I have mentioned in the past on the AMCAP Transit Talk discussion board that I truly believe that the Liberal politicians are trying to price the automobile out of existence through taxes and fees and once again, my vision of the future is coming true. Pennsylvania Democrats are trying for everything except congestion pricing at this point to generate money for transit but Governor "Fast Eddie" Rendell wants to tax oil companies at the state level instead.
If these Democratic plans go through, most of the money generated won't go to transit anyway. Pennsylvania's transit funding crisis is simply a convenient excuse for the tax and spend politicians to justify picking the taxpayer's pocket once again.
It's just not in Pennsylvania that such lunacy is taking place. One example is New York City, home of the ultra-Liberal Mayor Bloomberg (who actually was a life-long Democrat who only changed parties since the Dem ticket was too full for him) wants congestion pricing and is promising lower fares if his initiative passes. Yeah right, lower fares. It's not happening in London, the showcase for congestion pricing.
Luckily, the Pennsylvania Legislature is controlled by the Republicans who are resisting raising taxes. Most of these new taxes are dead on arrival when it comes to a vote yet the Dems keep coming up with more ways to raise taxes while offering nothing toward showing any fiscal responsibility.
Trying to tax the automobile out of existence won't help public transit, period. Even if all the tax increase went toward transit, all that would happen is that the status quo would remain in place for a few more years and then we'd be right back in the same exact position we are in now.
It is also a proven fact that taxing automobile ownership doesn't work. Minnesota has such a scheme to fund transit and they are finding that as people abandon their cars for transit, the automobile generated revenues for transit are dropping rapidly, placing the systems in a financial bind. Fares just don't cover the operating expenses of public transit today.
A single dedicated funding source such as a local 1/4% or 1/2% sales tax is a far more equitable method of funding transit rather than nickel and diming every aspect of automobile ownership. Any form of funding should also come with a string attached which is that wasteful spending practices will be punished by the system not being funded.
Much of the funding crisis is the direct result of wasteful spending practices at transit systems for decades. My local system, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) mastered the technique of wasting money on everything except putting service on the street. Simply taxing the hell out of the taxpayer to pay for transit service by wasteful systems is useless as they'll continue to blow money and have their hand out for more next year.
Transit funding is a complicated issue. The two things that are clear however is that public transit does need to be adequately funded and public transit administrations and unions need to stop wasting money and refocus on the basics. It's like matter and anti-matter with the funding being obliterated by the wasteful practices at many agencies.
The answer to funding isn't to tax the car owner out of existence. It won't solve the transit funding crisis and will only serve to push even more people out of the state. The Pennsylvania Democrat's plan is a disaster in the making and decades of evidence on past political behavior show that much of the money raised will not go to what it is intended for and transit will still be left with inadequate funding.