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Thread: Why public transportation just doesn't always work

  1. #1
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    Default Why public transportation just doesn\'t always work

    I was in NYC not too long ago, and the subway system worked great! With trains coming and going all the time, we were able to quickly get around the city any time. We didn't ever need a taxi, but if I lived in NYC I can understand how the cheap subway and the occasional expensive taxi ride would still be tons cheaper than owning a car -- especially when you factor in renting a parking space. Granted, grocery shopping is easier with a car, but just stay with me here for a minute.

    I do not own a car, and I just changed jobs. It might be tricky to get somebody else in my household to give me a lift because of my new scheduling. I went ahead and checked on the public transport website to try and figure out what the bus routes would be to get me to and from work, and I was amazed!

    I don't work very far from home. It's about 15 minute drive. On the bus it would take me 1 hour and 20 minutes to get there, including a 25 minute wait for a bus, and 2 hours 22 minutes to get home. That's a joke! There are some routes around here that are pretty quick, but everything else takes forever by bus. I know you can get things done on the bus, but who wants to trade a 30 minute commute for a 3.5 hour one?

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always work

    get a gps, then mod it to shock you when you get to the correct stop, sleep [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    get a DVD player, and when you get on make believe the seat is a recliner. get a DVD recorder at home, to keep it filled

    get a pocket game machine, then wonder where all the time went too.

    get a Laptop, and pick up a second job making web pages, or if you really want to waste time, making programs.

    get 80 other people to take the same route, when the buss is overcrowded , go to the city meeting and convince them they need a bus for that specific route.

    ask the workplace if they have a car/van pooling setup.

    if i had to wait 3 hours on a buss i would rather walk for the 3 hours. its amazing how far you can get walking in only 1.

    get a bike, mod it with a electric moter when you get to old to pedal.

    buy a moped, scooter, electric scooter, or whatever they allow you to legally use on the streets you can use to get there.

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    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    I could ride mass transit to work ... but it would turn a 30-60 minute drive into at least 90 minutes and involve riding the light rail part of the way and a bus the rest of the way (plus side - I can do a bit more than just listen to the radio during my commute). It's not an option when I work 2nd shift (most of the time) - the trains stop running just a bit too early for me to make it home.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    I'll wholeheartedly admit that outside of very large cities like New York and Chicago public transportation in the US really doesn't work too well. The key is population density. The US, including most smaller cities, is very sparsely populated by European or Japanese standards. Without a high enough population density, comprehensive, frequent public transportation as exists in NYC just isn't economically feasible. The price we in America pay for our huge suburban lawns is the need to own a car. Another problem this creates is that those who get ill traveling by a car, such as myself, or otherwise simply can't afford one, have very few places in the US where they can live.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    If you are only 15 minutes away from work then I definately think that a bike or walking could be an alternative, but if the weather is miserable then you don't have much of a choice except for public transit.

    Is there any way you could find two buses in the schedule that cross only a few minutes after the first one has arrived. This way, even if you get to work early, you can sit around there rather than sitting on the bus. Plus the boss may look more highly upon you for getting there early.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    I live 5 (count 'em 5) miles from where I work. During nice weather I HAVE walked before because it's a 15-25 minute MINIMUM drive and a 65-90 minute public transit commute!

    I'm involved in a minor war at the moment because I would really like to bicycle and/or walk to work but because I'm a contractor and not a Fed I cannot use the locker room and showers in our building. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mad.gif[/img]

    So a healthy way to get to work is right out because there is NO way I'm going to bike/walk in during Washington DC's summer weather and then make my co-workers put up with my funk the rest of the day. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sick2.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    It's a shame that more places aren't able/willing to accomodate those who want to commute by bike. The bicycle is a great alternative to both cars and sparse public transit for distances of up to 10 miles each way. As a bonus, you get much needed exercise. In NYC, cycling is actually as fast as driving (for me anyway [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]), although not quite as fast as the subway. And it's way faster than bus. I figure typical average speeds in NYC as follows:

    urban bus: 8 to 12 mph
    urban auto (local streets): 15 to 20 mph (highways are often even slower)
    bike: 15 to 20 mph
    subway: 20+ mph (as high as 35 mph for express lines with limited stops)

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    When I was young, the bus system used 'mini busses' that held only 20 people or so. There were enough of them that they came by every 15 minutes. I could pick two different bus routes within 3 blocks. You could hail them (like a taxi) from anywhere, not just bus stops. They had a couple of tranfer points besides the downtown terminal,

    Like light rail, they used a schedule. If they got to a stop early they'd wait. If they go there late and no one was waiting they'd keep driving. I seldom missed a bus.

