Friday, October 07, 2005

Transit is still in the red .. cash fares to rise in 2006?

The CTA proposed raising cash fares, but not fares used on the Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus, by 25 cents to induce more people to buy the cards.

One major problem: you can't buy the cards at the El stations. Why not? We've got people working there. Why can't they sell the cards? It's not like they're really doing anything else.

You can buy the card here.

We should sell Chicago Cards at public libraries and through the city clerk's office. It should not be this difficult to buy a Chicago Card.

But generally speaking, we should tax gasoline and parking more than we do and put that money into transit, because otherwise, we don't have an accurate pricing system. Without taxing parking and gasoline, driving is cheaper than the cost to society, and with rising fares to taking transit, that is more expensive than it's cost to society. These are externalities -- there is a cost to increased congestion and increased air pollution and increase dependence on Saudi oil that we all pay when people drive. And there is a benefit in less congestion and less pollution and less dependence on Saudi oil when people take the bus or the El (especially the El, since that runs on nuclear power, not oil).

The current pricing system is inaccurate, as it does not include those costs in the price to users.

So we should be taxing parking spaces more (perhaps through a higher property tax) and taxing gasoline more and taxing automobile registration, and put that revenue into public transit to get an accurate pricing system for transportation.

That was a great aspect of Illinois FIRST -- we taxed the right thing (license plate registration fees) and used it, in part, for the right things (mass transit). George Ryan may have run a dirty operation (see this post in John Fritchey's blog for a vivid example), but he was a hell of a governor. Death penalty moratorium, visit to Cuba, Illinois FIRST -- that's a trifecta.

27 comments:

Nathan Kaufman said...

interesting-

what are your thoughts on airlines?

Nathan Kaufman said...

Princeton is doing interesting work on fuel cells (hydrogen).

http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pwb/03/0331/1b.shtml

Who in Illinois is working on this kind of thing?

Lazerlou said...

It is ridiculous that they are raising fares for the poor to ride public transit, yet they release oil from our strategic reserves to put artificial downward pressure on the price of gas? Gas should cost three times what it does today in our country - and not due to demand pressure and oil company profit, but due to taxes - to get us up to speed with the rest of the western world and get those of us causing our fossil fuel and transportation woes to pay for it.

Airplanes are precisely what we should be saving our fossil fuel for. I'm not sure we know a way to produce as much power as is needed for flight from sources other than burning fossil fuel. (But we must right? We have nuclear powered submarines - but that doesnt seem to practical for airplnes now does it)
But oh how I will miss the sight of a hot suburban MILF in her Range Rover.

Anonymous said...

I agree with raising car and gas taxes. Parking should be through the roof. It is these costs that need to rise and put towards transit. Simply raising CTA fares is too much of a burden on the poor.

Incidentally, does the CTA ever look into trimming internal areas when there's a budget crunch? I thought I heard that the number of desk jobs has more than doubled under Frank Kruesi?

respectful said...

It looks like Dan will never be a serious candidate for elective office, what with that long list of taxes he wants to boost. I guarantee A-Rod won't be advocating any of those new taxes, at least not prior to Nov. '06.

Lazerlou said...

He could be if the lower middle class and poor voted. That is why the guy fights so much for voting rights and minority representation in our democracy.

Maybe he could win if we had substantive campaign finance reform (alas, snake like republicans like Scalia and DeLay hide behind free speech rights to protect their entrenched corrputed monied interests) and perhaps a national holiday on election day or even mandatory voting laws. Then the SUV drivers' and the trucking and auto and oil industries influence might be adequately countered. It is pathetic that to be a viable politician one must renounce all tax increases, even from the dangerously low tax rates in effect now.

But I suppose the republican argument is why pay now when we can borrow from foreign banks and have our children pay later. There are profits to be had now!

Anonymous said...

Gas taxes provide cushions and flexibility for national emergencies (Katrina or even bigger). The govt can temporarily waive the tax if there are shocks. The tax can be re-implemented afterward.

If there is no tax already in place, there is no tax to waive and no cushion.

A bigger tax would be a bigger cushion.

I am not sure what the govt should do with gas taxes immediately following Katrina.

Amy Allen said...

Hasn't Hamos given her approval of the plan?

Anonymous said...

C'mon, getting a transit card isn't that much of a burden on lower-income folks. Jewel has regular transit cards AND Chicago card. Dominicks has them. Currency exchanges have them. And you can reload them at any railstation.

This is a non-issue created by poverty pimps to help their fundraising from foundations

Nathan Kaufman said...

I went to a conference where fuel cells were discussed with industry experts.

I came away about 65% confident that fuel cells will be available for autos in 20 years (+-10 years).

Anonymous said...

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/10/sales_of_fullsi.html

Nathan Kaufman said...

For those interested:

Professor Samwick has blogged on fuel consumption standards at...
http://voxbaby.blogspot.com

Professor Hamilton covers oil prices and industry at...
http://www.econbrowser.com/

Anonymous said...

The visit to Cuba was a silly waste of taxpayer money publicity stunt.

Anonymous said...

DJW works for an anti-choice elected official.

Lazerlou said...

Tiny blue cats with razorblade ears secretly rule the world.

Anonymous said...

zoolander says it is male models-

Watching Dr. Strangelove recently introduced me to the fluoride conspiracy.

cal skinner said...

