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Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by N Gauger, Jun 11, 2008.
Jammed transit systems running on fumes - Consumer news - MSNBC.com
Well, for the city dweller, I knew it would happen, just a matter of when. As cities grow, driving becomes more costly and more of a PITA, whether the reasons be time, parking fees, or cost of gas. I have noticed traffic here in phoenix to be much less the past few weeks. It's normal to see a traffic decline in the summer around here as people leave town, but last sunday one could have played a street hockey game in the major road near my house and not worried about cars. Kinda nice for a guy who likes to walk and ride a bicycle
I think mass transit systems must charge high enough fares to be at least near self sufficient. Someone who opts for mass transit because they are paying hundreds of dollars a month for fuel to drive their car should not have such a low bus/train fare that they are subsidized by the system while saving money on gas that they don't have to buy. If a higher ticket price impacts the poor, issue them "transit stamps" like a sort of food stamp program for transportation, but charge the working commuter a reasonable fare to pay for the increased costs involved. Holding fares down so that the poorest can afford a ticket, but the wealthiest commuter pays the same as the working poor while the transit system goes begging for funds is a recipe for disaster.
Don't forget the true cost.
With more people on mass transit, to cost of the road system should be going down. Therefor a small subsidy should be in order.
Besides I like fewer cars out on the road with me.:thumb:
Fewer driver's = less gas tax = less tax money coming into public transit = higher ticket prices/less runs.
If one passenger cost X, but only pays Y for their ride
then adding 39 more Y's to the income side will help offset the X.
Now at some point there should be enough Y to equal the X.
Granted that with government involved that might be a lot of Y's but if we stack them deep enough we should break even.:twisted:
With fewer cars on the road (remember most cars only have one person in them) there will be less maintenance on the road. Also if everyone rides public transit we will only need to builds enough new road to handle my car.:mrgreen:
I agree with you on the road-centric focus that happened in NA, but you have to remember that we've never had the population densities of Europe, which are considered key to public transportation.
Historically though, this cycle has been repeated over and over as new technology comes along. Sure, roads (and air travel, which killed transatlantic and other passenger travel by ship) ruined the railroad, but the railroad ruined the canals and stagecoach system. The Panama Canal ruined shipping routes around "The Horn". Railroads and their infernal telegraph also ruined the Pony Express...!
I also have to challenge your math a little. Sure it costs X to run a bus with one passenger, but it also only costs X+ "a little bit" to run a full bus. I think that the savings will come in rationalizing the existing routes of all transit. If that's what you meant by adding 39 "Y"s, then I misunderstood.
Here in Ottawa, there are tons of bus routes that carry only a few passengers, and even more routes that run right across the city without requiring passengers to transfer. How logical is it to send two half empty busses across town, when you could send one full one?
I don't see the city government here telling us it's dangerous, but further to my note above, there are no 20 minute rides... hamr. I live 11 km from work. The fastest way to get here on transit relies on three transfers, a bus that runs only once in the morning (a "school special that also does not run in the summer), and still takes over an hour! On a good day if I get all the lights, it takes 15 minutes to drive. Even on my bike it is still only 30 minutes.
cincinnati had a very good trolley line for years but it was considered cost effective in the 50's to take out the tracks and encourage home car use.man i bet there really scratchin there heads now! we even had a project to build a subway! but that got cancelled also.the tunnel is still there but its falling apart now.--josh
We did have city trolleys that got run out, and there are places where bullet trains would make sense now, but it's really hard to fight the airline lobbies. I don't think of it as evil conspiracy, but just common sense for those interests to defend what they already control. In the late eighties there was a push to set up a nice triangle from Houston to Dallas to Austin/San Antonio, but Southwest Airlines really put up a fight (among others). It's taken forever for the Seattle area to get its trains going, despite having built a tunnel through downtown ages ago (has been used for buses and I think about a year and a half or so away from having light rail go through).
Now not many people going from OKC to SF, but the NE Corridor works and the Texas triangle and a run from Seattle to SF at high speed would probably work in the long run. Sprawling cities like LA, Houston and Dallas could sure use a BART or MARTA, but the initial cost and planning is high, and we're a now put it on Credit Card culture. Rent, don't buy. I think it was 3 times that voters in Seattle approved light rail / monorail plans and the light rail is still struggling to get going and is more long distance than within the city. (BTW, they voted against stadiums as many times and have nearly a billion dollars worth of stadiums anyway).
I think the emblematic US approach is MILW deciding it'd be better to tear down their electric to sell the copper instead of finishing the line out and then having costs under control in the long run. I remember having high hopes years ago that mag-lev or other high-speed would start out on the East Coast or in TX and spread out to form a new network, but there's just too much vested interest in keeping us in cars and on planes now. A lot of near broke big businesses with some to spend defending their feif, and not a lot of rich dreamers with long term goals like a Gould et al. Scratch out the trains in planes trains and automobiles for most American passengers for our lifetimes.
Imagine if SWA had decided, hey, let's diversify and be an investor to get the return on these new trains....
Can I buy a vowel?
The problem in Los Angeles, and probably other cities that have sort of "sprawled" into a wide area is that the transit system is geared toward getting people downtown and then back out to the "burbs". If you live in an outlying area and commute downtown, the transit system isn't too bad. If you live in an outlying area and commute to a job that is along the route from your home to downtown, the transit system is a viable option. The problem is if you live in San Bernardino and work in Fullerton, the only way to get there on public transportation is to take a Metro Link train downtown, and transfer to another Metro Link or AmTrak San Diegan to Fullerton. If you live in Long Beach, it is even worse. The light rail line from Long Beach doesn't get closer than 5 miles from Union Station before it turns to go West along Washington Blvd. In effect, public transportation only works if you live and also work along the same transit route.
I believe every new transit system that's opened in the US in the last twenty years, or at least maybe all but one, have found ridership to be much higher than anticipated. Right now the Twin City light rail line is having cars build for them so they can increase the length of their trains to allow for more passengers.
Russ - We have the same issue here here in phoenix. The phoenix area is a very de-centralized city with basically a grid for streets. The grid works great for finding your way around, but lousy for public transportation. It pretty much means that you will need to take at least two busses or trains whereever you want to go.
We are building a light-rail now that wil open in december. i get the feeling that ridership will be much greater than anticipated because of gasoline prices. But in a de-centralized city, few will be able to take advantage of it. Russ' example illustrates the problem. After time, if gasoline remains too expensive, people's habits will change, and they will purchase their houses in places that make for easier commutes to their jobs. Once one gets hired by a company, the main criteria in finding housing is to look near the same transit route. People in the more congested eastern seaboard of the US already do this, it is only a matter of time before this behavior moves westward.