On the Poor, Cars, and Public Transportation
Matt Yglesias, prominent blogger of politics and public transportation, takes on what it means to be poor and the question of car ownership in our nation’s capital.
It’s a good, quick read. Many of the arguments Yglesias makes apply to our situation in San Francisco. I especially liked this bit:
The progressive move isn’t to keep subsidizing cars, but the reverse — to use congestion charges and performance parking fees to raise funds that improve the quality of service on the bus lines that poor people rely on.
I am starting to come around on tax incentives for folks to buy hybrids and other ultra-fuel-efficient cars. But even with such lures, the poor will be left out. Similarly, I’ve been a fan of congestion pricing for dense, urban areas, but not without adequate public transit already in place. That caveat prevents such a system from being just here in San Francisco under present circumstances, as Muni/BART are ill-equipped to deal with so many people choosing not to drive.
As I’ve said before, I’m hoping governments (especially federal) will reprioritize public transit and give it the funding it demands. True, more money alone won’t solve Muni’s problems. But shoring up the agency’s deficit can prevent fee hikes, a terrible idea in our current economic state. I’m excited that the incoming Obama administration is talking of exactly this kind of infrastructure funding. Now our new local government needs to get serious about overseeing big changes at SFMTA, and to help fund those changes.