Sunday, March 07, 2010

Making Sense Not Necessary.

I was reading something today about a proposed plan in England to do away with road tax and start charging people per mile based on the car they drive, the roads they drive on and the times of day they drive.

It's yet another bullshit scheme to supposedly help the environment and ease congestion. For example, if you're driving on an empty back road in the middle of the night, you'll get charged a couple of pennies a mile…but driving on a main road during rush hour could cost as much as 2GBP (almost four dollars a mile).

I love the way these people's minds work. The whole idea is to price us out of being able to drive…but they don't seem to understand that there's a reason the main roads are congested at 7-8am in the morning, because that's the time everyone's heading to work or taking the kids to school. We can't exactly drop the kids off at school at 3am or wander into work at 11 to avoid the peak time charges. Our entire infrastructure is based around the automobile. Not only is public transport just not available to a lot of people, it can't actually handle the volume of passengers it has now.

The funny thing is that all the supposed 'solutions' to transport problems seem to do nothing to ease the problem and just cost everyone a fuck ton of money. Speed cameras aren't doing anything to prevent accidents, the congestion charge in London has done nothing to ease congestion…but what these schemes are doing is making millions for the government.

Now, what I have to ask is that if the government is really serious about lowering congestion and helping the environment, why are they trying to discourage driving instead of encouraging alternatives?

As I said above, most people have no alternative but to drive, and even people that could take public transport don't want to because buses are over-crowded, filthy and stink of piss.

Why not take the opposite tack. Instead of charging people the equivalent of $17 a day to drive in London, why not offer free or cheap gas to people who car pool? Very few people will take the bus when their car is still an option, but I know lots of people who would pick up a couple of co-workers or take the neighbors' kids to school if they got a free tank of gas out of it. Or instead of making it so expensive to drive, make public transport more attractive. Dropping fare prices and stopping the buses and trains from stinking of human excrement would be a start.

Of course, it'll never happen. It's the same reason the tax on cigarettes is so high. The government claim it's because they want to discourage people from smoking, but the real reason is because smokers are addicted to cigarettes and are going to buy them at almost any price.


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