Tuesday, February 23, 2010

America's Autos on Welfare - We can't afford it

In addition to the price paid by motorists at the pump, drivers and non-drivers alike spend additional money for each gallon of gas -- in the form of direct and indirect taxes and losses. Every year those subsidies cost America billions of dollars. The exact dollar amount is difficult to calculate, but every study done shows that it is at least twice the amount motorists pay at the pump.
1. Police, fire, ambulance; road construction & maintenance; other local government - paid for with taxes.
2. Property taxes lost from land cleared for freeways
3. Parking - free or cheaper parking is paid for with other taxes, or more expensive goods or services.
4. Air, water, land pollution - adds to medical expenses, loss of species and cleanup costs.
5. Noise, vibration damage to structures - adds to medical expenses and repair costs.
6. Global warming - adds to medical expenses, loss of species and other costs.
7. Petroleum supply line policing, security, petroleum production subsidies - increases taxes for defense.
8. Trade deficit, infrastructure deficit - increases costs of goods.
9. Sprawl, loss of transportation options - increases personal and corporate transportation costs.
10. Uncompensated auto accidents - increases personal costs.
11. Congestion- increases personal costs and losses.
Sierra Club


Bob Davis said...

"The dollar cost is difficult to determine"--and that's part of the problem. Outside of the sports pages, people usually don't pay attention to numbers unless there's a dollar sign in front of them, and even more so if their name isn't on the bill. How can people be convinced to give up their cars when all the alternatives are inconvenient and/or uncomfortable? I remember driving to a musical performance in Long Beach (CA) and thinking, "a Pacific Electric local trolley line used to go by here." Then I figured how long it would have taken on the Red Car (from my home, which was near another PE line) and it added up to two transfers, many miles out of the way, and no way to get home because the last car ran before that band played their last song. The Los Angeles Times published an article about low-income workers and how they have to get up before dawn and take three buses to get to their jobs. Even if we did abolish transit fares, would it actually bring in more riders, or would it just be the homeless and the idle, obnoxious teenagers who scare away legitimate passengers? How high would the government have to raise fuel taxes to make the cost of motoring outweigh the inconvenience of transit?

fpteditors said...

Hi Bob - that's the beauty of free public transit! No one is forced to ride it. You can keep your car and all your nagging doubts about "true" costs. Just stop forcing the rest of us to pay for you oil wars and carbon emissions.