The latest Freakonomics Radio podcast takes on something the called "The Cobra Effect." (Visit their web page for a full explanation; the short version involves a disastrous attempt by the Indian government to get rid of cobras.)
A finance professor who was visiting Bogotá, Colombia, noticed that his friends never picked him up in the same car two days in a row. Why? Vehicle use is restricted based on the last digit of the license plate. And the professor's friends had found a legal way to circumvent that rule: purchase another car. So a plan intended to decrease driving may actually have increased car ownership.
Listen to the story below. Or read the transcript here.
Now it can be told: there are objective standards for measuring how good your Bus Rapid Transit system is. The Institute for Transportation Development Policy has issued new scoring system to see how good BRT systems around the world are.
Among the criteria for making a good BRT -- off board payment, segregated bus lanes, level boarding, and good integration with biknig and walking.
The scorecard will rank BRT corridors as Gold, Silver or Bronze Standard -- apparently every BRT deserves a medal. A BRT Standard committee will confer the rankings on bus systems akin to the Green Building Council bestowing different LEED level certifications.
2012 is a pilot year to test the scorecard.
Last year ITDP did a more informal ranking of systems worldwide. Bogota's got a 93. New York, the lowest rated system, got a 35.
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Climate change legislation -- "cap and trade" as Republicans called it on the campaign trail -- took a serious beating last week. A bill, as you may recall, passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but went nowhere in the U.S. Senate, and prospects seem dim for federal action on climate change in the near term. Instead, the debate -- and any action -- will likely take place on the smaller stage of city halls across the nation. To underline this (and perhaps his own national ambitions) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is the new head of a global cities climate "leadership group," spent time riding the subways and stumping for his cause in Hong Kong over the weekend. Here' s an excerpt of his speech:
“Let me start out by saying, my colleagues: it was just five short years ago that 18 of the world’s great cities came together, to share best practices and make common cause in the greatest global challenge of our time – and that is reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute so heavily to climate change.
“We all recognized that cities – where for the first time in history, half the world’s population now live and which together account for more than 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas production – holds the future of humanity.