    The city was around 30K people, The bus routes went within 4 blocks of everywhere. I was generally able to get anywhere within an hour.

    I frequently wonder why they don't use mini-busses for more city routes. It would double the number of drivers but cut the cost of busses in half and provide much better service/

    Daniel

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    *Flashaholic* JonSidneyB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    I have always thought that maybe only 25% of the population lived in dense enough areas for public transportation to be successful. I could be mistaken. It could only really be successful in two of the places I have lived.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    there are so few people on our bus system MOST of the time, that they could send out a cab for each, and save 50% in cost, fuel, time, money .
    They of course cut off service, when they roll up the street at night, when it would be usefull to avoid drunken driving.

    but then sombody told me that the kids use it to get to regular (non college) school??

    This started to make perfect sence to me of course.

    they STOPPED school bus service, because everyone was being pooled to the exact same location. therefore it would be perfect to have "school buses". and anyone knows that the government will do the total oppisite of anything usefull or inteligent.

    so the kids all have to be driven in these big SUVS with career moms careening through the residential streets , to get thier kids to school on time, before they singularly drive to thier job at 15 miles per gallon, in the big huge suv.
    at the same time, 50% of the kids are walking , and dodging the SUVs through the same residential area.

    who would have thought of doing brilliant things like that, than our government [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    and dont get me started on the bus drivers [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] 75miles an hour through the streets, taking corners like they were in the indy500 , engine smoking , black desiel plumage blasting up into the air, the engine being over revved, ramming up to every red light like thier presence there was going to turn it green magically, then braking at the back of the other patientally waiting cars 2" from smashing into thier tailpipes. only to have to stop and park the buss for 15 minutes because they are Ahead of schedule. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    [ QUOTE ]
    Greg said:
    If you are only 15 minutes away from work then I definately think that a bike or walking could be an alternative, but if the weather is miserable then you don't have much of a choice except for public transit.

    Is there any way you could find two buses in the schedule that cross only a few minutes after the first one has arrived. This way, even if you get to work early, you can sit around there rather than sitting on the bus. Plus the boss may look more highly upon you for getting there early.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    To get there by bicycle I'd have to ride on the shoulder of no less than 3 freeways.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    [ QUOTE ]
    Greg said:
    Is there any way you could find two buses in the schedule that cross only a few minutes after the first one has arrived. This way, even if you get to work early, you can sit around there rather than sitting on the bus. Plus the boss may look more highly upon you for getting there early.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    65 minutes is minimum commute using the light rail for one leg of the trip. It's over 2 hours by bus, and I have to make 2 transfers. I only have to travel 20 miles... the price of urbam sprawl.

    DFW is horrible for sprawl. There are maybe 5 million people in the metro area and the last statisticI saw put the area at ~20,000 square miles.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Been to Texas many times but not Dallas. I never picured Dallas having light rail.

    I could not imagine 65 minutes just to get 20 miles. Definately not worth it.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Dallas's light rail system is called the dart system. I used it to go from the amtrak station to the mark adams hotel on pearle street for a conference.

    I use patransit service in th city of richmond the past 5 years. It is a direct route thing, but they also pick up or drop off other passengers. THey are allowed to drive you around for 90 minutes, 91 minutes is too long. ANyway I am almost always on time, however the van either arrives late and takes me directly to my drop or arrives early, picks up others then drops me off on time. YOu have to arrange the trips in advance and an hour between stops. So, going to mc donalds before work will eat an hour or more out of a day. Working two part time jobs or going to class adn working, I spend up to 3 hours a day on or waiting for transportation.

    Man I wish I could drive.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Americans are not good at public transportation. We do it poorly and grudgingly, and it sort of works a little. We have a handful of cities like NY and Minn. where they do have real public transportation. You really have to go abroad to see good dependable efficient public transport. It can be done, it's just that we don't do it.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Actually, we did it very well here too.

