EDITORIAL: Fueling our fear with higher gas prices

Higher gas prices are said to drive us to take public transit. Are we there yet?

We had our doubts, but it turns out our political masters were correct.

Now that they’ve raised the price of gas enough, our personal motor vehicles remain parked and our buses and rapid-transit routes are running at capacity.

A look out the window on any of our major commuter roadways should show this, right?

Turns out we may have spoken too soon. Even with the price of gas across Metro Vancouver hovering on either side of $1.60(!) a litre(!!), the majority of residents are still reliant on their automobiles, whether for commuting to and from work, shopping for necessities or just getting out and about while living their lives.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Over the years, when we’ve complained about the rising cost of fuel, we’ve been told by various theorists and officials that we are actually underpaying for this commodity. Not only were Metro Vancouver leaders willing to tax gasoline to subsidize transit users, it was actually suggested that arbitrarily increasing the cost would drive us from our personal vehicles and encourage us to to take mass transit, resulting ultimately in a greener planet.

While no one should argue against efforts to protect our environment and sustainability for all living creatures, it’s clear from the jam-packed roadways in so many pockets of our cities that the desired result is yet to come to fruition.

While buses on some routes may well be packed – resulting in a call for more frequent runs – drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can attest that this hasn’t translated to otherwise empty roadways.

Perhaps the problem is frequency of runs. Perhaps we can attribute it to the bus routes themselves and a dearth of rapid transit beyond SkyTrain’s terminus station. Everything seems synced to get Metro Vancouverites smoothly from their major exchanges to the downtown core and back during respective rush hours, yet they have far fewer options to simply get across town or to visit neighbouring suburbs.

However, while TransLink has made major inroads in many of these areas in recent years, most remain in their cars.

Whatever the problem is, if the solution really is that gas is just too darned cheap, one wonders how high the price has to go before our roadways are clear.

– Peace Arch News

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