Friday, February 15, 2008

ELECTRIC CARS - February 14, 2008

Like Madison, London has a problem with the quality of the air, due in part to automotive pollution. Only London has it worse. In fact, London has worse air than any other city in W EU. But unlike Madison, London is not sitting on its hands waiting for a solution to be given it by the national government or a charitable benefactor, or to fall from the heavens. They are planning for it and are prepared to pay for it, within reason. So when the Socialist mayor of London decided that the only thing that could relieve the congestion there was a daily fee of £5 (now £8) to drive in the center of the city in the middle of the day, he also exempted low-pollution cars like the Toyota Prius from the fee. And now large trucks that have not been certified for low pollution must pay £200/day to enter the city. The commercial interests howled, but the additional fees go not into the city’s pocket but pay the cost of a huge expansion of bus service, including an expanded system of bus lanes. Now they have come up with another move to lower the pollution even further. They want to encourage people to drive electric cars, not just hybrids. Instead of waiting for it just to happen, they are moving proactively. They are starting to provide free parking for electric cars, and even free electricity, thus doubling the range of the battery-driven vehicles. And in response, the city is beginning to blossom with very small cars with essentially zero pollution. If Madison were able to follow a proactive philosophy, a portion of our cars would run without pollution and at very small cost per mile, even if the parking and electricity were not free. But adding a certain number of free parking spaces with free recharging could start the ball rolling. Of course, nothing like this happens unless it is promoted by professional lobbyists, and even then hardly ever. We can make our town into a more comfortable and greener place if someone could be found who could profit from the example of London, which is actually a poorer city per capita than Madison and less friendly to social engineering on this scale. Let’s learn from others and do well for ourselves.

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