E-car-nomics: November 18, 2012

“Well, y’all could just get better jobs.” 

 This was a solution suggested by one of my recent drivers.  We were having a friendly chat about Lawrence OnBoard until I expressed my worries about what will happen to us rural denizens if gas ever got to be $5 a gallon. Get better jobs my eye…

Since our economy is not exactly booming right now, we need to do more with what we have.  That brings me to today’s topic- transportation economics.  Did you know that it costs and average of $8000 a year to own and operate a car in this country?  The lowest 20% of income earners spend a whopping 42% of their income on transportation.  If you live in the country, you drive on average 17% more than urban and suburban drivers.  For the very poor, there are some safety nets for food and medical care, and you can always shop at Goodwill.  But if you live where there is no bus and have to get to work, that car is going to suck up a lot of your livelihood.  That is why Lawrence OnBoard needs to be up and running before we get to $5 a gallon gas.

My driver with the jobs comment got me thinking about another touchy subject.  Until I get a system of incentives in place to reward the drivers, I remain a beggar.  A mendicant.  A freeloader looking for a handout in the form of someone else’s gas.  That is a very uncomfortable place to be.  I don’t mind it now, because I am doing valuable research.  But for most proud Kansans, the psychological costs are too high.  But if we riders have something to offer the driver-a chance at a nifty prize like a gas card, an oil change or perhaps even a new car, well then we can stand confidently with our sign boards and say ” I’m no beggar! I have value! Pick me up and make the world a better place!”