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Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads Paperback – May 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads by Gabriel Roth was named one of the Best 10 Books of the Year 2007 in planning by Planetizen, the Planning and Development Network. Their website reads: "In this provocative and enlightening compilation, the leading thinkers on privatization put forth market-based solutions for providing roadways and dealing with traffic congestion... A valuable resource for understanding the argument for privatization."

“This collection of well-written, mostly nontechnical papers advocates private investment in roads around the world. The authoritative editor, a former World Bank economist, has assembled many leading writers on this current, widely discussed approach to relieving bottlenecks in highway construction… [T]his volume is the best and most comprehensive collection of information on a piece of future transportation policy, but not all of it. References and index are similarly excellent and comprehensive. There is no comparable recent book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; academic audiences, upper-division undergraduate and up; professionals.” 

—D. Brand, Choice

"Private turnpikes were commonplace in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries but they eventually succumbed to competition from railways and onerous government regulations. Street Smart makes an eloquent and convincing argument that the time is ripe for the private sector to make a comeback with a boost from modern electronic tolling technology and innovative contract designs. Chapters are organized into five parts that complement each other nicely. Early chapters explain why market forces allocate resources efficiently and describe various roles for the private sector in supplying road infrastructure and services. Later chapters describe the history of private roads and some recent, encouraging, developments with privatization, and suggest alternative ways forward in the course of privatization. Written by leading economists, engineers and other professionals, Street Smart is essential reading for academics, policy analysts and policy makers, as well as firms contemplating involvement themselves."

Robin Lindsey, Department of Economics, University of Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta

About the Author

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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 581 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141280518X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412805186
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,405,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Charles R. Lindsey on May 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Private turnpikes were commonplace in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries but they eventually succumbed to competition from railways and onerous government regulations. Street Smart makes an eloquent and convincing argument that the time is ripe for the private sector to make a comeback with a boost from modern electronic tolling technology and innovative contract designs. Chapters are organized into five parts that complement each other nicely. Early chapters explain why market forces allocate resources efficiently and describe various roles for the private sector in supplying road infrastructure and services. Later chapters describe the history of private roads and some recent, encouraging, developments with privatization, and suggest alternative ways forward in the course of privatization. Written by leading economists, engineers and other professionals, Street Smart is essential reading for academics, policy analysts and policy makers, as well as firms contemplating involvement themselves.
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Format: Hardcover
Edited by Gabriel Roth, whose expertise includes twenty years of service as Transportation Economist for the World Bank, Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads is an anthology of essays by learned authors discussing both theory and practice for private, market-based alternatives for road services from licensing vehicles and drivers to management of government-owned road facilities to franchising, outright private ownership, and more. America's current road transportation system is beset with traffic congestion, unsafe conditions, high costs, political corruption, environmental degradation, pork barrel pet projects and much more. In an era of rising national debt, Street Smart is more needed than ever as a source of ideas for more economic and safer means to look after transportation infrastructure.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent collection of arguments and information that are favorably disposed toward privaatization of roads. Various aspects of privatization in different aspects of road systems throughout the world are presented and discussed. While the pros and cons are analyzed, the conclusions argue that roads will benefit through increased private sector involvement.

The largest flaw in this book is that it is blind to the important question as to whether the real issue is one of proper management and delivery of road services. While it is easy to cite examples where privatization outperformed public sector road operations, nowhere is there recognition of the alternative analysis that the problem may be one of managerment and operational systems. Roads are a public commodity which the public depends upon for access to work and pleasure, delivery of goods enjoyed by all, use by emergency services, etc. Roads thus are a public good. The private sector, by definition, must secure a profit in order to invest in roads. While it is argued, often accurately, that the motivation for profit causes improved management, it is also true that the public sector could similarly seek to improve management and operations and do so at less cost, as the need for a profit does not exist within the public sector.

This book provides good arguments that something major is required for our roads to improve. The status quo is doomed. Congestion is noted where interstate highway travel increased by 38% from 1991 to 2001 while the miles of interstate highways increased by 5%. Congested roads lessen our quality of life, when stuck in traffic, costs businesses time and money having employees less available, and literally wears people out.
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Format: Paperback
This book contains some essays that are very helpful for privatization advocates. In particular, "Do Holdout Problems Justify Compulsory Right-of-Way Purchase and Public Provision of Roads" demolishes the argument that eminent domain is necessary; and "Improving Road Safety by Privatizing Vehicle and Driver Testing" shows how insurers can play a key role in privatizing Departments of Motor Vehicles. Moreover, "America's Toll Road Heritage" demonstrates not only that private toll roads have worked in the U.S., but that people invested in them even in the absence of a profit and in the presence of free riders (i.e. the "shunpikers.") The lessons learned here can be used to argue for privatization of defense and many other industries that are supposedly public goods producers. Anarcho-capitalists, take note!
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Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent collection of arguments and information that are favorably disposed toward privaatization of roads. Various aspects of privatization in different aspects of road systems throughout the world are presented and discussed. While the pros and cons are analyzed, the conclusions argue that roads will benefit through increased private sector involvement.

The largest flaw in this book is that it is blind to the important question as to whether the real issue is one of proper management and delivery of road services. While it is easy to cite examples where privatization outperformed public sector road operations, nowhere is there recognition of the alternative analysis that the problem may be one of managerment and operational systems. Roads are a public commodity which the public depends upon for access to work and pleasure, delivery of goods enjoyed by all, use by emergency services, etc. Roads thus are a public good. The private sector, by definition, must secure a profit in order to invest in roads. While it is argued, often accurately, that the motivation for profit causes improved management, it is also true that the public sector could similarly seek to improve management and operations and do so at less cost, as the need for a profit does not exist within the public sector.

This book provides good arguments that something major is required for our roads to improve. The status quo is doomed. Congestion is noted where interstate highway travel increased by 38% from 1991 to 2001 while the miles of interstate highways increased by 5%. Congested roads lessen our quality of life, when stuck in traffic, costs businesses time and money having employees less available, and literally wears people out.
Read more ›
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