Too many cars on the road - Weekend

Too many cars on the road

Jerome NeriAtty. Jerome G. Neri
The Scrutineer

CARS and especially motorcycles now have become more affordable. There is a boom in both car and motorcycle sales. This boom has got the government concerned, that a law maker has suggested that a prospective car buyer must first prove that he has a private space to park the car that he is purchasing. Apparently, cars have become so affordable that people who do not have garages can afford to buy a car. I agree with this. You do not have a private place to store your car, then you should not be qualified to purchase a car. Public thoroughfares should not become a private parking place.

Another measure being floated is that an increase in taxes for cars. Cars will become more expensive and therefore it will encourage the public to opt to use public transportation instead of private. Fewer people would buy cars and, therefore, there will be fewer cars on the road. I disagree with this train of thought. All the brand new cars available now are loaded with lots of features that used to be optional but are now standard, such as electric windows, stereo system, power steering, etc. If taxes go higher, the manufactures will find a way to make the cars more affordable. Moreover, the consumer can also opt for a cheaper car or a used car. As long as using a car is still the best option for going around the city, people will buy cars. A greater tax on cars will not improve the traffic situation.

LUXURY CAR TAX. A sales person takes a smoke break outside the Rolls-Royce showroom near a McLaren sports car parked in Beijing. China’s Finance Ministry has imposed an additional 10 percent import tax on luxury cars in the government’s latest move to curb ostentatious spending. (AP PHOTO)
LUXURY CAR TAX. A sales person takes a smoke break outside the Rolls-Royce showroom near a McLaren sports car parked in Beijing. China’s Finance Ministry has imposed an additional 10 percent import tax on luxury cars in the government’s latest move to curb ostentatious spending. (AP PHOTO)

To encourage the car using people to use public transportation, we would first need responsible professional drivers behind the wheel of public transportation, whatever it may be. The problem is a responsible professional driver does not exist in this country. People here do not take public transportation by choice, they just do not have any other alternative. Moreover, the buses and jeepneys plying our streets do not look safe at all, and I’m pretty sure would not pass any modern safety standard tests. Encouraging the people to take mass public transportation is encouraging the public to add more risk to their person. Government has to realize and accept this sad truth and do something to change it.

Imagine if we used the same standards in our land transportation in air and sea transportation, it would be a complete disaster.

Thus, the first step necessary to encourage the people to take public transportation is to improve the operator and the vehicle. Adding taxes to make cars unaffordable would be putting more people at risk.

In this country, encouraging the private motorist to shift to public transportation will not work. What we should do is to encourage the motoring public to start ride sharing.

The best deterrent to the use of cars in public roads is to increase the price of fuel. However, fuel prices are a very social sensitive issue. So as not to affect prices of products and cost of travel in mass transportation. The fuel price increase through taxation should only apply to private vehicles. Public transportation should not be included, as well as trucks, delivery vans and other industrial equipment that uses fuel. Likewise, cities and municipalities that do not have traffic problems should be exempted from fuel tax.

Let’s say fuel prices for private cars is doubled. There will be fewer joy rides, as private car owners will plan their trips better. Friends and neighbors will start car pooling to share the cost of fuel. We are all in a connected world and barangays and villages can make their own car pool online network.

There are too many private cars on the road with just one person inside. The only way to encourage ride sharing is to make the cost of travel high in order to make sharing make sense. This may not be a popular view but I believe it is better that the other solutions that have been suggested.

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