Study finds connection between car ownership and success for the poor

Housing voucher recipients with cars more likely than their car-less counterparts to have jobs and live in safe neighborhoods

bus baltimore

A bus is no ticket for success in finding and keeping a job, an Urban Institute study finds.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Americans may be driving less and considering bikes and mass transit more, but a recently released study found that for low-income residents of high-poverty neighborhoods, having a car is still linked to greater success and opportunity.

The federally-funded study of 12,000 housing voucher recipients in 10 U.S. cities, including Baltimore, found an association between having a car and living in a higher-opportunity neighborhood, as well as finding and keeping a job.

“Even as highly educated Milllenials and Baby Boomers fantasize about car-free-cities, car access is still indispensable for many families seeking safety and economic security,” writes Rolf Pendall, of the Urban Institute, co-leader of the group that produced the 67-page paper, “Driving to Opportunity.”

Studying participants in two programs of the U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development – Moving to Opportunity (MTO) and the Welfare to Work Voucher Program (WTW) – the authors found benefits they say were in some cases present regardless of the quality of the city’s mass transit system.

Among MTO families, for example, those with cars were twice as likely to find a job and four times as likely to remain employed.

Tradeoffs, but Mostly Advantages

The two programs, initiated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, were meant to test whether housing choice vouchers that allowed families to select where they lived could help low-income families access better neighborhoods, schools and jobs.

The study’s authors (from the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Maryland, as well as the Urban Institute) were able to compare outcomes for participants from ten cities: Atlanta, Augusta, Baltimore, Boston. Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Spokane.

Some findings:

• Families with access to cars were more likely to find housing in neighborhoods with a better “environmental and social quality” and where they felt safer.

• Over time, households with automobiles experience less exposure to poverty and are less likely to return to high poverty neighborhoods than those without car access.

• Keeping or gaining access to automobiles is positively related to the likelihood of employment.

• There were trade-offs. For example, MTO households with cars lived in neighborhoods that were more spread-out, less walkable and had worse measured school performance than in transit-dependent households.

• The neighborhoods where car-less voucher users live offer access to larger numbers of jobs than those where driving voucher users live. However, voucher users with cars more than compensate for this by living in neighborhoods where fewer low-income people compete for available jobs.

Transit: Just not There Yet? 

Since the study highlights a strong association but not necessarily causation, drawing conclusion from it is tricky, the authors acknowledge. Pendall said more research is needed to determine “whether the car is the catalyst or if there is something deeper at work, of which the car is simply one manifestation.”

“A low-income household that is somehow able, inclined, or afforded the opportunity to buy a car might also do many other things to get ahead,” he writes. “Motivation, opportunity or both could be the key.”

As for the study’s implications for further research and for policy changes, there were plenty – including some that may seem like anathema to the advocates of improved transit.

While the authors note that “the importance of automobile access may also reflect the inadequacy of public transportation,” they seem to conclude overall that the poor don’t have time to wait for good mass transit to proliferate in U.S. cities.

“In the absence of building extensive transit networks which are fiscally impracticable in all but the densest U.S. metropolitan areas, our study suggests that cars present a more viable means of connecting low-income workers to job,” the authors write.

Some other conclusions they reach that suggest policy change:

• State and local governments should rethink asset limits on certain benefit programs so that a car will not disqualify families from receiving aid.

• Car-sharing arrangements at prices accessible for the working poor could be an employment and economic development tool.

• Ways should be found to help more low-income families drive despite some environmental costs.

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  • Mike K

    Our cities are set up where automobile travel is the focus. This is easily seen by the sprawl of the metro-region or by something as simple as the amount of time it takes to get to a grocery store by any other means. We need to rethink and redesign our cities around walk-ability and transit access. Gone are the days of other transit options that conveniently connected jobs with workers, consumers with businesses, and the city to its people. Now we are left in fast moving pods that disconnect us from each other.

  • Aaron Mirenzi

    chicken egg chicken egg chicken egg
    even people who use public transit frequently in baltimore have cars. relying on public transit for EVERYTHING in baltimore would definitly be an issue. you would have to be desperate to rely on the bus system in bmore.
    that being said. if you have to ride the bus to get to work, you will definitly be late sometimes simply becuase the busses are late. I wonder if bus riders are more likely to get fired, or not promoted just on this basis?

