In Delhi, a Safer Bus Line?

Delhi's Blueline buses are notoriously deadly, perhaps due to a perverse incentive system that rewarded drivers for speedy progress and discouraged investments in the vehicles.

Prepare for Landing: The Friendly Skies Competition Winner

There is a dark side to the popular Freakonomics contest: the allure of Freakonomics schwag can turn otherwise rational, law-abiding people into animals willing to violate any norm of civilized behavior. As a result, there has been skullduggery in our competition in which we asked for your best (or worst) air travel stories. More in a bit.

But first, a couple of entries that are too late for prize consideration but quite amusing nevertheless.

The Friendly Skies: Freakonomics Contest Semifinalists

Last post, I asked you to regale us with your most memorable air travel stories, good, bad or just plain weird. Here are the semifinalists.

A Freakonomics Contest: The Friendly Skies

I just flew down to LA from Seattle, and aside from a vicious battle of wills with my neighbor over possession of the armrest (ultimately won by me: a foolhardy reach for his drink was his Waterloo), I was pretty satisfied with my trip. However, for most of us, air travel represents anything but a positive experience. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the airlines rank second-to-last in customer service out of 47 industry sectors.

Does Driver's Ed. Lead to More Car Crashes?

The conclusion couldn't be any starker: "Indiana lawmakers say the state's driver education program isn't working, citing a fractured system administered by three separate agencies and statistics that put the program's usefulness in doubt."

Does Driving Cause Obesity?

People are significantly fatter in countries, states, and cities where car use is more common. Mass transit use, on the other hand, is correlated with lower obesity. But there has been scant evidence that public transportation actually causes widespread weight loss -- until now.

The Odds of Surviving a Plane Crash

The Book of Odds takes a look at a question that flashes through the minds of many people the moment they board an airplane: what are your odds of surviving a plane crash? They found that "[t]he general survival rate for a casualty-inducing airline incident is about 38% or, in our parlance: your odds of survival are about 1 in 2.63."

The Antiplanner

Few figures polarize the planning profession like Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. As far as I know, O'Toole has never attempted to steal Christmas and was nowhere near the grassy knoll, but nevertheless if you're going to bring up his name at a gathering of transportation planners you'd better have a defibrillator handy. In part, the outrage O'Toole provokes is due to his sometimes colorful mode of self-expression, but basically it comes from the fact that he is one of a handful of planners (or, as he calls them, "antiplanners") who take issue with the prevailing orthodoxy in the field.

Cheating the Subway

A few years ago, I hurried to catch a Berlin subway and forgot to buy the $2.10 ticket. Usually nobody checks tickets, although every once in awhile checkers pass through the subway-which they did on that trip! I paid an instant cash fine of $40 and was completely embarrassed and chagrined.

Street Smarts

Bad news: with all due respect to Terrafugia, unless you're a fan of Futurama it's probably going to be awhile before you see a flying car. But cars that drive themselves are coming, probably within most of our lifetimes and possibly sooner than you might think. They will drastically cut traffic congestion, improve safety, and be a terrific boon to those like the young and the old who are deprived of mobility. The ability to take our hands off the wheel will also undoubtedly send sales of Big Macs and mascara skyrocketing. But do we have the drive to make robot cars a reality?