) offer a per rider subsidy.

    The reason I would offer a subsidy would be that a private bus line would save the city money by reducing wear and tear and lessening congestion. Those savings should be passed back to the bus company. The subsidy would be based on these savings (how you calculate it, I have no idea).

  • Doc S||

    Absolutely. I've never said that it needs to be city run, my initial arguement is that there NEEDS to be public transportation available, and as we've stated unfortunately there are too many barriers to make a profitable private alternative.

    I would be all for privatizing it, it's a joke that bus drivers in pittsburgh are making $120k a year.

  • tarran||

    Why not have the government get out of the way?

    It's not very hard: repeal a few laws, and sell the public company to private investors and unleash the creativity of entrepreneurs to tackling the problem in a sustainable way.

    The notion that public transportation will ever be anything other than a plaything of politicians used to grant sinecures to friends, relatives and supporters while ripping off the public is the product of a charmingly naively obtuseness toward public choice theory.

  • Doc S||

    I support this. Let's figure out a way to make it happen.

  • Doc S||

    The lack of "entrepreneurs attempting to make money by offering urban mass transit" does not imply a lack of need for the services. It's likely due to the amount and type of barriers associated with entering those markets. Cities already have the infrastructure and required busses in place with artificially low prices. Seems like it would be a stupid market to try to work your way into as a business savvy entrepenuer.

    However if gas prices continue to rise or stay at a higher level more people shift towards public transportation, now if cities would increase rates accordingly they could likely become profitable, but prices need to stay high and it needs to be done at a increase that wont alienate the lowest income users
    Whoa ridership is up!


    So wait. If we keep gas prices from being artificially low then public transportation has increased use, and can in turn raise fairs to the point that it remains the cheaper but profitable alternative? Inconcievable!

  • ||

    gas prices from being artificially low

    [citation needed]

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "So wait. If we keep gas prices from being artificially low ..."

    Who says gas prices have ever been "artificially" low?

  • Doc S||

    That gets to the "oil industry being subsidized and doesn’t internalize environmental costs such as carbon or health effects"
    Which is another topic for discussion but not one worth getting "off track" (pardon the pun) with this conversation.

    The rest of the arguement is relevant even without that point.

  • Realist||

    There is evidence for AGW.

  • ||

    There is evidence for AGW?


  • ||

    Seems like it would be a stupid market to try to work your way into as a business savvy entrepenuer.

    You would have to be a first class fool to try and compete with a corrupt entity that is bought and paid for by the unions and that can fleece the taxpayers to cover it's "losses."

    There are much cheaper ways of abusing oneself.

  • Highway||

    Doc, unfortunately, part of the problem with that increased ridership is that it's on the back of *increased* subsidy, because they don't increase the cost of bus rides to cover the increased cost of fuel. It's not that gas prices are high or low, it's that the bus ride doesn't take short term gas price volatility into account at all. So as people increase demand for buses (if you have to add more buses) the subsidy increases as well.

    Also, with public transit operations, the fare is far less of an economic calculation and more of a political calculation. So even if they're losing tons of money, it's almost easier to justify cutting routes than raising fares. This is especially true with mixed-mode transit agencies (who have lots of fixed capital costs with rail, and end up slashing bus service to pay the debt service).

    The argument that people flock to transit when gas prices go up, because transit is subsidized, so therefore it's a good idea is somewhat akin to the idea of publishing your own book: "It costs me 12 dollars to print it, and I'm selling it for 10 dollars. But I'll make it up in volume..."

  • Doc S||

    I agree that pricing is done incorrectly and that the fact it is tied into politics is shameful. But you also have to agree that the increased cost of fuel spread across the 50+ people using a bus is cheaper than the cost to the 1 or 2 people using a car even when efficiencies are taken into account. Rather than 1 person spending an extra $1 per gallon you have 50 people spending $.02 extra per gallon (obvioulsy its a rough example and doesn't include maintenance costs but it illustrates the purpose and reasoning) As gas prices get higher and public trans rates are set more accurately it only continues to improve the savings.

  • Highway||

    It doesn't work that way, Doc. The amount of energy required to move people is approximately the same whether you put them into a big can or a small can. The efficiencies can be gained if you increase from a 25% capacity bus to a 50% capacity bus, but then take a huge hit if you go from a 80% capacity bus to two 50% capacity buses. Plus, the people on the bus might split that dollar per gallon cost increase more, but it's also the same cost increase over many more gallons.

