Everyone knows - or should know - about the vast gulf in taxes on petrol/gasoline. Petrol in the UK costs about £1.10 a litre at the moment; the fuel excise duty went up by 2p at the beginning of October. That translate to well over $6.50 a gallon; currently the average US gas price is nearer $2.60. The UK isn’t even the most expensive in Europe.
However, there’s another difference that’s less obvious: the costs of parking. I remember (but can’t be bothered to dig for) incredulous comments when the London congestion charge was set up asking whether they were going to charge for parking next. Of course, that generated an equally puzzled response: that’s been done in London since the 1950s.
Indeed, the wholesale turning over of land to the car really didn’t happen as much in Europe, in cities at least. London has some surface car parks, but they tend to be tiny bits of bomb-damaged land, but your car is far more likely to be hidden underneath a park or in a multi-storey building. You’d never get planning permission for the sort of parking lot that’s common even in the centre of otherwise enlightened US cities. Parking has to pay.
Meanwhile, US cities turn over between 10 and 30% of their land to lots, often free, which in turn leads to issues with water runoff, heat islands, and sprawl. All of this parking land is generally free to use, which means there’s no economic reason to curb demand. It all seems baffling to me, but to Americans, it’s just the way things are.
(This post was languishing in my drafts folder, but I’m publishing it as part of a clearout.)