Government to release proposed fuel economy rules

Government to release proposed fuel economy rules
These rules implement the law that requires Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of 35 mpg by 2020.
Historically CAFE standards seem to correlate with progress in fuel efficiency, rising from 12.9 MPG for new cars in 1974, though the present standard has been unchanged since the early 1980s and as a consequence, with the shift from passenger cars to light trucks, the combined fleet fuel economy has dropped slightly from a peak in 1987 of 26 mpg to about 25 mpg presently.
See Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards for more background information and discussion as of 2006. See especially Figure 1.
For some historical reason CAFE standards were the provenance of NHTSA, the safety agency. (probably because the agency regulated vehicles).
I suspect the CAFE standard could be raised higher, which would push technology faster, and more toward battery-based and hybrid systems. It is too bad the market can’t do this on its own, (i.e. why don’t people buy their own fuel efficient vehicles rather than relying on govt. standards and forced cross-subsidies by automakers between gas guzzlers and gas sippers) and this is a very inefficient way of internalizing externalities, but it is apparently politically easier to regulate automakers than to raise gas taxes.

Clinton Joins McCain on Gas-Tax Holiday; Obama Opposes

From WSJ: Clinton Joins McCain on Gas-Tax Holiday; Obama Opposes
One more reason Clinton should not be President. Think about it this way, imagine there were a road utility, which was a separate non-profit (but also non-loss) organization that managed roads, and received revenue from users, revenue which could only be spent on roads. We wouldn’t let politicians take away its revenue because some other price went up.
Perhaps this is the model we should consider to help depoliticize road management.

Patenting Roads

As I was thinking about a new road design, I found a number that had been patented. The idea of patenting a road may seem a little strange, but it has happened a number of times. In very few cases have the patented designs become widely used. Some references below:
Continuous flow intersection
Traffic intersection – Patent 3915580
Simultaneous left turn vehicular intersection – US Patent 5795095
Vehicle highway system having single-level uninterrupted traffic-flow intersection – US Patent 5897270
Traffic interchange – US Patent 5921701
Some additional prior art cited in patents above:
February 1916 – Hale
1515251 November 1924 -Graves
1543080 June 1925 – Graves
October 1963- Cedeno
September 1966 –
Gazis et al.
3394638 July 1968 –
3915580 October 1975 – Kaufman
June 1986 – Lee
4630961 December 1986 – Hellwig
5049000 September 1991 – Mier

Why are roads favoured by the right and trains by socialists?

From Christian Wolmar’s blog: Why are roads favoured by the right and trains by socialists?
An interesting question, I posted a reply, repeated below.

“From the US, I think part of the problem is the definition of “subsidy”. Here, auto users pay a user fee, most of which is in the form of a gas (petrol) tax, that is dedicated (hypothecated) to road construction, and pays in most places essentially 100% of the cost for major roads (freeways, state highways). (Local roads are largely paid for with property tax, but you would have these even without cars). So rather than thinking about it as a public subsidy, it is a service in exchange for a fee. In contrast public transit users pay about 1/3 of the operating cost (and about 0/3 of the capital cost) in most systems, the remainder is paid for out of general funds, dedicated sales taxes, and from highway user fees. The system is thus more subsidized by non-users. Also in the US 90+% of taxpayers are regular auto users, about 1% to 2% are regular transit users, so the cross-subsidy from transit users to highway users when using general revenue is relatively small and the cross-subsidy from highway users to transit users is relatively large. All of which sets the stage for the left/right divide. Things that are subsidized by the general public for the disadvantaged few (and riders of buses generally have much lower incomes than average, trains are different) are consistent with a “left”/Democratic point-of-view. People left to their own devices paying for what they use is a more “right”/Republican point-of-view. Trains, especially commuter trains, have attracted Republican support. This is because the users are well-to-do suburbanites who often vote Republican. Transit advocates endorse this as a way to broaden the base for transit support (though of course it will take resources away from other transit investments).”

Impatient Subway Riders Revolt in Chicago

From the NYT:
Impatient Subway Riders Revolt in Chicago
“Impatient Subway Riders Revolt in Chicago
CHICAGO — The packed rush-hour subway train had been stopped for about an hour Tuesday morning, held up by a malfunctioning train ahead. In air hot and stuffy, the passengers had turned nervous and impatient. Ignoring pleas of transit workers, they decided to leave the train and walk through the dimly lighted tunnel toward freedom.
The unauthorized evacuation, transit officials said, caused a bigger problem. Fearing that passengers could be electrocuted by the third rail, officials cut off power to part of the Blue Line, which travels a large U-shaped route between the West Side and O’Hare International Airport. Service was disrupted for about four hours, and more than a thousand passengers had to be helped off several trains.
“If those particular passengers had not self-evacuated, we could have gotten people out on trains and restored service much sooner,? said Ron Huberman, president of the Chicago Transit Authority. …

I wonder how common this is. I remember reading about this happening in London’s Underground early in the last century. Would certainty about how long the delay would be have calmed the riders?

a blog about Networks and Places


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