Michigan to Fall Under 10 Million Residents?

Michigan could become the first large state to ever exceed 10 million population and then to fall back below 10 million. The latest US Bureau of the Census estimates indicate that Michigan’s population fell from 10,102,000 to 10,072,000 between 2006 and 2007. Should that rate continue, Michigan would fall to under 10,000,000 by the 2010 census.

New York Out-Migration Exceeds Katrina's Louisiana

Data just released by the US Bureau of the Census indicates that New York state lost 1,400,000 million domestic migrants between 2000 and 2007 (people moving from New York to other states). This is nearly equal to the population of the city Philadelphia. Perhaps most stunningly, New York also had the highest rate of domestic migration loss, at -7.4 percent, exceeding even that of Louisiana and its hundreds of thousands of residents driven out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

State Migration: From More Expensive to Less Expensive Areas


The U.S. Bureau of the Census released annual state population and migration estimates today (27 December 2007). This document provides detailed data and observations on the trends in domestic migration.

Domestic migration occurs when a person moves from one place in the United States to another. In this case, a domestic migrant moves from one state or the District of Columbia to another.

Moving to More Affordable States

There is continued net domestic migration to the more affordable (responsive planning) states from prescriptive planning states. This is evident in comparing the change in annual migration rates in 2007 compared to 2000-2001.

    In 2000-2001, the responsive planning states had a net domestic migration loss of 48,000. By 2006-2007, there was a net domestic migration gain of 452,000.

    In 2000-2001, the prescriptive planning states had a net domestic migration gain of 48,000. By 2006-2007, there was a net domestic migration loss of 452,000.

    Among the prescriptive planning states, the higher cost states experienced an increase in net domestic migration loss from 246,000 to 677,000 between 2000-1 and 2006-7.

    Among the prescriptive planning states, the “safety valve” states experience a reduction in net domestic migration gain from 295,000 in 2000-1 to 225,000 in 2006-7. Net domestic migration gain peaked at 503,000 in 2004-5 (Figure)

Overall, between 2000 and 2007, there was a strong movement away from the more unaffordable states.

    The higher cost prescriptive planning states experienced a net domestic migration loss of 3,752,000.

    The safety value prescriptive planning states experience a net domestic migration gain of 2,538,000.

    The responsive planning states experienced a net domestic migration gain of 1,214,000.

Texas Emerges as the Top Destination

In 2006-7, Texas had the largest domestic migration gain, at 140,000. Texas had emerged as the top destination in 2005-6, principally due to the exodus of Katrina refugees from Louisiana (220,000). However, the Texas net domestic gain remained strong in 200607, at an annual rate more than tripling the 2000-1 migration gain. Texas has gained 580,000 domestic migrants since 2000. Between 2000 and 2005 Florida strongly led Texas in domestic migration gains, with 1,050,000, compared to the Texas figure of 210,000.

The End of Migration to Florida?

Perhaps the most significant news from the new data is that Florida’s domestic migration gains have nearly come to an end. During the first 6 years of the decade, Florida gained an average of more than 200,000 domestic migrants annually. In 2006-7, this figure declined to 35,000. Florida’s overall growth rate has also declined. Until 2006, it looked possible that Florida would grow quickly enough to replace New York as the nation’s third largest state after California and Texas. This would not occur if the growth rate of the last year continues.

Another #1 for California

California became the nation’s largest state in the late 1960s, passing New York, which had been the largest state since 1810. In the last two years, California has also displaced New York as the leader in net domestic migration loss (in 2006 and 2007). Since 2000, California has lost 1,200,000 domestic migrants, a population approximately equal to that of the city of San Diego.

Moving from Florida to North & South Carolina?

There has been much talk of the “half-backs,” Northerners who move to Florida and then move “halfway” back to North Carolina or South Carolina. Since 2000, North Carolina has gained approximately 500,000 domestic migrants and South Carolina has gained 225,000. In each case, the 2006-7 domestic migration gain was approximately three times the 2000-1 gain. The halfbacks have also discovered Tennessee, which has gained more than 200,000 domestic migrants and has had a similar increase in rate since 2000-1.


