You can build all the high speed trains you want. You can put a million charging stations across the country for electric cars, but if the price of gas stays reasonable, it won’t make much of a difference, says Jebediah Reed at The Infrastructurist:
A new survey from IBM called “The Commuter’s Challenge” confirms that the $4 – $5 range for gas really is the breaking point for a large number of Americans. Asked at what gas price they would seriously consider other options for commuting (besides motoring solo) a stunning 70 per cent of people pegged their magic number at $5 or less. If it were a Family Feud question, $5 itself would be “number one answer,” in fact, representing 21 per cent of respondents.
With our political system rather mired at the moment and incapable of proactive (or even appropriately reactive) policy-making, it seems more and more likely that meaningful progress toward a more efficient and sensible transportation system will come about only if/when petroleum prices head back into three-digit land. If oil bounces back to $150 or above, we’ll start getting smart as a matter of practical necessity and all this ideological tussling over cars and freedom and rail and socialism will fall to the wayside.
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