She makes a convincing case in her Down To Earth editorial:
... The fact is that cars—small or big—are heavily subsidized. [...] The subsidy begins with the manufacture of cars. When we read about the Singur farmers’ struggle to stop government from acquiring their land for the Tata car factory we don’t join the dots. We don’t see this as the first big subsidy to motorization. The fact is, in Singur the manufacturer got cheap land, interest-free capital and perhaps other concessions ... The car owner (and I am one as well) pays a one-time road tax, which is between 0.5-5 per cent of the cost of the vehicle in most states.
But this is only one part of the subsidies to car owners—there is also the cost of regulating traffic; of installing traffic signals; the cost of building flyovers, overbridges and subways; the cost of pollution control measures; the cost of pollution to our health. Since cars take up over 75 per cent of the road space, even though they move less than 20 per cent of the people, it is obvious whom this expenditure benefits the most. [...] The subsidy bill does not end here. There is also the cost of parking, which we refuse to pay any or full cost for, and which the government refuses to impose.
The question is should we discount the price of motorization so that some (and maybe a few more) can drive a car or a two-wheeler? Or should we pay the real cost of our commute so that the government can invest in mobility for all? ...
There were people who insinuated that Narain's complaints about cars were directed at Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car that was unveiled last month. This is grossly unfair. The total cost of ownership of a car is something that she has been talking about for quite sometime (at least since December 2006); her organization has also studied the hidden parking subsidy -- a subsidy whose burden falls on everyone. These studies have also been given wide publicity by folks like Swaminathan Aiyar.