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Automobile Dependency And What It Costs Us

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Automobile Dependency And What It Costs Us
Automobile Dependency And What It Costs Us

High levels of automobile travel per capita, patterns of using land in ways that specifically support cars, and few alternatives for transport are defined as automobile dependency. There are some costs that are increased by automobile dependency: more car expenses, accident damage, fewer travel choices, environmental impacts, and more parking and road facility costs.

An economy’s development and productivity may be reduced if automobile dependency exceeds a certain level. Therefore, society and consumers can benefit from a transport system that’s a bit more balanced.

Balanced transportation is the opposite of automobile dependency, defined as having several transport choices, as well as people being incentivized to use them for their intended purpose.

There isn’t one thing that causes automobile dependency. Numerous land use and transport factors play a part. Since these factors most often support each other, we cannot generalize one of them as the cause. They are contributors to automobile dependency as well as its results. 

Furthermore, there is a relative aspect to automobile dependency. We find mixed systems to usually be in the middle ground of factors, where low auto. dependency appears in nodes. There’s favoritism towards non-motorized and transit travel, while some areas depend on cars.

Most communities in North America depend on automobiles. Households buy and use them for travel. Patterns regarding land use are more and more oriented towards serving automobiles.

Options that do not use a vehicle are declining in terms of quality and are considered inferior. While people can choose between vehicle and automobile services, they lack enough alternatives regarding their mobility mode.

There are costs and benefits associated with automobile dependency. While costs are external to users, cumulative, and indirect, benefits are internal and direct. Consumers wish to be informed of the costs of operating and owning an automobile before they decide to buy it. Similarly, the community must be informed of the results of their transport decisions. Indirect costs must be included as well.

Automobile dependency is helped by a few market distortions. Because of this, consumers’ optimal welfare and preferences aren’t necessarily reflected by automobile dependency. The reason for its existence is few travel choices caused by market distortions that encourage people to drive more than they would if the market was neutral.

Automobile criticism is often viewed as anti-automobile and believed to be ideological in nature instead of based on economic concerns. Through our investigation, we are not trying to say that driving should be forbidden and that cars are bad. We are only saying that fewer distortions in the market and more balance to our current transport systems could benefit the community. 

Developing an objective language for transportation

Numerous terms related to transport planning are biased towards travel using motor vehicles. This is not intentional. For example, we say it’s an improvement when parking and road capacity is increased. But, larger facilities for parking, wider roads, as well as higher traffic speeds and volumes reduce cyclist and pedestrian mobility to the detriment of the local environment. 

Therefore, when we say these changes are improvements, we are basically suggesting a bias towards one activity. To be objective, changes, modifications, additional lanes, added capacity, and other neutral terms can be used.

When it comes to “trip” and “traffic,” these terms are used just for travel that involves motor vehicles. Non-commute trips, children travel, non motorized trips, or short trips are ignored or undercounted in analysis, models, and surveys on transport. Transit and automobile trips most often start and end through linking with cycling or with a pedestrian. But, they are still classified as transit and auto trips.

When saying “efficient,” we usually refer to more automobile traffic speed. Behind this term is the assumption that higher speeds for motor vehicles provide higher efficiency, although this is debatable. Effects of high auto speeds include reducing the total capacity of traffic, increasing the consumption of resources, more costs, more automobile dependency, less economic efficiency overall, etc.

A certain user group’s conditions are described using the term LOS or level of service. However, professionals in the transportation field focus mainly on the LOS of automobiles. When reporting values regarding LOS, we must indicate the users considered in the paper.

Costs of automobile dependency

By increasing consumer’s use and ownership, the total cost of transportation is increased as well. Therefore, in the US, a large part of a home’s expenditures consist of transportation costs, despite individual components like fuel and vehicles being cheaper.

According to an Expenditure Survey done in 1997, more than 18% of a household’s expenditures went towards transportation, and around 94% of this expenditure went towards cars. Transportation costs and automobile ownership varies according to the household’s region.

Homes located in the Northeast Region have fewer transportation related expenditures than people living in other places although they have higher incomes on average. This is because towns and cities in the Northeast Region managed to balance out their transport systems to a degree. People who live in these communities save over $1.200 each year by reducing expenses related to automobiles.

Households with lower incomes have difficulties dealing with transportation costs. People who earn $20.000 or less each year must use around 25% of their income to use personal cars.

$600 is spent each year on every residential parking space. Housing units must spend around $1.200. When it comes to housing costs, this a significant portion that contributes to homelessness.

