I had an interesting 2-hour conversation with our County Commissioner. The conversation seemed honest and open, and it was immediately apparent that he was pro-asphalt-solutions when it comes to the future of transportation. Some of his comments, along with my rebuttals:
1. Tax tires instead of Gasoline, so that cyclists also pay for road use.
Rebuttal: I mentioned that there are no County taxes on gasoline, and that Real Estate taxes pay for roads. He was surprised that I was aware of this. He brought out some paperwork that showed that, from their real estate taxes, an average household pays $75 / year to the county for roads. I thought it was more than this, so I learned something here. He also mentioned that the County receives both State and Federal money for road repair. At this point I mentioned that the State appropriated, from the General Fund (Sales Tax Revenue), $860 Million for 5 years for road repair. He was unaware of this, and said he was going to do some research. This is a huge subsidy, when one considers that this has been happening for many years, in every state in the US.
2. Historically, throughout the WORLD, nobody wants passenger rail, so don't invest in that.
Rebuttal: We discussed this, and after discussing many large cities and countries in the world, with efficient rail transit, he qualified this statement, and we ended up agreeing that there are many smaller communities where rail doesn't make economic sense. We also agreed that much of the US is indifferent or negative towards rail, and that cars are "the only transportation that they'd consider".
3. Supports the expansion of highways to include "Bus Only" lanes.
Rebuttal: My main argument here is that buses have all the same problems as auto traffic. Well designed rail is timely to the minute, whereas riders often have to wait for buses, in inclement weather, for long periods of time, due to traffic. I was a little perturbed at how he dismissed this topic, because to me, it's a key. Riders don't want to stand out in 0 deg F weather waiting for a bus. Given a choice, most would choose a car in this case.
The main positive I took away from our conversation was that he was going to look into State appropriations from the General Fund for road repair. We left agreeing to "talk some more later".