Search This Blog

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Social Costs of a Sad Lack of Public Transportation in Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Star today reports that Indianapolis is the 2nd worst per capita metro area in terms of carbon footprint - one measure of energy waste and pollution that continues to threaten our future.

The study finds that metro areas with bad (or no real) public transportation systems (like Indianapolis) were among the worst carbon emitting cities.

Indeed, business leaders continually have been calling on our city government to start taking a more proactive approach to public transportation, including taking more seriously the ideas of light rail, etc. Officials seems to largely ignore these calls or pander just until after the subsequent election. The only real public transportation in Indy is IndyGo Bus system, which is the saddest most pathetic public transportation system I've ever seen in my life (not to mention scary if you've ever ridden). Why we don't have atleast a T-shaped rail line(s) connecting north to south and east to west, I just don't get. Combined with park-and-ride, that system would surely pay for itself in the long-run, not to mention help Indy get away from it's polluting image problem.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Yet another reason to love Obama

Hat tip to Mankiw

Obama would support abolishing the penny!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Clinton Takes West Virginia (she can have it)

This just in:
"Clinton's proposal to suspend the 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gasoline tax for the summer -- an idea belittled by most economists and rejected by Obama as a political gimmick -- proved to be a winner in West Virginia. " (

Let's look at this for what it is, shall we: West Virginia is stupid.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Gas Prices Matter (Little)

Brad DeLong thinks gas prices have a significant effect on vehicle miles travelled.
I beg to differ. According to, retail regular gas prices have risen by 35% from January 2007 to January 2008.

According to Brad's pretty chart, vehicle miles travelled has fallen anywhere from about 0 to 3% during that roughly same timeframe.

I would hardly call a 35% increase in prices resulting in a roughly 2% decrease in vehicle miles travelled anything substantial (esp. since the decrease in VMT may not just be associated with rising prices of gas but could also be, and likely is negatively effected by the general recession that we are in!).

I do think there is a point where gas prices matter a lot, but I don't think it's now, and I don't think it's at any price point the Pigou club is proposing. Generally I think gas prices have little effect on driving habits / consumption (I've talked about gas price elasticity in the past), but they do have an effect in the long-run on buying habits if the price is high enough. IE, if we paid Europe gas prices, I think we'd all be driving Smart cars. IE, there is likely some price level that acts like a psychological switch that makes your brain go, "Man, I need to sell this POS SUV and buy me a Civic." But, such price point is not going to be reached here in the US anytime soon (some evidence suggests people are already moving toward smaller cars but it's not in my opinion a substantial shift yet, and I think a large bit of the shift is due to the intense focus on "green" over the last couple years more than gas price increases).

In any case, focusing energy on promoting alternatives directly and further increasing CAFE would likely serve people better than playing around with gas price points (like the Pigou club wants to do for example).