Raise gasoline taxes and fund mass transit

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by valdore, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    #1
    Here in the US for the most part our public transportation is so underfunded and nonexistent that third world countries probably have better mass transit infrastructure - I mean it is truly pathetic. We should tax the car slave dolts who choose to live out in low density car dependent suburbs/exurbs by increasing gas taxes - then channel the money into funding urban/regional transit systems, along with getting Amtrak up to date for inter-city trips.

    We made our bed decades ago in the US with this stupid decision to center American life around the private automobile (read: everyone driving around between strip mall gulags and drive-thru franchise fry pits in the hellhole suburbs in their Toyota Camrys), now it's time to lie in that bed.
     
  2. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    Apr 19, 2008
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    Pandora, Home Tree
    #2
    I'm against funding Mass transit. I drive 26 miles one way to work. I live in one county, and drive through 2 others to get to work. There's no one to carpool with, and I refuse to consider Marta. Its not safe.

    A sub note, raising the already high taxes on fuel would lead to new senators and house members being elected and the others kicked to the curb. Can anyone say tea party? :p
     
  3. stevento macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    Dec 10, 2006
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    Los Angeles
    #3
    I live in Los Angeles when I'm at school and we need have a really crappy mass transit. Our busses/trains are safe during the day but you can't just hop on the train/bus and head to work. We could carpool but we are too conceited for that in LA
     
  4. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #4
    Mass transit is our best bet in this country. We would be wise to invest more in it. I used to live in rural Ohio and could never have imagined that one day I'd live in a major city and not have one. It's the single-most best thing I've ever done. I spend $80 a month on transportation, nothing more. Now granted, my rent is higher, and I pay more taxes, but in the end it's still cheaper and I'm not polluting the planet.

    The things I don't miss about having a car:

    1. Paying for gas
    2. Paying insurance
    3. Paying for maintenance
    4. Paying a monthly installment

    When you add all that up, it's ridiculously expensive and you don't get much for your money. It's certainly not a good investment. I haven't owned a car in over nine years, and I say good riddance.
     
  5. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #5
    Please, Bay Area drivers commute further than this on a daily basis, and thanks to BART, many of them don't have to put up with clogged freeways or $4.55 $4.65 $4.75 gas.

    If you had a good train system (which it seems like MARTA could be save for its security issues and perhaps some other minor ones like frequency, which can be easily adjusted with only moderate funding), you wouldn't have to worry about paying for gas, polluting the planet, or using a fuel which supports dictators around the globe.
    Are you joking? Our fuel taxes are pathetic; they probably don't even generate enough to pay for road maintenance and emergency services. Whether or not you'd like to believe it, driving that car costs you a lot more than a well built public transit system ever could.
     
  6. IanF0729 macrumors regular

    IanF0729

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    Dec 3, 2005
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.
    #6
    I second this!

    I moved from San Antonio, Texas to Baltimore, Maryland about a year ago. In San Antonio, a car is required, but when I started researching the demographics of Baltimore, I started to realize that I might not need a car.

    To live in Baltimore City, my insurance would have gone from $800 bi-annually to $1,600 bi-annually and I would have had the additional burden of paying to park my car. That would have run me $125 per month. In the end, I sold my car before I moved and could not have been happier with the decision.

    Granted, my rent is more expensive in the heart of the city, but I know that I'm saving a lot of money by not having a car here.

    To live in Baltimore County, my insurance surely would have increased (albeit not as much), but I also wouldn't have had to pay for parking.

    Baltimore's mass transit system is not stellar (just ask anyone who has ever seen Baltimore's and DC's) or really all that safe if you require a bus, but it's workable.

    Baltimore City is currently struggling to expand the metro system, and I'd give my right hand (granted, I am left handed) to see some of it actually come to fruition.

    For the time being, I'll have to live with the one metro line, the light rail, the Amtrak/MARC trains, and my own two feet (which I use the most often).
     
  7. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    Apr 19, 2008
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    Pandora, Home Tree
    #7
    Ok, to settle the debate. For me to use Marta, I have to drive 13 miles to the nearest bus station, Fayette county to fulton county. Wait 30 min to an hour for the bus. Rid the bus to the airport. Catch a train to mid town, transfer to another bus for an hours ride to outside I-285 to the job site. If I drive, I'm there in less than 40 min. If Marta, I would estimate an hour and a half min.