Urban Transport in Hyderabad (India): Observations

A couple of months ago, Dr. P.R.Bhanu Murthy suggested that I offer some comments on urban transport in Hyderabad, India along the lines of my previously posted observations on Lagos, Nigeria.

I have not been to Hyderabad. My travel in India has been limited to the three megacities (Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata). However, some general comments can be made on urban transport in Hyderabad. Obviously, much of what follows applies equally to urban agglomerations in other emerging market economies.

Hyderabad is relatively dense, with nearly 6,000,000 people living in an urban agglomeration (continuous urbanization) that is approaching 600 square kilometers. Thus, the population density is approximately 10,000 per square kilometer. This is below that of Mumbai (26,000) and Kolkata (13,000), but is approximately average for an agglomeration of above 5,000,000 residents outside the high-income world (see: http://www.demographia.com/db-worldua.pdf).

Any effective urban transport planning process must begin with a comprehensive vision that deals with ensuring mobility from every square meter of the urban agglomeration to every other (what I call ubiquitous mobility). It is this type of mobility that virtually removes any transport restraints on economic growth and poverty reduction. Given the documented relationship between better mobility (point to point travel time) and economic growth, this is a principal concern. Cars often provide the means for escaping poverty, both in lower income nations and higher income nations.

Most, if not all “regional” transport plans or “metropolitan” transport plans fail substantially in this regard. The principal emphasis is placed upon providing transport to the core, which may also be called the central business district, hypercentre or downtown. Such plans would be more appropriately called “downtown transport plans.”

The problem with such plans is their failure to effectively deal with mobility for destinations outside the core area. Yet, in most urban areas, the majority of travel is not to the core area, but is rather between non-core origins and destinations.

There is a tendency for urban areas outside the first world to look to first world urban areas for direction in their strategies. Thus, there has been an emphasis on high-cost projects, such as Metros and light rail. This can be at the expense of less costly, more comprehensive service strategies. The problem with the high cost strategies is that they can provide only a small share of the public transport services that are needed. For Metros or light rail to provide ubiquitous mobility, would require service grids of no more than 800 meters (with an assumption of a maximum walking distance of 400 meters). The cost of any such a system would rival the gross domestic product of any urban area, high-income or otherwise (see: http://www.publicpurpose.com/ut-wctrs2007.pdf). Moreover, the inclusion of these modes in a subsidized environment consumes resources that often could be used to provide many more trips.

Other modes of transport that are less attractive to affluent westerners are more effective in many applications, such as buses, vans, shared-ride taxis, auto-rickshaws, etc. The focus should be on mobility, not mode. An urban transport system should be evaluated based upon the extent to which it makes ubiquitous travel throughout the urban area possible.

This is not to suggest that the high cost modes are any more efficient in the high-income world. They are generally not, except in the highest density urban cores. However, in the high-income nations, the unwise use of subsidy funding does not lead to the widespread denial of effective mobility. This is because in Western Europe and the United States, the overwhelming majority of people who live outside the urban core have cars and travel by cars. Public transport’s failure to provide ubiquitous service in the high-income world has doubtless been a factor in the motorization, which occurred as fast as people could afford it. The extent to which public transport's generally meager service offerings in relation to the need for mobility contributed to motorization, of course, is debatable.

Thus, there is an important difference that may not be immediately obvious. High income urban agglomerations can afford transport plans that fail to address the transport needs of much of the community. Lower income urban agglomerations do not have this luxury.

It may be tempting to think that part of the problem could be solved by improving the “jobs-housing balance,” effectively by partitioning large urban areas into smaller units that somehow make it possible for residents to find jobs more locally and not travel so far. There is considerable evidence that this policy approach is likely to lead to failure. Peter Hall has chronicled disappointing research in the Stockholm area (which is a small urban area by international standards). The 2001 UK Census showed that in the new towns --- which were to be self sufficient in terms of employment --- the average commute is double the diameter of the new town in distance.

