Gov't-Supported For-Profit Friendster for Car-Pooling

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Nuride brings new technology to the old D.C. phenomenon of ?slugging?—organizing ad hoc car pools to take advantage of diamond lanes. The twist: participants can actually earn money, from the congestion-weary Commonwealth of Virginia. (Links via Marginal Revolution)

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  1. It’s hard to find anything more un-American than taxing individuals to pay for roads and then saying those same individuals cannot use those roads unless they participate in a hopelessly idiotic social engineering scheme. Yet the carpool lane survives to this day, child of the government-created “energy crisis” and sibling of that other great Nixon invention: the 55 MPH speed limit. We have had the good sense to repeal the “double nickel”, yet that other vestige of the bad old 70s is still with us. And there seems to be little complaint among the sheep. One testicle chopped off, one to go.

  2. DC traffic, what a goddamned nightmare. There’s a whole part of my brain filled with evil memories of sitting in rush hour traffic, trying to get across one bridge or another — Key Bridge, Wilson Bridge, American Legion Bridge, I hate ’em all.

  3. I chose to buy a home, and get a job, so that I can walk to work. Sometimes, on really bad days, I have to wait as long as 20 seconds for an gap to open up so I can cross the street.

    gloat, gloat

  4. Wow, most people get a job first, then buy a house. Was that inherited wealth, joe? It would explain the liberal mindset.

  5. I’m not within walking distance of my work (well, as Steven Wright says: Anywhere is walking distance if you have the time), but I do live within 8 minutes driving, none on freeways. I used to live near DC, but didn’t get a job there. Now I live close enough to sit back and laugh, or shake my head, whichever is appropriate, but still not have to deal with them.

    The NuRide idea sounds interesting. We’ll see how it works. I wonder if there will be a problem with more people wanting rides than giving rides, or if there will be problems with folks being unreliable when they’re driving. I think it’s got some advantages like selecting rides and having the security of it set beforehand, but is it as flexible as the ‘slugging’ lines? We’ll see how people like it. It’s definitely worth a try.

  6. Not money, just luck and strategery. It’s a damn shame, but it’s very difficult to pull off. It should be a lot easier for people – you can see how in demand it is by the prices it commands.

  7. Phil,

    Imagine how the housing market would be different in the DC metro area if neighborhoods like Anacostia, Shaw, and the nasty parts of Capitol Hill hadn’t been systematically undercapitalized, and development artificially steered to the burbs, for most of the 20th century (and longer, in some cases).

    Middle class families affording their own homes in decent neighborhoods, near work. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

  8. I chose to buy a home, and get a job, so that I can walk to work.

    For most people in the DC Metro area, that would entail either A) being a millionaire or member of Congress, or B) working in a really poor neighborhood. Two-bedroom townhomes in my neck of Fairfax County start around $300,000, and I’ve seen them as high as $750,000. Forgot about living near where I work in Arlington County — a townhome three blocks away, that has no property and buts up against a shopping center, recently sold for $895,000.

  9. In 50 years I never repeat never worked anywhere where all the workers who could profitably carpool did not pool. They needed no big daddy to explain the benefits. I have never received an answer to my request for a formula to determine just how far out of the way a car pooler could go before pooling was conterproductive.
    Perhaps if bureaucrats were required to share their limos, or their spare bedrooms…

  10. … the nasty parts of Capitol Hill hadn’t been systematically undercapitalized” = rent control

  11. I don’t know how artificial that development has really been. People like to live near work, and not all the work is in DC. There’s only a certain amount of usable land in the District and in close-in areas like Arlington, Greenbelt, etc.; and much of it is undevelopable thanks to government ownership or being on a list of protected land or a monument list or being near a military base or what have you. Companies have to locate somewhere, and it has to be where land is available. That’s been Fairfax, Loudon, Mongtomery, and Frederick Counties, so that’s where the homebuying has gone on.

    Steering capital towards Southeast and towards Prince George’s County would not make homes in Arlington, Rockville, Gaithersburg or Fairfax even a tiny bit more affordable. Moving AOL, Worldcom and the big biotechs into the District might, but that ain’t gonna happen.

  12. Thirty years ago (or so), the state of California summarily decided to limit the existing “fast” lane of the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) between Santa Monica and dowtown L.A. to vehicles with two or more occupants, creating the first Diamond Lane (but not creating a new lane to do it with!).

    An immediate and huge uproar arose (lots of influential folks drive that route). Within a week, though, there were teenagers standing along the on-ramps at both ends of the Freeway offering to ride the distance with solo drivers for a $5 fee (well, this was 1976).

    They didn’t call it “slugging” back then. But once again California led the way in showing how free market incentives can always trump statist social engineering.

  13. joe, answer my question – what if you got fired and had to find another job. Would you limit your search to those jobs within walking distance?
    Perhaps Jenifer could help you answer. Or Mehitabal.

  14. Was there rent control in the District, Doug? I don’t recall. If so, that would count as one, relatively minor factor in the undercapitalization. Residential redlining (which kept the homes from being kept up), business redlining (such as the denial of insurance coverage), which kept there from being adequate employment in the neighborhood, and the transportation and utility subsidies going out the suburbs are the major reasons why capital fled the cities.

    Phil,

    “Companies have to locate somewhere, and it has to be where land is available. That’s been Fairfax, Loudon, Mongtomery, and Frederick Counties, so that’s where the homebuying has gone on.” There’s no reason those counties couldn’t have been built out in such a way as to allow for easier commutes for people living in the region and commuting to those businesses, instead of the sprawl pattern that has emerged.

    You raise a good point about government ownership in district driving sprawl in the suburbs.

    “Steering capital towards Southeast and towards Prince George’s County would not make homes in Arlington, Rockville, Gaithersburg or Fairfax even a tiny bit more affordable.” No, but it would have made Southeast a decent enough place that people tearing their hair out on the Beltway would have been willing to live there, and take the Metro to work. And by doing so, it would have lessened the demand for housing in the burbs, bringing down their prices as well.

    Ever drive Route 50/New York Ave through Northeast, and see the old stone and brick houses vacant and falling down? Damn shame. They’re a 5 minute commute from places that people drive an hour and half to get to from Arlington County.

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