    Public transportation was purposely destroyed and the right-of-ways sold to make sure that they would never be reserected in the middle of the Great Depression:

    Choosing Congestion: The Destruction of L.A.'s Trolley System

    [ QUOTE ]
    Believe it or not, "for the first half of this century, smooth, clean, and comfortable streetcars ruled America's Cities." In Los Angeles, these streetcars or "trolleys" were run by The Pacific Electric Company and called "Red Cars." This fast and cheap mode of transportation traveled the streets of L.A. on tracks or overhead wires, which provided their electricty. Since they were not fueled by gasoline, they did not emit the pollution that our cars and buses do today. The world-famous Red Cars were quiet and easy to take from one destination to another, and cheap enough to be available for anyone to use.

    Then in 1936, General Motors joined forces with Firestone Tire and Rubber, Standard Oil, Phillips Petroleum and Mack Truck to form a corporation called National City Lines. The purpose of NCL was to use its immense pool of wealth to buy up trolley tracks and systems in cities across the US, dismantle them, and replace them with diesel bus lines. The American Heritage "History of Railroads in America" notes that at this point in history "Los Angeles' quiet, pollution-free, electric train system was totally destroyed." These General Motors buses were conveniently fueled by Standard Oil and driven on Firestone Tires. Since it is illegal in America to monopolize a market, National City Lines was brought to court in 1949. They were found guilty of criminally conspiring to control the market sales of buses and related products to local transportation companies throughout the country. The Government fined them a mere $5000 for their trust violation, and broke the company apart.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Grrrrr....

    -Bill

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Basically, courtesy of GM and Firestone we replaced a perfectly good system of trolleys and interurbans with something that is a lot slower, a lot more polluting, and a lot more unpleasant to ride in. I'll take a train or trolley any day of the week over a car or bus. It's just a much more civilized way to travel. Of course, GM did this on purpose. If public transportation had remained clean, fast, frequent, and ubiquitous nobody except those in very rural areas would have wanted or needed to own cars. I get ill every time I envision what could have been had the auto not taken over.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Come to San Francisco. You can't walk 4 blocks without hitting a bus line.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Unless one or the other agency is going on strike... It's BART's (Bay Area rail/subway system) turn next somewhere about next Friday.

    They do seem to make pretty good pay there.

    BART Wages...

    [ QUOTE ]
    Last year, pay records show, 10 percent of BART's 3,200 employees made more than $100,000 when you add in overtime, differential pay and bonuses.

    A third of those $100,000 club members were union workers: police, engineers, drivers and the like. Of course, that means the other two-thirds weren't union members, but managers and other exempt employees -- who have been benefiting just as much from the increases that workers have won over the years.
    ...
    -- Station agents, with a base salary of $61,012 a year, are at the top of the pile among the nation's transit systems.

    -- Train operators, who make $59,776 a year, are tops as well.

    -- And utility workers are fifth in the country, with a base pay of $49,775.
    ...
    BART General Manager Tom Margro, for example, has a base pay of $283,000 -- but add in his "management incentives," and it climbs to $309,000 a year.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Probably why city transit systems eventually seem to price themselves out of the market. Not bad considering that Silicon Valley lost some 250,000 jobs in the 2000/1 dot com crash.

    -Bill

  20. #20

    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    The bus system here works fairly well if you need to go within the confines of one bus route as during peak hours they run at least once an hour. The problems come if you have to transfer to a second bus because you either have to walk to a new stop or wait perhaps as much as 50 mins for the next bus to come by. I have road the bus when I was a kid to school and my dad worked downtown and road the bus everyday. I wouldn't want to waste over about 20 mins a day waiting for a bus unless parking and traffic were bad where I was heading to all the time. It is nice when it is bad to be on a nice air conditioned bus doing something else but driving and fuming about lousy drivers.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    $59000 to drive a train? Where do I sign up?

    I'll do the station agent's job for half their pay. All they do is sit on their ass anyway.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Anti-capitalist conspiracy theories aside, there are two major reasons why public transit has such a problem here:

    1. The automobile is by far the best arrangement for arbitrary point-A to point-B travel. The regular-route grid system of public transit requires a very high density of travel points (those A's and B's) before its advantages of greater efficiency outweigh the flexibility of the automobile. (Also not to be dismissed is that "arbitrary point-A to point-B" means freedom of travel, something that Americans value highly and would require a significant disutility -- that is, cost, like longer drive time -- to give up.)

    2. Most American cities fall significantly below this density level in very large areas.

    This is due in a big part to lower population density, but another big contributor to the problem is land-use restrictions and zoning, which force huge blocks of land to be dedicated solely to one use. This significantly lowers density, which stretches the average trip length and heavily favors the automobile over public transit as well as shorter-range arbitrary point-to-point transport (walking, bicycles).

