May 7, 2014
Your idea is IMHO correct in asserting that financial pressure is a good motivator however I think there are several issues. One is the severe pushback against any percieved restriction of personal freedom. Another issue that pricing out personal transportation will cause is an even greater divide between the haves and have nots. your proposal essentially exist allready in many countries where only the wealthy can afford to drive. Having grown up in an urban area with available mass transit i would also submit that in my experience you have users of convenice and users that are forced due to no other means of travel. Societal issues impact mass transit as it can become a focal point for crime, homeless use it as housing etc... I am not saying mass transit is not good goal just that cultural change must occur if we are ever to more fully adot it in the U.S. In many asian countries it can be used very effectively now as the culture is geared more towards acceptance of shared transportation.
May 9, 2014
Let's keep dynamics in mind! If public transport becomes more attractive, by the action taken you describe in your proposal, there will probably an enhanced use of it. That is true! But what happens next? Subsequently, 1.) roads will become emptier which is obvious and 2.) driving a car might become relatively cheaper again. The latter might be due to car's manufacturers might adjust to the decreased demand of cars and will start to sell their cars cheaper. Both, point 1.) and 2.) make car driving more attractive again and hence more people will go back to driving a car. Not that I don't like your proposal, but this is a problem that could occur. Eventually, we should think of a package of different actions instead of trying to fix the problem with a single solution!
May 19, 2014
Interesting proposal. I've been using public transit for years (around Boston) and I agree the infrastructure and services need to be improved, to be more reliable and convenient. Yet I would not 'punish' people who drive their cars in long commutes, as many of them have no choice. They may live far away from the city (due to real estate prices), or perhaps the only good job they could find happens to be 20 miles away (and relocating your whole family is not simple). Spending hours on the road each day is neither healthy nor fun, and you pay a lot on the gas, wear and tear etc. Commuter rail service is usually only inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening, so if your commute is in the opposite direction- you're out of luck. Policy makers can help by prioritizing public transit and allocating funds as necessary; encouraging development of businesses in suburban and rural areas, so more people can work locally instead of commuting to big cities; encourage employers to enable more employees to work from home (as much as practically possible). As for the Boston metro area, since the T lines (subway) are obviously overloaded and insufficient, perhaps the MBTA should supplement services in parallel with buses during rush hours. I believe many people would prefer public transit if good services are provided. Cheers !..