    Relative energy usage for US Transportation per passenger mile:


  • Doc S||

    Agreed, you don't have the benefits if you're running busses at 2-10% capacity, but you have huge benefits when running at 80-100% capacity, from that same source you linked:
    "A diesel bus commuter service in Santa Barbara, CA, USA found average diesel bus efficiency of 6.0 mpg-US (39 L/100 km; 7.2 mpg-imp) (using MCI 102DL3 buses). With all 55 seats filled this equates to 330 passenger-mpg, with 70% filled the efficiency would be 231 passenger-mpg.[38] At the typical average passenger load of 9 people, the efficiency is only 54 passenger-mpg and could be half of this figure when many stops are made in urban routes"

    The problem lies in the inefficiency in planning of routes and of off hour ridership. But we've seen that increased fuel prices result in increased ridership, and those huge 339 passenger-mpg benefits. So it stands to reason that both problems are fairly easily solved with some common sense.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Guess what?

    We are not obligated to value maximum fuel efficiency above all other considerations when it comes to choosing what modes of transportation we will use.

    The reason people prefer cars is simple - individual freedom. They can choose where and when they want to go entirely on their own schedule. They do not have arrange their activities around a bus or train schedule created by somebody else.

    This is the same issue with the government trying to force car buyers to value fuel efficiency above all other considerations in cars.

    The government is supposed to be the servant of the people - not the master of them.

    We don't need some self-appointed elite proclaiming that we must all bow to their (allegedly) superior wisdom in determining what is best for us regardless of whether we would choose that on our own or not.

  • Doc S||

    Ummm... when discussing the methods for improving the cost effectiveness of public transportation, yes, yes you are concerned with fuel efficiency, since it is cost efficiency.

    I assume you're just trying to make some random point and looking for a place to preach, but none of that has anything to do with any of what I've said above, nor do I advocate bowing to "government or self appointed elite"

    A simple wave and nod of the head will do just fine.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Ummm... when discussing the methods for improving the cost effectiveness of public transportation, yes, yes you are concerned with fuel efficiency, since it is cost efficiency"

    You aren't the arbiter of the parameters of what is being discussed.

    You have claimed there is a "need" for public transportation. A claim that you have never proven to begin with.

    You can start with actually proving that first.

    Unless you can, any talk about how to minimize the subsidy drag on taxpayers is irrelevant.

  • Doc S||

    @ Giblert

    You will never find a civil or transportational engineer who refutes the need for public transportation.

    Doc S|4.28.11 @ 8:44AM|#
    Do you have solutions to improve its cost effectiveness?

    I actually do support it even if it loses money (that doesn't mean I support the status quo or do not believe that it could be improved since it obvioulsy could) due to the importance of public transportation for cities:
    Allowing lower income people to actually get to their jobs
    Reducing the amount of congestion and thus wasted time, fuel, and money.
    Reducing fuel consumption and emissions
    Limiting the need for wasted spaces due to parking areas

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "You will never find a civil or transportational engineer who refutes the need for public transportation."

    Which proves absolutely nothing.

    They aren't any wiser than any of the rest of us on the IDEOLOGICAL issue of what government should be doing.

  • Highway||

    Routing is much more of a problem, especially if the increase in ridership is coming from areas that are currently underserved. And you're also assuming that bus routes are currently running under capacity. But the transit administrations have been working to match demand to capacity for decades. So there aren't a lot of half-empty buses riding around that are now becoming 90% full. Instead, you have popular routes that are overcapacity, and less popular routes that are now demanding reduced headway and shorter travel times.

    Additionally, the people who are parking their cars and riding transit are going to demand more convenient bus access, which adds pressure for additional routes, which are frequently farther away from the bus yard. One reason the average passenger per bus figure is so low is because of bus deadheading to the start of the route and back to the yard.

    That figure of just under 9 average passengers per bus in my link is with transit planners doing their best with bus routing to match capacity with demand, while navigating the political realities of public agencies that have as part of their mission the task of providing inefficient service for poor people. It's not likely that better bus routers are going to move into those jobs, or that there will be a breakthrough in bus routing theory. The best that can be hoped for is that more people who move to transit are in areas that are currently served by underused buses, but that's wishful thinking. They may be able to up that average ridership to 10 passengers, but I wouldn't expect it to go much higher without a significant change in mission like the removal of the welfare component of transit.

  • Doc S||

    Well stated.

  • Highway||

    There is a perfectly good mode of public transportation that serves (as close as transit can) these goals. It's called buses. They are flexible and cost efficient. But what they aren't is flashy. Instead, they're thought of as the worst option.