    • Carol Ott

      I ride the bus everywhere, unless I walk. And sadly, sometimes walking is a heck of a lot faster than waiting for the bus. Unless the MTA overhauls its bus system and hires more drivers, we’re never going to achieve this transit nirvana I keep hearing the “experts” go on and on about.

      I said the other day that I think the folks who advocate for transit use the most are the ones who never have to use it. Because if you used it every day as I and many others do, trust me — you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy at times. It took me THREE HOURS to get home from North Avenue and St. Paul Street the other night — that’s just under an hour a mile. For chrissakes, I could have gotten to Philly and back had I been on the Amtrak.

      • Aaron Mirenzi

        once the MTA syncs their gps units to a mobile app I think things should get better.

        myself, I typically bike. its faster than driving in some circumstances

        • Carol Ott

          I keep hearing about this mythical “app” the MTA is working on…I wonder when (and if) it will actually materialize. DC has had one for quite some time.

        • Matt R

          Walking is faster than a lot of these busses

      • Matt R

        I think it might be time for MTA to start over with new drivers. I don’t know how many times I see 2 buses riding back-to-back of the same number, which means one is extremely late and the other is on time (I would bet that they are both hanging out at the end of their route bs’ing). When riders don’t get to work on time, they loose their jobs and I think it’s only fair to put the bus driver’s under the same pressure. Of course their is traffic and other factors, but some flexibilty should already be built in to the schedule. Truth is, when people are late, they loose their means of a livelyhood, that’s it…that’s why people who can control their own transportation keep their jobs and bus riders, especially in lower positions, loose their jobs. If you want people to not be on welfare, improve their transportation situation by making it reliable, so they are at their entry level jobs, on time.

  • Gerald Neily

    Buy a car (or a bike) and your mobility improves immediately. Better transit takes practically forever (at least in Baltimore), if it ever happens at all. The Red Line isn’t it. Poor transit riders are also “captive” riders who have no pull for improvements, which is why the Red Line would hug the waterfront and the Charm City Circulator avoids poorer areas.

    • thatguysonheroin

      Jesus Gerry, did you even look at the map?! Basically all of the stops between Woodlawn and Howard Street are in some of the hardest hit, lowest income areas of Baltimore! That’s 8 out of 17 stations (47%)!! Dry your tears and look at the map!

      Just because you’re still butt-hurt about the Boston Street portion being built doesn’t mean that it’s the only part of the project being built. Although, it’s obviously the only part YOU care about.

      • Gerald Neily

        Heroin, I care about the entire Baltimore transit system, of which the proposed Red Line west of the downtown tunnel is but a very small fraction of the total cost. The big ticket is the billion-plus dollar tunnel to serve the higher income Canton to Bromo neighborhoods.

        The part through the poor, desolate “Highway to Nowhere” corridor would be built on the cheap, conforming to the modus operandi described by Mr. DuBois above. I was gratified that former NAACP head Doc Cheatham spoke at the Southwest Partnership meeting last Saturday of the lack of attention to rebuilding this area, despite the MTA/city Red Line hype.

        • thatguysonheroin

          You’re straying from the point – when you wrote “the Red Line would hug the waterfront and the Charm City Circulator avoids poorer areas” you were completely incorrect (at a minimum 47% incorrect). I pointed this out and you switched to costs of the project… which we weren’t discussing…

          Your indirection about the cost of the project is a great high school debate tactic, but it has nothing to do with servicing poor areas… you’re still just plain wrong.

          • Gerald Neily

            Whatever… The long cheap part goes through the poorer areas and the short expensive tunnel goes through the more affluent area.

          • ushanellore

            On the Red Line–does Heroin need Naloxone?

            When it comes to a rail line named RED,
            Heroin sees vermillion red–
            harping on its flaws–
            is the same as socking him in the jaw.

            The Red Line can hug the water,
            and carry water for the rich,
            to the city it can be an albatross,
            a heavy fiscal loss–
            it can be a pain to start,
            it can be a wart– where the poor reside,
            can be cheap though long..