Urban areas reach the size of Hyderabad or Mumbai for a reason. They will continue to grow so long as it is more advantageous for people and businesses to move there than to smaller areas. This is why the greatest growth in recent decades has been in the larger urban areas, rather than in the self-contained, well-balanced urban areas of say, 100,000 or less. Around the world, the rural and smaller urban areas have generally tended to capture less than their share of growth. Indeed, in many nations, urban populations fall while overall growth rates continue strong.
Much of the world’s urban transport planning is geared toward the goal of reducing the use of automobiles or reducing the growth rate of automobile use. Ubiquitous public transport systems could assist in this. However, the lack of ubiquitous public transport increases the incentives for private, personal mobility. As a result, lower and middle income urban areas have comparatively high shares of 2-wheeled motorization (motos, motor cycles, motor bikes).
Given the choice between being able to get where they need to go and not, the moto is an obvious alternative. At the same time, the prospect is for greater, not less automobile use in the future. Tata Motors will bring the 1-lahk car to market in 2008 (100,000 Rupees or US$2,500). Other manufacturers intend to compete. Lower and middle incomes lack cars not because they don’t like or need them, rather because they cannot afford them. Moreover, the reality is that once people have achieved private, personal mobility, whether motos or cars, public transport stands little chance of winning them back.
Thus, it makes sense for lower income urban areas to not look to the west or the high income world for their transport models. They should rather look to places like Manila and the African urban areas where less expensive, informal, private and smaller vehicles provide mobility that is substantially more ubiquitous than in places that have not incorporated these approaches. Again, the test is the mobility results, not the presence of particular modes. A lower income urban agglomeration is likely to be able to build a “world class” public transport system (read “high-income”) only by denying mobility to large numbers of its citizens.
(Of course, where a public transport system or route can be built and operated using only passenger fares, this problem is avoided. Most systems, however, are heavily subsidized in construction and even operations.)
But this takes me back to the principal issue — setting of standards and objectives. For public transport to replace the automobile or slow down its expansion, public transport service must be ubiquitous. This is not so anywhere and is not even being aimed for. But the following standards are suggested.

    1. Access Standard: X% of households shall be no more than Y distance from a public transport stop (in the US, a reasonable standard would be for 95 percent of households to be within 400 meters of a public transport stop).
    2. Service Level Standard: Service from each stop shall operate no less than every X minutes during particular parts of the day. For example, a reasonable standard would be service at least every 10 minutes from 5am to 10pm and every half- hour in between.
    3. Travel Time Standard: Travel times to all destinations (every single square centimeter!) shall not exceed X minutes in a Y radius, such as X1 minutes in a Y1 radius, etc. In the US, we could have a standard that says travel times shall not exceed 20 minutes for 10 km, 30 minutes for 15, etc.
    4. System Development: The standards above shall be implemented within X years. This is a real issue. American urban areas are rushing to build nearly random rail lines without any sort of longer term vision (except to build, without particular reference to the
    overall needs of customers). Those lines that are planned are many years away. Contrast that with Bogota, where the busway was in operation after just a few years and a far more comprehensive system will be completed long before a the more expensive and more limited Metro system would have been completed. It is simply a matter of maximizing mobility within the constraints of the available subsidies. Any other approach denies mobility to others.

It is well to understand the competition that public transport faces. Cars and motos have the following characteristics. Meeting or approaching these characteristics is the principal requirement of any public transport system that would provide ubiquitous mobility.

    1. Immediate access (not even a 400 meter walk)
    2. Service available on demand (not every 5 or 60 minutes)
    3. Fastest travel time to nearly all destinations.
    4. It is available now… not in a regional transport plan that may never be finished and probably does not even seek ubiquitous mobility as an objective.

Any public transport system intending to seriously compete in such a market or any sub-market thereof needs to be designed with similar characteristics.


Note: Link to latest information on the Tata 1-lakh car


United States, Canada World's Strongest Economies

The World Bank is out with a revised estimate of world economies (gross domestic product) based upon purchasing power parities. for 2005. There are a number of notable developments.

The United States remains the most affluent of the larger nations, with a GDP of $41,700. Canada has emerged as a strong number two among larger nations, at $35,100, leading perpetual rivals Australia ($32,800), the United Kingdom ($31,600), Germany ($30,500) and Japan ($30,300).