    Rail does none of the things you think Public Transportation does. It's expensive to build and operate, it is rarely more energy efficient per passenger mile than other modes, it's extremely limited, and it diverts funding from things that serve people - buses that run routes near people's homes and jobs - to things that serve politicians - flashy, shiny trains with poor ridership, farcical budgeting, and completely oversold promises.

    If public transportation was about serving the public, then plans for anything with rails or guides would be immediately scrapped. If you want premium carriages, then make premium buses. But don't throw away the advantages of routing, timing, and capacity that buses give for flashy rails. Unfortunately, that's what Transit agencies do.

  • ||

    Yes, but buses don't stand as lasting monuments to slimy pols largess. What's the point of doing something that fleeces the public, all the while claiming it's for their benefit, unless you can name it after yourself?

    Any fool can do something efficiently. It takes real guts to build the most wasteful and inefficient system possible.

  • JoshINHB||

    Let them name the buses after themselves.

  • Doc S||

    I haven't mentioned high speed rail at all. Although I would contend high speed rail is more properly compared to Air travel than passenger vehicles or busses. The speed and centralization of the service dictate that.

  • ||

    I haven't mentioned high speed rail at all.

    You don't have to. Just mention light rail.

  • Doc S||

    Ok, I haven't mentioned any rail, high speed, light, freight, or other during this conversation.

    Although honestly installing the infrastructure to move to an electrical based fuel economy vs a liquid fuel economy isn't bad long term planning.

  • Highway||

    With buses, it really doesn't matter what their energy source is. Transit buses can run on almost anything: Diesel, biodiesel, gasoline, alcohol, CNG, Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and can be readily hybridized (many urban fleets are already hybrid buses).

    I doubt (and severely hope against) we'll ever get back to electrical lines strung up all across the urban jungle for pantograph buses. There are many better ways of powering buses.

  • tarran||

    infrastructure to move to an electrical based fuel economy vs a liquid fuel economy isn't bad long term planning.

    Moving to an electrical based economy is a very bad idea.

    Transmission losses for electrical power are in the 30 - 40% range. Electrical systems are far more vulnerable to a fewer points of failure.

    Moreover, it's highly uneconomical to stockpile electricity locally the way one can store fuel.

  • Doc S||

    Transmission losses actually account for about 5-7%, the real inefficiencies come in in the fuel combustion stages for most fossil fuel driven plants. But with the right energy planning and strategies that swtich from fossil fuel plants can be done to eliminate those inefficiencies.

    As for storage, you're absolutely correct, thats a huge issue, although I like the idea of incredibly large flywheels, they just arent practical.

  • tarran||

    You're right, I was incorrectly remembering the energy lost to waste heat during generation as being the transmission losses.

    However, I should point out that the heat waste is pretty similar to that that occurs when people burn fuel locally (electrical generation can be superior since generators operate at a very narrow band as opposed to IC engines which spend less time in the optimally efficient operating regime). In the end, there is little potential savings in fuel efficiency if at all.

    However the other points stand. Electrical infrastructure is a terrible idea simply because failures tend to be more damaging and because of the energy storage issue.

  • Highway||

    I wasn't talking about high speed rail. I'm talking about rail transit: Light and Heavy. And even if you don't talk about it, the goal of public transit agencies is to build rails, whether they're needed or not.

  • ||

    Although honestly installing the infrastructure to move to an electrical based fuel economy vs a liquid fuel economy isn't bad long term planning.

    Yeah, that central long term planning works wonders. I wonder how long the optimum long term plan is? Five years I suppose?

  • Doc S||

    So you prefer not to plan ahead at all? Brilliant!

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Indeed it is.

  • ||

    So you prefer not to plan ahead at all? Brilliant!

    Yes, and for some reason 100 million human deaths comes to mind.

  • Doc S||

    There it is, the failproof libretarian response. Regardless of what topic being discussed or what it pertains to just go to malaria killing people.

  • Neu Mejican||

    just go to malaria killing people

    FWIW, that one was actually the "central planning in service of socialism kills people" reference.

  • ||

    that one was actually the "central planning in service of socialism kills people" reference.

    Yeah, I think that malarial deaths due to central planning "only" reach the tens of millions, so far, but there is little difference. It doesn't matter if it is food, housing, health care, chemicals ect, ect. Central planners do not have the necessary information to make the most efficient decisions, they can't and they never will.

    Yet, even after it's historic destruction of mass amounts of humanity people remain in favor of it.

    It amounts to "the Top Men will decide" and then "but millions have died" and then, bizarrely, "the Top Men will decide but this time it is really, really gonna work" Absolutely. Fucking. Insane.

