I'm not sure there is more to say now that is constructive, so maybe we can return to the regular programming for a while. It may be more sporadic, though, with City meetings canceled and on-going projects shifting to online modes or even slowed. Maybe some new topic will emerge, also.
Somehow over at City Observatory, they've managed to notice things other than the pandemic. Last week there were a couple of good notes on gas prices.
We, like most economists, have long advocated for pricing carbon as a way to reflect back to consumers the environmental costs of their decisions. The predictable political opposition to that idea arises from the fact that no one wants to pay more for energy, particularly a gallon of gas (which is perhaps the most visible price in the US economy). Implementing a carbon tax as oil prices are falling would cushion the blow. A twenty-five center per gallon carbon tax would capture something like half of the value of the decline in oil prices–and could produce $35 billion in annual revenue to support projects to fight climate change. A carbon tax would also diminish somewhat the increase in vehicle miles traveled, air pollution, and greenhouse gases that would otherwise be triggered by cheaper gasoline. Similarly, it would serve as a valuable incentive to consumers not to purchase less fuel-efficient vehicles (which would likely happen if gas prices are consistently lower than $2 per gallon.They also responded to a New York Times piece that was circulating among transportation folks that asked why in large metros transit ridership started falling around 2013. To the Times it seemed a little mysterious. But the Observatory had a culprit in mind:
It’s never easy to implement a new tax. But there’ll never be a better opportunity to implement a carbon tax than when oil prices are dropping.
There’s no question that bus ridership is down since 2013. But, with due respect to the authors: There’s no mystery here. We know exactly “who dunnit.” We have a smoking gun: It was gas prices.We also saw this on the Marion and Center Street bridges. The crossing counts went up in 2014 after having plateaued for several years. Falling gas prices have been the primary driver of the increase in the second part of the decade.
It will be interesting to see, too, what the crossing counts are during and after the pandemic. It may be that we form some new patterns of telecommuting that are durable and persist beyond the pandemic. Or other changes in driving patterns. Just another thing to watch.
Since the New Holman Hotel hasn't broken ground, it seems very likely to be delayed or even outright canceled as a result of the coming recession and drop in conference bookings.
|We're probably stuck with this for a while now|
Site of old Marion Car Park and New Holman Hotel
As with Belluschi Pond and Crater, the City should take greater care to ensure that structures aren't demolished prematurely and that demolition is tied to the actual commencement of construction on the replacement project.
Probably other projects also will go on hiatus. The City's published Notices have very much slowed already. As of today there is a single Public Notice for the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting on the 19th, which has been canceled and postponed to next month - though at this point it is hard to see very much happening in April also.
There are no other Notices posted after that, and this is a clear sign of a slow-down.
PSA from the Governator