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NOW, is that you commenting on Dresser's column today? I am posting some, too, if you didn't notice.

You mean (Jay) Hancock, and yeah, that's me.

For those curious, Hancock's blog entry is here:

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/business/hancock/blog/2007/09/md_should_raise_gas_tax_modera.html

I didn't realize Ramon Hernandez and Jay Payton were moonlighting at the MTA. :P

But seriously, who takes a "break" by stopping their light rail train in the middle of the tracks and sitting their on the train being a jerk to passengers for 10 minutes. Wouldn't it be a lot better for efficiency, customer service, and employee morale to schedule the breaks in a station at the end of the line so that the driver could go walk around Hunt Valley "Towne Centre" or something?

Union.

Union for MTA drivers are hardcore. Seriously.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a stipulation saying that after x amount of time a driver has the option to take a break, no matter where he/she is.

What I DO know for sure is, unless there is an accident or some kind of physical confrontation involved, firing a driver is pure hell because the union is so strong. Drivers are very, very rarely fired. This is a problem, as it means drivers who need to be pruned simply aren't, and those who may be on the borderline can relax knowing their job is secure.

Its similar to the problem of state government. Its not a meritocracy (at least in MD), but firing someone is a pain, so it encourages lots of apathy and little passion.

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According to "Anonymous" (nice going :rolleyes: ):

The real issue isn't that we need to raise taxes on gas for more transportation, the issue is that people NEED to LEARN HOW TO DRIVE! It's not that hard!

Sure, that's the real problem, pal.

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According to "Anonymous" (nice going :rolleyes: ):

The real issue isn't that we need to raise taxes on gas for more transportation, the issue is that people NEED to LEARN HOW TO DRIVE! It's not that hard!

Sure, that's the real problem, pal.

I laughed at that. He does have a point, people are stupid and don't know how to drive. But that ain't gonna change.

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I laughed at that. He does have a point, people are stupid and don't know how to drive. But that ain't gonna change.

True, but in reality, it only takes one driver on a clogged freeway to screw up traffic. One guy slows down, then the guy tailgating him slows down, and so on.

It's a problem endemic to the car.

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What I don't understand is how the MTA has absolutely NO ONE on the trains checking for tickets. I don't know how much revenue they lose by not doing this, but it has to be a lot. In my 12 years of riding the trains I have never seen a person checking for tickets, ever.

They don't have to check everyone, especially on game days, but they have to be out there, making people think they will be checked, which will prompt them to buy a ticket.

You must mean light rail, because I never stepped on a MARC without being asked for my ticket (although I managed to give a few semi-true sob stories to get on for free a couple times in emergancies :)).

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You must mean light rail, because I never stepped on a MARC without being asked for my ticket (although I managed to give a few semi-true sob stories to get on for free a couple times in emergancies :)).

I'm pretty sure he does mean light rail. You're right that the MARC conductors are very thorough with ticket checks. The only times I ever escaped without having my ticket checked were when the train was so packed with standing room only passengers that the conductors literally couldn't move anywhere. And even a few times when it was standing room only they managed to squeeze through for ticket checks.

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Yeah, they rely on the punishment as a deterrent. And it's sort of random whether you see someone checking tickets. I have had cops checking tickets on probably half of all the light rail trips I have taken. And NMS has never seen this. Weird. But like I said, it's random.

I ride the light rail to and from work every morning, and my ticket has been checked exactly once in the last three months. And yet, I still buy a ticket every time. You just never know when you could get slammed with a huge fine.

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I ride the light rail to and from work every morning, and my ticket has been checked exactly once in the last three months. And yet, I still buy a ticket every time. You just never know when you could get slammed with a huge fine.

Sounds like the fear tactic works.

Anyone ever tried to buy a ticket, failed (broken machine, etc.), and then was asked for their ticket on the train? What did you do? I've never had this happen, but it clearly is possible.

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Sounds like the fear tactic works.

Anyone ever tried to buy a ticket, failed (broken machine, etc.), and then was asked for their ticket on the train? What did you do? I've never had this happen, but it clearly is possible.

I overheard a woman on the light rail talking about that, actually. I think she talked to the ticket-checker and they were able to confirm that the machines were broken, so she was off the hook...

