What Drives Transportation Advocates and Urban Economists Batty

I sent the Times article to couple of my colleagues, who replied with
their two cents, which I'd like to paraphrase here for public benefit.
One, who works for AASHTO, spoke of the increasing justification for
a straight "vehicle mile traveled" tax, since that's a much more
direct route to dealing with these negative externalities, a gas tax
being a now deteriorating proxy for it. The other, who is a co-worker
of mine, added that another huge subsidy we provide to drivers is free
parking: homeowners can build garages and get the mortgage tax
deduction, while the fact that shopping mall owners pass the cost of
parking on to all users means there's no incentive for any individual
person to reduce their use. Clearly, the fact that driving is vastly
underpriced in terms of direct costs drives both transportation
advocates and urban economists batty. Me too.
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