The author concludes that our best hope to fix this trend is a return of high gasoline prices.
IMO, that's ONE way it might change, but pretty much the WORST option.
Personally, I'd rather see more people opt for electric cars or public transit because improvements were made in those areas, making them more desirable!
The problem is that people don't buy fuel-efficient vehicles while fuel costs are low. They make purely economic decisions, because someone else will pay the cost of their externalities.
The best approach is to build the costs of the externalities into the fuel prices, and actually spend the money improving things. The best way to do that is to make the producers of a product responsible for cleaning up the results. EU laws along these lines have succeeded somewhat brilliantly at reducing landfill waste; manufacturers are now designing products to be easier to recycle as a means of reducing their costs. So, here's what you do rather than using regressive taxes to solve this problem: Make the oil companies responsible for fixing the carbon released when fuel is burned. This is trivially calculated, or at least estimated. The costs of fixing the CO2 will then wind up baked into the fuel prices, and the problem actually gets solved so long as we actually hold them to their obligation. Yeah, I know, that's the part that rubs. But fuel taxes going into the general fund don't actually address the real problem now. They try to change behavior for the future, but don't do anything to address the results of ongoing bad behavior. We need to do both.
I used to take the commuter train, but the combination of increased prices for it and reliability issues forced me to go back to driving. There are just too many times the train is really late due to freight train traffic that gets priority on the rails they use, or mechanical breakdowns.
It's sad, because these things can be done much better.