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.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
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
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
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.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Sep 25 2000 - 17:41:33 EDT