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Transportation (The idea of a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) fee has been proposed as an alternative (or supplement) to the current cents-per-gallon tax on auto and truck fuels. How might this be implemented (technologies)?).

You can read the topics below to get an idea of the type and level of work required. You are also invited to choose any other topic in transportation that you would prefer to do for a paper, but please clear it with me before proceeding. All papers are to be typed, double-spaced, complete with bibliography and footnotes (as needed), and about eight (8) pages of your own writing (neither figures, which are highly recommended, nor your list of sources count against the total pages). In-text citations and a list of sources are required (general source information only, specific page references not needed). Some of the topics suggested here are related to later course work, and you may want to wait until we have covered the relevant material before choosing your topic. The final due date for term papers is November 29 (you may turn your paper in earlier), but you must submit a one-page proposal for your paper for my review and approval no later than October 25 (-5 points for no / late proposal Suggested general topics For any of the general topics below you need to discuss specifics with me before writing. This class is about economics, regulation, firm history, and technology – your paper should touch on one or all of these areas and fit within eight (or so) written pages by you (plus images and bibliography). (1) How might auto makers technologically achieve the >50 mpg fleet average fuel economy standards being phased in by the EPA over years 2017 – 2025? What about exemptions to the rules, repeal, alternatives or work-arounds that manufacturers can take advantage of? (2) The idea of a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) fee has been proposed as an alternative (or supplement) to the current cents-per-gallon tax on auto and truck fuels. How might this be implemented (technologies)? What are the pros and cons? How much would it have to cost (i.e., cents per mile) to substitute for current fuel tax revenues? Is it being done anywhere already? (3) Autonomous vehicles (partly or totally self-driving) are much in the news. There are many variations being proposed, ranging from almost totally hands-off driving to more modest crash-avoidance systems and automated parallel parking. There are also separate proposals for autos, buses, and heavy trucks. You will need to focus in on only some part of this topic to give it proper treatment in 8 or so pages. One focused example might be the actual status of the current technologies and what might be the realistic future of these efforts? Or, what about regulatory worries? Can you find information on the economics (e.g., costs per vehicle) of these innovations? Then there are interesting practical questions, such as will these vehicles always obey the posted speed limits, even though most drivers don’t? Also, for example, my Garmin car GPS has a few erroneous speed limits in its road database – what problems might this cause? What about also having intelligent infrastructure (e.g., road signs that ‘talk’ or respond to electronic pinging)? (4) There are proposals to revive supersonic aircraft, at least for business-jet use: http://www.aerionsupersonic.com/full-video.aspx Considering our upcoming course readings on the failed Concorde SST [you are not to write on the Concorde except as a comparison], what is different about the economics, regulation, and other aspects of this new proposal that might make it succeed – or not?


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