March 6, 2005

Buyer's remorse  

In October I wrote about Daley's deal with Cintra-Macquarie to privatize the Chicago Skyway. Since then I've had the chance to travel the Skyway a couple times since the changes -- most recently this evening -- and I'm not at all happy with them. As expected, the prices have increased; but at the same time the number of toll stations open at any given time seems to have decreased -- the result being that there are lines much longer than any I've encountered there before absent an accident or other aggravating traffic disruption.

Of course, there may be good reasons for elminating some of the toll collectors; Cintra-Macquarie probably ran an analysis of toll collectors' salaries and the elasticity of Skyway demand and found that the current configuration was more efficient. The problem is that this misses the value to drivers of not having to wait at toll booths -- a value that a government analysis might actually take into account. As things are, Cintra-Macquarie more or less owns the difference in time/efficiency between taking the Skyway and taking another route, a difference that can now be extracted from the driving public in longer lines and higher tolls.


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