Re: Clean Technology Bigger than Internet Claims Bill Joy

Viewed by itself it's also quite deceptive, because there is so much

> subsidy FROM drivers TO public transportation. >
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is a pretty accurate summation of the > total picture.

Many states limit gas tax revenues for highway purposes only.

In some places, bridge tolls are used to subsidize local transit. However, this benefits motorists since the traffic congestion becomes terrible without transit carrying many people (as have happened). Examples are PATH trains to NYC, PATCO trains to Phila, and TBTA bridges in NYC.

The incremental cost to subsidize such existing transit lines is far cheaper than building new river crossings. When PATCO opened in 1969, the Delaware River Port Authority published numerous reports explaining the money and time savings PATCO offered.

> Highways and airports take up enormous amounts of land. Land is >> taxable, but when a highway or airport grows, that land is taken off >> the tax base. That's quite a nice subsidy. When transit was provided >> by private companies, they had to pay very high property taxes where >> their competition paid nothing. > Calling that a subsidy is a lie, one of many by leftists on this > topic. Property taxes exist to pay for community services such as > police, fire departments, schools, libraries, and parks. Roads do not > generate any demand for the last three, so there's no sense in taxing > them for them; and at least in California, the highway patrol are > funded entirely from vehicle registration fees.

Sorry, but it is a fact, not a lie. Transportation corridors used to be taxed, in some cases (e.g. railroads) at very high rates. As an example, In NYC in the 1950s, the Pennsylvania Railroad was paying over $1 million a year just for Penna Station. However, at the same time the competing Port Authority bridges and tunnels paid zero taxes. Historically, the PA would be liable for taxes, but they went to a great deal of trouble to secure an exemption. The book "Empire on the Hudson" details all this. All over the country commuter railroads paid steep property taxes on their facilities while newly built expressways were tax free. This was an effective cost subsidy to motorists.

As to the issue of roads not "generate any demand for the last three", plenty of us have no children yet we all must pay property taxes for schools.

When a highway is built, the land goes off the tax rolls and the rest of us have to make up that shortfall. That should be obvious.

In any event, roads do require substantial public safety services such as police/fire/resue. Someone has to paid for them. The taxation varies by state, but in many places (like mine), it is is paid for by local property taxpayers. Note that highways are ten times as dangerous as trains and require far more services per passenger mile than trains do.

As to the term "leftist", the support of transit is not a 'left' or 'right' issue, it is one of giving people the safest, fastest, and cheapest way to get around. In addition, developed areas have run out of land to bulldoze for more highways. Automobiles pollute big time. Or, perhaps you are saying only those on the "left" are concerned about pollution?

> Highways and airports were built with tax free safe bonds which >> accordingly paid low interest. > Which ones? Any highway bond written in the last few decades has paid > the same interest as other bonds, otherwise it wouldn't sell. The > feds used to heavily fund highway building; now most federal > transportation money is earmarked for transit projects that they know > nobody will ride.

The interest on bonds issued by government agencies are exempt from taxes. The bonds issued by railroads and the private transit companies were taxable. The tax exemption allows bonds to be issued at a lower interest rate which is a savings not available to the railroads. In addition, bonds from govt agencies, even if not officially guaranteed, are in essence guaranteed none the less because a state doesn't like to have defaults. It is extremely rare for a govt bond to default for that reason. This also helps lower the interest rate.

Transit system advocates come in two types: people who are still under > the delusion that others will ride transit, thus freeing up the > highways for themselves; and people who know perfectly well that > anything spent on transit is wasted, but who would rather waste > car-tax and gas-tax funds than allow them to be spent on needed road > expansion.

The above ignores the fact that millions of people ride transit. Amtrak, with all its flaws, is carrying a record number of passengers. As stated above, in developed areas transit does free up critically needed highway space.

When quality transit is offered people will ride it. When old lousy systems were fixed up, riders came back. The buses, subways and commuter trains in the NYC metro area has ever increasing ridership. New subways and rail lines in car-loving California (San Fran and L.A.) carry many people.

The environmental movement in general is really a front for a bunch of > rich elitists whose attitude is "we've already got our nice homes, and > we don't see the need to put up with more traffic noise or give up our > view of other people's unbuilt land just so others can live as well as > we do. And besides, the more of a scarcity of good housing we can > create, the more *our* investments will be worth. So screw anybody > who needs to buy a home!" Unfortunately, these are the people who own > and operate all the local planning agencies. That, in a nutshell, is > the essence of the twin scams known as urban planning and the > environmental movement.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And also, please see the report from the *Chicago Tribune* today (in this issue of the Digest as the second message) telling the latest tale of woe from CTA. They are now referring to some date this fall as their 'doomsday' when fares will go up substantially and service will drop dramatically. And even though the Transit Atrocity just finished building (about five years ago) the new station in Skokie -- after abusing and neglecting the old terminal for about forty or fifty years, they say their plans include closing down the Skokie Swift entirely. As I see it, the biggest problem with _any_ government funding of public transportation is that the employees -- your public servants -- are all thieves and incompetents. The big bosses are all politicians. A few years ago, the federal government took over the Chicago Housing Atrocity and (a bit later) the Chicago Public Schools; putting both atrocities into receivership since the politicans and hacks in charge of running them both were doing such a poor job. Now, I have no love lost for federal goverment management of things either, but it might be about time for CTA to go the same way.

I am reminded of the time Mayor Daley suggested 'municipalizing' the Commonweath Edison Company. Their rationale was 'people want to get fair prices and inexpensive electric service.' Edison got up in Daley's face and said, "So ... the politicans who run the Chicago Housing Authority, the public schools and the Transit Authority should now take over the nuclear generating stations as well?" And Edison kept on saying that publicly, via television and radio. Major corporations made plans to move out of town; saying that the mere thought of City of Chicago in charge of necessary electric power scared the Bejesus out of them. Mayor Daley meditated on that for a while and finally backed down. PAT]

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