Commuting for Clean Air
Commuter choice programs are noble efforts to reduce air pollution and they will certainly help to improve air quality. For example, one study of fifty-eight pilot projects in southern California concluded that financial incentives/disincentives are the most consistently effective and cost effective group of projects (Commuter Choice Primer). And, according to the Commuter Choice Primer, the Transit Cooperative Research Board studied fifty employers throughout the United States and found that employers that combined both enhanced alternatives such as vanpool provision with incentives or disincentives such as vanpool subsidies realized an average trip reduction of 24.5%. However, its naive to believe that commuter choice programs are a total solution for curbing automobile use. Non-work travel, the ubiquity of automobiles in the United States, and the total amount of the problem that commuter choice programs can reasonably address are issues that require additional measures.
Focusing on work travel alone is far too narrow a policy perspective to adequately address overall automobile pollution (Pisarski, 2001).
This is because work travel is only twenty-five percent of total passenger mileage, and this figure doesnt even consider freight and service travel. A 1995 survey showed that per capita trip-making grew by fifty percent, but work tips grew only thirty-three percent. To attack the growth in non-work related travel, it would appear that it would be prudent to adopt policies that seek to reduce all forms of automobile transportation demand through financial incentives not to drive at any time such as raising fuel taxes, automobile property taxes and road usage fees. While this may initially appear unfair to lower-income citizens, higher income households generate almost forty percent more auto travel than average income households (Pisarski, 2001) and formulation of equitable taxation plans should be feasible.
Further, Americans are addicted to their cars as indicated by a report from the U.S. Transportation.