In the past 3 decades, crash rates per mile have decreased thanks to improving road designs, medical services, traffic management, and vehicles. However, the increased mileage offsets these improvements, so death rates remain relatively the same.

The more automobiles are used, the more road deaths increase in number. Developing countries in Asia have very high crash rates. The cause may be relatively poor medical standards, traffic management, and roads. In regions where standards are similar, the more vehicles are used, the higher road death becomes.

Automobile dependency costs

Society must face large costs due to additional injuries and deaths. One of the main death causes for Americans up to 37 years of age are vehicle crashes. The US cost estimates for vehicle crashes were $358 billion dollars in 1988.

Deaths and injuries resulting from automobile crashes are much more common in suburban, dependent communities, since citizens there drive a lot more than people living in urban areas. Although suburban residents have a lower death and injury risk related to crimes, the ones related to traffic accidents offset it. 

Road risk is growing due to automobile dependency, since communities find it more and more difficult to take away driving privileges from people that have horrible safety records. Arguments regarding the necessity of driving often persuade judges away from taking licenses.

Stress and travel time

Few modes can compare to automobiles in terms of speed. Therefore, travel time can be reduced significantly with it. However, time is increased due to automobile dependency, since the public transit service cannot keep up with the demand. Patterns of land use are dispersed as well adding to the problem. 

Commuting in the United States can be twice as lengthy in the absence of driving. It’s why so many individuals opt for car travel.

But, regardless of their average speed and mode of transport, people’s travel times are relatively the same. Regardless of city types, time dedicated to commute is remarkably consistent. It’s 26 minutes in North American and Australian cities, 28 minutes in European cities, and 33 minutes in Asian cities.

As time passes, travel needs are increased due to automobile dependency. According to Whiteleg, people that travel using technology to reach bigger speeds, maintain the same contact number. They play, sleep, eat, and work in similar proportions. The only difference is the distance between the places where they perform these activities.

A social trap example is the failure of fast automobiles to cut down on time spent travelling. Car owners are advantaged when seeking a house because they can pick between rural and suburban homes. They’re also advantaged when looking for jobs, since they can search in areas where a transit service is not present. Their social status also tends to be higher.

However, when everyone owns cars at similar levels, there is no longer a competitive advantage. Instead of a luxury, automobiles are now a necessity. Until travel time, car costs, and congestion limits them, people increase their driving amount to keep up with their neighbors. By offering and incentivizing better land use and transportation patterns, a balanced transport system may result in reduced travel time for everyone.

There are several factors that affect travel time. People who use public transit face lower costs for their travel time. The same can be said about rideshare passengers. Those who pay the most are people who own automobiles, especially if traffic conditions are congested.

There is less stress for passengers, and travel time can be used for work, reading, or resting. As a result, by balancing the current transportation system, costs involved in travel time may be reduce since people would have alternatives to choose from in order to optimize their money and time expenditure.

Automobile dependency costs

Personal stress is raised by automobile dependency when facing congestions on the road. Areas where systems are based on transportation that depends on automobiles have much higher death rates involving aggressive driving. Places with a high use of transit, less highway miles, and citizens that bike or walk for their commute, are less likely to have high death rates associated with aggressive driving.

Less enjoyment and exercise

Depending on cars leads to less incentive to engage in travel with non-motorized methods. Transport resources, such as roadway design, land, and money, are dominated by automobiles. Patterns in land use encourage dispersed destinations, low density areas, and high speed travel that pose problems for cycling and walking. 

This can seem like a small problem at first. There are places reserved for cycling and walking even in communities that depend on automobiles. However, in practice the cost to society and to individuals can be great because it leads to the decline of active transport. In this situation, disabled people, the elderly, and children are disadvantaged greatly.

People use bicycles and walk much more if conditions are suitable. According to a survey, people feel that land use and traffic conditions limit their ability to bicycle and walk more.

In places where measures were taken to accommodate cycling and walking, non-motorized travel increased significantly. As an example, a solid cycling network was created in Eugene, Oregon, leading to numerous trips being conducted without automobiles. 

Despite the presence of a big university in Eugene, a lot of the bicycle and pedestrian transport increase took place in other segments of the population. There is a latent demand for this type of travel throughout all income groups and demographics. 

To maintain proper health, we all need aerobic exercise. Non motorized transport is a great way to conduct it. 

The government states that cycling and walking on a regular basis is the best way for our population to exercise and stay decently fit. A 5-10% decline in heart disease was estimated by a study in situations where short trips are done with bicycles instead of driving. 