            Where the rich cavort,
            be sweet and short,
            though heavy in cost–

            If you draw a painful list
            of the gestating Red Line’s
            if you see that fetus clearly
            as an impending catastrophe,
            for those who want that baby
            twisted or fraught–
            regardless of cost–
            for those who want that baby–
            because any baby is better
            than no baby at all–
            for those to whom
            its structure and form
            like a Buddhist chant
            is a soothing balm–

            The believers– who see this
            as a reliever of congestion,
            as a boon for connecting
            workers to work,
            consumers to shops,
            tourists to sites,
            a rail line that has so much might
            it’s Atlas that can hold the sky–
            to them– you would be a drain and a drag–
            if you think their sky will drop–
            you would be a silly sop, a cynic, a flop,
            not worthy of a drop of allowance–

            To folks ready to hop on the Red Line–
            you are the Naloxone to their Heroin–
            bitter pills– your negatives–
            portray you as prejudiced….

            When they see a BART
            please play your part–
            tell them the Red Line has stolen
            your heart…
            Usha Nellore

          • ham_snadwich

            Does it? The map on the Red Line site shows the tunnel starting at Fremont & Franklin (which is not particularly affluent) and surfacing in Canton (which is certainly affluent). The bulk of the tunneled area is the downtown/harbor area where few people actually live, but has a very high traffic volume. The tunneled portion along Cooks Lane looks like a lot of duplexes and modestly sized rowhouses.

          • Gerald Neily

            Snad, the PURPOSE of the $Billion-plus tunnel is to facilitate the Red Line serving the affluent waterfront. The MTA didn’t want to the tunnel to be that long or to begin as far northwest as Fremont/Franklin, but that’s the only place they could find a feasible portal location. The tunnel kept growing in length and cost from the original intention to where it is now 3.4 miles long – far longer than is at all reasonable for any slow two-car light rail line.

            To compensate for the ever-growing cost, they also had to eliminate the underground stations for the University of Maryland (Greene St.) and what they called Government Center (Market Place), which they miraculously did without reducing ridership projections.

            The MTA also tried very hard to eliminate or reduce the cost of the Cooks Lane tunnel, concluding that they could safely run both directions of trains on a single reversible track around a blind curve – again miraculously with no projected reduction in speed or ridership. They never recanted that analysis, so technically they have never justified the expense of their more expensive Cooks Lane two-track tunnel plan. There are no stations in that tunnel, however, so the cost is nowhere near as high as the 3.4 mile downtown tunnel.

          • Matt R

            Its rediculous with the number of wide streets, that it can’t make it’s dogleg to Woodlawn at street level through the Westview area. It could be continued out Rt 40 to Johnycake to Woodlawn Dr. I bet could also be ran through the Leakin/Gwynnes Falls Park to the end of I-70. Tunneling is extremely expensive. Someone has to be getting a payout for that inefficiency of resources.

    • Dee

      That’s easy to suggest when one doesn’t have a physical disability.

  • ushanellore

    When you arrive you become sagacious and leave your auto behind. It’s ironic how that works. The farther away from a city’s center you move the more your need for a car. Should that be equated with the farther away from a city’s center you move the safer you are? Seems like it as per this article.

    After they got away from public transportation, it is interesting the kids of the poor went to schools with worse measured school performance. They walked less–so they probably got fat or fatter. If you live in NY, San Fran, Boston or Philly you don’t need cars, rich or poor regardless. Car is opportunity only when you live in cities with poor and unreliable public transportation. Good public transportation benefits all classes of folks and it benefits the environment enormously. It is as essential as water or air to sensible societies and sensible we ain’t in these Dis–United states.

  • Sean Tully

    Resolved – buy all poor people cars and their lives will improve.

    • ushanellore

      Who should do the buying?

      • Sean Tully

        Do you pay taxes? If yes, you!

    • Andrew

      The cure for failed socialism is apparently even more socialism.

    • Tom Gregory

      Do I sense an ObamaCar give away program in the makings before the upcoming mid-term elections?

  • Lawrence MedgarEvers DuBois

    Allow me to start by quoting the Master Blaster R&B genius himself, Stevie Wonder:

    “To find a job is like a haystack needle
    Cause where he lives they don’t use colored people”
    Stevie Wonder, Living for the City (1973)

    The lack of ability to comprehend the forces of history and to study
    history leaves us ill-equipped to understand basic social phenomena.
    When the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 was passed (costing $55
    billion), it provided a direct highway for white flight out of America’s
    urban areas. Combined with the $120+ billion discriminatory handout to
    whites by the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans
    Administrations, white families had access to jobs (which also relocated
    to the suburbs) and subsidized suburban housing.

