U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Great Debates
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 01-19-2009, 12:01 PM
 
Location: Washington DC
5,915 posts, read 7,084,905 times
Reputation: 948

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by spark240 View Post
Transportation infrastructure (of whatever kind) is a cost that society pays in order to have the goods-availability and personal mobility that they provide.

Where available, rail is vastly more efficient (that is, cost-effective for weight/mile moved) than any alternatives. Oh, boats are also good if you have a navigable waterway. Comparisons with road-based systems usually ignore large portions of the cost of building and maintaining road networks, and the costs to individuals and families of having to buy and maintain their own vehicles. A fair comparison includes all the costs of the system, no matter what sector of society is nominally responsible for them.

America used to be built on these facts. Population and production centers were located on coastlines and rivers, and on rail lines, because those were the rational and efficient ways to move people and things around. As the cost of gasoline and diesel (and energy generally) rises in the next few years (and it will; last summer was just an introductory glimpse), we will rediscover these facts. The sad and painful part is going to be that almost everything we have built since the 1940s has ignored these facts; we acted as though cheap fuel and economic growth were permanent realities instead of passing phases.
There's another issue and that's a quality of life issue. An automobile based urban area is going to be smoggy, area of unattractive sprawl where people are kept isolated in little boxes. An urban area linked with mass transit is cleaner, more energy efficient, with much more space available for green space and people are out of their boxes walking the streets and interacting.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 01-20-2009, 11:40 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,116 posts, read 9,202,467 times
Reputation: 8988
Quote:
Originally Posted by sukwoo View Post
Back on Tracks - Phillip Longman

Here's a fantastic article relevant to this thread.
Excellent article.

I'd add :

America once built 500 electric streetcar systems in less than 20 years
(1890 - 1910). Streetcar / Trolley tracks reached 34,404 miles by 1907.
The interurban electric railways for the entire country totaled
approximately 18,000 miles by 1917. Most cities and towns of 25,000 or
more got a non-oil electrical transportation system. The U.S.A. did this
with a population of less than one-third of today's, approximately 3% of
today's GNP, and relatively primitive technology.

If 20th century America didn't have "cheap and plentiful oil", she might
not have dismantled her once prodigious rail network that efficiently
moved her people and products. But the age of oil is coming to an end.
We are in a race, as our fossil fuel dwindles and demand grows, to
transform our environment before it becomes too expensive or too late.
There will be sacrifice and loss, as we reshape our lifestyle and
options. But the consequences of doing the wrong thing are much greater.

We must look back to pre-petroleum solutions, to look forward. Steel
rails are the strong foundation upon which we rebuild our civilization.
And once we are no longer hostage to petroleum, we shall resume building
prosperity - making more, for less - moving more, for less - so that
more can enjoy the good things of life.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-20-2009, 11:45 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,116 posts, read 9,202,467 times
Reputation: 8988
Quote:
Originally Posted by rlchurch View Post
There's a limit to the distance that people will travel over even the best high speed rail.
That's not applicable where overnight "Sleeper" train service is available.
Might even be cheaper than spending $$$ for hotel accommodations.

A businessman who leaves on a "Sleeper" train, can arrive at his destination, well rested, do his business, and return on another "Sleeper" train.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-21-2009, 12:15 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,116 posts, read 9,202,467 times
Reputation: 8988
Quote:
Originally Posted by bertha07 View Post
having read these posts all good ,can't help but wonder why usa doesn't have a rail service from sea to shining sea for more travelers not transport . I lived in europe most of my younger years (military brat) and have returned several times in my older years. you can travel from country to country relatively inexpensive and great comfort . we could sure benefit from their ideas. as baby boomers get older harder to drive wether it's work or play rail service sure would be great alternative but that's my opinion ...i could be wrong.
There were a combination of factors that hit passenger rail service hard.

[1] Mainline rail was steam powered, except in the NE corridor and where cities banned steam locomotives, and legislated electric power. There were no transcontinental electrified routes.
[2] Diesel - Electric Locomotives didn't come online until 1940s and later. By then, the truckers and buses were enjoying the subsidy and "cheap and plentiful petroleum" economics. (Peak oil production didn't hit until the 1970s)
[3] "Evil Consortium" of Petroleum based industries targeted electrified urban rail, which also cut into the mainline passenger rail profits by drawing passengers to private automobiles and buses.
[4] Long standing conflicts between privately owned mainline rail and bureaucracy - as in the Federal Railroad Administration.

Ironically, many of the "advances" of mass transit rail that are used around the world can be traced back to America. But all were abandoned / discouraged by political and economic influences.

Source of info
" Due to the quality of regulations, the state of the art in tilting train usage is not available in the USA. The FRA safety regulations do not allow safe operation of trains at very high unbalanced superelevation, because the resulting trains are too heavy for that.
There is an ironical aspect in this result: Lightweight tilting trains have been a US development, and predated European or Japanese revenue service by 20 years. You can find the arguments of this text in the dusty part of archives in the USA."

In short, the government bureaucracy was partly at fault for saddling American rail with overly heavy cars, restrictions on superelevation, and the bizarre tax rules that burdened privately owned railroads.

