How to Ease Pain at the Pump Without Deepening Oil Dependence

As the drumbeat for domestic drilling grows louder, can the Democratic leadership come up with a better alternative than tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Over at the Huffington Post, Shelley Poticha and Geoff Anderson of Transportation for America propose a few ideas that will actually pay dividends. Pols who are serious about reducing the impact of high gas prices should listen up:

We have to
keep pace with demands for public transportation, and give this country
a reason to be proud of its high-speed trains, light-rail lines, and
both rapid and conventional bus transportation options.

We need to make more of our streets safe and convenient for walking
and biking to work, school, shops and public transportation stops. We
have to create incentives for developers to invest in our close-in
suburbs and urban centers, to meet the huge demand for affordable homes
in convenient locations. Americans are not dumb: given the real choice,
we would much rather invest in well-located real estate than in

We are tired of feeling like victims — whether of oil companies, poor
planning, or a lack of vision. Americans are ready for innovative
change, if only our leaders will follow the people’s charge.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Most rural and exurban Americans are stuck where they are. There is only one thing they can do in the short run to change their situation — carpool. That has be part of the plan.

  • Sam

    @ Larry

    If they can raze Pennsylvania Station they can raze the suburbs…or at least build rail out there to decrease car commutes. (Obviously this is a long term idea)

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Obviously this is a long term idea)

    We’ve blown 35 years, as I’ve written on Room 8, and lost long-term.

    How about this — through marginal development moving to dense areas, restructuring of the suburbs, and carpooling, cut private motor vehicle VMT by 50% per person over 20 years. That might reduce VMT by 1/3 overall.

    Increase fuel efficiency 50% — would require good technology because the can’t pack four people in a subcompact.

    Combined, that brings the energy requirement down by 2/3, perhaps enough for alternative fuels and some residual domestic fossil fuels to cover the need.

  • Max Rockatansky

    To be fair, when gas was cheap the people’s charge was out to the suburbs and towards bigger houses. Amtrak funding has been cut for years and public transit was for losers who couldn’t afford cars. You’re talking about a major paradigm shift, it’s not going to happen overnight.

  • As a short-term fix for the most car-dependent suburbs, private van service may become a useful supplement to carpooling. It would work the same way as an airport shuttle or Access-a-Ride: A half-dozen or so people work out a coordinated schedule. The driver then picks them up and drops them off at the supermarket, or the shopping center, or the health clinic. They arrange to meet at a certain time for the return trip. A hybrid SUV, ironically, might be the ideal vehicle for this purpose.

  • GR

    Not that I disagree, but that is essentially a re-print of what was in Planetizen a couple weeks ago – word for word.

  • I’ve never been to the Planetizen site, so I guess great minds think alike.

  • Doug Irvine

    “Well-located real estate”. That’s what is required for real change. Currently, developers find the cheapest land, put up their big box building, surround it with parking and the only way to get to it is by car.

    Local governments need to encourage development near existing rail stations and downtowns. These abound on Long Island where I live.

    Putting up a 10 story apartment building in the middle of town would revive the shopping district and give people a place to live where they could walk to restaurants and take the train to work.


Letters to David Brooks: Yes to Infrastructure, No to Highways

On Friday, Times columnist David Brooks joined the chorus calling for more transportation investment, which came as something of a surprise given his conservative pedigree. But Brooks has always had a soft spot for the exurbs, and his proposed "National Mobility Project" was predictably premised on the idea that transportation projects should accommodate sprawl: Workplaces […]

Angela Glover Blackwell on Equity, Infrastructure, and the President

On Monday, President Obama talked infrastructure with two governors, eight mayors, four former transportation secretaries (and the current one), two labor leaders – and one public interest advocate. That advocate was Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of the think tank PolicyLink and chair of the Transportation for America Equity Caucus, which launched last week. The roundtable […]

Give to Streetsblog and Streetfilms and Enter to Win a New PUBLIC Bike

As recently as 2007, there were no protected bike lanes in New York City, plans to enhance major bus routes were sitting on a shelf, and city transportation officials were still trying to do things like convert neighborhood commercial streets into high-speed traffic sewers. Streetsblog and Streetfilms helped change that. We raised expectations for our […]

Democratic Platform’s Scarce Words on Transportation Fail to Inspire

President Obama spent Labor Day touting his rescue of the U.S. auto industry, and today, like a chorus of backup singers, the Big Three automakers posted double-digit sales increases in perfect unison. Meanwhile, the Democrats kicked off their convention in Charlotte. Delegates will vote today on the Democratic platform, released late last night. The platform doesn’t say […]