The United States, however, is not the most affluent. A number of smaller nations have higher GDP-PPP’s per capita than the United States, such as Luxembourg (population equal to metropolitan Santa Barbara) and oil rich countries Qatar, Brunei Darussalam, Kuwait and Norway.

Some smaller countries and city-states rank between the United States and Canada, including Ireland, Singapore, Macao and Hong Kong.

Argentina continues its relative slide. Some reports indicate that Argentina was among the world’s three strongest economies in the 1930s, before Peronism. Argentina has now fallen behind Mexico and is no longer South America’s most prosperous economy. That honor goes to Chile.

China ($4,100) and India ($2,100) ranked surprisingly low.


On Urban Transport in Lagos

From the CODATU Mailing List

I have never lived in Lagos… in fact my experience in Lagos is
limited to a brief stop over at the airport. However, I study cities and my familiarity has to do with research and resources such as Google maps.

My view is that high-income world planning concepts have little or
no applicability in Lagos (or in many other developing world
cities). This is especially true of American smart growth planning,
which is much more theory than reality. There is a raging debate on
the subject in the United States and around the world, with planners
generally favoring smart growth policies and economists suggesting
that such policies are destructive because of the way that they
drive housing prices up (I am on the economist’s side of that issue).

I say that smart growth is more theory than reality, because
virtually all high income world cities developed with little overall
planning — there was local zoning, there were some local or
subregional plans and there are the exceptions like Washington (or
Brasilia, which is in the middle income world) where strong planning
regimes have been implemented in the core. But outside the core, the
development is relatively random. Smart growth seeks to impose a
design on top of that randomness and its successes tend to be, at
best, marginal. I have always been bothered at the way that some
American smart growth planners go to the developed world and tell of
the “Nirvana” that has been achieved, for example, in Portland,
which in many respects is no different than any other American urban
area, and in fact, sprawls twice as much as Los Angeles for its size.

Whatever the final outcome of the smart growth versus economics
debate, western conventional planning principles are simply
inappropriate in a place like Lagos, with its uncontrolled growth.
Attempting to manage the growth of Lagos, except in the less
intrusive way, would (in my view) lead to massive disregard of the

I recall one time being involved in a US State Department urban
planning seminar at which a planner from Manila indicated that their
first priority was to demolish the shantytowns that had grown up on
the rivers. There is a much more fundamental issue. Why do the
people live in shantytowns? Obviously because there has been
insufficient economic growth and it is thus the only choice. Where
would these people live if the shantytowns were demolished? He had
no answer, and my analysis of such situations is that the
shantytowns soon return, perhaps in different locations. Western
planning principles are simply unable to deal with such realities.

Solly Angel, who has done considerable work at the World Bank and
the United Nations suggests that urban planning in developing world
nations should be principally the identification (and later
building) a grid of major arterial streets. This is the first step
in providing the necessary infrastructure.

The transport problem virtually all large cities have (whether in
Nigeria or the West) is that they are too geographically expansive
for public transport to be an efficient, ubiquitous (door to door)
form of mobility. At the same time, with the exception of some
American urban areas, they are not geographically expansive enough
for the auto to work optimally. For all of the criticism of US urban
areas, work trip travel times here are better than anywhere else
when size of urban area is considered.

But back to ubiquitous mobility. This is not easy to provide in a
large urban area. The urban footprint of Lagos is at least 300
square km and perhaps even larger. No major urban area of that size
(or for that matter of any size) has the kind of ubiquitous public
transport system that I am referring to — one that gets you from
every point to every other point in the urban area in a time that is
competitive with personal modes (cars, taxis and motos). Manila,
which covers about 500 square km and has 17m people (don’t believe
the UN numbers, which exclude all of the spillover suburban
development outside the jurisdiction of Metro Manila) comes the
closest, with its jitney system that nearly provides ubiquitous
mobility. The problem in Manila is that the road system is so bad
that travel speeds are terrible. They could have used a “Solly
Angel” design 25 years ago. Of couse, Manila’s system (which has the
highest service level in the world, including Hong Kong) is based
upon inexpensive jeepneys, which are legal but certainly look

Regrettably, planners tend to focus on urban cores. The standard
urban transport planning regime for Lagos would be rail lines
leading to the main business centre on the island. In fact, though I
don’t have the data, my experience elsewhere would lead me to
believe that no more than 10 percent of the jobs are there and maybe
only 5 percent.