There’s a substantial potential for enjoying non motorized trips. Environments that are friendly for bicycles and pedestrians are excellent destinations for tourists. The Riverwalk in San Antonio and Venice city are great examples of this. In numerous places, tourists visit public trails. 

External expenses

According to economists, there are definite external costs associated with transportation. Some of these costs were estimated and examined in recent studies, which we’ll discuss below.

The more society depends on automobiles for transport, the more land is assigned to parking facilities and roads. Studies from Canada and the U.S. observed that hundreds of dollars were spent by households each year on taxes meant for traffic and road services. Parking costs in the United States can exceed $800 for each automobile. 

Low density areas can have lower parking costs for individual units due to cheaper land costs. However, these costs can be increased by automobile dependency because of an increase in parking demand and lack of parking facilities.

Due to automobile dependency, the amount of money afforded to transport expenditures and roadways is increased, while recovering the cost of public transit is reduced.


Congestion costs are increased by automobile dependency. Areas oriented towards transit usually have a lot of congestion. However, despite the density being lower in areas that depend on automobiles, the total congestion is actually higher. 

Houston, Los Angeles, and other cities that depend on automobiles experience higher delays per capita than those who practice balanced transportation like Chicago and New York. 

Traffic congestion will not decrease by increasing the capacity of highways. Only transit that’s separate by grade has the potential to attract people who would otherwise use vehicles and reduce highway congestion.

Between 1982-1997, cities in the United States experienced an increase in traffic congestion by 235%. This was in large part due to patterns in land use and transportation that’s dependent on automobiles. 

The same study showed that in the same period there was just a 22% increase in population while the roadway capacity per capita increased by 10%. However, these changes were nullified by a sizable increase in the length of the average trip and a reduction in walking, cycling, transit, and ridesharing due to the transportation system of choice and due to how land was used.

Poor travel alternatives

We can find important scale economies in services and facilities related to transport. Because more and more people use automobiles for transportation, the cost of units has steadily declined leading to superior integration with various other land use and transport activities, as well as better services and facilities. 

Recovering the cost of performing transit services is significantly easier in areas that depend on the automobile. If more people cycle or walk, facility costs for these types of transport (bike lanes, trails, sidewalks, etc.) will decrease as well, so bigger investments will be justified.

People’s choice of transport is reduced due to automobile dependency, as well as due to the service’s efficiency. To keep a steady service level, either subsidies must be provided or the service must be reduced. If the transport system is balanced, then alternative modes will increase their efficiency.

Consuming resources and pollution

Cars contribute greatly to water, noise, and air pollution. A report from the OECD put it ahead of industry and building in terms of noise pollution. 

Non-renewable resources must also be consumed in large quantities to facilitate their use. Among harmful gasses we include particulates, methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, road dust, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, etc. Parking facilities, roads, and motor vehicles contribute greatly to hydrologic disruptions and water pollution.

Land use

Land use is also impacted negatively by automobile dependency. A lot of land is paved to construct parking and roads at environmental, social, and economic costs. Cities that are oriented towards using automobiles use triple the amount of land for parking and roads compared to pedestrian oriented traditional cities.

We tend to notice automobile dependency in urban periphery, lower density, developments. Land used for buildings, parking, and roads are increased per capita while land meant for wildlife habitats and agriculture is reduced. Finally, public services cost more under these conditions.

Impacts on the community

Community impacts brought by automobile dependency are often negative. Due to designing roads to allow heavy automobile traffic at high speeds, the public segment is affected. People lose public spaces where they can interact naturally. Social interaction opportunities are reduced, especially spontaneous interactions between people. 

According to Donald Appleyard, there’s a negative relationship between neighborly activities/interactions and the volume of vehicle traffic. The space people consider their territory and the number of acquaintances they have on the street they live on are included in this situation.

He notes that people’s susceptibility to the impact of traffic is affected by the activities they wish to pursue. Numerous activities are now suppressed. These include people talking, gardening, cycling, jogging, strolling, sitting, playing, etc. All of these activities are easily interrupted by traffic. 

The quality and amount of neighboring is one of street life’s most discussed and important aspects. Severing or interrupting it is one of the many results of our current transportation system.

The benefits of people living in areas with fewer automobiles have been identified in a Consumers’ Union article. It claims that many districts have lost their community sense due to the buildup of traffic and widening roads. Access by foot is necessary for the development of strong communities. 

People meet up and talk while walking allowing them to build contacts, trust, and friendships. People that spend all commute time in cars can have no social interaction, and this contact is vital for building bonds inside the community.