When the RTA was passed in a 1974 referendum for which no recount was allowed (although obvious fraud occurred, e.g., one Chicago precinct with 100% yes votes), there was a parking tax.

Downtown business interests apparently noticed that suburbanites were not shopping downtown like they used to and urged the tax be repealed. It was.

Might want to factor that into your proposal.

Anonymous said...

cal-

you might have causation wrong. it is very hard to know causation int he real world.

people might have stopped shopping downtown due to a widespread recession and not due to the parking tax.

people in suburbs can take the metra. that is the point of the tax: to encourage people to use las gas and autos and mroe public transit.

currently people that live in suburbs and drive to the city are in effect subsidized by the govt who much clean up pollution and maintain roads for suburban drivers (not to mention the negative impact suburban drivers have on fuel prices, which hurts airlines like local United).

HRC said...

Couldn't agree more. I haven't been a regular CTA rider since I lived in the city in the '80s, but I could never figure -- even then -- why the things you propose couldn't be done.

You can buy stamps at the bank...

Anonymous said...

How about a tax or fee on stupidity? I suppose some sort of super-majority approva and sunset provision might be a good thing just in case legislators and people confuse smarts with stupidity...

hypothetical fee: any corporation more than 30 years old that pays its ceo (total comp: options, bonus, salary, deferreld, imputed income on perks) more than 200x the state's median household income should pay a "corporate governance" fee that would be used to fund professors and research for corporate governance and consumer education. The fee could equal 0.1% of revenues.

Anonymous said...

one more: a lot of low-tax people say they do not want taxes because you get less of whatever you tax (work, income, capital for new business and jobs, etc)

so if we tax stupidity, we might get less stupidity... which would have all kinds of positive externalities...

Anonymous said...

another fee might be levied on any senior citizen that receives a social security check, does not currently work, and drives a gas guzzler. The fee could be a couple hundred bucks per year or something. This would encourage senior citizens to drive fuel-efficient autos. Fee revenue could be used to shore-up medicaid funding for senior citizens.


Old people tend to be overrepresented in the political process.

oh, and the threshold for the ceo compensation may need to be bandied around a little bit. 200x may be too high or too low. it may need to be something more like 100x.

cal skinner said...

I was just repeating the arguments used by the Downtown merchants who lobbied (successfully) to repeal the parking tax.

SalestaxMaven said...

Cal, if downtown businesses were behind the current funding method for public transportation, they didn't do a very good job of it. One of the main reasons retail commerce shifted to the suburbs (to be even more specific, to the collar counties) is that the RTA tax is just 1/4 of a penny in the collar counties compared to a full 1% in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs. So it's no wonder that car dealerships, malls, and other retail thrive in places like Oakbrook and Gurnee -- there's an economic incentive to pick up and leave Cook County. See the UofI study (PDF) on Julie Hamos' website -- it shows that suburban cook pays $100M a year for transit in the collar counties. The ENTIRE CTA problems from the last couple of years could be solved if Cook County just stopped exporting its sales taxes to bring wealthy CEOs downtown from Lake and McHenry counties.

respectful said...

SalesTaxMaven: You're right that SUBURBAN Cook gets screwed in the current RTA tax, subsidizing BOTH the City and the Collars. On the other hand, the 1% RTA sales tax in Cook doesn't prevent Schaumburg, which is in Cook County, from getting more sales tax than any other municipality in the state except Chicago.

payton said...

Chicago and Cook County currently do levy parking taxes. of course, it's backwards: they levy a complicated schedule (not even a flat percentage) on PAY parking lots, when they should tax FREE parking lots.

in 1995, MPC hired UIC to crunch some numbers on what peak-hour congestion pricing could buy in NE Illinois. their findings, in 2004 dollars:
$0.23/mi. expy toll: $332M, reduce driving 7%
$0.048/mi. mileage fee: $422M, reduce driving 6%
$6.72/day parking fee: $3,351M, reduce driving 8%

of the $3.3B that a regional parking tax would raise, $557M would be increased transit system revenues. in the recent UIC reports to Hamos, they again raised a parking tax as a potential replacement for sales tax. a parking tax has a better nexus (it's transport related), it makes good Chicago School Economics sense (it internalizes parking, which is the second highest cost of car ownership, after the car itself), and it would directly counteract urban sprawl. to be truly effective, it would have to apply to both city and suburbs, of course.

apparently, RTA still has the option to levy a regional gas tax, which it only did in 1982. the problems with such auto user fees are enforcement -- no one has good numbers on just how many parking spaces are out there -- and politics, of course.

fuel cells, "clean cars," whatever -- as Hawken and the Lovins (promoters of the Hypercar) write right after trumpeting hyper-efficient cars, "a fleet of 200 mpg cars might keep drivers from running out of oil... but they'd instead run out of roads, land, and patience... Many of the social costs of driving have less to do with fuel use than with congestion, traffic delays, accidents, roadway damage, land use, and other side effects of driving itself... If automobility were a disease, vast international resources would be brought to bear to cure it."
.pc

salestaxmaven said...

Actually, the RTA no longer has the ability to do a gas tax -- it requires a legislative change once they implement the bifurcated sales tax structure. And you're right that suburban cook gets the shortest end of the stick, but the UIC report did not include the city of chicago's payments for cops and capital construction, which balance out the equation.