Europe's War on Cars

by Carmel Roberts

July 02, 2011

How Europe is waging war on private commuters and what it may mean for drivers here in the United States. Read this assessment and share your thoughts on the HVA Website.

Rising fuel prices, increasing urban population densities and environmental concerns—these are just a few of the reasons urban planners and elected officials are urging people to kick their “automobile habit” and jump on board the public transportation bandwagon.  

On the surface, it’s hard to argue with a policy that promises an end to traffic congestion, a reduction in road and parking facility costs and improved public health. But what’s not talked about are the serious implications these types of policies could mean for our ability to own and use our vehicles.  

In the debate about public transportation policy, many believe that the environmental and cost incentive rationales amount to nothing more than a false, but seductive, logic capable of re-directing billions of tax dollars into an agenda aimed at getting us out of our cars and onto bike paths and commuter trains. 

Europe Stifling Drivers
If this sounds like ideological fear-mongering—if you think this couldn’t possibly happen in the great car countries of the world—consider this recent article in The New York Times.

Last month, reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal focused on a growing trend to stifle automobile ownership in Germany, England and other European countries all in the name of health, safety and cost efficiencies. Anti-car transportation policies in Europe have already led to the closing of many streets in popular cities such as Vienna, Munich and Copenhagen. Hefty “congestion fees” in London and Stockholm are leveled on motorist who want to drive their vehicles downtown.

One of the worst offenders of all—accused of purposely tormenting private commuters, according to the report—are Zurich traffic planning officials who have added closely spaced red lights on roads leading into town. According to the report, Zurich officials have also removed pedestrian underpasses and allow operators in the city’s ever-expanding tram system to turn traffic lights in their favor as they approach; thus, causing stop and go traffic conditions that result in driver “angst and delay.”

“Driving is a stop-and-go experience,” one Zurich city planner is quoted as saying. “That’s what we like! Our goal is to reconquer public space for pedestrians, not to make it easy for drivers.”

What’s most disturbing is that these troubling conditions are not simply the result of haphazard local policy. These actions are, in fact, all in line with the larger transportation goals of the European Union Transport Commission, which earlier this year introduced a plan that would ban all conventionally fueled cars from European cities by 2050 and move most passenger travel to trains in the same time-frame. 

Here At Home
The public transportation debate in America, thankfully, has taken a slightly different path for now. Major U.S. cities have yet to take as direct and hostile a stance as some in Europe. However, federal policies seem to be signaling a more troubling trend for drivers.

Consider federal and state gasoline taxes. While many of the highways and bridges in the nation are crumbling, a growing amount of fuel taxes paid by American motorists are being diverted for alternative transportation measures such as bike paths, high-speed rail and Amtrak.

Rising gas prices already serve as a disincentive to drive. But in May, The Hill reported on a new hindrance that came in the form of a draft plan by the Obama administration. The White House tried to distance itself from the controversial proposal, which suggested that cars be taxed by the number of miles driven, but many car enthusiasts believe the administration had simply shown where it stands on the issue of private vehicle ownership.  

So what can we do?

As social and environmental trends push us farther away from the internal combustion engine and lawmakers continue to respond with policy initiatives aimed at building and supporting an infrastructure built for public transportation (not the automobile), the HVA will be right there, every step of the way, fighting for our right to own and use our cars. The mobility provided by the car is one of the greatest freedoms enjoyed by Americans and is the envy of many around the world. Once lost, this freedom may never be gained back.

What do you think about the European trend stifling automobile use? Share your comments below.

Comments

  1. Brandon Winchell Saratoga Springs, NY

    Socialism is a creeping cancer on our society. Although it has been proven to fail miserably every time it is attempted, the fight against it is something we here in America can NEVER stop.

  2. JK MN

    I think you are right; they are trying to reduce our freedoms all over the world. Worst problem of all is that all these public transit systems lose money, ton of it. For example Amtrak would not even be in business if it was not gov't subsidized. I say reduce government and let us, the people figure out how we would like to travel, the politicians know nothing about what is good or right

  3. Carl A. McNeece Havana, FL

    I've lived in both Dublin, Ireland and London, England. Didn't have a car in either location - and really didn't miss it. We could get anywhere in the city or the country that we wanted to go on public transportation. Outside of the larger urban areas in the U.S.A, you can't do that, simply because public transportation is totally inadequate. We should have more incentives to build and use public transportation, and more disincentives to use private automobiles.

  4. Carl A. McNeece Havana, FL

    I've lived in both Dublin, Ireland and London, England. Didn't have a car in either location - and really didn't miss it. We could get anywhere in the city or the country that we wanted to go on public transportation. Outside of the larger urban areas in the U.S.A, you can't do that, simply because public transportation is totally inadequate. We should have more incentives to build and use public transportation, and more disincentives to use private automobiles.

  5. Allen Rhode Island

    Because there is a cost to society linked to automobile usage, including congestion, pollution, noise and space for roads and parking, I agree that those who use cars should pay for those costs, and for the most part we do through fuel taxation. I've always felt that higher gas taxes would encourage conservation of natural resources and reduce dependance on foreign oil, so in that regard I agree with the europeans. But taxing the miles driven or deliberately making traffic worse is not a reasonable solution.