Economic and social stratification is encouraged by automobile dependency. A large portion of people’s lives are spent in semi private and private environments. They are surrounded by people with similar lifestyles and incomes. Despite this seeming attractive, it stops the creation of complex and diverse communities.

Cultural resource losses and aesthetic degradation

The beauty of landscapes is affected by parking facilities, large roadways, and vehicle traffic. Cultural resources, like traditional communities, history sites and structures, etc. are threatened. 

According to landscape planners, urban areas focused on automobiles are ugly. Retail businesses are forced to use large disruptive signs to signal motorists, a large portion of the area is reserved for parking, and there’s no clear form to houses’ patterns. Healthy and attractive landscapes increase the value of adjacent properties and attract tourists.

Health and automobile dependency

The WHO’s transport, health, and environment charter explains that increasing the use of motor vehicles negatively affects human health due to reducing exercise, accidents, and pollution. According to the charter:

  • There’s an increase reliance on road transport and motorized transport in general that leads to adverse health and environmental effects. These are likely to increase if we don’t take structural and preventive actions.
  • We need to give higher priority to reducing accidents as well as to improving transport safety.
  • We need to better integrate and coordinate health, environment, and transport policies.  If do not take effective action, conflicts between health, the environment, and transport will likely increase. Coordination and cooperation between sectors in local and central governments, between governments, as well as in the private and public sectors is need. 
  • To this point, we’ve dealt with transport’s health effects separately without considering cumulative consequences. There needs to be more coordination within the health sector and between it and the transport sector.
  • We need to integrate considerations of policies’ effects on health into impact assessments, approval procedures, as well as benefit and cost evaluations for infrastructure investments and programs, planning land use, and transport plans.
  • Because those who use air and road transport don’t usually face health related and environmental costs, the transport market contains distortions and negative incentives.
  • There isn’t enough information given to the public regarding the negative health and environmental effects of motorized transport. There is also insufficient information regarding how and why people should take individual action towards solving these issues.

Specific measures are proposed by the charter to improve balanced transportation. Health promoting and environmentally sound modes of transport are included. People’s need to use motor vehicles for transport should be reduced. We also need to reform pricing, so transport costs can reflect travelled mileage better and internalize health and environment benefits, as well as costs related to transport.

Costs of economic development

Automobiles are commonly assumed to benefit a country’s economy because of the high value of petroleum and of automobile industries. When industry was initially growing, this was probably true because of scale economies in the production of roads and automobiles. However, these industries have now reached maturity. 

While in the 1960s there were high returns for highway investments (0.54), in 1991 the return was a mere 0.09. Therefore, government funds can be spent in other more productive fields.

The current vehicle industry has very low profit margins and is overcapitalized. There are much bigger returns to be expected from expenditures into public transit than into improving highways.

Expenditures into petroleum and automobiles give little business and employment activity, because they depend on imported inputs and are capital intensive. According to a study, $1.5 million is spent by the government for every highway job compared to a maximum of $30.000 that other programs consume. In British Columbia, 5 times more jobs can be provided by investing into public transit than by doing the same for petroleum fuel.

Economic development in various regions is reduced by automobile dependency. According to a Word Bank research, car dependency provides no economic efficiency gains. Automobile travel surpasses 7.500 km. annually per capita, further increasing land use patterns focused on low density, transport systems that depend on automobiles, and driving lead to economic costs growing higher than benefits.

According to Walter Hook, the United States’ dependency on automobiles put it in a relatively disadvantageous economic position compared to Japan in the period where its economic growth was at a maximum level.  In Japan, only 50% of GNP is represented by transport. Japanese productivity was increased by this, and various funds were freed which were then used in various investments.

There is small economic activity in regions due to petroleum and automobile expenditures. Not only are they capital intensive, but they’re also brought from other areas. On the other hand, transit services are labor intensive and mostly produced locally.

In a case study from Texas conducted in 1999, it was concluded that if 53 million miles or just 1% of regional travel switches from automobiles towards public transit services, regional income would increase by $2.9 million. There would also be 226 new jobs in the region.

Impact on equity

According to horizontal equity, citizens that have similar resources and abilities should receive the same treatment. This principle is violated by automobile dependency because external costs are increased.

We have financial subsidies like road services that aren’t paid by users and free parking, as well as externalities outside the market like accident risk, noise, and air pollution. People who don’t drive often or at all must subsidize those who use this type of transport.

