THE URBAN TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM: POLITICS AND POLICY INNOVATION

This paper is a review of a book pertaining to the performance of urban transportation systems in the United States. The writer applauds the authors for putting the situation into proper perspective. It is shown that the dollar cost of the system is just over $156 billion (1975), that transit carries 2.8 percent of urban passenger mileage (at about twice the cost per average trip as the private car). that rail transit is most often an energy loser, that conventional transit serves the elderly and the handicapped badly, if at all. In particular, the book's main finding is that not a lot of change or innovation is to be expected in urban transportation in the United States, which is a prospect that is not really all that bad. On the other hand, the writer criticizes the work on three accounts. In the first few pages, it is stated that transportation policy options will be ranked in terms of cost-effectiveness and political feasibility; but there is no discussion of what is meant by cost-effectiveness, and the definition of political feasibility is to ambiguous. Secondly, the writer points out that the standard economic analysis of congestion and pollution externalities on urban roads is missing. Finally, he faults the discussion of transportation and energy because the standard analysis of oil price controls is missing.

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    American Economic Association

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    American Economic Association

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  • Authors:
    • Altshuler, A
    • Womack, J P
    • Pucher, J R
  • Publication Date: 1980-9

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  • Accession Number: 00330117
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 15 1981 12:00AM