Fewer Airports Could Mean Less Air Congestion

Freakonomics argues that eliminating one New York airport would allow the others to operate more effectively.

There has been substantial publicity lately surrounding air traffic congestion in and out of New York City. There had been talk of auctioning landing and take-off spots and of taking other drastic measures to curb the number of flights in the New York Metro region. Stephen Dubner writes, "During a recent ground delay at LaGuardia, I got to talking with an off-duty pilot for a major airline who was extraordinarily knowledgeable about every single airline question I could think to ask him. (With any luck, he'll soon be joining us here as a guest blogger.) When I asked for his take on New York air congestion, he said the solution was easy: shut down LaGuardia.

"If the LaGuardia cylinder were eliminated, he said, Newark and J.F.K. would both operate much more freely - and, since LaGuardia handles far less traffic than the other two airports, it is the obvious choice for shuttering.

"But there's a problem: LaGuardia is the favored airport of the people with the most political power in New York, since it is a very short ride from Manhattan. So it's unlikely to happen, at least anytime soon. But if it did, my new pilot friend insisted, New York air travel would move from nightmare to dream."

Full Story: Want to Fix New York Air Congestion? Shut Down LaGuardia




Complexity makes things stay the way they are until something really new pops up that changes everything. This is because the new thing is more powerful in some way and it is the same from bug to human. Folks like Dubner, Levitt, Ayres and many others comfortable with massive datasets would really be helpful (instead of only interesting) if they could simply and unequivocally “prove it” beyond any doubt. At this point it seems both economics and politics are incapable of persuading humans to get past the decision making level of an apex predator. This is not a good thing.

Perhaps the metrics for a higher level of decision making is nearing, and questions that challenge LaGuardia’s place on the landscape could be more than grist for an evening’s half-baked cocktail conversation. Isn’t this the real question? Is there or is there not a way to make things like crowd’s wisdom, the regression to the mean, or the square root rule a more viable place making, and human life inspiring means to a vital existence. www.communitydesign.net/urbandesigncommittee

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