I got started thinking on this by reading a post over on the Freakonomics blog. There are some really great points on both sides.
I come at this as someone in a one-car family. I work at home, so I don’t especially need a car, although when the budget permits I will doubtless get one again. Just have to keep fuel efficiency in mind.
There are a lot of comments on this post, and I have to agree that gas prices don’t seem to be impacting how much a lot of people drive. It may be doing a little, however. I took a trip to visit my grandmother in the hospital on Memorial Day weekend, and the traffic was amazingly light, when I had expected heavy. It made me wonder if gas prices had anything to do with it.
But what does not change is the driving people have to do. No matter how they grumble about their commute and the impact of higher gas prices on their budget, most people aren’t going to move closer to their jobs. They grumble and pay the price for the gas.
The problem in large part for my area is the sheer lack of good quality public transportation. This is slowly being improved, but for now it’s just not practical for most people. And when you have to get to work you aren’t going to worry about how you will actually get there.
I did like some of the ideas readers presented, such as charging vehicle registration based more on weight, although I think fuel efficiency should be added to that equation. Be nice for more fuel efficient vehicles to get a break in that area.
The other idea is to do as is being considered in the UK by adding a per mile driven tax. This is a tough one, but nicely addresses the issue of who is really having the greatest impact. I have a definite bias for cars that are more fuel efficient, of course, so with something like this I would want to see that taken into consideration.
In general, I don’t really mind the idea of making driving more expensive. It’s exceptionally cheap here in the United States anyhow when you compare costs to other countries. But if you add in a benefit for being fuel efficient people will think about that when they buy newer cars. Seems like a good situation to me.