Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ben Wear Can't Have It Both Ways

Ben Wear has no right to complain about gas prices when he continually harps on Capital Metro and promotes bigger toll roads. Given the state of the world, gas prices are only going to get higher. Something needs to be done about transportation and urban form in Austin if folks there are really going to address this issue. However constant Nimbyism by groups like ANC and rampant misinformation about the benefits of transit from road warriors like Wear's friend Jim Skaggs keep Austin in transportation limbo.

Its hard for me to take his 'poor me' shtick seriously when he rails against alternatives to his plight. In fact, it makes me wonder if he actually knows what the heck he is talking about. If not rail or transit, then how is he going to reduce the cost of transportation. Is it more wars? It certainly isn't with toll roads or hybrid technology. A recent publication by the Brookings Institute and the Center for Transit Oriented Development states that families who live in transit rich neighborhoods pay less than 10% of their incomes on transportation. This doesn't mean they stop driving, it just means they are less dependent on the car for every life movement. In sprawling areas, this cost escalates to 25%. For a family making $35,000 that is over $5000 back in their pockets each year. That's a real tax break for working families that could be created by investments in transportation alternatives. His Prius solution is only a savings of $1560, but that could be negated if toll roads continue to proliferate. Also not included is the cost of auto ownership in general.

So if Austin is going to have an honest discussion about issues facing the region including affordability, then there needs to be more information and action on alternatives to the automobile. Complaining about gas prices just doesn't tear at my heartstrings anymore, because Mr. Wear like many others, have dug their own hole.

1 comment:

M1EK said...

Be fair to Ware. Although I have been disappointed in his depth of analysis, he hasn't yet said anything about commuter rail which isn't precisely true (double initial budget; stupid bridgework; low ridership; etc.). All of those are verifiable.

Believe you me, I'm watching him like a hawk, ready to pounce if he writes something that crosses the line into true Skaggsism.