Sunday, May 20, 2007

rethinking price elasticity for gas and Curitiba

I may need to read the USAToday more often. They have a story showing how national driving trends have leveled off for the first time in 26 years. The reasons they surmise: demographics, impact of gas prices and expanding public transit options. Expanding? Not talking about us I guess. I will take a look at the local trends next week, but looking into the future I am not sure how the impending Port Authority cuts can do anything but push our numbers in the opposite direction. Note the quotes in the article from William Millar, now president of the American Public Transportation Association, but past Port Authority Chief Executive.

but for those who remember the cartoon in the PG that said looking toward the Brazilian city of Curitiba would provide a guide to help us through out transit issues here. The New York Times has an article today on the state of Curitiba that has some telling perspectives on the actual state of that city:
Indeed, some say it is going badly these days. The rivers, once crystalline, reek of untreated sewage. The bus system that has won admirers throughout the world appears to be nearing capacity; what’s more, Curitiba, by some measures, has a higher per capita ownership of private cars than any city in Brazil — even exceeding BrasÃlia, a city that was designed for cars.

Now it may be fair to say that the cartoon in the PG was not pointing toward the current state of transit in Curitiba, but maybe some idealized past. But if that factoid about the highest car ownership is true, what is the success of Curitiba and more importantly, how does it translate into what we can do here. I have said it before, the core of the Curitiba bus system is really the busway system that Pittsburgh has pioneered as much as anywhere in the US.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's rather embarassing that Pittsburgh, Philly and other transit agencies across the state are forced to enact UNPRECEDENTED service reductions while the rest of the country moves ahead with transit. When will the state government wake up? This state has a built environment and infrastructure well positioned to capitalize on a potential future of higher gasoline prices and enhanced transit coverage, but the state government seems to be steering us into oblivion.

Sunday, May 20, 2007 9:33:00 PM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

You know, arrgh. If the Governor would repeat the "one time" funding from Highway money or something, if PAT could avoid raising fares and cutting services, maybe the rise in gas prices would be the tipping point. It's frustrating that all of a sudden the factors that might make Public Transit useful and closer to profitable at its current level are occurring, yet we are going to let Transit become more expensive and less useful.

Sunday, May 20, 2007 11:38:00 PM  

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