Suggestions:
[] Instead of tax subsidy, give ZERO TAX LIABILITY to railroad / urban rail companies and their employees.
[] Overhaul the FRA, and modernize the regulations.
[] Electrify all mainline ROWs.
[] Rebuild urban electric rail service - streetcars, subways, funiculars, and cogwheels.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-21-2009, 12:23 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,116 posts, read 9,202,467 times
Reputation: 8988
Quote:
Originally Posted by UpperPeninsulaRon View Post
Point Two: Why has spending (investing) in rail always failed to break even everywhere it is attempted?
In the years between 1890 - 1913, 95% of America's urban mass transit rail systems were privately owned, and operated at a profit.

However, once the income tax was imposed, suddenly rail starting slipping in profitability. It was bad enough that the rail companies paid property taxes, and had to pay for all grade crossings while their competitors enjoyed subsidized roads. In addition, socialist politicians set their sights on grabbing private rail.

New York's Lost Transit Legacy
Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who had taken office in 1933, was no friend of streetcars, of elevated lines, or of private ownership of transit. He pressed relentlessly for “Unification,” the City takeover of the BMT and IRT.

After taking over the private companies, not only did the innovations of the BMT end, but the City lost its taste for subway building. The IND “Second System” of 1929 remains unbuilt. The private lines that attracted IND competition were abandoned, several immediately and more as the years went on. Major improvements have been proposed periodically and in 1950 a $500M bond issue was passed, ostensibly to build the Second Avenue Subway. But despite revived plans from time to time, including an ambitious program proposed in 1968, the Second Avenue Subway remains unbuilt and most other plans are pipedreams.

FROM OpEdNews:
GM Must Remake the Mass Transit System It Murdered
This is the company [GM] that murdered our mass transit system.

The assertion comes from Bradford Snell, a government researcher whose definitive report damning GM has been a vehicular lightening rod since its 1974 debut. Its attackers and defenders are legion. But some facts are irrefutable:

In a 1922 memo that will live in infamy, GM President Alfred P. Sloan established a unit aimed at dumping electrified mass transit in favor of gas-burning cars, trucks and buses.

Just one American family in 10 then owned an automobile. Instead, we loved our 44,000 miles of passenger rail routes managed by 1,200 companies employing 300,000 Americans who ran 15 billion annual trips generating an income of $1 billion. According to Snell, "virtually every city and town in America of more than 2,500 people had its own electric rail system."

But GM lost $65 million in 1921. So Sloan enlisted Standard Oil (now Exxon), Philips Petroleum, glass and rubber companies and an army of financiers and politicians to kill mass transit.

The campaigns varied, as did the economic and technical health of many of the systems themselves. Some now argue that buses would have transcended many of the rail lines anyway. More likely, they would have hybridized and complemented each other.

But with a varied arsenal of political and financial subterfuges, GM helped gut the core of America's train and trolley systems. It was the murder of our rail systems that made our "love affair" with the car a tragedy of necessity.

In 1949 a complex federal prosecution for related crimes resulted in an anti-trust fine against GM of a whopping $5000. For years thereafter GM continued to bury electric rail systems by "bustituting" gas-fired vehicles.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-21-2009, 12:41 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,116 posts, read 9,202,467 times
Reputation: 8988
Quote:
Originally Posted by miamiman View Post
It's too expensive. Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix are not designed in a manner where rail service would be effective.
Contrary to popular belief, "Suburban sprawl" was created by electrified urban rail - streetcars.

Streetcar Suburbs
"The streetcar suburb refers to a general type of development, mixed residential and commercial areas built near streetcar lines on the edge of the cities in land that had likely once been undeveloped land or agricultural areas."
Suggested reading
More Railing about Rails


Ultimate "Green Rail"
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-21-2009, 08:02 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
2,290 posts, read 4,947,388 times
Reputation: 784
As our 41st president put it: "Facts are stubborn things".
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-21-2009, 08:21 AM
 
3,628 posts, read 9,025,719 times
Reputation: 2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetgraphics View Post
Contrary to popular belief, "Suburban sprawl" was created by electrified urban rail - streetcars.

Streetcar Suburbs
"The streetcar suburb refers to a general type of development, mixed residential and commercial areas built near streetcar lines on the edge of the cities in land that had likely once been undeveloped land or agricultural areas."
Suggested reading
More Railing about Rails


Ultimate "Green Rail"
But you have to admit those "streetcar suburbs" are much, MUCH denser than the ones further out away from the city. There's a HUGE difference between the streetcar/rail oriented development and the car-centric development.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-21-2009, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Washington DC
5,915 posts, read 7,084,905 times
Reputation: 948
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetgraphics View Post
That's not applicable where overnight "Sleeper" train service is available.
Might even be cheaper than spending $$$ for hotel accommodations.

A businessman who leaves on a "Sleeper" train, can arrive at his destination, well rested, do his business, and return on another "Sleeper" train.
You aren't going to get business people to do this. I'm a businessman who embraces the train. I travel to New York from Washington reasonably often and I rarely take the plane, but there's really no way that I'm going to try to travel 1000+ miles by rail much less 3000.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-21-2009, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
2,290 posts, read 4,947,388 times
Reputation: 784
Quote:
Originally Posted by rlchurch View Post
You aren't going to get business people to do this. I'm a businessman who embraces the train. I travel to New York from Washington reasonably often and I rarely take the plane, but there's really no way that I'm going to try to travel 1000+ miles by rail much less 3000.
I agree; I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to take regular 1000-mile train rides. I do, however, think it's reasonable to expect that regular travelers of 500 miles or less, take the train instead of a plane.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Great Debates
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top