This, again, is where busways come it. To the extent that we can
improve public transport, through the most cost efficient means, we
will improve people’s lives and, delay their purchase of motos and
cars. But if we do not provide the ubiquitous public transport
systems that people need, they will buy cars and motos — that is
the experience in virtually every large urban area. Thus, it would
seem to me that low-cost busways (following the example of places
like Manaus and Porto Alegre, rather than the more expensive system
in Curitiba) would help. But, again, to make it work optimally, you
will need a grid that serves virtually everywhere and a strong
feeder service system — buses operating on ½ hour schedules will
not do. This means informal services feeding the busway. Of course,
this is theory, but I think this is the way to go.

But this takes me back to the principal issue — setting of
standards and objectives. For public transport to replace the
automobile or slow down its expansion, public transport service must
be ubiquitous. This is not so anywhere and is not even being aimed
for. But the following standards are needed (perhaps repeating
myself now).

1. Access Standard. X% of households shall be no more than Y
distance from a public transport stop (in the US, I would say 95
percent of households should be within 400 meters of a public
transport stop).

2. Service Level Standard: Service from each stop shall operate no
less than every X minutes during particular parts of the day. For
example, a reasonable standard would be service at least every 10
minutes from 5am to 10pm and every ½ hour in between.

3. Travel Time Standard: Travel times to all destinations (every
single square centimeter!) shall not exceed X minutes in a Y radius,
X1 minutes in a Y1 radius, etc. In the US, we could have a standard
that says travel times shall not exceed 20 minutes for 10 km, 30
minutes for 15, etc.

4. System Development: The standards above shall be implemented
within X years. This is a real issue. American urban areas are
rushing to build nearly random rail lines without any sort of longer
term vision (except to build, without particular reference to the
overall needs of customers). Those lines that are planned are many
years away. Contrast that with Bogota, where the busway was in
operation after just a few years and should be completed long before
a far more expensive Metro system would have been completed and
served much less of the population.

I know all of this sounds like a lot, but think of the service that
a moto or automobile provides.

1. Immediate access (not even a 400 meter walk)

2. Service available on demand (not every 5 minutes)

3. Fastest travel time to nearly all destinations.

4. It is available now… not in some transport plan that may or may
not ever be finished.


Demographia Posts USA Household Debt to Income Ratios: 1945-2005

Demographia has posted household debt to income ratios for 1945 to the present, using data from the Federal Reserve Board and the National Income and Product Accounts (Available here).

Generally, household debt has risen strongly in recent years as housing prices have increased, especially in smart growth markets.


Greenspan Wrong, Krugman Right on "Housing Bubble"

The Roots of the Mortgage Crisis
December 12, 2007; Page A19

Former Federal Reserve Board Governor Alan Greenspan is wrong and liberal New York Times columnist is right on the “housing bubble.”

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Greenspan says that he had expected Fed actions to “dampen the then mounting house price surge.” Greenspan goes on to blame global economic factors for the continuing rise in house prices.

Greenspan makes the same mistake so many other analysts have made before. It starts with the whole concept of the housing price surge or the “housing bubble.” As Paul Krugman has pointed out, there is none. Where the demand pressures are the greatest, metropolitan areas like Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth house prices have maintained their historic link to household incomes. The Median Multiple (median house price divided by median household income) has remained at 3.0 or below.

Krugman notes that prices have risen in what he calls the “zoned-zone,” where there is strong land use regulation (such as smart growth). Where land use regulation is not overly restrictive, prices have not risen. Even with sub-prime lending practices, metropolitan areas with reasonable regulation have been able to handle the higher demand.

Greenspan’s analysis of the housing market has been every bit as off the mark as that of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which has raised interest rates multiple times to bring house price rises under control. It helps to address the cause. Interest rates and Greenspan’s global economic factors have little influence where local planning authorities have made land for development scarce.

