Thursday, May 24, 2007

The politics of the gasoline tax

The headlines say the Gov. Rell and the Republicans in the legislature want to declare a gas tax holiday for the summer. What a dumb idea. Talk about pandering to the polls, this would cost the state an estimated $124 million at the same time public transportation advocates are pleading for a $12 million increase in mass transit subsidies. Eliminating a 25 cent gas tax for a summer isn't going to do a thing except put off the inevitable.
Oil and gasoline prices are going to go up. We are at or very near peak world oil production at the same time that China and India's economies are booming. With that amazing growth record numbers of new cars are hitting the roads in those two countries driving up demand for gas.
The sooner people start factoring higher gas costs into their decision as they buy cars the more hybrids and smaller cars will be on the road reducing gasoline demand.
The problem isn't that gas prices are too high, the problem is that there's not much in the way of alternatives to cars. Last week I tried to figure out how to take the bus from New Britain to West Hartford (the next town over). What is typically a 15 minute drive would have become a three hour expedition due to 50 minute layover at the mall and walks at either end because the bus doesn't run near our house or where were going.
In europe gas taxes are much much higher than in the US. The result being gasoline prices that are roughly double what they are here. The difference is that mass transit is ubiquitous. Bus, subway and train service makes it quite possible for european families to do most things by public transit and have just one small car that the use occaisonally. Many european countries also have very bike friendly cities. In Copenhagen, Denmark and all through out the Netherlands lots of people use bicycles as a primary means of transportation.


Anonymous said...


(of course, I am one of the choir members :-) )

H@rry said...

I live in Holland. Yes everybody has a bike here and we have pretty good infrastucture for bikes, but alas it's not the main form of transportation, despite enormous traffic congestion and huge gas prices. Nice velomobile you have made, impressive cargo.