Here at Iowa Liberal we’ve spilled a lot of ink bemoaning the ethanol boondoggle and contended that mass transit is a better idea than expecting consumers to wait around for whatever combination of miracle alternative fuels that will allow them to carry on driving Ford Expeditions and GMC Yukons. And we’ve never said that these alternatives won’t exist, just that they’re not scalable to the point of providing a viable replacement for gasoline. Metro commuters seem to agree:
Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots.
â€œIn almost every transit system I talk to, weâ€™re seeing very high rates of growth the last few months,â€ said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.
â€œItâ€™s very clear that a significant portion of the increase in transit use is directly caused by people who are looking for alternatives to paying $3.50 a gallon for gas.â€
Some cities with long-established public transit systems, like New York and Boston, have seen increases in ridership of 5 percent or more so far this year. But the biggest surges â€” of 10 to 15 percent or more over last year â€” are occurring in many metropolitan areas in the South and West where the driving culture is strongest and bus and rail lines are more limited.
Hopefully we wont have to wait until gas is six or seven dollars a gallon before state and local leaders start looking into light passenger rail service along I-80 or I-380. Regardless of those who are pathologically opposed to anything resembling mass transit it’s inevitable that pubic demand will bring these alternatives to the fore simply because it’s more economically feasible than waiting for electric cars (which would necessitate a massive overhaul of the electric grid, the costs of which would invariably be shifted onto taxpayers) or E85 ethanol which, even in it’s infancy, is proving to be a massive disappointment.