In terms of income, vertical equity presumes that policy must treat income in a progressive manner, and therefore give more benefits to households with a lower income than to those who earn more. For example, equitable would be programs and policies benefiting the poor.

However, this goal is violated by vehicle dependency. Households with lower incomes don’t drive as much as those with higher earnings. They also bear local road tax expenses, reduced mobility if they don’t drive at all, parking subsidies, health risks created by pollution and accidents, etc. 

Of course, there are some benefits resulting from cheap driving for poor people such as untolled roads, subsidized parking, and cheap fuel. In terms of income, this under-pricing may be considered progressive over short periods. 

As an example, the poor benefit from free parking more than wealthy people when considering the effect on their incomes. Therefore, we can justify driving subsidies with vertical equity.

However, there are better alternatives. Households with low incomes don’t drive as much as wealthier citizens. Poor drivers can benefit from parking subsidies, but a subsidy on transport would benefit everyone, even non-drivers, therefore being even more progressive.

There are great costs imposed by automobile dependency on poor people due to it cutting down travel options that don’t rely on the automobile and increasing necessary travel length to reach various destinations. Households with low incomes must suffer a large financial burden due to automobile dependency, because the need to use and own a car is growing.

Vertical equity when it comes to ability and need

Although similar to income related equity, in this situation, a person’s status as disadvantaged or advantaged is calculated using other factors besides income, like their ability to drive a vehicle or if they suffer from a disability.

While non-drivers aren’t completely immobilized by automobile dependency, because they can reach destinations if they have enough money and time, it does put them in a disadvantageous position compared to drivers.

Drivers have an advantage when it comes to recreational activity access, employment, schooling, and housing. Regardless of criteria, it’s unfair especially when considering the social, physical, and economical disadvantage numerous non-drivers face on top of lacking vehicles.

As explained above, other travel means’ efficiency is reduced by automobile dependency. A community that depends on automobiles cannot offer proper mobility solutions for non drivers.

This is because taxpayers will not subsidize facilities and transit services for this type of transport which is used lightly. It’s also due to barriers resulting from land usage meant to serve automobile and heavy traffic. Therefore, anyone who cannot buy a vehicle or cannot drive will suffer negative effects from automobile dependency.

According to an article, the automobile dependency’s impact on the poor is as follows:

Patterns in land use which focus on mobility put several population segments at a disadvantage. According to policymakers and scholars, one of the biggest causes for these people’s poverty is the fact that these citizens usually have homes in central cities while jobs are growing in number in suburban areas. 

Workers with low wages cannot bridge the gap created by the lack of transportation. Public transit either doesn’t exist or it’s concentrated on downtown transportation instead of taking people towards employment sites in suburban areas. One reason for this lack of transportation is the dispersion of suburban areas which may make policy makers think they lack importance.

Perspective on the costs of automobile dependency

In terms of direct expenses, owning a private vehicle costs people a little over $3.000 each year, plus another $400 at the minimum for parking in residential areas. Besides internal expenses paid for by users, the use of cars can only be possible with government and business funded facilities.

Customer and employee parking cost businesses up to $875 each year per automobile. According several studies, up to $500 is spent by the government from taxes each year for traffic and road services.

In urban regions, the cost of facilities is very high. To increase the capacity of the urban roadway in order to maintain today’s congestion levels, the U.S. government must spend $564 for each automobile operating in urban areas.

Worse yet, in Vancouver $75.000 US would be needed to increase the capacity of roadways for just 1 additional automobile. The annual cost without taking into account traffic services and road maintenance expenses would be $4.000. 

To build parking spots in urban areas, up to $20.000 per space is needed. Maintenance and operating expenses amount to $2.000 per year for every vehicle if the automobile needs 2 parking spaces in non residential areas.

In conclusion, an automobile user must invest around $4.000 for each car he owns, while the government and companies must spend around $8.000 per car on traffic services and facilities. Of course, automobile costs generated outside the market are not included in these estimates. These can be uncompensated environmental and accident damages, land use opportunity cost, etc.

The reason why these costs appear to be so high is because they’re dispersed widely, normally considered higher taxes or business expenses, instead of being connected directly to the use of vehicles. Additionally, to accommodate further travel with automobiles results in more traffic congestion instead of costs needed for improving roadway capacity.

Let’s now compare automobile dependency costs with ones generated by using alternatives. Around $600 is spent each year per person on passes for public transit. Around $15 billion are subsidized by public transit each year, or $81/vehicle. 

If a transit agency has an annual deficit of around $400 per vehicle, then it’s taken as a huge financial crisis. While these costs are significant and indicate a waste of resources, they’re insignificant when compared to automobile dependency costs.