    Using 1965 as a point of comparison, federal spending of $175 billion in 1965
    is equivalent to $1.3 trillion dollars in 2014 (adjusting for inflation). Yes, the federal government subsidized white flight and job flight for whites to the tune of $1.3 TRILLION dollars in one of the greatest acts of affirmative action in American history.

    In his paper entitled Highways as a Barrier to Equal Access, Yale Rabin
    quotes a 1968 report from the Conference on Poverty and Transportation.
    It states: “Central city residents, particularly low income residents
    and Negroes, may find suburban employment centers difficult or expensive
    to reach, because their incidence of private automobile ownership is
    relatively low.”

    Even the jobs that are located on public transit lines that would hire
    workers without college degrees, are often subject to spotty transit
    service hours, particularly at night when workers would get off of work.
    Rabin discusses the National Commission on Urban Problems report which
    he says found that “existing in-and-out commuter transit systems are
    generally not suited to ‘reverse commuting’ [i.e. out to suburbs where
    many jobs are located].

    Therefore, in light of this crucial history, the study findings begin to make a
    lot of sense! The modern US highway system was designed in a racially
    exclusionary manner to facilitate segregation in suburban housing. The
    evidence of those racist policies are still evident today…

    When you add in the fact that over 1 million black people were displaced by
    the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 (the federal bulldozer) and the
    Housing Acts of 1949 & 1954 (creating the Urban Renewal
    Administration), then we gain even more clarity. Where did federal and
    local governments place many low-income black displaces? In public
    housing! The federal and local governments helped concentrate poverty
    and via housing and transportation policies created a spatial (some say
    racial) job mismatch.

    In another study by Hellerstein et al, they find that: “Specifically,
    concerns over spatial mismatch have helped motivate policy interventions
    such as “Moving to Opportunity” (Katz et al., 2001), “Wheels to Work”
    and other programs to increase access of low-income workers to cars
    (Goldberg, 2001), and enterprise zones (Peters and Fisher, 2002).
    Interestingly, many evaluations of these programs suggest that they are
    relatively ineffective at increasing black employment. This is entirely
    consistent with the results we find here, where simply living near jobs,
    even at one’s skill level, does little to boost black employment unless
    those jobs are available (or tend to be held by) blacks. Indeed, a
    simple simulation shows that moving blacks so that they faced the
    race-specific job densities of the representative white in their MSA
    (with the same skill level) would do relatively little to increase black
    employment, because the main effect of such a move would be to expose
    them to higher white (or non-black) job density, which our estimates
    indicate does little to increase black employment.”

    Finally, race and racism are the primary considerations at work in explaining
    and unpacking this research. Public housing residents, who are
    disproportionately black, again, due to social policies, were
    concentrated in inner-city areas that were far removed from jobs. And
    when they are “moved to opportunity,” low-income folks still need cars
    to access jobs because of racially exclusionary public transportation
    systems that don’t support reverse commuting. And when poor black folks
    attempt to access those jobs, they often find more racially
    exclusionary hiring practices due to likely implicit racial bias.

    This is why Stevie Wonder sang: “To find a job is like a haystack needle. Cause where he lives they don’t use colored people.”


    1. When Affirmative Action Was White by Ira Katznelson
    2. Urban Expressways and the Central Cities in Postwar America by Raymond Mohl
    3. Spatial Mismatch or Racial Mismatch? by Judith Hellerstein et al.
    4. Serial Forced Displacement in American Cities, 1916-2010 by Mindy Fullilove and Rodrick Wallace
    5. Highways as a Barrier to Equal Access by Yale Rabin
    6. Stevie Wonder, Innervisions, “Living for the City”

    • ushanellore

      Beautiful. Emancipate the Blacks but enslave them anyway– all the whites who complain about black dependence on subsidies should read your piece. How adroitly the whites set transportation policies to kill off black employment and black advancement is a study in cunning maneuvering! But what goes around comes around.

      We now have sprawl, we have destruction of agriculture, we have urbanization of the suburbs, we have fine particulate matter, global warming, disease, more potholes on highways, we have highways to nowhere, we have sinkholes and we have no jobs even for the whites who put up these obstacles and barriers so black emancipation will come to nought. This is a case of those who would enslave needing emancipation as much as those who are enslaved.

