Thursday, June 28, 2007

G'Day Mate! Got petrol?

Researchers warn of 'transport poverty'
By Jane Cowan
Posted Wed Jun 27, 2007 11:04am AEST

"Petrol prices weigh on the mind of any motorist, but there are predictions that if the cost of fuel continues to rise, the poorest Australians will be forced to quit work because traveling to and from their jobs will be unaffordable."

I had not been paying particular attention to the drought in Australia - we're having a bit of a drought of our own, though not nearly as bad. What caught my eye was, of course, the headline. The article itself says something that I have worried about and reported on this blog would start happening eventually:

...On the outskirts of Melbourne alone, at least 20,000 families earn less than $500 per week but run more than two cars. Monash University's chair of public transport Graham Currie says the price of petrol does not have to rise much more before those families simply will not be able to afford to fill up the tank. "What this new research project has found is that there is essential transport poverty associated with people who have got no option but to own and run very expensive cars, and the expenses are increasing with fuel prices growing," he said...

The focus of the problem is one that you should recognize right here in the states:

..."Our cities are gigantic, and there is really no alternative other than using the car at the moment, and if that is further marginalised with increasing oil prices, climate change, this will further marginalise groups who can't afford these cars," he said...

The vast majority of people living in this country do not live within walking distance of any kind of mass transit, much less non-petroleum powered transit. The article makes the usual statements that people have to be able to get to their jobs and so on. And then there's this blinding flash of the obvious:

..."Really the key to solving a lot of these problems is better public transport provision."

No! Really? You don't say! But wait, there's more!

...We've got to get ourselves out of cars, it's essential that we get a federal-state partnership to build these rail systems and to restructure our cities so that people don't have to give up jobs in order to survive."

Wow! Why didn't I think of that? Now, if we could just get that blinding light to give a road-to-Damascus experience to American politicians...

Maybe we won't all be living in Mad Max land when it's all over.

(But I'm not holding my breath on that.)

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