Excessive land regulation (call it smart growth, urban consolidation or compact city policies) is the problem. Housing affordability has been destroyed in many metropolitan areas and the overall economic impacts of the over-heated housing market it has generated are just beginning to be felt. The central bankers need to look much closer to home to solve the problem.


My Amtrak Adventure

I flew to Baltimore-Washington international airport (BWI) on this trip to Washington, DC. My intention was to take Amtrak from Baltimore to Union Station in Washington.

Right away I was in luck. Amtrak was running predictably late, which meant that I didn’t have to wait another half hour for what was supposed to be a half hour trip. But on Amtrak, that's as much luck as you can hope for.

It was slowing lightly, though as slow as the train traveled one would think it was the Blizzard of ’88.

About half way to Washington the train stopped. We were advised that the train had hit a tree and that the engineer (driver) had to inspect the locomotive to make sure we could continue. This delay was fairly short.

Then as we neared Union Station the conductor made a few announcements, including…

    Auxiliary power for computers and the rest rooms would not work for passengers continuing to Richmond.

    Because of the “hours of service law,” “all of the doors would not open in Washington.” I think she meant that “not all of the doors would open in Washington.”
There was more, About a mile before reaching Union Station, the train stopped again. The conductor came on and said that the engineer had heard something dragging under the train and he had to make another inspection (perhaps it was dismembered remains of the deceased tree). This delay was a bit longer.

Then we got to Union Station. All of the lights went off, except for the emergency lights, as they began to switch to diesel power for the trip to Richmond. We all had to line up and slowly proceed in the dark through the cars to the one door the “hours of service law” permitted to be opened. From the time we arrived at the platform at Union Station to the time that I was able to get off the train was a full 15 minutes.

It is to be hoped that the “hours of service law” will allow at least one door to open in Richmond. Assuming they get there.

All of this reminds me why a $70 taxicab ride is not such a bad deal for getting to Washington if you happen to use BWI.

Wendell Cox
Amtrak Reform Council


Jerry Brown and GHG Ideology In San Diego

It seems that everyone knows what we have to do to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions --- Get out of our cars and into transit --- and move from our suburban detached houses to high-rise condominiums in the core. That is the basis of California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s intervention in the San Diego (SANDAG) regional planning process. This “back to the cave” mentality (or at least back to 1920 mentality) is both unnecessary and could lead to substantially less economic growth and higher levels of poverty.

There is no doubt that transit produces less in greenhouse gas emissions than cars in some applications and some corridors. The San Diego Trolley is a good example. However, trolleys cannot be built everywhere, not just because they cost so much, but also because the travel demand is simply not there. Local transit officials have built the trolley lines where demand is the greatest and the potential for reducing GHG emissions is the greatest. But there are serious limits to transit expansion.

The Attorney General may not be aware that cars are often more GHG friendly than transit. Outside New York, transit GHG emissions per passenger mile were virtually the same as cars in urban operation, based upon an analysis of 2005 US Department of Transportation and US Department of Energy data. Excluding the Trolley, transit services in the San Diego area emit more GHGs per passenger mile than cars.

The proposed federal 35 mile per gallon standard will reduce car GHG’s per passenger mile by 30 percent from present levels. Even more effective technology is on the way. Hybrid diesel cars entering the market in Europe next year will drop GHG’s per passenger mile a further 50 percent. The way forward is technological progress, not substantial life style changes.

Anyone who believes that people are going to abandon their cars for transit service that does take them where they are going or takes too long simply does not understand human behavior. Despite its substantial investment in transit, San Diego has the fourth worst traffic congestion in the nation, and things are only getting worse.

Moreover, the mobility that the car affords is crucial to the economy. International research demonstrates that metropolitan areas create more jobs and income where travel time is minimized. People use transit where it makes sense, but not where it doesn’t. University of California research suggests that a principal barrier to reducing minority unemployment is to make cars available. To keep traffic congestion under control, it will be necessary to continue investing in additional roadway capacity. This is also good for the environment, since air pollution and GHG emissions are far more intense where traffic becomes “stop and start.”

