4.6.05

HANDS IN THE AIR, FEET OFF THE FLOOR. A local newspaper released its June entertainment guide and guess who made the centerfold?
Stephen Karlson sits down for a topic that permeates both his professional and personal interests, and has since a visit to what then was called Mariott’s Great America in 1977. It’s enough to energize an NIU associate economics professor after grading piles of final exams.
But that's not just for fun.
In addition to published works with titles like A Positive Theory of Immigration Amnesties, Karlson looks at the ways parks attempt to find a balance between attractions and prices.
To be specific,

Wherever 200-foot-high investments meet throngs of ticket-buying consumers, there’s bound to be economic implications. Karlson first let his enjoyment seep into the office when what he heard from economists at the time wasn’t reflecting what he experienced at the park.

Lately, that interest has created a unique parallel in Karlson’s mind. Parks such as Great America offer “cut” tickets, designed for patrons to pay extra for the privilege of jumping to the front of the line at certain times of day. Meanwhile, in places like southern California and the Washington, D.C. beltway, state officials are reconfiguring high-occupancy (or carpool) lanes into high-occupancy toll roads, where drivers can pay an additional cost with something like Illinois’ I-PASS to use a less-congested lane of traffic. Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation in April agreed to upgrade Interstate 495 in such a way, and other states have commissioned studies proposing similar parallel toll-roads.“I’d like to shed a little light on the economics of these things,” he said, hoping to complete his research by the time school starts up again in the fall.

Yup. Must. Remember. That. Resolution.

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