    Not my cup of tea.
     
  8. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    Sep 18, 2001
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #8
    While I am partly sympathetic to the expanded travel time argument, you do realize that "fund public transit" means extending more rail lines to outlying areas and expanding bus service, both in terms of frequency and number of routes, right?

    That said, Atlanta has always been a miserable place to try to implement public transit, being the king of southern urban sprawl. The city keeps cannibalizing its own suburbs and then turning smaller towns into new suburbs. Hell, Newnan is practically a suburb of Atlanta now. Another twenty years I expect half the state will be Atlanta.

    And let's be honest, part of that is that white flight is still alive and well in Georgia. I don't know if it's what you mean, but I know what some of my relatives would mean by "MARTA isn't safe," and that's exactly what makes public transit such a hard sell there.
     
  9. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #9
    Umm yeah...that's kind of what I thought. :(
     
  10. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #10
    Ah southern counties, I love 'em. Fayette County is 197.4 square miles and Fulton is 535 square miles. In other words, they're tiny compared to anything in the southwest. For example, Pima county is 9,186 square miles. The city of Tucson covers 600 square miles in the metropolitan area alone.

    The failure in your public transportation is funding and design, a well-designed system would have more buses, cutting down on your wait, and a more direct line.
    More importantly, you might not find a public transportation system useful for you in your particular neck of the woods, but for the vast majority, well-designed and funded public transportation systems are a necessary investment in our cities.

    That should settle the debate. ;)
     
  11. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    Apr 19, 2008
    Location:
    Pandora, Home Tree
    #11
    Most of Fayette county doesn't want mass transit. We like the rural aspects of the area. And yes, marta does bring crime to both the area, as well as the system itself. There is hardly a day to go by that there isn't some sort of crime involving Marta. And, the number of shooting s in the news, there, are up.

    Edit - Peachtree city, on the edge of Fayette county, also uses golf carts as alternative transportation with over 90 miles of trails. Families can run to the store, via electric carts, and never have to crank the car up.
     
  12. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    May 31, 2006
    Location:
    New York
    #12
    What car-lovers/public transportation haters don't realize is that you won't have much of a choice in the future. Oil is a finite resource. You won't have your cars forever. Yes, alternative fuels could help, but mass transportation is the future.

    Here in Phoenix we have a light-rail opening this December. With bus ridership already skyrocketing in the past month or so, they expect the light-rail to be popular as well. But even still, cities like Phoenix are already in trouble. It is one giant sprawling suburb. Rather than expanding bus lines to new areas (residents in the suburbs complain of "safety"), we focused on expanding freeways. We need more bus lines and we need to expand the light-rail. It won't happen though. For some reason Phoenix residents see this city as being "car-friendly", and would not vote to approve higher taxes to pay for expanding public transport.

    I'm looking at grad schools right now, and one major criteria is that the school is located in a city with decent public transportation or is bike-friendly. Phoenix is neither of those, and the city will pay for it in the future.
     
  13. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #13
    valdore, I rather object to the accuracy of, "We made our bed decades ago in the US with this stupid decision to center American life around the private automobile..."

    The growth in the use of the automobile contributed greatly to the economic improvement of the Joe Average. For the first time in world history, it became possible for somebody to leave "poor pickings" and quickly move to where there was a better local economy. It greatly increased old Joe's freedom to come and go as he chose, and to increase his freedom of choice as to where he lived and what he did for a living.

    The automobile increased personal autonomy and personal freedom. there's no way that anything that does that can be all-bad.

    Now, I won't argue against a societal shift from freedom to license. :) From rational usage to excess--but that's a whole different realm of argument.

    Mass transit? Some places, yeah, it will work well. Some places, it will help. Just don't think of it as a panacea, applicable equally well in every place.

    The mix of strategies is already underway. People are looking to move closer to jobs, or find jobs closer to home. People are looking to change to more economical personal transportation, and are becoming more efficient in their use of existing vehicles--as we did in WW II during gas rationing. That's already occurring as a result of marketplace pressures.

    And more people are riding bicycles and using existing forms of public transportation.