Then there is the matter of housing. It is not at all clear that single-family attached housing is produces more GHGs per capita than high-rise condominiums. Research in Sydney, Australia finds the opposite --- that GHG emissions per capita are substantially higher from high-rise condominium buildings than from single-family detached housing. The reason is the huge energy burden of common areas, shared services (such as central heating and air conditioning) and elevators, none of which are included from in US Department of Energy data for energy use by housing type.

There are those who believe that if we stop building additional highway capacity and traffic congestion gets bad enough, people will switch to transit. That is naïve. If traffic becomes bad enough, people and businesses will leave the area.

And, indeed, local smart growth policies are already driving people away from San Diego. The excessive regulations and land rationing of smart growth have driven housing prices to more than three times the level relative to incomes that occurs in markets with less severe regulation. San Diego County’s outward migration since 2000 is at or above the rate of Rust Belt Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit.

The reality is that GHG emissions can be reduced substantially without seriously altering the way we live. What is needed is fact based strategies, not the tired ideology that has already done so much to increase traffic congestion and housing prices in San Diego (and to drive people away).


Rental Car Tour: Manila: Rich and Poor

It is always preferable to end the first visit with some affection for an urban area and even a desire to stay longer. This is the feeling that I have had in leaving most urban areas. In only one case was no affection developed for the urban area, which is described in the Kolkata Rental Car Tour. In others, an attraction developed, but there was no reluctance to leave, such as in Mumbai. Manila is in the majority --- an affection was developed and I would have preferred to stay longer.

Arriving at Manila’s Nonoy Aquino International Airport evokes a sense of history more than most. The airport is named for Benigno (Nonoy) Aquino, the opposition leader who was assassinated at the airport upon his return to the Philippines in 1983. Events led eventually to stolen election (by President Ferdinand Marcos), his deposition, a peaceful revolution and the installation of Corazon Aquino, wife of Nonoy Aquino as president of the Philippines. The main thoroughfare of the urban area, EDSA (below) was the site of this peaceful revolution and another in 2001.

More, with 150 photos


UK Cars Improving on GHG Emissions

Data provided to the private sector by the United Kingdom government provides an indication of estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per passenger kilometer of various transport modes.

Public transport is far more efficient in the United Kingdom than in the United States. As a result, the GHGs per passenger kilometer are substantially less. For example, US Metros (subways) emit 81 grams per passenger mile, 50 percent above the 53 figure in the United Kingdom. Light rail in the United Kingdom emits 65 grams per passenger kilometer, compared to 119 in the United States.

Despite the more efficient public transport operations in the UK, cars are becoming surprisingly competitive. Small hybrid cars produce less GHG than buses. The new hybrid-diesel cars will nearly equal the GHG efficiency of Metros. The European Union has established a 2012 goal for car emissions that would make them more GHG efficient than buses much more competitive with light rail.

An earlier posting reported that non-transportation emissions, from stations and maintenance are reported to add approximately 40 percent to public transport energy consumption, while 22 percent was added to cars.

Data and Notes

Transit Share Drops and Gas Prices Increase

The nation’s transit services continue to lose market share among their most important demographics. According to the American Community Survey of the US Bureau of the Census, transit’s share of work trips has fallen from 5.0 percent in 2000 to 4.8 percent in 2006. With the rapid rise in gasoline costs, it might have been expected that transit would finally turn around its persistent downward market share trend. But the data shows no such turnaround.

Of course, the principal problem is that transit is simply uncompetitive with automobile travel for most trips. There are the exceptions, such as travel to the nation’s largest downtown areas, such as Manhattan, Chicago’s Loop, downtown San Francisco, the Hub in Boston and Centre City in Philadelphia. Some transit services are competitive with, or better than the automobile to these downtowns. As a result half or more of commuters to these areas go to work by transit.

However, most employment is not in downtown areas. These large, successful transit-based downtown areas account for less than three percent of the nation’s employment. Yet, nearly one-third of the nation’s transit commuters travel to these locations to their jobs (see Commuting to Downtown and Elsewhere).

Transit has two fundamental problems. The first is that it doesn’t go where most people need to go. The second is that it cannot at a price any urban area in the world can afford (see: Megacities: Land Use and Transport). It’s time for the advocates of higher transit taxes to stop pretending that transit has any potential to reduce traffic congestion.