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Thomas Power and Adam Smith

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  • Simon Norton
    I think that Lee Schipper has hit the nail on the head. I also agree with most of what Stephen Plowden says -- it is undoubtedly true that there s no use
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 30, 2008
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      I think that Lee Schipper has hit the nail on the head. I also agree with most
      of what Stephen Plowden says -- it is undoubtedly true that there's no use
      getting the price right if the product isn't. And certainly the pricing of
      parking can work, assuming that privately owned parking and through traffic are
      controlled too. But we certainly have to offer price signals is some form or
      other.

      Another example where pricing is surely important is the competition between air
      and rail. Have any comparative studies been made to show how various regulatory
      and pricing factors affect modal shares for given journeys ? If so, I think they
      could have a lesson for city traffic.

      Simon Norton
    • Zvi Leve
      I am surprised that no one has mentioned the POLITICS of road pricing being perhaps the principal barrier to implementation. Once upon a time, the field of
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 30, 2008
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        I am surprised that no one has mentioned the POLITICS of road pricing being perhaps the principal barrier to implementation. Once upon a time, the field of Economics was called 'Political Economy' and we are deluding ourselves if we ignore the political aspects of economic decisions.... The UC Transportation Center had a very interesting article on the subject in their Access magazine, issue 31: For Whom the Road Tolls: The Politics of Congestion Pricing (http://www.uctc.net/scripts/access.pl?31/Access%2031%20-%2002%20-%20For%20Whom%20the%20Road%20Tolls.pdf), by David King, Michael Manville, and Donald Shoup. The authors discuss the reasons for insufficient political support and propose a very straight-forward mechanism to potentially resolve this problem. Recommended reading for all!

        Best regards,

        Zvi

        On Sun, Mar 30, 2008 at 1:33 PM, Lee Schipper <SCHIPPER@...> wrote:

        I appreciate Simon's answer below -- one cannot set a market price and then walk away thinking the problem is solved, just as one cannot solve problems that involve markets for desirable scarce goods (time, space) by regulation or honor alone.




      • Richard Layman
        Do you mind writing a bit more about this: town-or area- based systems of goods distribution (as exist in many German towns) rather than firm- or product-based
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 31, 2008
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          Do you mind writing a bit more about this:
           
          town-or area- based systems of goods distribution (as exist in many German towns) rather than firm- or product-based systems
           
          Mostly, these days we don't do either in the U.S., except for freight.  But I keep advocating for it in particular situations, as part of transportation demand management.  I am on the board of a public market, and the vendors bitch and moan about lack of parking for their customers.  I keep suggesting shared delivery service--saying wouldn't you want one truck to make 15 deliveries, rather than have 15 cars come to the market and try to find parking spaces?
           
          RL

          stephenplowden <stephenplowden@...> wrote:
          There are many towns and cites which have made a reasonable job of
          combating congetion without road pricing. A combination of parking
          controls (which can also involve the skilful use of pricing),
          reallocation of road space, low and well enforced speed limits, good
          public transport, town-or area- based systems of goods distribution
          (as exist in many German towns) rather than firm- or product-based
          systems, and land-use planning which allows as many journey purposes
          as possible to be satisfied by short journeys made on foot, and
          ensures that facilities which attract longer journeys are sited
          conveniently close to public transport stops, will usually be enough.
          The belief that the solution must lie in pricing is like saying in a
          commercial context that getting pricing right is always more important
          than getting the product right.

          --- In NewMobilityCafe@ yahoogroups. com, Simon Norton <S.Norton@.. .> wrote:
          >
          > In answer to Robert Bartlett and Gabriel Roth, I don't think there
          is any
          > alternative to a free market approach, but there needs to be careful
          > consideration of how it is applied.
          >
          > I regard Adam Smith as a progressive economist, and ideas of the UK
          organisation
          > called the Adam Smith Institute as a perversion of his teachings.
          >
          > If road pricing was really regarded by the rich as in their
          interests, I believe
          > it would have happened long ago. In some circles of the rich kudos
          is gained by
          > eliminating, as far as possible, one's financial contribution to
          society. Better
          > to sit in a traffic jam than to pay money which can be used to
          improve transport
          > for ordinary people. After all, if their journey is really urgent
          they can
          > always use a private aircraft.
          >
          > One of the perversions of the free market philosophy is free trade
          > fundamentalism. Many economists have recognised that the theory of
          comparative
          > advantage breaks down when capital and labour are both mobile. It is
          this that
          > has pushed many so called "developing" countries into poverty. In
          addition, and
          > more relevant to transport planning, it has undermined efforts to
          internalise
          > external costs, either because of regulations introduced to guard
          against
          > protectionism in disguise, or because of fears that it would lead to
          an exodus
          > of business.
          >
          > Transport policy needs to be based on two questions:
          > 1. How much roadspace should be allowed for private motoring ?
          > 2. How should motoring be regulated to minimise its impact on the
          environment ?
          >
          > These questions are not independent, but I believe that any attempt
          to solve
          > transport problems solely through question 2 is doomed to failure.
          In recent
          > months I have several times been told that pedestrians, cyclists and
          bus users
          > must be denied the priorities they need because to provide them
          would lead to
          > gridlock.
          >
          > My own answer to question 1 is "as little as possible". I have long
          been arguing
          > for a study to establish how much motoring really is essential to the
          > functioning of a city. Even before it became apparent that the
          developed world
          > needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80% to have a hope
          of keeping
          > climate change under control, I hoped that the answer would be low
          enough to
          > make walking, cycling and travelling by bus into really attractive
          ways of
          > getting around -- and to eliminate congestion.
          >
          > I am not a free market fundamentalist to the point that I believe
          that that
          > answer to 1 can be implemented through the pricing mechanism alone,
          but neither
          > do I believe that we can afford to ignore it.
          >
          > Let us remember, the cost of congestion isn't just drivers sitting
          in jams. It's
          > the time spent by the people they are supposed to be meeting with
          waiting for
          > them to turn up. It's the time people waste allowing for jams which
          may or may
          > not materialise, whether they are travelling by car or bus. It's the
          time people
          > spend waiting for the next bus or train having missed the one they
          are aiming
          > for. And it's the time pedestrians, cyclists and bus users spend
          waiting for
          > gaps in the traffic.
          >
          > If it is at all possible to run a city without congestion, let's
          adapt one of
          > our existing cities (or build a new one) in this way, and when
          people flock to
          > it in search of a better life let's adapt and build more of them to
          meet demand.
          > That's the free market, isn't it ?
          >
          > Finally, Gabriel is right to say that so called "market pricing" can
          be a cover
          > for legalised extortion. In the UK peak pricing of rail travel,
          which also
          > affects trains that run at peak times but are practically empty
          (e.g. because
          > they are running against the direction of flow), is a case in point.
          If public
          > transport users have to put up with extortion, why should motorists
          be spared ?
          >
          > Simon Norton
          >




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