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http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,298271,00.html

Congressman John Dingell Proposes 50-cent Gas Tax Hike to Fight Global Warming

WASHINGTON — Dealing with global warming will be painful, says one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. To back up his claim he is proposing a recipe many people won't like — a 50-cent gasoline tax, a carbon tax and scaling back tax breaks for some home owners.

"I'm trying to have everybody understand that this is going to cost and that it's going to have a measure of pain that you're not going to like," Rep. John Dingell, who is marking his 52nd year in Congress, said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Dingell will offer a "discussion draft" outlining his tax proposals on Thursday, the same day that President Bush holds a two-day conference to discuss voluntary efforts to combat climate change.

But Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that will craft climate legislation, is making it clear that he believes tackling global warming will require a lot more if it is to be taken seriously.

"This is going to cause pain," he said, adding that he wants to make certain "the pain is shared in a way that is fair, proper, acceptable and accomplishes the basic purpose" of reducing greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

Dingell said he's not sure what the final climate package will include when the House takes it up for a vote. The taxes measures he's proposing, in fact, will be taken up by another House committee. And the Senate is considering a market-based system that would set an economy-wide ceiling on the amount of carbon dioxide that would be allowed to be released.

Dingell says he hasn't rule out such a so-called "cap-and-trade" system, either, but that at least for now he wants to float what he believes is a better idea. He will propose for discussion:

—A 50-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline and jet fuel, phased in over five years, on top of existing taxes.

—A tax on carbon, at $50 a ton, released from burning coal, petroleum or natural gas.

—Phaseout of the interest tax deduction on home mortgages for homes over 3,000 square feet. Owners would keep most of the deduction for homes at the lower end of the scale, but it would be eliminated entirely for homes of 4,200 feet or more.

He estimates that would affect 10 percent of homeowners. He says "it's only fair" to tax those who buy large suburban houses and create urban sprawl. Historic and farm houses would be exempted.

Some of the revenue would be used to reduce payroll taxes, but most would go elsewhere including for highway construction, mass transit, paying for Social Security and health programs and to help the poor pay energy bills.

In the interview Wednesday, Dingell acknowledged he's tackling some of the most sacred of political cows. He's not sure if they will end up in the climate legislation, but he wants to open them for discussion.

"All my friends tell me you can't do this, it's going to be political poison," said Dingell, 81, who has served longer in the House than any of his colleagues and heads one of the chamber's most powerful committees.

Widely known for protecting the automakers who are so prominent in his state, the Michigan Democrat first raised the tax ideas this summer. Some people immediately suggested he was offering proposals he knows won't pass to sidestep other issues such as automobile fuel economy increases.

Dingell rejects such criticism and said he wants to trigger "an intelligent discussion of the whole question."

Many economists have long maintained that a carbon tax is a more-efficient, less-bureaucratic way to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide than a cap-and-trade system, which could be difficult to administer.

A carbon tax would impact everything from the cost of electricity to winter heating and add to the cost of gasoline and other motor fuels. But economists say a cap on carbon also would raise these costs as burning fossil fuels becomes more expensive.

Such tax proposals have gained little traction.

Rep. Pete Starke, D-Calif., has been trying unsuccessfully to get a carbon tax for 16 years. In the early 1990s the House passed a modest "BTU" tax on the heat content of fuels, only to have it die in the Senate. Dingell acknowledged that there are still people who blame the Democrats' loss of Congress in 1994 on the ill-fated tax.

The federal 18.4-cent gasoline tax also has been a subject of discussion, but not about increasing it. As gasoline prices soared above $3 a gallon last year a chorus of lawmakers called for suspending the tax.

Its a start. It also only has a snowball's chance of going anywhere, but I raise my glass to Rep. John Dingell. Figures it'd take someone who has almost nothing to lose to seriously propose something like this...

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Its a start. It also only has a snowball's chance of going anywhere, but I raise my glass to Rep. John Dingell. Figures it'd take someone who has almost nothing to lose to seriously propose something like this...

IMO using tax policy to influence has merit. Increasing the amount of revenue made available to Congress to spend/waste does not. It would be an interesting idea if he proposed a dollar reduction in other taxes for every dollar in gas/carbon taxes collected.

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