There was a fair amount of reaction to my last blog about the potential benefits of $200 oil. Most of the negativity centered around the fact that many, many folks (truckers, etc) would clearly be devastated by the hardship this would bring were it to come to pass. I get that. In fact, my optimistic side really hopes it doesn't come to pass. But, my realistic side expects it will...
Regardless of exactly how high the cost per barrel goes however, there will be some good news - in addition to the obvious bad news - I hope. This morning I was heartened to hear on NPR that even at current gas prices there is a boom in people using public transportation. I'm not saying all those folks are happy to be using public transportation. But, when I think about the world as a whole, this is good news.
As someone who has lived and worked literally all over the world - and who lived by using public transportation for years while living and working in both Singapore and London - I have always been frustrated by America's pathetic transportation infrastructure. Our roads are poorly made. Our bridges are collapsing. And, my personal preferred mode of transportation - trains - are virtually nonexistent outside of a few major cities. There is simply no excuse for this in my mind.
I get that we are a big country. I get that there are vast distances to cover and huge costs to upgrading everything. But, I also get that compared to European standards our historically "cheap" gas has provided no incentive to build commuter or long haul rail services that really work.
So, in addition to an explosion of remote working, as my second hope for a potential benefit of $200 oil, I hope that we get much better public transportation for all Americans - and that we choose to use it!