Economic Review and Outlook: Implications for the US

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By Michael Rodriguez & Heather Romani, June 2013
The US economy continued to show moderate growth in the first quarter of 2013, following the trend of modest growth seen through all of 2012. Some economic indicators are showing positive signals: housing prices are continuing to rise; unemployment has remained under eight percent for eight months; and the private sector continues to add jobs despite continued cut backs in non-military government employment. Of these, the most positive signs are in the housing market because the net worth of families and individuals is often tied to real estate prices, and increased net worth can in turn lead to increased consumer spending down the road. On balance, the trend continues with a similar story to what this column reported in the December 2012 issue of EFR—a modest recovery that sustains some economic growth but has been insufficient to yield a full recovery.

Full article via Parsons Brinckerhoff, Economic Forecast Review

New Car Prices are Down in Historical Terms, A Lot

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I know so many of us in the transportation industry strive to get people to ride bikes and transit and other modes. However, we are facing one unambiguous fact: new car prices are low – really low! It turns out that it’s not just the dealer telling you that on the radio – they really are low in comparison to historic terms. I did some digging into some inflation numbers, and it turns out that cars as of July 2013 are about 30 percent less expensive than they were in January 1998, when you account for inflation.

Fanfare for Jose

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I’d like to share with you one of my college admissions essays from when I was 18. An aside from transportation stuff: my father retired this weekend from a life (his whole life) as a worker, as a maintenance man, shy of the age of 71. With no high school education, immigrated from Nicaragua, and little English, he provided for me and my 2 brothers. In an era where we obsess with praying at the alter of the greatest “job creator,” I want to give an ode to the common man, my father. Well done! Even though you don’t read blogs…thank you, … Continue reading

Sen. Warren is Wrong on Student Loans, but Almost Right

Student Loans
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Senator Warren is wrong on her recent student loan proposal, but her instincts are right. My initial feeling is to love Senator Warren’s idea to allow students to borrow at lower rates because, well, why should Big Banks get such a great deal at 0.75%, right? As someone who knows what its like to be paying student loans at 6.8%, I can appreciate the sentiment. However, let me put my economist hat on for a minute and explain why this is a little too aggressive. I think charging students at the 10-year bond rate (around 1.80% as of today) would … Continue reading

Self Driving Google Car Caught in Wild

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Self Driving Google Car in Wild

My good brother, Frankie Rodriguez, caught glimpse of the elusive self-driving Google car in the wild out on the streets of San Francisco last night.

I wasn’t aware they were Lexus vehicles. For some reason I imagined they would be sedans, hybrids, or something not luxury-SUV-like. That robot must be in the utmost comfort. (Yes, I know there’s technically a human ‘driver’ in the vehicle too).

Have you seen any self-driving cars out on the wild? Send your pictures on over to me @TranspoPlanner  I’m happy to make a gallery of this. Maybe even establish a map of various sightings… you know I like my maps.


There Are 1.75 Mil. People Inside the Beltway & Cool Maps

Population by Census Tract
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I noticed the Inside the Beltway geography is often not explored an isolation, so I’m here to provide some cocktail-hour conversation starters. People often show stats about the District of Columbia, but as an urbanist I tend to think of things in terms of the “functional city.” The Metropolitan Statistical Area is often one definition, and there are countless others, as to what a “functional city” means, but lets look at the DC functional city as Inside the Beltway. I calculated some statistics for you, and here’s the main one you’re wondering about: there are 1.75 million people inside the … Continue reading

Can Uber Break 1 Million Riders in Charlotte?

Uber Charlotte
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**UPDATE 1/27/2014** ** OVER THE WEEKEND IT WAS REPORTED THAT UBER ENGAGED IN UNETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES. READ HERE ** Based on some of the job postings around, it comes as no surprise to anyone that the everyone’s favorite taxi/technology company, Uber, has been expanding at breakneck speed. As they plan to enter the Charlotte, North Carolina market, some may wonder if this service is viable in a city that is not New York, San Francisco, or Washington, DC. I decided to run some numbers and do some fancy-pants statistics, and the preliminary figures are: its possible to get towards 1 million even … Continue reading

Velmobile: Can the ELF Buck History’s FAILS in Transportation Tech?

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Every now and again we see another vehicle designed by another company that claims to be the disruption in the transportation field to move us past the internal combustion automobile.  Recently, Oragnic Transit has developed a “velomobile” that they are calling the ELF, and they have raised over $250,000 on their Kickstarter campaign. I would be excited to see folks zipping around in ELFs all over the place, and wide adoption of this type of technology (a petal-powered, electric-assist, solar-recharging, partially-enclosed tricycle). But I’m cautious, and think that without navigating the regulatory environment and phenomenal marketing, this might end up in the dustbin of … Continue reading

Tyson’s Corner on the Verge of a Do-Over

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By Corinne Reilly, Published: January 3

The first thing to go was the parking lot behind the Container Store. And if all goes according to plan, more lots will be bulldozed — as will dozens of mid-rise office buildings, hotels and car dealerships.

Two years after Fairfax County adopted a radical, four-decade plan to redevelop Tysons Corner, it is finally beginning to happen, block by block, building by building….

Via The Washington Post

Let’s Teach Children Planning

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By Michael Rodriguez, published September 24, 2009

Planners often encounter ineffective public participation because of the fact that citizens often are not taught planning skills in school, says Michael A. Rodriguez…