    Los Angeles, in particular the Valley is the end result of those policies. Most of this city is essentially squashed into two dimensions. It's one thing to try to keep noisy and smelly big industry away from residential areas, but this "we don't want to look like Manhattan" BS sure as hell hasn't resulted in a quality-of-life paradise here.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    January of last year I spent a week in London. I purchased a week long visitor pass for about $70, allowing for unlimited travel on the Tube. This was a fantastic deal. I've never ridden this type of system before and I just loved it. For the first time ever I could understand how in a big city you could get by without a car. It was fast, I never had to wait more the 3-4 minutes for a train, nor had to walk more than three blocks for a Tube station. The seats had warmers for your lower legs, were comfortable and clean. It made travel around London a breeze. Often after a long day of walking about, I would travel two or three stops beyond my station and ride it back just to rest a bit.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    [ QUOTE ]
    Canuke said:
    1. The automobile is by far the best arrangement for arbitrary point-A to point-B travel.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    If you ignore certain things like very high cost, high upkeep, high cost per mile traveled, relatively slow speed compared to other modes, incidential costs like air pollution and land use for roads, and the need to drive it yourself then maybe. Truthfully, when it was invented the auto was a solution in search of a problem. We essentially invented suburbia as this problem in order to sell automobiles. Low population density was enabled by the auto, in effect. Sure, we had rural areas before but most rural people were farm workers who rarely needed to travel frequently as they lived and worked on the farm. The auto was at best a convenience for them. Once we invented suburbia and daily commutes of tens of miles the auto became a necessity, and unfortunately we started planning even our cities with the auto in mind (LA is a great example of this).

    [ QUOTE ]

    The regular-route grid system of public transit requires a very high density of travel points (those A's and B's) before its advantages of greater efficiency outweigh the flexibility of the automobile. (Also not to be dismissed is that "arbitrary point-A to point-B" means freedom of travel, something that Americans value highly and would require a significant disutility -- that is, cost, like longer drive time -- to give up.)


    [/ QUOTE ]
    I bold-faced the relevant part of your last sentence because we are starting to see exactly that. The auto is a victim of its own success. In many areas now roads are saturated, and there is no room or public support to build more roads (which incidentally won't solve the problem long term anyway). Also, even in areas where traffic hasn't reached saturation there has been a reluctance to raise speed limits to match the capability of modern roads and autos. As a result, maximum possible average speeds have more or less plateaued at 60 to 70 mph even under ideal conditions. This compares very poorly to high-speed rail which can average 150 to 180 mph, or even electrified commuter rail which can offer average speeds in the 30 to 70 mph range even in areas with heavy traffic congestion. In short, thanks to a combination of space and legislative reasons, the auto has reached its limits, and auto travel will likely become even slower. As a result, we are in fact seeing a much greater interest in public transit than previously. We are also starting to see a general disenchantment with the suburban lifestyle which has resulted in skyrocketing home prices in urban areas. These trends will take decades to play out, but combined with ever rising fuel prices I suspect that when they run their course, the auto will no longer be king. At best, it will be relegated to a short distance grocery-getter and train station shuttle ideally suited to EVs. Bicycles may even begin to replace some of the latter.

    [ QUOTE ]

    2. Most American cities fall significantly below this density level in very large areas.

    This is due in a big part to lower population density, but another big contributor to the problem is land-use restrictions and zoning, which force huge blocks of land to be dedicated solely to one use. This significantly lowers density, which stretches the average trip length and heavily favors the automobile over public transit as well as shorter-range arbitrary point-to-point transport (walking, bicycles).


    [/ QUOTE ]
    Yes, and these zoning restrictions were a big, big mistake. Essentially they resulted in sprawl and the horizontal city versus the vertical city. The net result is a lot of valuable economic time wasted going from point A to point B plus a lot of the natural world paved over with asphault. For example, if I need milk I can walk 2 blocks, buy it, and return home, all within ten minutes. In suburbia I would need to get into my car, maybe dust snow off it, hope it starts, back out of the driveway, travel a few miles on relatively slow local roads, park, maybe walk a good distance in the parking lot to the store, purchase the milk, and then go home. Easily a wasted half an hour, if not more, and that milk probably costed me an extra $1 or 2 once you count fuel plus wear and tear on the car. Not a good or sensible way to live yet this is the reality for much of the US.

