Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

Is Public Transit The Answer? Don’t Bet On It

In discussions about about high gas prices, global warming, etc., it is not uncommon to hear someone say that what we really need to put more money into public transit, as this will help energy conservation. But as the above chart shows, more public transit may not actually save us all that much energy. If, that is, it saves us any at all.

How can light rail end up being less energy efficient than cars? The answer, as explained by Brad Templeton, has to do with the occupancy rate: Continue reading


August 4, 2008 Posted by | Driving, Energy, Environmentalism, Global Warming, Traffic | Leave a comment

The Joy of Public Transit

Ezra Klein, on the advantages of cap and trade:

A cap and trade carbon plan will raise the cost of carbon intensive products like gasoline. That’s how it works to discourage carbon consumption. By capping emissions, and then lowering the cap, it makes carbon-intensive products relatively more expensive, which in turn increases the economic incentives to purchase, and develop, non-carbon intensive products.

This, in the short-term, makes gasoline more expensive. That’s the point of it. There are a variety of ways to compensate people for making gasoline more expensive, but gasoline will still be more expensive. That’s going to make cap and trade a tough sell. But that doesn’t mean it will be bad for the economy, or bad for people in general. Money not spent on gasoline is money spent on other things. As carbon-intensive products become pricier, other products will become cheaper. Lots of good stuff will happen, and my sense is that a move away from oil will actually entail significant lifestyle benefits. That’s why I talk about transit and food policy a lot. Transit is awesome. Not sitting in traffic makes people happier. Riding on subways is fun.

Continue reading

July 7, 2008 Posted by | Driving, Economics, Energy | Leave a comment

Rules of the Road

Suppose the government were to announce tomorrow that it was no longer going to enforce any of its traffic laws. Stoplights would continue to work, parking spaces would still be clearly marked according to type, etc., but if a cop saw you run a red light or park in a no parking zone, he would be powerless to do anything about it (other than give you a dirty look). What effect would this new policy have on people’s behavior?

My guess is that things would change a lot less than we might expect. Continue reading

May 18, 2008 Posted by | Driving, Law, Weirdness | Leave a comment