Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads

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Gabriel Roth
Transaction Publishers, Dec 31, 2011 - Political Science - 581 pages
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The poor health of today's roads--a subject close to the hearts of motorists, taxpayers, and government treasurers around the world--has resulted from faulty incentives that misdirect government decision-makers, according to the contributors to Street Smart. During the 1990s, bad government decision-making resulted in the U.S. Interstate Highway System growing by only one seventh the rate of traffic growth. The poor maintenance of existing roads is another concern. In cities around the world, highly political and wasteful government decision-making has led to excessive traffic congestion that has created long commutes, reduced safety, and caused loss of leisure time. Street Smart examines the privatization of roads in theory and in practice. The authors see at least four possible roles for private companies, beyond the well-known one of working under contract to design, build, or maintain governmentally provided roads. These include testing and licensing vehicles and drivers; management of government-owned facilities; franchising; and outright private ownership. Two chapters describe the history of private roads in the United Kingdom and the United States. Contemporary examples are provided of road pricing, privatizing, and contracting out are evident in environs as diverse as Singapore, Southern California, and Scandinavia, and cities as different as Bergen, Norway, and London, England. Finally, several chapters examine strategies for implementing privatization. The principles governing providing scarce resources in free societies are well known. We apply them to such necessities as energy, food, and water so why not to "road space"? The main obstacle to private, or semi-private, ownership of roads is likely to remain the reluctance of the political class to give up a lucrative source of power and influence. Those who want decisions about road services to be controlled by the interplay of consumers and suppliers in free markets, rather than by politicians, will have to explain the need for change. Street Smart makes a powerful case for the need for change and sheds light on the complex issues involved. Gabriel Roth is a transport and privatization consultant and a research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California.

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Why Involve the Private Sector in the Provision of Public Roads?
Theory Arguments and Ideas
DeSocializing the Roads
Do Holdout Problems Justify Compulsory RightofWay Purchase and Public Provision of Roads?
The Political Economy of Private Roads
Improving Road Safety by Privatizing Vehicle and Driver Testing and Licensing
Improving the Pricing of Roads
Congestion Pricing The Singapore Experience
Americas Toll Road Heritage The Achievements of Private Initiative in the Nineteenth Century
Streets as PrivateSector Public Goods
Private Roads to the Future The Swedish Private Road Associations
Role of the Private Sector in Managing and Maintaining Roads
Roads to Privatization Getting from Here to There
New Zealands Path to a Good Road
Development of Highway Concessions on Trunk Roads in the United Kingdom
Commercializing the Management and Financing of Roads

Congested Roads An Economic Analysis with Twin Cities Illustrations
Estimating Congestion Prices Revenues and Surpluses An Example from Manila
HOT Lanes in Southern California
How Should the Revenues from Congestion Pricing Be Spent?
History of Privately Provided Roads
The Rise and Fall of NonGovernment Roads in the United Kingdom
HOT Networks A New Plan for Congestion Relief and Better Transit
The Way Forward to the Private Provision of Public Roads
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About the author (2011)

Gabriel Roth is a transport and privatization consultant and a research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California.

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