  6. art Allison Park, PA

    I've been to Europe (not Eastern) several times, even before this frenzy of anti-car activity, and know that they have a first class system of public transit. In cities and between cities, ordinary rail and high speed rail, trams, light rail, subways and buses. In the USA public transit is mostly a joke. GM deliberately wrecked what system Los Angeles once had and now it is a catastrophe.The best we can do is the East Coast corridor where Amtrak does try hard and is not too bad Boston to NYC to DC & Baltimore despite that the Congress has been trying for years to starve it to death. I cannot speak for California. An other problem is the large distances in North America compared to Europe an d that's why high speed rail - not likely for a long time - is needed. Our air service is terrible and getting worse.

  7. rob Denver

    It is easy for Europeans to criticize Americans for not using public transportation. They have a higher population density per unit area. It would be absurd to take their suggestion TOO seriously. To illustrate, consider an extreme step in that direction. Suppose we: (1). Bankrupt the US so that we can put a bullet train or bus system through every town sub-10K population in the US (2). We could tell people living in small towns to move to a more populated area and stop producing grain, and mining natural resources, and wait for the the highly populated areas to wither off as the high commodity prices to financially choke them to death. It is a silly example, but I want to point out that there is a large set of people for whom mass transit doesn't make sense. For the 10,000 people crammed into a NY skyscraper, it might make sense to walk to work and take the subway-there is no other way to put that number of people in one space if they all drove.

  8. Todd Brown Tucson

    Actually, I think cutting back on the number of cars on US streets is a GREAT thing. The car is one of the most ineffective modes of transportation that there is. Most cars are driven by one person. Cars are a huge waste of a very limited natural resource, and contribute greatly to urban sprawl, congestion, pollution and any number of other undesirable problems. The US NEEDS to upgrade and streamline its public transportation systems. Nobody here is talking about taking away everyone’s cars, just making public transportation a more desirable option. Currently in the US (especially in the west) public transportation is abysmal.

  9. Ken Sanders Corona,ca.

    The current administration is under a veil of self deceit that getting more of the American public out of the Car as transportation and into alternative forms of transportation is the ultimate answer. I see a future where major US Cities will have very limited access to vehicles with internal combustion engines. The Green trend will continue to grow and implant itself in the American Psyche, where the automobile as we know it, will be found in museums and traveling displays. This is if the current generation doesn't speak up for having freedom to drive what we cherish. Cherishing clean air, water and sky as a purifying goal clouds the reality of progress the American Automobile symbolizes to all generations past, present and future.

  10. Ken Sanders Corona,ca.

    The current administration is under a veil of self deceit that getting more of the American public out of the Car as transportation and into alternative forms of transportation is the ultimate answer. I see a future where major US Cities will have very limited access to vehicles with internal combustion engines. The Green trend will continue to grow and implant itself in the American Psyche, where the automobile as we know it, will be found in museums and traveling displays. This is if the current generation doesn't speak up for having freedom to drive what we cherish. Cherishing clean air, water and sky as a purifying goal clouds the reality of progress the American Automobile symbolizes to all generations past, present and future.

  11. Paul Bignardi San Mateo, CA

    I am a classic car owner, and I want to own more, but I also work in public transportation. I think the question being asked is a false one. It is not a black and white issue. The European approach is a good one in many places, and would be a good approach in many places in America. My wife and I have three cars (including the classic - a restored '75 Bronco I bought back 15 years after I sold it the first time), but I commute by riding my bike to the train, carry it on the train, and then ride it again at the work end. I get 8 miles of bike riding in on most days and the car stays parked. I realize this isn't for everyone, and that is OK. Not everyone has public transit as an option, but there is no argument that it is more cost efficient and space efficient, and healthier than private vehicles for individuals and governments. I have also worked in very remote places where public transit is really not practical (drive 1 hour each way for groceries - and no transit option). Those who need to drive should be allowed to do so, but to insist that the car is "king" and that future debate and planning about how to be use our resources and plan our cities should stop with a 1960s mentality of cheap gas, big cars, and an ingrained right to drive anywhere and everywhere is wrong. A balanced approach is the right way and the marker to define balance is being redefined by the costs of fuel, population and other factors as we speak. And balance in one area (e.g. New York or London), isn't the same balance as in other areas (e.g. Los Angeles or rural Kansas). I challenge the writers of this article and any respondents to better define the debate instead of reposting old ideas and arguments.

  12. David Carroll Pittsburgh, PA

    I like driving my old car, but I also acknowledge the insanity of long lines of stationary, overheating, overwhelmingly single-occupant cars clogging the arteries of every major US city morning and evening. We are paying a huge national price for our commuter car habit - in terms of pollution, health, time, stress, dependence on a dwindling oil supply, wear and tear on infrastructure. I commute ~10 miles each way. It's a pretty painless commute, compared to many. I don't formally carpool, but I give a neighbor a ride most days. However, if my city had a decent, efficient public transport system or a way of bicycle commuting without running the real risk of becoming a smear on the asphalt, I'd ditch my auto commute in a (healthy) heartbeat.

