The Association of Public Transport Companies believes that the renewed popularity of rail and bus is permanent and does not disappear with the fuel shortage. Shipping through bus and train has risen too. While fuel shortage can affect other transport services such as towing (http://towing-services.com), the experiences of 1974 raise doubts about this optimism. Back then, the Opec oil embargo suddenly turned many American drivers into bus and train passengers. When petrol flowed again, public transport was empty again.
Transportation In The United States
Why should it be different now – if the fuel shortage does not degenerate into a permanent condition? The reasons for this are not only related to the proverbial “love affair” of the Americans with their automobile. The insufficient range of public transport is also crucial. “We built America around the car,” said Henry Ford II a few years ago. That still applies today. The energy crisis of 1973/74 and the constant uncertainty about America’s oil supply have so far led to tentative attempts to give public transport a more important role.
Washington’s energy policy in the transportation sector was essentially limited to forcing automakers to build vehicles with lower fuel consumption. The Carter government has spoken out in its first energy program for the promotion of mass transport. The funds from the petrol tax originally planned by Carter (which was rejected by the Congress) should be used in part to expand the public transport network. But when opposition to these plans arose in Congress, Carter dropped his idea like a hot potato. This suggests that even with the use of the special tax he proposes on the profits of the oil company, Carter will not fight for massive public transport funding. This may be related to the President’s personal aversion to mass transportation. He once said that the existing public transport network was “much too large”. He calls the subway tunnels a “curse”.
The majority of Congress seems to share this opinion. But some declared opponents of billions of euros in favor of public transport seem to have doubts as to whether it is right to rely on the car in traffic policy on the one hand and at the same time to take energy policy measures that should deter the use of the car.
“This policy boils down to forcing the American population to be immobile,” said William Ronan of the New York and New Jersey Port and Transportation Agency. Proponents of public transport point out that the gasoline consumption per capita in metropolitan areas with developed public transport networks such as New York or Chicago is only half as large as in urbanized Los Angeles or Tucson, where one family home is strung together and no buses or trains run.
“So far we have only taken superficial measures to save energy,” said John Milhone of the Minnesota State Energy Agency. “But the behavior patterns of energy consumers are determined by existing means of transport and by urban and spatial planning. Making the necessary changes here will be an important task for American politicians over the next few decades.”