      But is the solution giving cars to the poor or taking away cars from the rich and the middle class? This story is no different from that of the suddenly enlightened European, the very same one who hunted lions for sport in Africa and tigers in India, who cut down the tropical jungles for teak and ebony sleek furniture, who dug out the diamonds from the earth and coltan too, suddenly pressuring the entire world to get less profligate and conserve for the good of all mankind.

      “Do as I say, but not as I do!” ain’t working with Vlad Putin and ain’t working with China either. But those guys live it up at their own peril too.

      As usual the European stock, after having a grand time gobbling up two thirds of the resources and food in this world, resorts to giving lectures about what’s morally right and what will save us all.

      I just filled up my tank today–gas where I filled up was 3.60 per gallon. This car as opportunity slogan is a mixed bag. If you have a car you better have a good one–not one from GM–and you better have the money for gas and repairs. When JHU and other predatory corporations are not willing to pay a living wage then a car is more a liability than an opportunity. Look at tolls–they are forbidding too.

      We need to come around to decent public transportation as the best solution for all men and women–white, black, poor, rich, plutocrat and “politrickocrat” alike.

      • Lawrence MedgarEvers DuBois

        Yes, cars aren’t the long term solution, but they deserve to make a living too, don’t they? We didn’t build a public transportation then that is equitable and as Gerald Nelly has been saying, the Red Line ain’t it either.

        As Hellerstein and colleagues noted, moving black folks closer to those jobs doesn’t do any good either. I say that is because the essential problem TODAY is still racism via implicit racial bias. We still have racially exclusionary transportation systems being designed and constructed (e.g. Red Line) and we still have racially exclusionary hiring practices.

        So the real solution then is to undo racism with anti-racist policies, actions, and education. Anti-racism now, today, and forever. To believe otherwise is superstition and as Stevie Wonder also sang: “Superstition ain’t the way…”

        • Gerald Neily

          Great discussion, LME DuBois! Just a clarification that doesn’t alter your overall points at all. The Red Line would be used overwhelmingly by poor “captive” riders of all races, just as the overall MTA system is. The outer stations would be located at the inconvenient outer periphery of their destinations (Social Security and Medicaid complexes and the Canton Crossing, Security Square and Edmondson Village shopping centers) and beyond most if not all the parking. Similarly, the station at upscale Harbor East is on the edge at Central/Fleet and developer John Paterakis has said he doesn’t want it anyway. Plentiful, subsidized or free parking will continue to trump transit.

          About half of all Red Line ridership is projected to be bus transfers, which would be fine except that bus service would be altered in tortured ways to force people to transfer, and most of the stations wouldn’t have off-street transfer facilities such as on the Metro – most notably at Rosemont and Highlandtown (respectively on the west and east sides) where the vast majority of riders are expected to be transfers.

          Baltimore needs good transit, for all races and classes. The solution is to make the system as a whole work, which can be efficiently done by making our far better designed Metro into a true “system backbone”, not dissimilar to San Francisco or LA, both of which have only one central Metro line.

          • Lawrence MedgarEvers DuBois

            Thanks Mr. Nelly! Are you speaking anywhere to discuss what you’ve written here? I confess that I’m new to the transportation issue and understanding how it plays into building an equitable society. So much of what you’re saying is flying over my head. I want to make sure I don’t just understand this issue at a surface level, but at an intricate level. Any speaking engagements you have lined or general advice, readings, articles you might suggest?

          • Gerald Neily

            Welcome to The Brew, LME! I’ve written tons here, although not nearly as much as Usha. On the Brew search engine (which admittedly sucks), my name currently gets 151 results (Usha’s gets 56 – ha! she writes that much in an average week.) So use Google instead.

            I also have a blog that I haven’t been maintaining lately:

            I’m a transportation planner, so that’s mostly what I write about, and since the Red Line is the city’s current multi-billion dollar baby, it’s mostly that. Social issues haven’t gotten enough attention. Fern’s article here has been a rare opportunity to talk about them.

