Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Useless Bureaucrats Want You -- To Pay 13% More For The Privilege Of Driving

Transit panel urges 40 cent gas-tax hike

Can't say I'm surprised. A bunch of government "transit experts" sit around in meetings for months, and wind up advocating ... wait for it ... tax increases:

Under the recommendation, the current tax of 18.4 cents per gallon for unleaded gasoline would be increased annually for five years - by anywhere from 5 cents to 8 cents each year - and then indexed to inflation afterward ...

And what do they want to buy with this? Let's critique their wish list:

... to help fix the infrastructure,
Sorry, too generic. We need more details here.
expand public transit
NO! More empty buses, paid for by the drivers who have to sit behind them in traffic, are not the solution! Public transit systems that cannot self-support should be shut down.

and highways
YEAH! That's what I'm talking about. Remember, folks, that freeway lane miles are the most efficient form of transit that exists. Not light rail. Not empty buses. Not van pools. Just miles and miles of beautiful, wide-open concrete!

as well as broaden railway and rural access, ...
BZZZT! Rural areas don't have traffic problems, by definition -- if they had traffic problems, they'd be urban areas.

The report also calls for rebuilding and expanding the national rail network to meet a growing demand for alternatives to congested highways.

Partial credit here. I agree with the idea of offloading freight transport from trucks to rail where it makes sense to do so. If you're transporting stuff from the ship to the warehouse, rail makes some sense -- but how do you get the stuff from the warehouse to each individual store?

Passenger rail, on the other hand ... meh. Just look at Amtrak, which loses money serving beer, and you know all you need to know about the viability of passenger rail in the US.
But the 12-member commission's proposals, which are expected to cost $225 billion each year for the next 50 years, face internal division. The commission's chairwoman, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, and two other members oppose gas tax increases and were issuing a dissenting opinion to the report calling instead for private-sector investment and tolls.
Mrs. Peters, you and your fellow dissidents have my vote in any election in which you choose to run. This is (finally) the right solution -- if a particular piece of road is too congested, then you need to crank the price up on that road at peak times until that congestion is alleviated. That forces each individual driver to make the economic decision as to whether it's worth it to pay that toll; or pick an alternate route, make the trip earlier or later when the toll is less, or change plans to avoid the trip altogether. The toll revenue can then be applied locally, where it can do the most good.

The full commission's recommendation -- a broad, nationwide tax, dumped into the various Federal slush funds, to be allocated to each Congresscritter's pet project back home -- is a non-starter.

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