I got this in the mail…Mark pointed out the irony of promoting less use of cars by the government whilst and at the same time saving the largest car company in the US from bankruptcy. What are these people thinking?
Where is the logic – You invest billions in fast trains and rapid transit, and espouse the concept of driving (pun intended) people out of their cars and onto trains and the like, and at the same time you “save” jobs by promoting the sale of cars (cash for clunkers)and bucking up the US auto industry.
The article I linked to above was from the LA Times and basically compares us American dunderheads to those neat folks in Japan and Europe who use all those wonderful trains as they travel across their countries. Of course, you could put all of Japan in California and most of Europe, certainly Western Europe in the Northeastern corridor of the US but let’s not get technical.
The government (pick one, local, state, federal) is promoting a bullet train for the corridor between LA and SF. Let’s not comment on why someone who was in either place would possibly want to go to the other, but just consider the cost of building an 800 mile (I guess its 400 each way) set of train tracks (about a gazillion dollars) so a few people can take the train rather than fly. I can’t imagine that the cost would be much less than a Southwest ticket to Oakland, and should be much more.
The article says we have to kill off our love affair with the car. Fair enough. But how to do it? First – raise gas taxes. No problem, but they would also lower sales tax so as not to be unfair. Second, rapid transit has to be fast and cheap. We all know who is going to pay for that. Third we all have to live in complexes near the rail heads and travel to complexes in the central cities. Even if we don’t want to.
I’m going to make up the following, but I bet its close – 80% of the people who use the super trains in France and Japan are the elites and wealthy in those countries. 80% of those that use the subways in Paris and Tokyo are workerbees that live in one area and work in another, sort of just like Boston, New York, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, SF and everywhere in the US that has such trains.
Note, just like Central London, the “downtown” areas of the cities I just listed are relatively small. You can walk across them is a couple of hours. Now talk about Los Angeles, or Houston, or Orlando. These are cities that have very large populations spread over thousands of square miles. If you live in Santa Monica and work in Pasadena, about 20 miles away, you can take two and a half hours using public transportation (bus and train) or 45 minutes using your car. How is rapid transit going to fix that? Our government will tell us to move or get a job closer to home .
Correspondent Mark wants to know what side the parking industry should take. Should we support all this nonsense about high speed rail, light rail, and the like, or should we support cars, cars, cars. The government is schitzo on the subject, propping up GM and Chrysler and building trains at the same time.
What do I think? Raise the price of parking. Motivate people to rideshare and car pool. If you could get 40% of the people to rideshare or car pool on any given day we would have no traffic jams, greatly reduced pollution, much less frustration, and think about it, it would cost nothing. No infrastructure, no trains, nothing. We already have more than enough roads to handle the traffic. All would be right with the world.
All that could be “fixed” by raising the price of parking and motivating drivers to double or triple up and share the cost. In the mean time, our industry would thrive, and would become an even more integral part of the transportation milieu,