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Transportation

Friday I mocked the Liberals who dominate Broadway theater for their embracing market pricing for their tickets.  I was correctly mocked back in the comments for not calling out traditional conservative bastions for equal failure.

Well, critics all here is your reward.

Greedy corporate pig airlines discover capitalism:

Fliers can still choose between window and aisle seats on Delta Air Lines, but they’ll have to pay extra if those spots are near the front of the plane.

Economy passengers can now pay $9 or $29 for these prime seats, depending on the length of the flight. They were previously only available to frequent fliers in the airline’s Medallion program.

Other airlines such as US Airways, Sun Country and American Airlines already charge for window and aisle seats. The fee for premier seating is the latest in a string of surcharges by airlines. The fees have generated billions of dollars in extra revenue and have helped offset rising fuel costs.

I’ve long lamented the lack of markets in airline seating.  As airlines are continually being squeezed for revenues by the competition, they are looking to gain efficiencies wherever they can.  And part of that is scheduling flights as tightly as possible.  Often I find myself looking at a connecting flight with only 20-40 minutes to catch it.  I NEED to sit in the aisle and up front.  At other times I’ve scheduled my flight the day before and am in a position where I can sit in the back without a problem.

There has to be a better way than randomly assigning seats or even setting up an “e-bay’esque” type of event like Southwest does.  And for a long time I’ve told my poor suffering wife that “the market would set them free”.  Now, of course, I’ve always wanted them to set up a market where I could sell my seat position with the airline taking a cut.  But I guess this was inevitable.

In short, the market will allow people who need to be up front to be there while giving the folks who don’t need to be there the ability to well, not be.

I know this is gonna shock a TON of people.

Environmental reports released Tuesday show the first segment of the line in the Central Valley will cost between $10 billion and $13.9 billion, far more than the 2009 estimate of $7.1 billion.

I know I’m surprised.  I had expected California to come in under budget; ’cause all such projects do, really, come in under budget.

The thing about the Liberati when it comes to central planning projects like this is that they never consider the cost.  Would it be cool if I could take a train that ran on the coffee grounds I brew each morning?  Ride a train that took me to a station a meager few blocks from my office?

Sure.

Would it still be cool if the state had to pay $8,542 per round-trip ticket?

Still think it’s a good idea?

Me either.

Light-rail and high-speed trains have long been the darling of the Left.  If some local or state government can come up with a plan to build trains, the Left is only TOO anxious to deliver the money.

Rail corridor between Raleigh and DC? Done!

Charlotte and Atlanta?  Done!

Roanoke and Durham. Done!

I admit that I’m flummoxed by this fixation.  But let’s take a look:

The idea is based on two angles:

  1. If we can move more people from here to there on a train, we’ll decrease the amount of fossil fuel burned.
  2. It creates jobs.

How much of this is true?  And to the extent that it IS true, what price are people willing to pay?

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North Carolina is interested in building out it’s light rail infrastructure.  And, in those places that make sense, it should.

For example, if there is a destination that has significant traffic, it might make sense to install some form of rail service to alleviate traffic or even draw revenue.

The problem with such plans?  Trains have to run on tracks.  And tracks are both expensive to build and impossible to move.  They are where they are and nothing can be done concerning the “ad hoc” needs of commuters.

So rail planning HAS to rely on data, good data, well thought out data aboiut the goals and ability to meet ’em.

Most, including the News And Observer, don’t do their due diligence.

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We’ve heard it all.

The United States has the most expensive health care system in all the world.  It’s true, go look it up.

And, if you were to add up the amount of money that we spend on medical care and compare it to other nations, our total would be higher than others.

In the same way t hat our total spend on fish tanks, running shoes, low brow caps, suit coats and baseball gloves is higher too.

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Last week I talked a bit about the waste of money that we named “Cash for Clunkers”.

In short, what I said was that car purchases are elastic.  People can pull forward or push out the purchase of a new car by several months.  In this case it turns out to be 7:

The government’s “cash for clunkers” program boosted auto sales by 360,000 during the two months it was in place.  In the seven months that followed, sales were down by 360,000 compared with what they would have been without the program…

Basically, 7 months after cash for clunkers ended, the same amount of cars wound up being sold.

Wanna know the unintended consequence?

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North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue recently Tweeted on a blog entry regarding North Carolina High Speed rail:

Today, NCDOT’s Rail Division officially received the first $20.3 million of the $545 million allocated to our state for high-speed rail improvements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. North Carolina was granted the sixth highest award to any state as part of President Obama’s high-speed rail plan, demonstrating the growing strength of our rail program.

Jeez.  Here we go…

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