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Vol. 13, No. 1- January/February 2002

News Analysis & Commentary

  • The Federal Highway Administration Has New Leadership
  • Congressional Value Pricing Program Rescinded
  • The Private Provision of Public Transportation
  • Wilfred Owen - In Memoriam

A Transportation Agenda for the 21st Century
Commercializing Highways

Our series "A Transportation Agenda for the 21st Century," launched in January 2000, has proved to be a popular feature of Innovation Briefs. By opening our pages to the nation's leading transportation thinkers, practitioners and policymakers, we have been presenting a variety of new ideas on how to confront the transportation challenges facing America in the years ahead. Continuing this series into the new year, we offer below a commentary by Robert W. Poole Jr. on a novel approach to highway development. Mr. Poole is founder of the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation and director of its Public Policy Institute's transportation program.

Amtrak - What Next?
Last month, the Amtrak Reform Council formally concluded by a vote of 6-5 that Amtrak would not meet its congressional deadline for reaching financial self-sufficiency by the end of 2002. This set in motion a congressionally-prescribed procedure calling for the Reform Council to draw up an Amtrak liquidation plan and a proposal for a restructured national rail system. The reorganization plan must be delivered to Congress by February 7, 2002. As was to be expected, the Reform Council's vote triggered moves both by supporters and opponents of Amtrak. Congressional supporters inserted a provision in the DOD appropriations legislation barring Amtrak's liquidation until after Congress has acted on Amtrak reauthorization. The Reform Council has launched work on a restructuring plan which it is scheduled to discuss at its next meeting, on January 11, 2002. The Council is mulling over several reorganization alternatives involving a transfer of responsibility for intercity passenger rail operations to the states and giving the private sector a larger role in operating train services. We offer below two points of view on the future of Amtrak, the first by a current member of the Amtrak Reform Council, Wendell Cox, the other by a former Council member, Joseph Vranich.

Car Sharing Revisited
Car sharing - a concept born in Europe more than twenty years ago - has made its way to America. Local car sharing enterprises have sprung up in several U.S. cities. Until recently, these initiatives were run on a shoestring by grassroots cooperatives, catering primarily to environmentally-oriented young single city dwellers. However, there are signs that some carsharing organizations are acquiring a more business-like approach.

There is Light at the End of the Congestion Tunnel
Commentary by Peter Samuel

We-can't-build-our-way-out-of-congestion has become a kind of mantra, almost mindlessly uttered by officials sensitive to the political value of repeating a widely accepted progressive notion.


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