Getting Rid of Carpool Lanes Could Double Travel Times

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: Eliminating carpool lanes could almost double drivers’ traveling times, according to a new study. The findings come thanks to an unusual decision made by the government of Jakarta last year. Following allegations that drugged babies from poor households were being used as “jockeys,” or passengers for hire, Indonesian lawmakers repealed the so-called three-in-one restriction. The law had required cars driving on the business district’s main roads to carry at least three passengers during rush hours. To determine the impact on the city’s drivers, Benjamin Olken, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and colleagues queried Google Maps for real-time driving-speed data before and after the new policy went into effect. Following the policy lift, travel delays, defined as the time it takes to travel 1 kilometer, increased by 46% in the morning and almost 90% in the evening, the team reports today in Science. But the most startling result is that phasing out the three-in-one policy led to worse traffic during times of the day and on roads where there had never been restrictions in place, Olken says. One possible explanation, he says, is that the three-in-one restriction led fewer people to drive into the city. “Maybe they carpooled, took public transit, or worked from home.”

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Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains

Aggregators like Expedia have made us lazy — and we may be missing out on the best deals. From a report on Backchannel: Most of us rely on metasearch engines, like Priceline, Expedia, or Travelocity, which typically use dozens (sometimes as many as 200) of online travel agents, called OTAs, and aggregators to find the best deals. (A metasearch engine and an aggregator are interchangeable terms — they both scour other sites and compile data under one roof. An OTA is an actual travel agency that actually does the booking and is the lone site responsible for everything you buy through them.) We rely on these sites because we assume they have the secret sauce — the most powerful search engines, tweaked by superstar programmers armed with the most sophisticated algorithms — to guide us to the cheapest options. With a single search, you can feel assured that you are paying a rock bottom price. Over time, however, the convention has flipped. As competition among the sites heated up, the hard-to-believe cheap fares required some filtering. A too-good-to-be-true fare ($ 99 to Europe from California) usually came with a catch (the $ 400, indirect, ticket home). And as the business models that on which these aggregators rely are getting tighter, the deals are getting worse. How can you be certain you’re getting the lowest quote? The short answer is, you can’t.

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Forrest Mimms On Modern Air Travel With a Bag Full of Electronics

Evidently even Forrest Mimms isn’t famous enough to fly without hassle when carrying a briefcase full of electronics; he writes at Make about his experiences, both before and after 2001. A relevant slice:

After police were called when I was going through security at the San Antonio International Airport and after major problems going through security in Kona, Hawaii, I finally realized the obvious: Most people who don’t make things have no idea how to evaluate homemade equipment. Some are terrified by exposed wires and circuit boards, maybe because of bomb scenes in movies.
So I gave up. Now my carryon bag is only half stuffed with electronics; the rest is shipped ahead via FedEx.

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Girls Catfish ISIS On Social Media For Travel Money

MarkWhittington writes: Yahoo Travel reported that three women in Chechnya took ISIS for $ 3,300 before getting caught. They are now under investigation for Internet fraud, which seems to be illegal even when committed against the most fearsome terrorist army in modern times. The scam seems to be a combination of the Nigerian Prince con, in which a mark is fooled into giving the con artist large sums of money and catfishing, in which the mark strikes up an online romance with someone he thinks is an attractive woman (or man depending on the gender and preference of the mark.)

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Congressional Travel Is Skyrocketing

Where do lawmakers go on these trips? In 2013, one House member, Tom Petri, visited with penguins on the Falkland Islands. A handful of members spent spring break in Brazil. Ten went to China, where a participant said activities included trekking on the Great Wall. And one in 10 of these good times are never even reported.
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