Friday, March 31, 2006

Boosting DC Revenues

There are a couple of ideas floating around in my head for a while to boost revenues in the District--and make people's lives a bit easier.
Here they are:
1.  Get rid of SmarTrip cards.  For those of you not from the District, SmarTrip cards are the local reusable, rechargeable public-transportation cards.  The kind of thing you leave in your wallet so you don't have to fiddle with crumpled up bills every time you get on a bus or a metro. 
So why get rid of them?  Because the same functionality should be in DC ID cards.  This way, people who live in the district and who ride the metro regularly will just be able to use his/her ID card or driver's license. 
This would be a good thing because there are a lot of people who live and work in the District who don't pay taxes in the District--because they manage to retain residency "back home".  But if we start getting people who live in the district to actually assert that they live here, I think the District's revenues would go up (or, everyone's taxes would decrease a bit).
What about people who live in Maryland and Virginia?  I'm glad you asked.
2.  (This isn't particularly original, but it's been percolating for a while anyway.)  Many people commute from Maryland and Northern Virginia into the District for work.  They like suburban living, and the lower taxes out of the District.  That's all well and good for them, but they are clogging the streets and making the commute longer for those of us who actually want to live in the District.  So I propose another idea that will help lower congestion, reduce traffic, free up more parking, and raise revenue for the District.  A driver-fee for those driving into the District with vehicles plated in Maryland or Virginia.  Nothing extravagant.  Maybe about $8 a day.  Or, for those looking to be frugal, a monthly pass for $120.
I can hear the complaints coming: it's undemocratic.  It's not fair to charge people to drive to work.  We have to drive. 
I disagree.  I know very few people who drive within the city to get to work.  Most DCers I know take transit.  Because it's faster and it's cheaper.  The majority of people I know within the District don't even own cars.  So why should we be subsidizing the convenience of your commute from the 'burbs--when part of the reason you left the city in the first place was to avoid paying taxes?
What else? Oh, yeah.  If all the people living in 'the burbs' had to start thinking about ways to make public transit better--instead of simply building wider roads--I have a feeling that the transportation system would get a lot better in a hurry.  As to those who say that this is an economic hardship on those who can least afford it?  I doubt it.  Most of the people I see riding the bus every day look like they spend more of their time behind a restaurant stove then a mahogany desk.  So they wont be paying this anyway.

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