Im transplanted for the summer out on the central coast of California (cooler and less humid than Washington), where I hope Ill pick up the laggard pace of my blogging. Im in San Luis Obispo County, one of the few coastal red counties in California, though my little beach town (Cambria) is, regrettably, deep blue. A new bistro has just opened, advertising its cuisine as "progressive American," which the French would find an oxymoron, I think.
I think I can answer the question of how high has prices need to be to get people to reduce their driving. Answer: higher than they are now, at least judging by the holiday traffic here and elsewhere Ive driven lately. I got into a traffic jam in Paso Robles yesterday--only the second tie up Ive seen of this dimension in 20 years. (I was also on I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas a few days ago, where the Vegas-bound traffic was bumper-to-bumper . . . for 100 miles.) And keep in mind that California gas prices are about 25 cents a gallon higher than the national average, thanks to our regulators.
Even at these prices, gasoline is still cheaper, adjusted for inflation, than it was in 1970, and is still cheaper than bottled water, which seems to have become a necessity for everyone to have these days.