    I'd be willing to bet that many cities are already trying to figure ways to expand public transportation availability, and writing grant proposals right now...

    'Rat
     
  14. OscarTheGrouch macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Location:
    G' Vegas South Carolina
    #14
    I choose to live out in a low density area for several reasons, the BIGGEST of them is I cannot afford in the city what I can afford here. My house cost me 109,000. It is a 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house. It's not very nice, but the same house in the city where I live would cost TWICE that. So, in reality, it was not a choice but more something I was forced in to. I will admit that our mass transit sucks. Hell, we have a bus line in my county, and we cannot even manage it correctly. The last thing I want to do to the government bureaucrats is give them more money to mis manage our bus line- which doesn't go anywhere but low income areas. Helps me exactly ZILCH.

    By your statement, I am a dolt, and because I HAVE to live a little in an outlying area so my family can have a decent place to live, I should be punished more than I already am by a 45 minute car ride each way 5 days a week, to a job i frankly hate? Tell you what, buy me a house in the city, and then speak.
     
  15. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #15
    The problem as I see it is that the move to personal transportation effectively eliminated public transportation in most places. Which in all reality killed any sense of personal autonomy. Being forced to drive a car is not a choice IMO. It's not the excess so much as it is the lack of common sense.

    I really pity those suburbanites and even exurbanites throughout the southern US. They're going to face a world of hurt.
     
  16. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    I agree, there are some places it doesn't work, like northern scotland, there it would be less polluting to shut the railway and give every passenger a land-rover.
     
  17. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    Apr 19, 2008
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    Pandora, Home Tree
    #17
    Its city dwellers that are responsible for the need of public transportation. I prefer towns of 30,000 or less, and if I had my druthers, I would ride a horse, and own a wagon to haul things in. Cities, are the ones who need trains and busses. And they bring crowds, pollution, and things that are best left in the dark. :(
     
  18. OscarTheGrouch macrumors 6502

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    Feb 28, 2007
    Location:
    G' Vegas South Carolina
    #18
    /agreed
     
  19. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #19
    A town of 30000 can definitely support a good public transport system. Admittedly in this case "system" means two or three bus routes but still...
     
  20. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #20
    Cities are where things like telephones, computers and cars are invented, refined and made affordable.

    If the world was still reliant on countryfolk to supply its needs, we'd still be using candlelight, counting using our (12 of each, mind you!) fingers and toes, and hollering at each other across the holla.

    It's all well and good to prefer your particular lifestyle but when gas hits $10 a gallon....
     
  21. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    Apr 19, 2008
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    Pandora, Home Tree
    #21
    If gas hit $10, then the primitive lifestyle would be a welcome way.
     
  22. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #22
    Wow- that was lovely. Sorry, but you guys need us. We're the go-getting over-acheivers who invent and create the things you like to buy. I'm even at work right now.
     
  23. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #23
    However the primative lifestyle is much less efficient, without mass production/technology we could only support a tiny fraction of the current human population. Crudely I'd guesstimate that fraction to be around 1/6th of the current human population as that is what it was before the industrial revolution.
     
  24. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    Apr 19, 2008
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    Pandora, Home Tree
    #24
    It's an irony, that the world survived for thousands of years with out technology. I love my Macbook, but given the chance to leave in the mountains and off the land, I would go and not look back. Then, i would have no need for gas no matter the price.
     
  25. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #25
    The conundrum here is that in order for such a tax to be fair, the infrastructure needs already to be in place. Otherwise, you are taxing people for commuting by car without giving them a viable public transport alternative (which, I assume, is the eventual point--use taxes to change behavior). That means that the government would have to put a heavy upfront investment to update public transportation. This update would take quite some time and would reduce the capacity of the current systems (look at the months of weekly shut downs of the Red Line in Chicago for what is really not that huge of a project). Therefore, any sensible taxation approach to updating public transportation would only be useful ten or twenty years from now, and would require us to wait until then to recoup the billions of dollars we'd have to invest now. And of course, if wages continue not to rise as fast as inflation, we would have to tax a higher share of income in order to adjust for inflation.

    Plus, even if all this worked out, the dynamics of gentrification in some cities mean that there is a very regressive dimension to this sort of tax.
     

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