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"we need NOT to compel drivers to have to drive such long distances to work."

In my opinion, as long as it's convenient and there is a culture out there that views a long commute as their "quality alone time" the VMT will continue to rise.

We can ask people to change behavior, but it's foolhardy to expect them to. We might be able to compel them to change, but ultimate success will require a culture change. Culture change is by most accounts the most elusive and difficult to attain.

Right now there are too many commuters who equate status with their automobile. Perhaps the ultimate winner of the X Prize will have a zero-emission vehicle that also exudes status?

Jim Beyer

The Real Third Rail

OK, a couple of points.

First, ethanol and hydrogen make no sense. Probably never will. Renewable methane is our best choice of biofuel, because it can actually be produced at a reasonable cost.

Second, Detroit is not EVIL. Detroit is stupid. I know, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference. The oil companies, on the other hand, really are evil. Seriously. They are smart enough to know that hydrogen won't work, yet promote it anyway.

Third, and I've said this before, you regulate consumer behavior by taxing it. If excessive VMT is a "sin", then the new sin tax is a gas tax.

Fourth, for what it's worth, our vehicles are not our biggest energy problem. It's true they consume alot of gasoline, but we at least have a ghost of chance of reducing that dramatically with the introduction of PHEVs. We consume more energy with our electricity use and the energy needed to heat/cool our homes and offices. Since much of this is derived from coal, a heavy CO2 emitter, there is no clear, economically viable path to obtain this energy from other sources. A real problem, far bigger than our transportation problem.

Which eventually leads to the question of how many people can this planet really sustainably support?

Now THERE'S a third rail for you.


We're one of the few places in the world that focus on our roads and have a HUGE network of roads as our main or sole method of transportation. I think we need to look toward places like Japan and beef up our public transportation and promote better urban planning and neighborhoods.

We area giant landmass, one of the few places that have a fast bullet train or maglev would make a LOT of sense for crossing the country. Instead or country focuses on our planes as a fast method of transport with huge government tax breaks and funding.

Our 'neighborhood' model these days as a country appears to be to destroy the old down town, create a super highway interstate and funnel everyone to walmart or the like. There are less mom and pop shops intermixed in living districts that could be walked to. Places like Stewarts Shops (I'm in NY) help this I think, you can have a suburb and walk or bike to a shop that has some minimal groceries. Pushing people to walk and bike more and designing communities to allow that will help a lot.

I think the biggest thing is that people don't get it. We're artificially inflating the fuel cost hoping to decrease consumption, but it's not working. I think we need a realistic gasoline quota evaluated on an individual basis (based on need to commute, shop, etc). This might cause people to take a walk around the block instead of going for a drive or plan better and go to the mall less so they can go on a trip later. I hate this as a permanent solution but I think it's a good way to change current thinking.

Honestly I'm a huge proponant on bus or train travel. People can bike to their bullet train and get to their NYC office in 20 mins instead of using a typical commuter rail. I also think combing some functions, like have a car devoted to excersize, done up as a gym would be nice, even better, offer people discounts or cheaper rides if they want to use the excersize bike for an hour and generate some minimal electricity to operate the train on.


Interesting thoughts.. and definitely forward thinking. But how far forward do we think the government may stretch???

Keep posting and getting the word out- The Manufacturers and Society will eventually listen :)


Yes! People cannot afford housing nearer their work place - lack of urban planning and it's good that you require an environmental impact statement for any major project and a transportation energy use.. thanks!
Bankruptcy file
Wage earner bankruptcy
Business bankruptcy

Melanie Perry

It also depends on the city...

I commute, not because of expensive housing in the city near work, but, because of the substandard educational system.
I LOVED living in the city. All of the great attractions as well as the minuscule commute made it ideal.

But, almost everyone around here (St. Louis) who moves to the county and commutes back to the city are doing it for the good of their children's education (and sometimes safety).

But, those things might also be able to be addressed by better urban planning.

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