Friday, November 14, 2014

The 'Great' Disastrous News

Today's El Tiempo: 'Three months with car sales taking off.'
The great news announced today's El Tiempo is terrible news for Bogotpa and Colombia - if only this split-brain society would recognize it.

'The good performance of vehicle sales is due basically to private cars and utility vehicles,' El Tiempo reports. Those categories grew by 12 and 13 percent over 2013, which had been a big year for car sales.
...which is exactly what Bogotá needs.

Car importers and (the shrinking number of) assembly plants are rejoicing. But Bogotanos and city officials can see that there's no place to fit those additional cars. Bogotá's Pico y Placa law is supposed to restrict car use by prohibiting cars from driving in the city three days per week according to their license plate numbers - but spurs those who can afford to to buy a second car with a different plate number.

Waiting, waiting...
It's also bad news economically - and not just because increasing traffic congesting means losing millions of hours of productive time. Colombia still - insanely - subsidizes gasoline and diesel, meaning that the more fuel is sold, the more money is lost. And that loss is particularly true now with low world oil prices, which have already blown a hole in Colombia's national budget.

Because two-thirds of new cars sold here are imported - and the rest assembled here out of parts manufactured overseas - car sales are also bad news for the nation's trade balance.

Not to mention more air pollution and used tires piled up on sidewalks and in public parks.

Colombia once had high import duties, which discouraged car purchases. Today, neoliberal governments and the free trade agreements Colombia has signed would make that unrealistic. Bogotá's mayor has talked about the only real solution, a congestion charge, but hasn't moved ahead with it.

Meanwhile, the number of private cars in Bogotá is expected to double by the year 2020.

With no action, look forward to city-wide gridlock.

Room for a million more? The daily jam in Bogotá.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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