From being a pleasure and a symbol of American prosperity, driving has become the costly every day nuisance, unavoidable for most of us because most alternatives were dismantled and the era of cheap fuel encouraged many of us to move far away from the centers of employment.
Random development has made us hostages of the internal combustion engine on wheels.
We have become slaves of overtaxed homes and expensive-to-operate automobiles. Of the latter, we love the convenience and detest the cost. Americans will spend $490 billion – with a B – in fuel by the end of this year.
New Jersey is at the front of this struggle, and to the cost of operating the everyday commuting auto, add the aggravation of snail-paced traffic during rush hour and our crumbling roads and bridges.
Prices of all fuels will trend to increase even if the developed countries stay in recession – which I believe they will for a decade or so. The emerging economies will be growing at healthy rates and their appetite for fuels will continue to increase as they also embrace the automobile, air conditioning, and central heating.
Our stagnant wages will not compensate for inflation in the cost of fuels – and its consequnce: the rise in the price of food.
As governor, I would emphasize the development of alternative means of commuting, such as trolleys and light rail. I am also inclined to study the feasibility of a rail system that is not centered in New York City but rather that responds better to the needs of residents of New Jersey.
I’ll never forget the day I wanted to go from Cliffside Park to Montclair State University (then college) using mass transit and I was forced to take a bus to NYC and there another to Montclair and still walk a distance to the school. It took me almost 3 hours to do the entire thing, one way.