The inner suburbs are some of the worst in this regard, actually; I grew up in exactly one of the places you’re talking about, a run-down, poor, crime-ridden suburb that also didn’t have the bus system of the city. It’s the worst of both worlds, transportation-wise.
Bus fares do rise with gas prices, though, so inner-city poor people aren’t immune. Buses aren’t that great, though, and Kraaze is right that trains (which I assume he was thinking about) aren’t as easy to build out and in a lot of American cities, they do have problems with accessibility, expansiveness, efficiency, and getting beaten with hammers.
God, poor SEPTA. SEPTA’s motto for years was “We’re getting there.” The “So get off our back, bitches!” was implied.
It’s true. I’m just saying, there have got to be ways to ameliorate the pain if we were to actually tax gasoline the way they do in Europe. I wish we would, though I know it won’t happen anytime soon. Also, I do think Philly colored glasses might influence your view of public transit - there do exist American cities with excellent transit systems. Not like Moscow’s, but still.
It’s more likely the Moscow-colored glasses, actually. But no, some of them are decent. Is Chicago supposed to be one of the better ones? I’ve used theirs, and it was kind of run-down (like a lot of Chicago, I guess burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrn) but it did seem like you could get around, at least. Still, I don’t think I’ve heard of any American city with public transit that’s really appealing enough that you would voluntarily use it over a car, and I’ve never been to a European city without one*.
*Although I’ve only been to two European cities ;).
The only complaint I might have about the NYC subway is that it is really hot while waiting for the train during the summer. Other than that, it is not that cheap, and it floods sometimes, I guess? It is fast, convenient, the trains are generally comfortable, except in extreme traffic, and it certainly is far more comfortable and faster than driving through NYC traffic.
On progressivity, there’s nothing stopping us from making the rest of the system more progressive as an offset. Not that I expect it will be included in any proposals if they can get away with it, but it is possible.
Technically, the poor don’t buy much gas; they tend not to have cars, or don’t drive them much. It’s the working class that would really get it.
Suck as they may, they do have the odd effect of being comparatively way easier to get passed. Political economy is strange stuff.
Like Mr. K, you’re going to really have to convice me that that graph doesn’t say what I think it does. Also, quite a few American cities aren’t really even laid out for mass transit, if they even have such systems in place.
We got into a big ol’ argument chez Margie last night about how much extarbags hates Tom Friedman and doesn’t think revenue neutral gas tax would work. I get his point (although I don’t get the beef people have with Friedman? Like, a pie worthy beef?) - that if you’re reducing payroll taxes and increasing gas taxes with the intent being to reduce demand for oil in a revenue neutral way, eventually it won’t work because the revenue from the gas tax will drop with demand.
But at the risk of having another argument about it, wouldn’t you be able to just keep raising the gas tax? And eventually phase out the payroll tax cuts?