    [ QUOTE ]

    Los Angeles, in particular the Valley is the end result of those policies. Most of this city is essentially squashed into two dimensions. It's one thing to try to keep noisy and smelly big industry away from residential areas, but this "we don't want to look like Manhattan" BS sure as hell hasn't resulted in a quality-of-life paradise here.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    LA is living proof that the horizontal city idea is a bad idea on many levels. I've heard Dallas is another great example of the same.

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    *Flashaholic* Darell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    You make some interesting points!

    [ QUOTE ]
    Canuke said:
    Anti-capitalist conspiracy theories aside

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Conspiracy, yes. Theory? Not really. I don't think anybody disputes what happened to much of our light rail - at least in the West where I'm familiar with the history. I grew up in Marin County, CA, and we had four electric light rail lines. EVERYBODY commuted on them. By the 70's every last one of the lines was gone.

    [ QUOTE ]
    freedom of travel, something that Americans value highly and would require a significant disutility -- that is, cost, like longer drive time -- to give up.)

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Another option: Charge people direclty for the environmental damage they cause. Bring the cost of gasoline into line with what it costs our society. Even without that extra nudge, the cost of an automobile is crazy enough by itself! Many of us are somewhat blind to those costs, however, and view the expense as a necessity like water and food. There was a time when a family only had one car. Today I'm in a minority in my area because we only have *two* cars.

    Great discussion. I've held five "commute to work" type jobs in my life. I've been fortunate enough to be able to bicycle to three of those. Bummer that at one job about half of the employees lived closer to work than I... and I was the only one who didn't drive. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    I would love to be able to get rid of my car. When you consider what it costs for car payments, insurance, repairs, gas, car washes, tickets, etc., it *is* insane. There are so many things I would rather use that money for.

    Unfortunately, I live in the city and my job is out in the 'burbs, four miles past the last bus stop.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    While I agree that the modern suburban city is not designed for public transit, it does not mean that it's a terrible thing. Most suburbs were not intially planned, but simply grew as developers created neighborhoods. The result is that you can drive through different sections of the city and see wildly different designs of the streets, houses and schools as well as other infrastructure.

    I've spent enough time in big cities (SF, LA, San Diego, Chicago, Phoenix....) to know that I don't care for them. They tend to develop slums. Any glitch in the infrastructure (power, lights, garbage, sewer, transit....) and you have millions of folks that are impacted and angry. I can't remember the last time I saw a suburban riot.

    JTR speaks of going to the corner store, only a 10 minute walk. Then he talks of the hassles of driving the car in the snow to get to the store. I hate walking to the store in a winter rain. Cold, wet, windy, YUCK! Every corner store I've been to in SF charges significantly more for necessities than the supermarket 6 blocks from my house. I can drive to 4 supermarkets within 3 miles, and that competition helps keep the cost down a bit. It's sad that all 4 of those markts are now owned by only two companies.


    It's a good thing to keep industry away from housing. That allows you to keep 18 wheelers out of your neighborhoods. It keeps the chemical spills from ruining your dinner. It keeps the 300 employees from the factory from parking in your driveway. It allows the city to build roads that can handle the load, and it allows the power company to beef up the grid in that area.

    My dad's a civil engineer who has designed sub-divisions as well as a whole city. Yeah, the city he designed is a bedroom community in Arizona, but that counts for something. He explained some of the oddities of the way my city is designed. He also pointed out where my city did not follow the original design. He actually did some of the engineering for part of my city back in the 1960's.


    Trading a gas powered car for a bike, two busses and a train does not make as much sense (enviromentally) nor economically.

    Want to know why I rode the BART train to SF for 3 years? The job paid $30,000 a year more than I was making locally with shorter hours. Want to know why I did not drive? The car was quicker, even though the BART train dropped me off within 3 blocks of one job. It was the $15 a day parking combined with the cost of gas and bridge tolls. Bart was only $8 a day round trip. Of course, I'm alos paying a special tax to subsidize BART, so the real cost is much higher even if I don't use it.

