In a effort to reduce pollution, the city of Paris has made its public transportation free for three days so that hopefully fewer people will drive their cars. Other French cities are doing the same in order to combat pollution levels that are approaching that of Beijing. France is undergoing a heat wave that is exacerbating the situation.
I feel that free public transportation should be the norm, especially in major cities with a lot of traffic where atmospheric pollution can be a real problem. Not only will it reduce pollution, it will also be a boon to poorer people who depend more on public transportation for work and daily living.
Of course, nothing is really free. We have to pay for it in some other way in the form of taxes. But there is no reason why taxes on gasoline, 60% of which currently pays for highway and bridge construction in the US, should not be used for this purpose. State and local gas taxes that pay for local roads could also be used to cover the cost of public transport.
Incidentally, the winter and the onset of spring has resulted in the streets in the Cleveland region being awash in potholes which has highlighted once again the crumbling infrastructure in the US. One problem is that the federal gasoline taxes were fixed not as a fraction of gas prices but at a fixed amount of 18.4 cents per gallon back in 1993 and have not been raised since. As a result, there isn’t enough money to fix things properly.
To compensate for inflation and increased fuel efficiency, the federal gas tax should now be around 34 cents per gallon. Of course there is next to no chance of that happening in the near future since these days raising taxes on anything will immediately be denounced as being the equivalent of Hitler invading Poland.