First, from HuffPo on our crumbling infrastructure and its deeper problems. The money bit:
"There are no goals," she said. "There are no outcomes. And there's no data or information or evidence of what kind of returns we get from the federal investment dollar."
This is what I mean when I refer to Bizarro Keynesianism. Sure, like any economic policy there are benefits when applied appropriately and within context. However, fired willy nilly you'll hit the inevitable innocent bystander.
We thought all infrastructural investment would lead to growth. Except it turns out that this functioned exactly like a ponzi scheme. Cities formerly grew organically. And infrastructure was added on an as needed basis, always with the underlying impetus for social and economic exchange.
Eventually, it was decided by the collective subconscious that any and all infrastructural investment led to growth. In many ways, this was a learned response to the response of industrialization. Cities were dirty, polluted, poverty and disease stricken places. They were also crowded as many were looking for jobs. There existed a tension drawing people to them while pushing people away, because they had become inhumane do to the practices of industrialization. Streetcars and rail tracks and eventually roads and cars provided an exhaust valve for this mounting pressure. Demand was accommodated immediately outside the city in greener, literally, pastures.
Then we went overboard. There is a distinct difference between growth and development. One is quantitative and generally without purpose or benefit, it metastasizes for its own sake, eventually dependent upon the very nature of growth to ensure its purpose, existence. The other is qualitative. It is about upgrading and improving. It has purpose.
We continually built out and out. Forever out. It was all growth, no development. It was cannibalistic. It needed the new growth to provide its purpose, of more growth. Its only purpose. Robbing from the core to pay for the edge, bleeding and sucking it dry. Eating away at the very thing that gave the city its purpose. And without the raison d'etre combined with infrastructural burden provided by purposeless infrastructural investment and a diffused tax base, we have to begin asking serious questions about whether some of these Sun Belt cities will even continue to exist beyond another generation or two.
Interrelated: Vegas housing/rental markets are a bad place for your money.
And an interesting study on taxis from the Atlantic Cities. However, I don't necessarily agree with this part:
What doesn't add up is why many urban transport experts ignore the idea of using cabs to expand a transit network. The oversight is particularly vexing when you consider how much attention car-sharing receives as a means for reducing urban car ownership.
While I agree that better understanding of data-related to taxi trips is a good thing and that this should be kept in mind for overall transportation planning, taxis are emergent in a way that overall master transit/transportation planning are not. They are responsive to the system not coercive. They don't change the world around them like large, infrastructural projects like roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit systems do. Those things dictate eventual transportation patterns, those of the users, eventually take and make. Cabs are like the long tail. Where the majority of "market share" is in the red, dictated by infrastructural patterns, cabbies fill niche trips where there are often just as many, but are diffused, incapable of maximizing the transportation infrastructure the way mass transit hubs/lines do. Point being, cabs can't be planned for in a way. Instead, they fill the gaps in the planning that you often couldn't foresee.