Make Motorists Pay
The "provocacteur" piece by Alex Marshall is muddled, and its confused message is at odds with what T.A. often says. Marshall proposes transportation be treated as "a service" akin to education, rather than like a private business that "has to make a profit."
But as T.A. often writes, motorists should pay for ALL the costs of their driving--in taxes, charges and in fines for violation of rules. The point of the report by Martin Wachs, cited by Marshall, is that U.S. motorists do not pay enough of their costs and are paying less and less. His report shows that at the city and county level, only 40% of road and bridge costs are paid directly by road users. But when one includes Federal and state road related income and expenses, highway-user taxes and tolls paid for 81% of road spending. Marshall's 60% figure is based on fees paid by motorists after some funds went to transit and elsewhere. For more than 50 years, the tie between user-charge financing and highway spending has limited highway spending. Breaking the tie by treating transportation like education is likely to increase, rather than constrain highway spending, while doing little to increase transit financing. If we think of the public sector of transportation in an urban area as an enterprise that should be financed by users, except when a strong case can be made for subsidy from other funds, then people can be encouraged to use transportation more efficiently--think congestion charges for auto use, or the way in which the MTA has used Metrocard to encourage off-peak travel.
In 1974, the New York City taxi meter was hiked to 60 cents per mile, which is equal to $2.20 in 2003 dollars. Yet 2003's New York cab drivers are expected to get by on 75 cents less per mile, in real terms, than in 1973--double the drag on lease drivers' income, who get to keep only the last hours of their take. Whatever excuses may be made for growing economic inequality in America from sea to shining sea, there is no explanation beyond unchecked neglect for New York yellow cab drivers to suffer under a fare structure that is almost 75 cents a mile below the real value of what their American born predecessors were paid for the same work almost three decades ago.
While thumbing through my
Spring, 2003 edition of T.A. Magazine, I was
All the best,
Ed: T.A. respectfully disagrees with the Chief. The barricades encourage jay walking, making the intersection less safe. The barricades also penalize city-friendly pedestrians in a failed attempt to increase traffic capacity.
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