    Daniel

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    Daniel, I just want to point out that the local "corner store" is a large chain, and we have two more grocery stores owned by different large chains within easy walking distance. One is about 0.3 mile and the other is about 0.7 miles. Walking from any of them with a few bags of groceries is no big deal, even in the driving rain or a few feet of snow. If I did all the shopping, I could even carry home two week's worth of groceries with a shopping cart. I hardly consider any of this a hassle. In fact, it forces me to get exercise which is a good thing, and keeps me from being too "soft", for lack of a better word. My two biggest beefs with cars, besides the pollution, are the high cost of entry and the high cost of ownership. Just auto insurance costs more than I'd pay to ride the subways every single day. And purchasing even a used car is just out of reach if you don't make much. Given all that, I often scratch my head and wonder why the auto is so popular. Heck, as I mentioned it's not even fast compared to other modes which might be the only thing worth paying a premium for. When I commuted 73 miles each way to college I regularly beat the auto travel time using a combination of local bus, subway, and commuter rail, and that is including the average 15 minutes or so total waiting time.

    As for separating industry and housing, we do that here, too. And the idea of cities turning into slums is retro 1970s or 80s thinking. We have a pretty good idea why cities have turned into slums in the past, and how to prevent it from happening in the future. Mostly it had to do with large concentrations of people on welfare living in one area. People who don't work tend to have no respect for property or society, and are also prone to rioting for the smallest of reasons since they have nothing better to do all day. With welfare reform in full swing, the unique set of cicumstances which resulted in the creation of slums in many cities will never repeat again. Maybe one day come and see for yourself. NYC in particular has had a decade long resurgence combined with a population increase of over 1 million. Slums still exist in small pockets of course, but you hardly have the borough-wide cesspools which existed 20 years ago.

    [ QUOTE ]

    Trading a gas powered car for a bike, two busses and a train does not make as much sense (enviromentally) nor economically.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    I just want to point out that I'm not really keen on buses (or diesel-powered trains for that matter). They still pollute, and they're still subject to the same traffic conditions as cars. The only public transit which makes sense is electric rail. Clean, quiet, and fast, it can be run unobtrusively in underground tunnels, and can derive its electric from a variety of non-fossil fuel sources. Most of the power for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, for example, comes from hydroelectric.

    As Darell often says, the real solution is getting people to travel less since most forms of transport, whether autos or trains, have some costs in terms of environmental damage. The more you can do walking or biking, the better (especially for most people's girth), but as I mentioned few low-density settlements are built with walking in mind.

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    While the cost of entry to car ownership may be high, it's a variable you can work around. I've bought usable cars for $100, and I've had insurance that was dirt cheap (and almost useless) too. Hint; you don't insure a $100 car against damage. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    The fact that everyone pays for public transit hides the cost. Here's a quick breakdown for just BART in Alameda county(SF Bay Area Rapid Transit)
    Parcel tax: 1.279 cents per 100 dollars assessed value (or $44 a year per $350,000 home)
    Sales tax. .5% of all sales ($500 per year on a take home of $100,000)

    Yes, the average house in alameda is that expensive and yes, the average household income is around $100,000.

    So everyone pays about $500 a year for a system that averages 49,000 riders per day. From a San Jose Mercury news story;
    [ QUOTE ]
    news story link

    BART's 2003-2004 budget, written before the four stations opened, projected their average weekday ridership at 49,000. The 2005-2006 budget estimates ridership at 28,000.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    This tells me that the electric light rail is exceedingly expensive. It's budget for 2005-2006 is $523 million (operating budget) which comes out to $10,673 per passenger. (523000000/49000)

    Assuming that's 49000 people per day, 260 days a year, that comes out to $41 per round trip. That's assuming that the 49000 is round trip.

    WOW

    I could be wrong, but that does not look very economical.

    As to whether it's more ecologically sound? I don't know. The train's are frequently almost empty during daytime runs in at least one direction. I've been the only person in the car for 15 miles (3 stops).

    Don't get me wrong. I think public tarnsport is a great idea. I just don't think it's a panacea. I don't know of any public transport that is not subsidised in some way, even if it's just tax free. Well, taxis, maybe. (double yuck)

    Daniel

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    Default Re: Why public transportation just doesn\'t always

    I almost forgot. The assertion that slums are disappearing is intertesting. The fact that I've accidently wandered into them in Oakland, richmond, SF, and LA tends to say otherwise. Slums happen for many reasons. ARe there sources I can look at that support your assertions?

    re: corner stores. 3 supermarkets in .3 mile radius? And that's normal for you? Wow, that's high density. Me? I don't like trudging back and forth with bags of groceries. I also hate the wasted time returning the shopping cart.

    But that's just me.

    Daniel

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