            Lately I’ve branched out a bit to explore the relationships between Carroll and Druid Hill Parks and the streets and railroad tracks around them, which has a major social component through a concept called “border vacuums”. See:

            That’s why I found myself at the Southwest Partnership workshop last Saturday. Their urban design consultant has picked up on the Carroll Park border vacuum issue, but not on the even more cancerous “Highway to Nowhere” and MLK Boulevard border vacuums. And it’s amazing that folks can talk for four hours and hardly mention that little $2.65 Billion Red Line project.

            Border vacuums are a huge part of the Baltimore landscape. Hopkins Hospital and EBDI have turned border fortress planning into a science. It’s no coincidence that they put the new Henderson-Hopkins School up against the Amtrak tracks and got rid of as many local streets as they could.

            I’ve also been on Marc Steiner’s radio show several times, for what it’s worth, but I really don’t get out that much.

          • Old Goucher watchdog

            great discussion all 3 of you! thank you

        • ushanellore

          A resounding YES from me.

          I am astounded by the moral priggishness of the racialists. They have the accumulated wealth advantage–the inherited wealth advantage, the Ivy Leagues for the donors advantage, the highway to opportunities advantage, the tax subsidies for corporations advantage, the tax shelters on foreign soils advantage, the “I can buy you off and I can write the laws through you” lobby advantage, the “my health care is the best health care, your health care be damned” advantage, “I can always take my kids to private school” advantage, and then they sanctimoniously talk about pulling themselves up by the bootstraps with NO help whatsoever–speaking against affirmative action, the “lazy and criminal poor”, food stamps and minimum wage because such social help would make folks DEPENDENT–as though dependence has not concentrated wealth in this country, sheer criminal behavior from the big banks and investment firms has not gipped the poor and the middle class and as though dependence in the form of nepotism has not resulted in employment for some and unemployment for many.

          FAUX NEWS is a single vociferous propaganda machine against this DEPENDENCE with not a word said about the numerous hidden forms of DEPENDENCE that keep the rich and the established in power. The lie here is that America is a land of opportunities and anything is possible here–one only has to try. The truth is downward mobility for many and upward mobility for few.

          The Asians will always be held up as shining examples of this pull yourself by the bootstraps theory–so also the Blacks from Africa and the Blacks from the islands.

          Yet, in California, when Asians cornered the college market through merit, all of a sudden, the racists discovered the value of diversity–they put a quota on the heads of Asian students, so that despite merit, only a certain proportion could enter the system any given year. The laws alter according to the whim and fancy of the racists but always to make sure the racists are in the driver’s seat and they and theirs are the winners.

          The rich marry the rich and have interdependent conglomerates that vilify the poor as dependent and unsalvageable. Talk about this and you will be told you are inciting class warfare. When it comes to warfare class warfare is out–but drone and shock and awe warfare are in.

          • Lawrence MedgarEvers DuBois

            Thanks for your reply Ushanellore. Yes the hypocrisy that defines our society is mind-numbing, isn’t it? So much needs to be unpacked for understanding, and then put back together in a more equitable and sustainable way that simultaneously restores those who have been systematically disadvantaged, displaced, and disinvested.

    • Chris

      Sir, you should post this on a blog. I will disseminate it.

      • Lawrence MedgarEvers DuBois

        Thanks Chris, I appreciate it. I’ll definitely give that some thought.

  • Marc

    You know, extensive “studies” probably wouldn’t be required if the researchers spent more time talking to the people they’re “studying.”

    It’s not hard for a poor person to buy a car – with some diligent searching among friends, family, and neighbors, it’s possible to track down a used car for a couple hundred bucks.

    It’s KEEPING that car that’s so hard! Maintenance (especially on a used car!), gas, insurance, registration – all this eats up a modest income very rapidly. There already are programs that distribute free cars to the needy, but they’re essentially treating the wrong problem by not doing much to improve one’s ability to KEEP a car.

    So we can either (1) set up yet another welfare palliative to halfheartedly treat the deficiencies in the mandatory motoring program or (2) simply stop subsidizing it and regulating for it.

    • Matt R

      Maybe we can train the poor on how to keep their old beater on the road (such as how to change their oil and perform basic repairs). Hell, this sounds like a vocational program that might lead their way out of poverty because those can be put to work as valuable skills or at least a job a Jiffy-Lube.

  • asteroid_B612

    The flip side of this is that measures that makes car ownership more expensive (such as recently increased gas taxes, tolls, registration fees, parking and moving violation fines, parking meter rates, etc.) basically act to keep poor families poor. They are more than just regressive taxes — they help to perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Austerity, Maryland style.