  13. David Carroll Pittsburgh, PA

    I like driving my old car, but I also acknowledge the insanity of long lines of stationary, overheating, overwhelmingly single-occupant cars clogging the arteries of every major US city morning and evening. We are paying a huge national price for our commuter car habit - in terms of pollution, health, time, stress, dependence on a dwindling oil supply, wear and tear on infrastructure. I commute ~10 miles each way. It's a pretty painless commute, compared to many. I don't formally carpool, but I give a neighbor a ride most days. However, if my city had a decent, efficient public transport system or a way of bicycle commuting without running the real risk of becoming a smear on the asphalt, I'd ditch my auto commute in a (healthy) heartbeat.

  14. David Carroll Pittsburgh, PA

    I like driving my old car, but I also acknowledge the insanity of long lines of stationary, overheating, overwhelmingly single-occupant cars clogging the arteries of every major US city morning and evening. We are paying a huge national price for our commuter car habit - in terms of pollution, health, time, stress, dependence on a dwindling oil supply, wear and tear on infrastructure. I commute ~10 miles each way. It's a pretty painless commute, compared to many. I don't formally carpool, but I give a neighbor a ride most days. However, if my city had a decent, efficient public transport system or a way of bicycle commuting without running the real risk of becoming a smear on the asphalt, I'd ditch my auto commute in a (healthy) heartbeat.

  15. Chris Del Rossi Onley, VA

    Most of these laws and proposals are crazy, but I believe taxing by mile driven would benefit us car enthusiasts and the system overall. I'll explain. I am in construction and have a Silverado 1500 crew cab 4x4. I need it to make my living, I have to haul large, heavy items in it and be able to tow heavy trailers. I need four wheel drive because I live and work in a rural, low-lieing area that gets muddy and has serious issues when we get snow. I chose a crew cab so I could avoid having two regular vehicles since my non-work driving is very little (payments, insurance, space, etc.). I also have a heavily modified 72 Corvette. Both of these vehicles have a hard time getting even twenty MPG. My neighbor drives a little compact car that probably gets 35-40 MPG. She also has a longer commute than me (usually, mine varies based on job site, but the average is much less). Why do I have to pay about twice as much tax when I drive less? Granted, my truck weighs more than her car, but that's only one small part of the "use" equation (it's only about 1500lbs. more most of the time). Then there are those that have some of the newest alternative fuel vehicles, they use our roads and pay little or no tax. Our current road tax system is old, out dated, unbalanced and failing it's purpose; to raise funds to pay for the infrastructure. And with new technology making cars more efficient it's going to get worse. It is time for a new system.

  16. Ryan Los Angeles

    I'm all for relieving congestion in cities, and if that comes in the form of public transit, tolls to enter city centers, hefty parking fees, so be it. Hopefully that will ensure that my automobiles will have wide open spaces in the country and fuel to run on.

  17. Frank Stephens Stockbridge, Georgia

    I think we need to fire these rabid environuts who are elected. The rest we shoud shun and point out their hypocrisy. Most people are common sense enviromentalism but these people who want us to live in mud huts and walk everwyhere are insane.

  18. Philip L Anderson Texas

    Great news. Let them discourage automobiles in Europe, more and cheaper gas for the rest of us.

  19. Bob Eastern Wa

    I was stationed in Europe their system was great when I was there. I don't see it happening here. Fist Americans love their cars. I am retired, I was a public transit driver for Sacramento Regional Transit. Public transit has to many issues at the present time. The biggest issue is MONEY. transit across America cut their system back and laid of drivers. Some systems more then others. California was hit extremely hard thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold would claim to borrow the money, BUT never put it back. Then their are gangs who ride buses and light rail. These gangs can cause fear amongst riders. Security on transit doesn't do much. The other issue, drunks who live on the streets that like to ride, most smell badly. If a driver is caught denying service to anyone because of hygiene that driver ( Operator) can face a write up that can lead to suspension and sometimes termination.. 3rd in order to make transit attractive, all routes need to run every 15 min most transit systems in . Otherwise anyone with a car wont do it. Who wants to ride if they miss their connection then have a 30 min to 1 hr wait. If a driver holds for that passenger (transfer) then the rest of the passengers on the bus can/will miss their connections. Lastly transit has a huge turnover in the United States right now, reasons are stated above and the ADA ( American with Disability Act) places the driver in constant fear of law suites. Also assaults on drivers are way up.

  20. Larry St. Louis, MO.

    Whoever authored this article sounds like a gun nut who feels his second amendment rights have been threatened. It's been a while since I read the Constitution but I don't think there is a guarantee on the use of automobiles. It's time to come into the 21st Century. We can no longer afford to pollute our atmosphere with unlimited amounts of hydrocarbons and congest our cities with rolling piles of potential scrap iron. We need lots of mass transit, we need bullet trains, electric trolleys, and any other conveyance that will carry lots of people at one time at a smaller cost and a greener footprint. Will we stop having cars, of course not, will we stop collecting cars, they will just become more valuable. I wold advise the writer to go to Singapore and see how well it works.

