Sunday, February 18, 2007

Automobility Quotes

As I was away from my computer this weekend i did pick up a book called 20th Century Sprawl by Owen Gutfreund, the director of Urban Studies at Columbia University. There is a lot of good research but this line hit me the most.

Between 1921 and 1932 American Governments spent $21 Billion dollars on streets and highways and collected only $5 billion from motor vehicle users. This meant that motorists were directly contributing less than 1/4 of the direct costs of adapting use of the automobile.

But of course freeways have always been paid for by user fees, never subsidized right??? But who subsidized the streets for cars and trucks without being allowed to raise their rates? Streetcar Companies

As a private company operating under a public franchise, large portions of DTCs (Denver Tramway Company) cost structure was governed by its franchise agreement, as were fares. For example, one of the oldest provisions of the contract required the company to pay half the maintenance and repair costs on streets with two way operation...As more and more streets were paved and improved and subjected to the pounding wear-and-tear of thousands of automobiles and trucks, which were much heavier than the horse drawn vehicles in use when DTC had made this financial commitment, the company had to contribute more and more money to street projects....However, the franchise agreement also capped fares at 5 cents and in 1917 despite record ridership levels, DTC was unable to pay a dividend and reported an annual loss of half a million dollars.

A change to a 7 cent fare led to the 1920 tramway strikes because people have never wanted to pay the full cost of transportation, whether it be roads or transit. They expect it to be subsidized for their autos, so why is everyone complaining about subsidizing transit, especially when initially transit helped build and maintain those roads that allowed autos to become dominant.

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