It was probably the largest public works project in history, and a distinctly American one. By it’s conclusion 46,000 miles of road had been constructed and nearly half-a-trillion dollars spent.
We’re talking about the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system. And by the time it was completed we could travel anywhere, anytime, in our beloved automobiles.
But the dream of the open road has since turned into a nightmare. Now, the average American uses nearly 500 gallons of gas per year. That’s three times as much as their European counterparts.
While other countries rely heavily on expansive rail systems only 5% of U.S. workers currently use public transport to get to work.
At Fast Money we think it’s time for capitalism to step in where Congress has failed and solve the mass transit mess.
And who better to turn to for insights than Robert Crandall, former AMR Chairman and CEO. (Following is a synopsis of his main points.)
What can we do?
The first thing we need to do, says Crandall, is put a lock on the number of flights in and out of airports. It makes no sense to have twice as many planes as an airport can handle. They just spit fuel.
What would be the impact?
The ripple would be that the least efficient planes would be put out to pasture and maybe capacity would decrease which wouldn’t hurt the airlines either, he replies.
Where do you stand on high speed rails?
We need to fix Amtrak between Boston, New York and Washington, Crandall replies. Then, we need to stop flights between these cities. Likewise we should use the interstate highways to run buses in designated bus lanes.
We need to fix our bridges before any more of them fall down, he adds. And we need to prevent further consolidation in the airline industry. Consolidation has been, in the past, proven to be very inefficient.
Traders, any thoughts on how to play it?
Look at the engineering stocks, says Guy Adami.
Crandall has great ideas, adds Jeff Macke, but I’d bet on the status quo.
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Trader disclosure: On May 30, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders: Macke Owns (MSFT), (INTC), (DIS), (WMT), (ATVI); Najarian Owns (AAPL), (ANR), (BHI), (BKC), (HPQ), (TSO), (XLF), (AMLN), (HD), (SYMX); Najarian Owns (HK) Calls; Najarian Owns (EXM) And (EXM) Puts; Adami Owns (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE), (AGU); Finerman Owns (GS); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (GLNG), (HD); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (C) And (C) Leaps; Finerman's Firm Owns SXP Index Puts; Finerman's Firm Owns (AAPL), (MSFT), (SUN), (TSO), (VLO), (SBUX), (MPG); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IYR), (IJR), (MDY), (IWM), (SPY)