  21. Larry St. Louis, MO.

    Whoever authored this article sounds like a gun nut who feels his second amendment rights have been threatened. It's been a while since I read the Constitution but I don't think there is a guarantee on the use of automobiles. It's time to come into the 21st Century. We can no longer afford to pollute our atmosphere with unlimited amounts of hydrocarbons and congest our cities with rolling piles of potential scrap iron. We need lots of mass transit, we need bullet trains, electric trolleys, and any other conveyance that will carry lots of people at one time at a smaller cost and a greener footprint. Will we stop having cars, of course not, will we stop collecting cars, they will just become more valuable. I wold advise the writer to go to Singapore and see how well it works.

  22. Joe Cordileone San Diego

    I love old cars and motorcycles. I particularly like a Sunday drive. But as far as using vehicles for commuting to work and day to day transportation, cars should not be the primary method by which we get around. They take too great a toll on the environment. It's time to start a gradual change to more efficient transportation.

  23. Joe Cordileone San Diego

    I love old cars and motorcycles. I particularly like a Sunday drive. But as far as using vehicles for commuting to work and day to day transportation, cars should not be the primary method by which we get around. They take too great a toll on the environment. It's time to start a gradual change to more efficient transportation.

  24. Joe Cordileone San Diego

    I love old cars and motorcycles. I particularly like a Sunday drive. But as far as using vehicles for commuting to work and day to day transportation, cars should not be the primary method by which we get around. They take too great a toll on the environment. It's time to start a gradual change to more efficient transportation.

  25. Don Gorham

    This is comparing apples to oranges, and I feel like members of the HVA are too intelligent for such a one-sided article. Anyone who has been to Europe (let alone someone who lives there) understands what a phenomenal public transportation system they have, especially in the cities. While I'm not crazy about regulation, extra taxes, or fees to punish for automobile use, I also understand the need to ease congestion in certain areas. There are countless cities throughout Europe that house many national and international treasures, museums, and historical architecture that can not be appreciated behind the wheel of a car. As much as I love "the drive" (and I DO have the disease), sometimes you need to get out and walk, and give those legs some exercise. Personally, no matter what vehicle I'm driving, I never get much pleasure out of a congested city drive anyway, and would much rather be cutting past red light after red light in the comfort of a train/tram. When I want to feel the exhileration of what my car is capable of, I go for a nice cruise out on some nice country roads.............which there are plenty of in Europe. I think most people tend to forget about mutual respect. It is very easy to see the negative impact someone has on you because you are feeling it; more often we need to look at how our actions affect others around us.

  26. Don Gorham

    This is comparing apples to oranges, and I feel like members of the HVA are too intelligent for such a one-sided article. Anyone who has been to Europe (let alone someone who lives there) understands what a phenomenal public transportation system they have, especially in the cities. While I'm not crazy about regulation, extra taxes, or fees to punish for automobile use, I also understand the need to ease congestion in certain areas. There are countless cities throughout Europe that house many national and international treasures, museums, and historical architecture that can not be appreciated behind the wheel of a car. As much as I love "the drive" (and I DO have the disease), sometimes you need to get out and walk, and give those legs some exercise. Personally, no matter what vehicle I'm driving, I never get much pleasure out of a congested city drive anyway, and would much rather be cutting past red light after red light in the comfort of a train/tram. When I want to feel the exhileration of what my car is capable of, I go for a nice cruise out on some nice country roads.............which there are plenty of in Europe. I think most people tend to forget about mutual respect. It is very easy to see the negative impact someone has on you because you are feeling it; more often we need to look at how our actions affect others around us.

  27. Joe Jarrell Green Valley, AZ

    With all this talk about saving the environment, gas and health, I wonder if they have given any thought to what will happen to the Automotive industry in this country. I not talking about "buy American" I'm questioning the reduction of private ownership and mileage tax's, we already have high unemployment from downsized auto workers, what do we do with many more. Everything has a consequence, reduce cars on the road or raise gas prices higher with more road tax, and you reduce the amount of revenue to the States and Feds. Then we have more layoffs and the wheel keeps turning.

  28. Robert Ferello White House, Tennessee

    I agree with the Europeans. Unless absolutely necessary cars in the city are a waste. There should be quick, efficient and most of all FREE public transportation within the cities. I also agree on having mass transit from suburbs to the city central. 99% of our driving is commuting. Why do we insist on big gas guzzling trucks and SUV's occupied with only 1 person commuting to work? We Americans need to relearn our wasteful ways. Use less fuel for the mundane such as commuting so there will be enough fuel to "burn rubber" when we want to!

  29. Skip New Mexico

    I see it as a war on indiscriminate consumption of a limited natural resource (oil). We need to preserve some of it for our own old age, not to mention our children and grandchildren. For most of us, that means low-speed, 10hp city vehicles (electric 4x better), and maximum 100-hp travel vehicles. For older, larger cars, they rightly belong in public and personal museums to be used - and enjoyed - on occasional tours.

