An op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times lays out the truth:
It won’t be enough to lay down lots of track and hope people leap aboard trains and subways. It also will take discouraging the use of cars and making cities less comfortable.
Brian Taylor, director of UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies, said the hardest part isn’t constructing the infrastructure for a world-class public transit system. It’s creating the necessary incentives to get Americans out of their cars.
“We now keep the cost of driving as cheap as we possibly can,” Taylor said. “As long as we do that, we won’t be able to make public transportation work.”
He said investments in transit projects need to be accompanied by policies designed to make driving costlier and thus make public transportation more attractive.
These policies include significantly higher charges for parking virtually wherever you go and the increased use of toll roads.
New York demonstrates the viability of this notion. Who’d even consider the hassles of driving and parking in Manhattan when you can take the subway instead?
Taylor also believes that gas taxes need to go way up, with much of the money used to fund transit resources. Higher prices at the pump could be offset by a modest reduction in sales taxes.
Any politicians willing to own up to this?