RE: No more oil

From: Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Date: Mon Sep 25 2000 - 17:38:51 EDT

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    Approaches that Ted suggest are only part of the solution. In Winnipeg, the
    city fathers have climbed on an interesting merry-go-round: because the
    public transit system loses money, the fares go up. As fares go up, fewer
    people take the bus and revenue drops. Service drops and fewer people take
    the bus, so the fares go up. As fares go up, fewer people take the bus and
    revenue drops. Service drops and fewer people take the bus, so the fares go
    up. (I repeated that last sentence on purpose).

    What would happen if the city fathers reduced the fares? The transit system
    would lose more money ... for a while, until ridership would increase. That
    just might lead to more transit lines and more frequent buses so people
    would not have to wait at -20 C or -30 C to catch the bus. [When I lived in
    Vancouver, BC, I used to take the bus to work because 1) I could not afford
    to take a car five days per week and 2) I could not afford the parking.
    When I spent a summer working in LA in the early '60s, I commuted between
    Buena Park and downtown LA by car because there was no transit system.] Now
    suppose the city fathers would reserve some of the main arteries to buses
    and let some of the other roads go to pot(holes) rather than spread their
    already limited resources to fix up most of the roads. Suppose the city
    crews were given instructions to clear the snow of the bus routes first and
    then deal with residential streets. Suppose that the city fathers then
    changed the building codes that would make building the box stores (Walmart,
    Home Depot) a less attractive enterprise. Ah, you may say, that's "social
    engineering." So is increasing transit fares and building roads.

    For years, I used to commute by bus and that took twice as long as by car,
    but I was able to read Maclean's (Canada's equivalent of Time magazine).
    Now I drive to work and, surprise, surprise!, there's a pile of Maclean's
    waiting to be read. Am I ahead of the game? Probably not.

    The trick to helping us change our ways is to make it as equitable as
    possible and to make sure that we don't place the burden on the poor.
    Raising taxes may not be the best solution; maybe we have to go to
    rationing. Imagine if each licenced driver was allowed a limited quantity
    of gasoline "tax free," sufficient to get himself or herself to work in an
    energy-efficient car but that any gas over and beyond that amount was taxed
    to the hilt. I'm sure that some legal beagle can find enough loopholes in
    the proposal to drive an SUV through, but it would be a start.


    -----Original Message-----
    From: []
    Sent: Monday September 25, 2000 3:24 PM
    Subject: Re: No more oil

    Ted Davis wrote:

    >>I would be unelectable in this country, for if I ran for office we'd be
    paying at least twice as much for gasoline, with the difference being a tax
    that *must* be used *only* for building rail transit systems powered by
    electricity. <<

    Before the North American countries fall for this idea, a high tax on oil
    does not depress driving as much as one might expect. It makes it very
    difficult for the poor to get to work. Because of the high prices of gas
    over here, lots of people don't have cars. Thus they ride the bus. But if I
    take a bus from my house to my office, a normal travel of 15 - 20 minutes,
    it would take me 1.5 hours. I have to wait in the rain (which it does often
    here) for 15-20 minutes for a bus to take me into town, there I must wait
    another 15-20 minutes to take the bus to my office. Thus a 15 minute trip
    is turned into an hour travel. And this place has a good bus system. Who
    wants to tell the poor that they must have one less hour with their children
    each day so that we can stop driving? To me that is the real cost of the
    above suggestion.

    My Scottish friends tell me that the tax doesn't depress driving and that
    was how it was sold to them. It merely makes driving which you must do
    anyway much more expensive.

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