President Obama’s administration has recently announced progressive new changes to the way future transport projects will be funded.
Obama’s administration is now adding “liveability” to the measures used to evaluate new transport projects. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities, and how it makes our communities better places to live,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the issue.
In the past, travel time savings for commuters were the primary way of measuring the benefits of new transportation projects. However, the value of time savings has always been weighted in favour of motorists. Obama’s move is likely to see more alternatives to roads get built under the new funding guidelines.
New Zealand is still wedded to the value of time savings for measuring the benefits of new transport projects. After pressure from the Greens and some further research from the Ministry of Transport, these time savings values have been recalculated, but they still strongly favour people sitting in cars. Why is their time worth 66% more than people on a train, bus, or bicycle? There’s no sane reason.
>> The time of people who drive to work is valued at $7.80/hour
>> The time of people who bus or train to work is valued at $4.70/hour
Until these discrepancies are fixed, building roads will nearly always add up to be economically more attractive than a more sustainable alternative.