As such, we can justify increasing expenditures on public transit by a fairly large amount even if the amount of car cost reduction is small. As an example, we can double yearly transit subsidies if the cost of automobiles becomes just 1% smaller. Furthermore, if we could reduce car costs by just a little through telecommuting facilities, cycling, and walking, then the expenditure would be justified.

Households that opt for balanced transportation as opposed to automobile dependency will have $4.500 in additional savings, while their external costs will be down by $3.300 on average. Besides these benefits, equity for increasing consumer choice and non-driver mobility will be added, and the community will enjoy certain benefits as well.

These savings may not be worth changing their lifestyle for some households, but evidence shows that there are some people who would like to drive less if their choices were better and there were fewer distortions in the market that encourage dependency on automobiles. 

An example of this is how popular some neotraditional communities are. A lifestyle that doesn’t depend as much on automobiles is in demand, and strategies like cash outs for parking are effective since they offer commute options that are a bit more neutral.  For environmental, social, and economic benefits, numerous market reforms in the transportation industry can be justified.

Automobile dependency justification

There are documents published by various organizations that defend automobile dependency and policies which support it. Below, we will discuss some of them.

Some have claimed that economic development will be constrained if the growing demand for travel isn’t accommodated. To stimulate the economy’s growth, investments in highways are necessary. The highway and vehicle industries are valuable for the economy.

A counter argument would be that while improvements in highways can encourage the economy’s development in certain areas, this improvement is simple moved from other places. TDM measures and transit improvements which develop efficient transportation options brings bigger benefits to the economy.

As explained in the research mentioned above, depending on automobiles doesn’t benefit the economy. Consumer expenditures provide more benefits for the economy than vehicle expenditures, since inputs such as fuel, parts, and vehicles are imported.

Another argument for automobile dependency is that it’s caused by consumer demands and needs. The high automobile use levels in suburban areas are due to customers’ desire for privacy, comfort, and convenience. Consumer welfare would be reduced if vehicle driving and ownership is constrained, or if the roadway capacity does not meet current demands.

To this statement, a counter argument is that society can make sure there are net benefits to increased consumption only if efficient markets are available to consumers. The market distortions we’re currently facing minimize the choices available to consumers and encourage the use of vehicles at levels where they’re no longer optimal solutions.

Automobile use constraints that have been proposed thus far, like facility full cost recovery planning based on the lowest cost, are standard practices in business and are applicable to any type of goods. Because there aren’t good transportation alternatives, automobile dependency should be reduced, not increased, in order make room for them.

Another argument suggests the inequitable nature of demand management. Fees and taxes obtained from automobile use should be used for building roads. There’s a regressive nature to fees on automobile users that will prevent households with lower incomes from affording cars and driving.

The counter to this is that the costs of roadway facilities cannot be covered properly by fees placed on automobile users. The external costs of using automobiles aren’t covered either, so it’s not horizontally inequitable or unfair to divert taxes from motor vehicles to other modes of transport.

When it comes to income, fees on users can be progressive if other regressive fees are replaced with that revenue, or the way they’re used benefit poor populations. Examples of this are improving transit facilities and services for travel without cars. There are many benefits for poor households provided by TDM strategies, like efficient housing in terms of location and free parking.

A final argument is the anti-automobile nature of TDM programs and transportation costs. It’s believed that they go against consumer sovereignty.

The counter argument is that TDM programs and transportation costing do not oppose automobiles just like healthy diets don’t oppose food. Measures taken by TDM aren’t more intrusive than the transport policies used today. According to evidence, consumers desire superior land use and transportation choices, as well as better cycling and walking conditions, sprawled development alternatives, and better transit.

Alternatives, implications, and conclusions

There are direct benefits provided by automobile dependency to car users. However, according to evidence, external benefits are few. 

There are numerous environmental, social, and economic costs imposed by automobile dependency. When considering incremental costs and benefits, society doesn’t necessarily benefit from more driving.

Depending on cars is inequitable. Due to the external costs of automobile dependency, those who do not drive as often as the average end up paying more, while those who use automobiles receive subsidies. 

Citizens that are at a disadvantage, seniors, children, the disabled, or those with low incomes, share a lot of costs. Therefore, anyone who doesn’t drive or owns an automobile will suffer from the current situation.

Consumer choices aren’t reflected in automobile dependency because of the excessive car use encouragement caused by market distortions. We can confirm the net benefits of using automobiles only after these distortions are removed. 

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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