Thursday, July 30, 2009

Moving more expensively

Another good post by Randall O'Toole on the Anti-Planner:

July 30, 2009

Environmental groups just published Moving Cooler, a report that argues we need to reduce driving in order to reduce global warming. Transportation expert Alan Pisarski has written a critique of this report, saying it is more of a sales document than a credible analysis.

“The benefits and the costs involved” in the report “are so corrupted to be meaningless,” says Pisarski. For example, the time penalty from forcing someone to switch from a 15-minute auto trip to a 60-minute transit trip is assumed to be zero, transit subsidies are not counted, and all mobility losses from coercing people out of their cars are counted solely as benefits.

Everything I have seen suggests that we can make technological improvements to cars and highways that will reduce greenhouse gases at costs ranging anywhere from minus $50 to $50 a ton. Meanwhile, rail transit and more compact development will reduce greenhouse gases at costs ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 a ton — if they reduce them at all. Until all technological options have been used, we shouldn’t even be talking about the behavioral ones.