    • Andrew

      Well, then, we’re even. Baltimore insurance rates are through the roof thanks to all the uninsured loonies hitting and running about town.

  • Andrew

    Far too many people in Baltimore have cars. They are clearly uninsured, certainly not inspection worthy, clearly not registered and clearly, they have no idea what traffic lights mean. I have been wondering for some time what lobby is keeping them on the road since obviously they don’t have to obey the same laws as the rest of us. I am also very impressed at the wealth in Baltimore given all the really expensive cars driven by such humble folks.

    • Aaron Mirenzi

      what makes it so clear that any one individual isnt insuring their car?
      also consider that baltimore has a higher percentage of people taking public transit compared to alot of other american cities.

      • Andrew

        Anecdotally: I, an several people I know, have been smashed in to by junkers that lo and behold, weren’t insured. Some weren’t even registered. The police shrug and walk away. They know that it’s an unspoken rule that these people get a free pass.

    • bmorepanic

      You obviously haven’t driven on the beltway or either of the 95s recently. :) And I think a fair cop for you guys is treating stop signs and right-turn-on-red as yields and speeding on every residential street not your own.

      Sure, we have a lot of people who don’t know what red lights are for – we can tell the country drivers because they jackrabbit start across an intersection when the lights change. The natives do things differently. First, we wait for you to go first at lights to see what happens. If you make it, then we go. The second is we don’t use your residential streets for commuting to work or shopping,

      But yeah, our police don’t care about crashes too much and they surely don’t care about car crashes where no one was hurt. The Baltimore County police care so much that they refuse to respond at all.

  • Chris

    The real story here is the lunacy of American suburbia and the systematic and deliberate overinvestment in highways at the expense of infrastructure for every other mode of transport.

    We’ve engineered our built environment assuming that everyone will drive everywhere they go, then we wonder why our environment is going to hell and people who can’t or don’t want to drive are put at a systemic disadvantage.

    • Aaron Mirenzi

      its really kind of a sad thing how this all played out. its pretty documented how middle class flight from the cities via federally subsidized highway an community growth devastated inner city Baltimore.

      But theres a flipside. Communities like Glen Burnie, which used to be nice and draw people out of the city, are now looking like shit too. I bet it was nice when it was first built, but now there doesn’t seem to be the capital to keep it looking good. alot of suburban Baltimore now looks like stripmall hell without a sense of place.

      • Chris

        Suburbia is a ponzi scheme. Unless a community has high income levels, suburban development models simply do not generate enough tax revenue per land unit to sustain the cost of supporting it. As poverty suburbanizes over the next few decades, we’re going to see how horrible an idea the “drive til you qualify” model was in the first place. I just wonder if we’ll even have a functioning civil society by that point. We’re right on the water, and it’s rising.

  • Ramius

    You guys just need to get out of Baltimore. You can’t judge the entire country based on one horrible city. Roads are the key to economic well-being for the vast majority of Americans, while mass-transit only works in incredibly densely populated areas, such as New York City.

  • November 24, 2015

  • November 23, 2015

    • Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be off to Paris late next week, leading a delegation of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, of which she is president, to participate in the United Nations convention on climate change. According to information released this afternoon in the Board of Estimates agenda, the mayor will be in Paris from December […]

  • November 20, 2015

    • The Roland Park Place retirement community took a step closer to starting a major renovation and expansion yesterday when the Planning Commission gave “final design approval” to the first phase of the project. Plans by Hord Coplan Macht call for the first phase to include improvements to the existing building and grounds at 830 West […]

  • November 19, 2015

  • November 18, 2015

    • The Board of Estimates temporarily put the brakes on a plan to build a new courtroom and judge’s chambers in the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse after City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young questioned the amount of money it would cost. The spending panel was asked today to approve a request to transfer $1.2 […]

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Below the Fold

  • December 15, 2014

    •   “Ha ha, so not a surprise.” “Shocking…not!!” We get applause but also the occasional eye-roll these days for our accountability reporting – like last week’s piece about how tax cuts promised by the mayor as a selling point for Horseshoe Baltimore probably won’t happen, thanks to the casino’s lower-than-expected revenues. We get where the […]