  30. Skip New Mexico

    I see it as a war on indiscriminate consumption of a limited natural resource (oil). We need to preserve some of it for our own old age, not to mention our children and grandchildren. For most of us, that means low-speed, 10hp city vehicles (electric 4x better), and maximum 100-hp travel vehicles. For older, larger cars, they rightly belong in public and personal museums to be used - and enjoyed - on occasional tours.

  31. Skip New Mexico

    I see it as a war on indiscriminate consumption of a limited natural resource (oil). We need to preserve some of it for our own old age, not to mention our children and grandchildren. For most of us, that means low-speed, 10hp city vehicles (electric 4x better), and maximum 100-hp travel vehicles. For older, larger cars, they rightly belong in public and personal museums to be used - and enjoyed - on occasional tours.

  32. jagnut Topanga, CA

    The US had the best train ever called the Aerotrain (Google it) build in Los Angeles that would do 360 mph. On the short test track built in Pueblo CO. it ran very smooth at 150. This was in 1965, the train is still on display at Pueblo airport but thanks to Ronald Regan it was squashed along with the rail test center. All in favor of big oil and aircraft cooporations. Today we plan to build high speed rail based on 200 year old technology similar to the ones in China and Japan that have killed thousands in accidents that are hushed up. This old style system will cost eight times the cost of the upgraded Aerotrain monorail system. The US does not want an alternate transport until the big boys say its ok, that means the coorporations can make a killing of their own.

  33. Vrooden Washington DC

    When I moved to DC, I spent a YEAR trying to get my hands on a property that was close to the subway here. I NEVER drive my car into the city. I DO however drive my car across the country several times a year. The government wants to mandate higher mileage vehicles, and then realizes that they are losing tax revenue from fuel taxes, so they just want to add ANOTHER tax to make up the difference. Meanwhile we all get to drive tiny, tin deathtraps because they get 35MPG and we STILL pay through the nose. Its insanity.

  34. Will R Ojai, CA

    I have lived and worked in London both before and after the congestion charging came into force. It has had a hugely beneficial effect both on the quality of the pedestrian experience in the inner city and on the speed of buses and taxis, as they do not have to compete with much other traffic. London does have an efficient public transport system, with the underground and a good bus service. I believe that talk of loss of personal freedom and creeping government interferance is misplaced. Car owners can still take their cars into the city centre if they wish, they just have to pay in order to do so. Those that are disadvantaged (by having to pay more) are far outnumbered by those who benefit from a less congested, noisy and polluted environment. We must take into account that there are now twice as many people on the earth than there were in 1960 and we cannot expect to continue to live in the same way and use resources in the same way that we used to; there just is not the space or reserves to do so. The changes we will have to make will adversely affect most of us in one way or another, but not making changes will undoubtedly have an even greated adverse effect on us all.

  35. Rick Aurora, IL

    If you want to be like Europe, move to Europe. This is the USA.

  36. Jack Hausmann Johns Creek, Ga.

    The European Union is definitely on a path of destroying the individuality and uniqueness of the countries they try to RULE. They that wish to bring us back to the dark ages should do so for their families. But leave the rest of us alone.The hipocracy of these political dictators who are driven in Limos and fly private jets all over the world telling us, who produce, employ and pay the taxes for their stupid rules and regulations, is beond my comprehension. Lets take our country back, and let's start by firing Obama and his gang.Then drill and drive til the wheels fall off.

  37. Joe Beck Gateway to the West

    The trend for some of Europe's cities to make inroads to reducing automobile traffic is a sound one IF anyone has actually been to some of these cities and seen the relative size and land area actually afforded to automobiles, trucks and busses etc. Lets stop and remind ourselves that most of Europe's major metropolitan areas were already well established and functioned just fine long before the automobile ever existed as it does in the world today. Trucks the size of our semi's/18-wheelers are similar in size to three fully-loaded commuter train cars in London and the roads and traffic ways within the rather closely nested buildings in these very old cities don't lend themselves to parking, or even two-way traffic. For decades, European autos were smaller than American vehicles in every respect. A big truck would be something the size of a 16' box truck that we see in our downtown areas used for short-hop deliveries. So, it makes sense if you have a city that allotted large tracts of real-estate to the rail industry way back during the industrial revolution and DIDN'T remove it all again like we have in this hemisphere, that you convert and re-use that railroad for commuter purposes and not reconstruct your cities to use a different type of transit. We here in the US on the other hand, built our infrastructure around the automobile. And while I agree that we could lighten the expenses by trimming some of the fat from the inordinate number of roadways we do build, making the switch to a completely "carless" transit system would do more than devastate the industry, it would devastate something inherently American... the FREEDOM afforded to us when we take to the open road.

  38. Joe Beck Gateway to the West

    The trend for some of Europe's cities to make inroads to reducing automobile traffic is a sound one IF anyone has actually been to some of these cities and seen the relative size and land area actually afforded to automobiles, trucks and busses etc. Lets stop and remind ourselves that most of Europe's major metropolitan areas were already well established and functioned just fine long before the automobile ever existed as it does in the world today. Trucks the size of our semi's/18-wheelers are similar in size to three fully-loaded commuter train cars in London and the roads and traffic ways within the rather closely nested buildings in these very old cities don't lend themselves to parking, or even two-way traffic. For decades, European autos were smaller than American vehicles in every respect. A big truck would be something the size of a 16' box truck that we see in our downtown areas used for short-hop deliveries. So, it makes sense if you have a city that allotted large tracts of real-estate to the rail industry way back during the industrial revolution and DIDN'T remove it all again like we have in this hemisphere, that you convert and re-use that railroad for commuter purposes and not reconstruct your cities to use a different type of transit. We here in the US on the other hand, built our infrastructure around the automobile. And while I agree that we could lighten the expenses by trimming some of the fat from the inordinate number of roadways we do build, making the switch to a completely "carless" transit system would do more than devastate the industry, it would devastate something inherently American... the FREEDOM afforded to us when we take to the open road.

  39. Joe Beck Gateway to the West

    The trend for some of Europe's cities to make inroads to reducing automobile traffic is a sound one IF anyone has actually been to some of these cities and seen the relative size and land area actually afforded to automobiles, trucks and busses etc. Lets stop and remind ourselves that most of Europe's major metropolitan areas were already well established and functioned just fine long before the automobile ever existed as it does in the world today. Trucks the size of our semi's/18-wheelers are similar in size to three fully-loaded commuter train cars in London and the roads and traffic ways within the rather closely nested buildings in these very old cities don't lend themselves to parking, or even two-way traffic. For decades, European autos were smaller than American vehicles in every respect. A big truck would be something the size of a 16' box truck that we see in our downtown areas used for short-hop deliveries. So, it makes sense if you have a city that allotted large tracts of real-estate to the rail industry way back during the industrial revolution and DIDN'T remove it all again like we have in this hemisphere, that you convert and re-use that railroad for commuter purposes and not reconstruct your cities to use a different type of transit. We here in the US on the other hand, built our infrastructure around the automobile. And while I agree that we could lighten the expenses by trimming some of the fat from the inordinate number of roadways we do build, making the switch to a completely "carless" transit system would do more than devastate the industry, it would devastate something inherently American... the FREEDOM afforded to us when we take to the open road.

  40. Jeff Mi

    If you love the internal combustion engine, which is one of God's greatest inspired inventions, especially when it's nestled under the hood of an American muscle car, or any car for that matter, and you vote for a Democrat, you should be soundly whipped and promptly shipped to a socialist or communist country. It is the Democrat party who is in bed with the whacked out tree hugging environuts who hate America and the greatness of liberty and freedom it was founded upon. They are the reason we are paying $4.00 for a gallon of gas when it should be under $1.50. We have at least a 200 year supply of oil right here in the U.S.A. but thanks to the nut case left most of it is off limits because of nonsensical politically correct laws. They would rather have a country like China, who couldn't possibly care less about the environment, drill for oil just a few miles off the coast of Florida instead of American companies, who must adhere to strict regulations, thereby forfeiting a bonanza in jobs and wealth for our own country. Wake up America!

  41. George Bishopric Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Europe's cities were largely designed before the automobile, and cars have never been a good fit for Paris, Rome, or Barcelona. Why else would someone adopt something as horrible as a "Smart," if finding parking were not such a nightmare? Having lived in Paris I can assure you that mass transit is a much better solution for that environment, and the current changes to the city make it a nicer place to be. I wouldn't propose the same changes to most American cities, which have the luxury of space, but it would be nice to get some cars off the roads with a balanced transportation system. I will never understand the perverted logic of screaming about mass transit systems losing money, while we dump trillions into the bottomless pit of interstate highway construction and improvments, without ever considering that these projects generate no revenues at all.

  42. J.E. USA

    There are plenty of commuter trains in the large metropolitan areas in the US. You just might have to walk a few blocks when you get to the train station to finally get to your destination. I think people are too lazy to walk anywhere now let alone bike. There were train stations and railroads to just about everywhere even in rural locations. They had to get crops, cattle, etc to market and also move people. You could travel all over the US back before the 1960s by rail. What happened? The rails are all ripped up and converted to bike trails or abandoned with more trackage gone every year. The innerstate highway system is the replacement. The attempt to destroy the "automobile" is insane. Even in Europe. Plenty of people have been there blah blah blah but the reality is if you do not live in one of the big cities your options are not that great for public transport. I guess we will have to go back to horses. Please fight this loss of freedom.

  43. GDAdkins Geneva, Ohio

    Let us really take a look at the European public transportation system and it's real worth. The Europeans have the HIGHEST per person usage of electricity and any portion or all of the US. Why? Public transportation that sits idle but requires electricity until someone needs it. Why was the US GDP in 1938 larger than MOST European nations GDP in 2000? Because the individual here in the US could produce more and get it to a market in any number of ways. Why does the US still provide crops and other natural resources to Europe? Well, once again, the internal combustion engine. It's better to drive the 30 miles to the mine, rig, field, etc than to build train tracks or route a bus there. Not only that, on that 30 mile trip other things are accomplished, grocery shopping, picking up tools or other things you CAN'T CARRY ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION! Public transportation is NOT an American way, for it is not EQUAL to all. Private transportation is EQUAL to all. The big problem is government derailing individual creation of the car. To run your vehicle on homemade fuels is illegal in most states, yet this is a VERY clean fuel and for the tree huggers, environmentally freindly. AR pumps, EGR valves, air conditioning, and the likes are also reasons why the cars are not getting the mileage they CAN get. Remember, the Germans had a 3.5 ton mercedes town car get 33 MPG with GAS not diesel in the 1930's! Electric cars were also MASS produced as far back as 1917. So, if you want public transportation....YOU BUILD IT YOURSELF WITH YOUR MONEY NOT MINE!

  44. JP NY

    Public transportation is an urban endeavor, not suburban or even rural. I am in NYC and can tell you..living in the city is simple. Density of population is why public transport works. However, that is true for me who is in the upper middle income bracket. If you are poor in NY you cant afford much beyond walking. Subways and buses are ridiculously expensive for the poor. It is a joke. You can thank the unionists for that as their benefits now consume nearly 60% of the operating budgets forcing a spiral of ever higher prices. NY also has very high taxes on cars, gas and parking. So basically a big public transportation infrastructure doesn't protect anyone. With no competition for transportation public transport eats its customers. I'll take a car please at least I know I can get where I want when I want. Relying on unionist public transport is an uncomfortable and painful way to travel. If you commute from Connecticut, all trains except for 2 are over 40 years old despite significant promises over the past 15 years to improve the system. No better there either. Maybe this explains why NY lost 6mm people over the past 10 years according to the census. That and a proclivity to tax anything that moves.

  45. jp NY

    Oh and by the way why are the Europeans running headlong away from their socialist systems. Could it be even rat socialists know when their ship is sinking?

  46. Eric LaCruze United States

    I support public transportation 100%, although I own 5 cars and 2 motorcycles. I have no desire to drive them to places where public transportation is available. The single largest uncontrollable expense I have is gasoline-if the money spent on fuel was spent on public transport, our cities would be more pleasant-and those working there would benefit doubly by saving gas money and parking costs as well. We have created our own monster by allowing the elimination of public transport and the rise of automobile as necessity, and the credit economy which made it possible. I'll ride the bus or train as available, though I will not trade the right to drive my classic cars for public transport if it comes to a black and white choice.

  47. Jonathan King Kentucky

    It is a simple formula. Europe does not have abundant oil supplies and relies heavily on politically unstable areas of the world for oil, even more so than the US. They have made a political decision to spend money on public transport rather than on securing a continued supply of the unreliable resource that will become increasingly difficult to get. They are in a better condition to do this because of their population density and relatively smaller areas. They also know that long term they will not be able to compete with China's increasing demand for oil. When you have limited funds, you have to choose one alternative over another. Based upon Europe's conditions, they have probably made the correct and wisest choice. It would not be the same for much of the US. Larger cities could make it work, but in the hinterlands, the personal vehicle will continue to rule.

  48. Jonathan King Kentucky

    It is a simple formula. Europe does not have abundant oil supplies and relies heavily on politically unstable areas of the world for oil, even more so than the US. They have made a political decision to spend money on public transport rather than on securing a continued supply of the unreliable resource that will become increasingly difficult to get. They are in a better condition to do this because of their population density and relatively smaller areas. They also know that long term they will not be able to compete with China's increasing demand for oil. When you have limited funds, you have to choose one alternative over another. Based upon Europe's conditions, they have probably made the correct and wisest choice. It would not be the same for much of the US. Larger cities could make it work, but in the hinterlands, the personal vehicle will continue to rule.

  49. Whiny Whiner Sacramento

    I hate socialism! Yep, I resent that the roadway where I drive my classic car was laid down by the socialist federal government and the peoples republic of California, kept clean by those sucking at the public teat socialist road crews, patrolled by that socialist CHP, and overpaid county emergency teams. Let alone that my countries god given right to use 25% of the worlds energy budget is protected by that damned federal socialist government.

  50. Whiny Whiner Sacramento

    I hate socialism! Yep, I resent that the roadway where I drive my classic car was laid down by the socialist federal government and the peoples republic of California, kept clean by those sucking at the public teat socialist road crews, patrolled by that socialist CHP, and overpaid county emergency teams. Let alone that my countries god given right to use 25% of the worlds energy budget is protected by that federal socialist government.

  51. Larry Johnson United States

    There is a great public transportation system that I know of in the USA. It is small, only 14 miles but it serves millions of people every year. It has very small footprint as all the track is elevated. It is relatively free of accidents, I have only heard of one. That accident was from driver error. The best of it is the fare is free. The whole system is owned and run by private enterprise, was built without government subsidies or help. Where is this wonderful public transit system? It is the monorail at Disney World in Florida.

  52. nick Oregon

    With the liberals it's always about the greater good at the expense of the individual. These policies will be coming to the US. So vote wisely.

  53. nick Oregon

    With the liberals it's always about the greater good at the expense of the individual. These policies will be coming to the US. So vote wisely.

  54. Skip New York

    Can you imagine what Henry Ford or the founder Dr.Porsche would be doing in their graves, with the attitude towards the demise of the automobile. Skip

  55. J. K. Salser, Jr. Garland, TX

    Garland, TX is a major city in TX of about 220K residents. Garland has long been a center for the sale of cars, new and used and has had a truck factory for many years. Automotive enterprises literally have been stuffing the pockets of the Garland Treasury with cash! But...the City Staff and Council have taken a hard-fisted approach towards everything automotive. They have directed Code Enforcement to conduct daily (sometimes twice daily) visits to automotive shops ticketing any and everything that they can find (or create). It is an unprecedented harrassment that has already driven some out of business. That's what Garland Leaders want. As a result, automotive business owners formed an association to fight City Hall. They have been successful in many areas, thankfully, but the battle is far from being won. Garland is in league with the North Texas Council of Cities/Gov't--which has as its goal to create a "boutique mecca" of our cities with "pedestrian friendly" walkways, etc., etc. Let's keep up the fight to retain our vehicles!

  56. Bob Doughty United States

    One of the other things that most people do not realize is that Europe is SMALL. People live in apartment buildings close to the city where they work. Public transportation is a great way to get to work. Here in the US where people live in the suburbs, that is not the case. Lots of us also work odd hours or may have to stay late. Personal transportation for those folks is the only way to go.

  57. Stuart Phoenix Arizona

    Its one of the reasons many Europeans love to come here and rent Motorhomes and motorcyles and tour the wide open spaces of the west. Many come here to fly airplanes as well due to the stifling restrictions in Europe. Freedom is a great thing. It will be a sad day when we lose them all. I'm all for improving things that need it but I'm not for out of control government.

  58. Skip Dunn New Mexico

    What do I think? I think maybe I should consider finding another insurance company :p There is no "freedom" in fighting commuter traffic. I wonder how much of America's urban and suburban public spaces are paved with roads and parking lots. And, btw, in the "free" USA vehicles are our greatest WMDs in terms of human caused casualties. There is nothing saying we won't have the right to OWN a car, but where and how we use them on public roads should be subject to the greater public good. Maybe we need some private roads where people can exercise their freedom to use their vehicles free from all public regulation.

  59. Skip Dunn New Mexico

    What do I think? I think maybe I should consider finding another insurance company :p There is no "freedom" in fighting commuter traffic. I wonder how much of America's urban and suburban public spaces are paved with roads and parking lots. And, btw, in the "free" USA vehicles are our greatest WMDs in terms of human caused casualties. There is nothing saying we won't have the right to OWN a car, but where and how we use them on public roads should be subject to the greater public good. Maybe we need some private roads where people can exercise their freedom to use their vehicles free from all public regulation.

  60. Eric Heidelberg, Germany

    Local German officials tried the tactic of un-synchronizing all the signals in Heidelberg and Mannheim a few years ago with the intent of making driving so unpleasant that people would stop driving and take public trans. They discovered that people didn't drive less at all. Instead, polution tests showed that levels were increasing in the very areas they were trying to reduce them because cars were spending more time idling. Traffic signals are now synchronized again to allow better engine efficiency. Additionally, Bob above makes an excellent point about the difference between Europe and the U.S. With the exception of restaurants, Europe largely shuts off the lights and rolls up the sidewalks at about 5pm and goes home. People in the U.S. work all sorts of odd hours, so personal transport in a necessity, especially in the 90% of the country that DOESN'T have mass transit.

  61. Larry Bost Atlanta, Ga.,United States

    The biggest problem with public transportation now is that businesses have the biggest say in where rail and buses run and ignore the people and where they need and want to go. This is very evident here in Atlanta. I was born and raised in Akron Ohio and back in the 50's they had a great bus system that ran in neighborhoods and you could go anywhere. The same is true in San Diago. Here you have to have a car to go anywhere you need to. This city doesn't even have sidewalks in the neighborhoods in the city limits.

  62. Marc R Benson North Carolina

    Outside of urban areas there is no public transportation. The bus lines between towns and cities are awful and the timetables worse! The USA is not Europe and the distances are vast not like Europe at all. Cars are & will be used here 100 years from now. The government is bankrupt anyway so no trains or high speed bullet here.

  63. Arthur Huntsville, Alabama

    "HVA will be right there, every step of the way, fighting for our right to own and use our cars." Sounds like HVA is missing the point and becoming paranoid.

  64. Cristian I guess it varies from car to car. Like any dhaeerslip, they're going to leave some room to move in the prices, but this place seems pretty reasonable. They have cars from all price brackets as well .from project car beaters to fully restored cars. If you search the words Country Classic on my channel, it'll pull up a bunch of cars from this particular dhaeerslip. Then you can judge for yourself what you think about the prices. Thanks for watching.

    I guess it varies from car to car. Like any dhaeerslip, they're going to leave some room to move in the prices, but this place seems pretty reasonable. They have cars from all price brackets as well .from project car beaters to fully restored cars. If you search the words Country Classic on my channel, it'll pull up a bunch of cars from this particular dhaeerslip. Then you can judge for yourself what you think about the prices. Thanks for watching.