FISCAL BLACK HOLE

Financial costs of the car system include:

  1. vehicles and replacement parts from normal wear,
  2. fuel,
  3. collision remediation in, vehicle repair or disposal, property repair, compensation and litigation,
  4. health impacts: trauma and permanent invalid medical treatment of collision casualties, treatment of lung conditions from air pollution, treatment of conditions caused by indoor lifestyle, exposure to indoor pollutants, (paints, construction glues, radon from plasterboard etc.),
  5. lifestyle health impacts: principally obesity because of reduced exercise in transit and reduced outdoor activity because of the space monopolization, noise and danger of cars. As well as all the well known heart and circulatory system diseases obesity increases incidence of: breast and colon cancer (obesity ranks with smoking as biggest preventable cause of cancer); skeletal problems, arthritis particularly of hips and knees etc; "type two" or "adult onset" diabetes; and diseases of the gall bladder,
  6. workplace effects of health effects, lost productivity through illness and psychological effects within death & casualty acquaintance network, training persons to fill workplace role of casualties,
  7. productivity effects of traffic and collisions: slowing of short walked journeys, slowness and unpredictability of delivery times, slowing of commuter journey, power blackouts caused by cars colliding with power infrastructure,
  8. Space inefficiency of car system causes Urban Sprawl, inflates: size of road and all infrastructure networks, infrastructure capital material costs and maintenance costs, pump energy for water and gas, booster energy for telephone and power transmission, wastage from unnoticed leaks in pipe network,
  9. The cost of replicated infrastructure in areas where traffic has depopulated the original locale,
  10. The capital value of land under roads and car parks, the biggest uncounted cost,
  11. Reduced casual "front porch" interactions causing decline of local informal borrow swap and hand-on redistribution economy leading to increased new consumption by individuals and inflating storage, waste and waste disposal costs,
  12. Ecological and ultimate economic costs of car generated pollution include: oilslicks from tanker sinkings, reduced fish breeding in acidic littoral and riparian zones, water table pollution, lost crops from acid degraded soil, site remediation costs of heavily oil and chemical polluted land, plus all the pollution effects of increased consumption/production/distribution of components and fuel.

Estimates that don't even count all the above costs figure cars cost about 20%GDP, one day's work in 5. Unlike trains and trams the car system's costs aren't concentrated into one organization's accounts, but dispersed over many payers, most are cross subsidised through a generally high cost of living, the price and tax structure making non users pay as much as users. Until all car costs are tallied no exact comparison can be made between them and transit systems; but even in concept they reveal the lie in the car system's claim of being overtaxed; whatever truth it has in country areas; most cars are in cities.

The car also has benefits of course; the non-economic benefits still seem to be esteemed higher than the costs, convenience and independence are stressed; but these would have less appeal if they were being directly paid for rather than cross subsidised, particularly the space demand and damage caused by cars, 8 times the space of train travellers and 100 times the injuries. Energy crisis could change the cost benefit balance, as fuel is an internalized cost. The car culture still tries to claim economic benefits; but studies including only a portion of the above costs, still show transit investment leveraging 2-4 times as much economic gain as road and car investment in urban areas (note 1).

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