MILLENIALS EVEN SEE TRANSPORTATION DIFFERENTLY, Nicole Gelinas writes at the New York Post:
It’s all wonderful, then, that people are changing their behavior — except for the fact that the country needs for people to keep driving ever more miles so that it can fund its highway and transit infrastructure. Remember: Just as not everyone needed to default on his mortgage to cause a housing bust, not everyone needs to take the bus instead of a car to cause a roads bust.
To wit: Without money from gas taxes pouring into federal highway coffers, taxpayers have had to bail out the nation’s highway fund for the past half-decade. I-95 from Florida to Maine needs at least $8 billion in bridge repairs — and we don’t have the money to make them.
Transit infrastructure is falling apart, too, even as people increasingly crowd trains and buses.
It’s tempting to want to keep bailing out the highways, just as we bailed out our housing market seven years ago.
It’s also foolish. Just as the 2008 housing crash was a necessary market signal that our way of life — bigger houses and bigger cars, all paid by bigger debt — was unaffordable, the traffic crash is a necessary market signal, too.
More people want to spend their lives working or with their families, not sitting on their butts behind a steering wheel.
Need another market signal?
You can buy a big house anywhere in the country, dirt cheap — as long as it’s nowhere near an efficient mass-transit system.
It’s also an opportunity for pols to say that we need a new way of funding our infrastructure. Sure, we should raise the gas tax — to what it would be if it kept up with inflation.*
Over time, though, charging people by the amount of gas they use or even the amount of miles they travel may be a losing game, as people travel less. Nearby real-estate owners who benefit from keeping up a highway may have to kick in.
In August, the London Independent claimed “Millennials are no longer going to night clubs,” with a take that presumably is applicable to American Millenials as well, given that on both sides of the pond, “once costly high-end audio equipment can be easily and inexpensively sourced online, meaning that the house party represents a better value option, as indeed do the entertainment offerings from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video or games companies.”
And as we noted back then, at least in America, that house party is likely to be in mom and dad’s basement. “More young adults are living at home than five years ago, despite the economic recovery, according to a new report by Pew Research Center that crunched U.S. Census bureau data from 2010 to 2015,” Forbes reported.
So they’re not going out to night clubs, they’re not driving, and they’re staying home watching TV. Congratulations, Millenials – you’re already leading the sedentary lifestyle my parents led in their 70s and 80s; have we got an exciting, wild and crazy candidate whose boundless sense of fun matches yours!
* It’s always time for Democrats and the MSM (but I repeat myself) to call for new gasoline taxes.