  • Doc S||

    And by following that logic cars should be taken off the road since they've killed between 30,000-50,000 americans/ year over the last 6 years.

  • tarran||

    People choose to drive cars despite the risk.

    The deaths due to socialism are the product of an elite
    1) shooting people who persist in making choices the elites don't like
    2) restricting people's options so that they can't feed themselves or have insufficient shelter, poor medical options etc leading to famines, deaths from treatable/uneccesary illnesses, shoddy construction etc.

    People getting killed because of a risk they took freely != people getting killed because the central planners decided to kill them or fucked up.

  • Realist||

    Eliminating unions would go a long way to helping transportation...and many other things.

  • Doc S||

    This i fully support. Like i said, bus drivers in Pittsburgh don't need to be making 120k a year + benefits and pensions. It's unfathomable how stupid that is.

  • ||

    I've got to check the Reason TOS, but I'm fairly certain we'd reached our full capacity of yinzers on H&R before you got here, Doc.

    I keed. I keed.

  • Doc S||

    hahaha, +1

    I'm not a yinzer but I did live there for a few years.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "You will never find a civil or transportational engineer who refutes the need for public transportation."

    So, Doc S, are we putting thoughts in to peoples' minds? Part of engineering is understanding economics and efficiency.

  • Rich||

    whatever [Obama's] ideological inclinations, he pays attention to dispassionate analysis of real-world evidence

    ... and ignores it.

  • Tim||

    Hiring boobs makes you look better by comparison.

  • ||

    Did you see the new add?

    Yeah I seen it.

    What do you think?

    You could lose a couple of pounds.

    I gotta get bigger actors.

  • Highway||

    Ray LaHood is so terrible as Transportation Secretary, you start to wonder if the point of his holding the position is to make TEAM BLUE feel better about not being TEAM RED.

    "Hey, let's keep this Republican guy in the position and be constantly reminded how terrible he is. Then we can point out how terrible *all* Republicans are by extension!"

  • JoshINHB||

    But someone didn't tell the Secretary of Transportation. Ray LaHood President. Barack Obama is to information what kryptonite is to Superman: In his presence, it becomes powerless.


  • Dave||

    "Data driven?" The Obama administration is "data driven?"

    Gee that's news.

    Please show me the data that was used to craft Obamacare and oppose real free market health care reform. And the data to support opposition to education reform such as school choice. And the data to support unlimited government spending leading to unsustainable deficits.

  • BRM||

    Public transit only works good in cities where a lot of people live in general location X and work/shop/go to school in general location Y and largely go from one location to the other at the same general time.

    In the olden days, we had industrial and business areas separate from residential areas. People going from home to work would be able to take a bus or trolley from home to work. They at least came close to making money because work started at 7, the shops opened at 10 and the factory closed at 5 and the shops all closed at 7. Everyone got on their respective routes at one time. A profitable schedule could be designed that was convenient to the users.

    Now, we have decentralized businesses, that start at random times based on their individual needs, we have wide spread residential areas, and shopping areas away from the business areas. Not so easy to make money on a route that has to be so random.

    This has been a message from our Commonly Shared Reality. Now, will our idiots in charge listen?

  • Neu Mejican||

    An example of how to plan bus-based public transportation.


    Curitiba’s planners decided to address the process of transportation as an integrative approach that can assist in the development of the city. In Curitiba’s case, its planners recognized that transportation systems can serve as the backbone for the development and growth of the city in the future.
  • Highway||

    The article is informative in the challenges that were faced, but does not address, at all, whether this system is cost competitive. It also 'plans' the transit network through zoning that is inherently anti-free, basically directing development the same way that Maryland's "Smart Growth" and other states similar zoning initiatives do.

    So the takeaway from the article is "If we lock down the city via planning so that it fits what we want to do for our bus system, then our bus system will work." It's not really much for guidance in how to plan a bus system to work in an existing city.

  • ||

    Well, let's see, firefighters sleep on the job. (But their unions are very active and mostly democratic).

    Also, consider the guys in missile silos. Last I recall the shift were three days long.

  • ||

    LaHood's stumbled onto something here. If you can't stay awake during your 8-10 hour shift then we find somebody who can. How's that so tough??

  • Ricky||

    Thanks ForSharing

  • ChrisO||

    The only problem I have with the Department of Transportation is that it exists.

  • wulfy||

    Dagny Taggart for Tranportation Secretary!

    1. Air: Unions busted, security Israelized.
    2.Train subsidies ended.
    3.Roads privatized.

  • nike shox||

    is good


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties