On Friday, November 4, I asked a group of transportation experts what solutions they would propose to eliminate the need for “By Here Pay Here” used car dealerships. Here are some of the responses I received (in the order I received them.)
Joe Linton, Streetsblog Board Chair and CicLAvia consultant – I am not sure what kind of subsidies the Times is recommending. Many public subsidies to reduce the cost of owning a car are already in place: from free parking to subsidized gas to huge public investments in expensive car-centered infrastructure (and those are more direct subsidies – there are externalities like environmental and health care costs that are caused by and not paid for by the driving public.) No Los Angeles driver today ever pays the real cost of their driving. They’re already getting a bargain.
So… if we subsidize the cost of owning a car, then operating costs (gas prices, parking, insurance, etc.) go up, are we stuck subsidizing those too? It seems like plunging more fully onto an unhealthy treadmill that we’re already largely on.
Subsidizing car ownership will always be privileging a class of drivers over others. Assuming that we make a gigantic public investment in subsidizing car costs, and the price of buying a car becomes effectively zero. Then everyone who can drive will have a car, but we’ll still have youth, elderly, disabled folks who can’t drive.
I think that if we’re looking to subsidize transportation in ways that are good for low-income people, it’s better for the public to invest in a balanced system that gives people choices.Subsidizing transit, walking, and bicycling will yield mobility that’s affordable for all and accessible to all. If low-income people have many viable choices, then they are less at the mercy of loan-shark car dealerships.
On top of all this, I think that it’s important for prosecutors to track the practices of shady car dealerships that prey on low-income people. Where loan-sharks break the law, they should be brought to court and convicted and punished.
Roadblock, Midnight Ridazz “organizer” and Neighborhood Council Member – I guess this won’t really help your article but I sent a letter to the Times asking to know which broken down underfunded city agency Ken Bensinger expects to absorb the increased cost of road maintenance and traffic gridlock when the surge of hundreds of thousands of (taxpayer subsidized) 4000lb pavement destroying machines hits the roads as a result of the proposed “cars for poor people” program?
I suggested that Instead of proposing a program that destroys public infrastructure, it’s time to seek ways to reduce wear and tear on our roads and actually produces a better ROI since the gas supplies little to no funding for infrastructure in our cities.
My question is, considering the amount of destruction that a 20 ton bus can do to pavement and roads, the comparison in terms of passengers carried per driver and the cost of fuel, is there a comprehensive study of bus vs rail out there that can be referred to truly figure out which of the two solutions makes more sense when studying a transit corridor?
Allison Mannos, Former Director of LACBC’s City of Lights Campaign and staffer with LAANE – I would just say how important it is to increase bus headways in these low-income neighborhoods, especially the ones that connect them to job corridors, say, Wilshire.