You’d think they proposed destroying all cars….

So there’s a proposal before the Madison City Council to gather data on how much people drive.

The goal is to reduce driving and make it easier for people to get around without a car.  There use to be specifics like a reduction in of 25% in miles traveled by 2020, but that was removed because too many people objected.  If you go to the link above you can see the currently 50 comments from some of my fellow citizens.  Most of them negative.  Which is really hard to believe because this is a good proposal.  Even with the 25% reduction in miles I would support this.  People drive too much.

I’ve spoken before about transportation issues.  (Here and Here)  If we can make it easier to choose a more environmentally friendly option, why wouldn’t we?  If a mode of transportation is easier or cheaper people will use it.

Take the Madison Metro Bus for example.  A one month bus pass is $55, less than $2 a day.  I pay only slightly less than that just to insure my car.  I own my car and don’t make payments but the average car payment is at least $400 a month.  ( $479 according to this article from 2007) That’s a savings of at least $12 a day.  But you know why I don’t ride the bus?  Convenience.  The bus stop closest to my home only has a bus there every 30 minutes on a weekday and every hour on the weekend.  In Madison it doesn’t take more than an hour to get anywhere by car or moped so why would I wait that long to take the bus unless I had to?  Answer:  I don’t, and neither do most of the other people in Madison.  The only way you’ll get more people to ride the bus instead of the car would be to make it more convenient.  Buses need to run every 10 minutes, 15 minutes at the most.  Yes this will cost money.  But the increased usage will offset that.  And if you’re running the buses more often they don’t have to be as big.  Why have a bus that can hold 100 passengers when most of the time they’re empty?  Why not use a bus half the size.

Another area we can really work on is location.  71% of people live over 5 miles from their job.  Half live over ten miles away.  (source) And if you’re that far from your job how far are you from other things?  Grocery store, doctors, shopping.  Just in Janurary 2008 Americans traveled over 226 Billion miles (source). Why?  Why live so far away?  Answer:  Because our society lets them.  It’s not considered wrong to live so far away.  When a former boss moved to the area, he thought nothing of living in Sun Prairie and driving the 20 miles one way to work on the west side each day.  I on the other hand didn’t want to buy anything that was more than 2 miles, and preferably within one mile.   I don’t think we really need, or would want to actually prevent people from living or working where they would like, but we can make it undesirable.

One of the reasons people give for not living in the cities is lower taxes.  That’s easy enough to fix, raise taxes.  It’s always bothered me that people who don’t live in the cities, use all of the wonderful resources that the cities offer, but don’t pay for them.  85,000 people work in Madison each day, but don’t pay a dime for any of our city services.  They use our roads, are protected by our police and fire departments, shop at our stores, and many times work at companies that have been lured here with city funds.  Personally I even look down on the people who live in the continuous cities like Middleton or Fitchburg.

And how much are we spending in travel costs to live so far away?  Those 226 Billion miles we traveled in January 2008 cost us over 28 Billion dollars in fuel alone. (assuming 20 MPG and $2.50 a gallon gas)  How much for all those extra cars and trucks?  Speaking of extra cars and trucks how many times do you see people driving 4, 5, 8 or more passenger vehicles with just the driver?  85% of people commute to work alone.  Yes there are legitimate uses for multi-passenger vehicles, but every vehicle does not need to be multi-passenger, especially when the vast majority of the time it’s only the driver.

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