Monday, May 21, 2007


Chris Briem, of Null Space ( has a post up entitled “rethinking price elasticity for gas and Curitiba”. I want to say something about the price elasticity part, echoing sentiments which have been echoing around a few blogs around here since a report on Philly’s transit came out ( By the way, the Philly study is about what happens *if* no one gives them a hundred million.

The thing is, as gas prices approach and pass three dollars, we seem to hit a point of shared unconscious memory. Gas is reaching that point where it is now more expensive than it ever was before, in real terms (i.e, adjusted for inflation). Now, considering that the bottom 90% of us have not seen a whole lot of growth in our wages in real terms since the last time gas hit a high over twenty years ago, we are all getting nervous. Gas jokes are going to dominate the late night monologues for a while. The administration is going to hope for some Congressional committee to call Alberto Gonzales or Paul Wolfewitz (sp?) to testify to distract us. And we might think about taking the bus.

Oh wait, bus fares just went up. And I have to arrive an hour early to work if I take the bus.

You know, the state legislature has been relatively generous, but stopped increasing the amount it gave PAT for five or six years starting in 2000. Surprise, we developed a short fall. But now, if we could avoid the cuts and the fare increase, PAT’s ridership might go up, with lots of new middle class riders. PAT might turn the corner. Are you listening, Dan Onorato?

My State Representative, LisaBennington and State Senator, Jim Ferlo, need to get on the stick too. Their districts extend far away from the city, and to the extent they have commuters, they need help too. Even if it is the rest of us who ride the bus, the reduced demand for gas will make the price the commuters pay fall too.

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

We need to embrace Bikes -- right away. Bikes don't need gasoline.

Next, we need to embrace heavy rail. Plain old trains on train tracks -- for passengers.

We've got the tracks. We have the traffic.

Next, for the buses, we need to use an OCTOPUS PASS. An electronic bus pass would allow us to monitor demand, rates and costs much better.

Furthermore, we need to introduce competition into the bus routes. PAT should split into a rail company and a bus company. And, end the monopoly with only one bus company. Fayette, Butler and other counties can send buses to Pgh for their residents -- and pick-up Pgh passengers too.

There is lots and lots that Onorato and the others (Ferlo included) have failed to do.