Archive for the ‘transit’ Category

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Medallions up another 4% last month

April 30, 2009

Chicago Dispatcher reports the median sales price of Chicago taxi medallions was $165,000 during the month ending March 23, up from $158,000 the previous month (and $77,000 in February 2007).

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Earmarks

April 18, 2009

Wikipedia (right now) defines “earmark” as

a congressional provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees.

On the face of it, I don’t see that as such a bad thing.  If my Congressbeing has determined that the national interest requires a particular expenditure, it seems reasonable that she might want to make sure that a budget or appropriation item really will be used for that purpose.

The problem, of course, has been that earmarks are obscure, and invariably are for local projects in which the Federal government has no legitimate role.  Now, the earmarks are being disclosed, at least by House members, and our friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense have compiled a list. Not of earmarks, but of URL’s where earmarks can be found.

I figured they might be bad, and they are.  “My” Congressbeing, for instance, has a list of mainly municipal and nonprofit projects, at least some of which are economically justified and therefore should be funded out of the savings or other benefits which they produce. There  are also a few government contractors being taken care of, and a couple of CTA projects.  Because the latter is something I know a little bit about, I can say that the descriptions are quite deceptive, greatly exaggerating the result (e.g. “extension of the Yellow Line”) which will be obtained by a relatively modest ($1 million) expenditure.

And that list is hardly the worst.

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What Crash? Cab Medallions STILL rising

March 16, 2009

Not as fast as previously, but the latest report on Chicago taxi medallions, from Chicago Dispatcher’s March issue, calculates a median price of $158,000.  This compares to $155,000 two months earlier.  Given the declines in the price of most other privileges over the last several months, this is a surprise, but perhaps the medallion market is slow to react.  Or perhaps there are other factors which improve medallion owners’ incomes in an economic recession?

This issue features the headline “Medallions in Jeopardy,” which had me hoping that perhaps this major obstacle to self-employment would be abolished.  But no, the article is about a particular case, where City administrators decided to punish the heirs of a deceased medallion owner, for whatever reason, by revoking the medallion on a technicality.  Chicago Dispatcher’s publisher, George Lutfallah, who wrote the article, evidently sees the medallions as assets for (some) existing cab drivers and others, rather than a barrier to non-owners struggling for a job.

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Medallions now at $155,000

January 31, 2009

Back in April, the median price for Chicago taxi medallions was $125,000. While almost every kind of “real estate” has continued crashing since then, medallions now (December 2008) have reached a median price of $155,000. Chicago Dispatcher says they get their data from the City of Chicago, but I haven’t found it on the City’s web site. Curiously, the only medallion listed on cabmarket.com is priced at just $139,000, and has lingered unsold for 54 days.

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Funding Amtrak from land rent

December 8, 2008

Real estate developer Jimmy Gierczyk spent $1.5 million to build a New Buffalo station for Amtrak.  It’s  adjacent to his real estate development.  The source article doesn’t give a lot of detail about the project, but notes that he can now more easily market his condos to Chicagoans. Who are accustomed to paying much higher prices than folks in New Buffalo, I’d guess.

All of which raises the question, why can’t Amtrak collect more of the location value it generates or preserves?

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Personal rapid transit

November 12, 2008

PRT International has an elegant new web page.  If you’re interested in how technology can be effectively applied to the problem of urban transportation, the site is worth more than one visit.  This is the system that Chicago’s RTA should have evaluated instead of the Raytheon fiasco.  Although its construction would provide many jobs, its operation wouldn’t need a lot of the semi-skilled labor employed by the current system.

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Recognizing the total value of railways

October 12, 2008

That’s the title of an article by David Burns in the September Railway Gazette International.  A long list of benefits which accrue to the community, such as reduced energy consumption, land use advantages, easier commutes, and cheaper freight rates, are noted.  “Increased land values” are noted as a benefit but unfortunately there is no mention that these land values incorporate all the other benefits.  A “property tax” and transfer taxes are among the methods proposed to collect these community benefits.  Railways generally cannot cover their full capital and operating costs from revenues they receive for carrying freight and passengers.