On June 17th, 2013 a WSJ article entitled “Rail Safety and the Value of a Life” highlighted the financial struggles that regional transit transportation authorities are facing to address safety concerns: both avoiding train crashes and improving deteriorating bridges. A federal requirement to install anti-crash gear (Positive Train Control – PTC) for all transit systems that carry over 564 million passengers by 2015 is currently being discussed by the Senate Commerce Committee. While there is debate over prioritizing schedules of investing in PTC versus the backlog of needed bridge renovations, it highlights the urgent need for overall additional investment in transit infrastructure
How would you rank the following tools –hammer, screwdriver and pliers? Now you might ask: Why would anyone ask such a silly question …for each is appropriate for a different use (even though I could bang a nail with a pliers or screwdriver). Well, it is not very different when someone catalogs all of the various types and brands of “economic” software tools and throws together tools for evaluating user benefits, regional economic impacts, land use impacts and economic development targeting into the same list. Yes, they may all have some common economic element (like putting a $ value on time or access), but each has a different intended use.