Friday, May 16, 2008

My Own Thoughts

This post is my own. It doesn't necessarily represent the views of the rest of Citizens for Public Transportation. I'd like to start a discussion about some ways that we can improve mass transit in general. These are just ideas I'm putting out there for comment.

Nathan Smith

There is a proposal floating around out in the world that would give gas consumers a holiday from the gas tax. The idea is it will put money back into the pockets of drivers. A lot of economists are attacking the idea. -What is to keep oil companies from pocketing the money? -Won't this just increase demand, which will in turn send the prices higher? -Won't this take money away from alternatives?

Here is my counter suggestion. Give the money to mass transit. Not transit in general, but mass transit. Here is why-

1. Buses get more people from point A to point B on the same amount of fuel. It's efficient.
2. Buses create less congestion and pollution per passenger than cars.
3. Buses encourage dense growth. Dense growth uses less energy.
4. Buses are cheaper per ride than cars. Getting people around encourages economic activity.
5. Gas prices really hurting? Take the bus! And the best part is that that person driving a Humvee will be partially subsidizing your trip!

But I live in the suburbs, there are no buses!!! Funny, my suburb has buses. They don't run quite as often as I'd like, but if more people as a percentage ride the bus, more buses can run economically. There is always park and ride. Pay a little gas tax on the way to the park and ride, and get it back in a cheaper fare on the rest of the trip!

You'll get my car keys when you pry them from my cold dead fingers!!! Actually, I have a car. I drive it lots of places. I'm working on that. I'm poor and after I pay my car insurance I have a lot of money invested in driving my car. Bus fares add up, but gas prices are going up. This could help us bring bus fares down. We all tend to act in our own best self-interest, particularly when things are tight. Lets line up the economic incentives to do what is also right for the oil independence, the economy and the environment.

(Did I mention, those of you driving around in SUV's should be in favor of this too. Every person who takes the bus instead of driving saves a little gas for the rest of the world. Remember that supply and demand thing you learned in economics in high school? If we decrease the demand, the price will go down. That guy riding the bus is making your gas cheaper!!!)