City-Data Forum Would you take mass transit if it were faster? (metro, versus, downtown)
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05-12-2011, 10:03 AM
 551 posts, read 369,736 times Reputation: 402
Would you take mass transit if it were faster?

I know a lot of people hate mass transit like trains or subways because it is slow, it doesn't go exactly where you want, you have to sit with other people who you might not like etc.

But I was wondering if you would like taking trains and subways if they were faster? I'm not talking about intercity high speed rail, I am talking about FAST intracity rail and subway. Like you if you want to get to a point that goes northeast from where you are now, and there is a subway that goes in a grid system.

In this grid system, you destination is 5 miles east and 4 miles north, so theoretically you have 9 miles by a subway or train.

I once emailed this woman who works over at American Maglev, which is an American owned company that is researching maglev train technology. I asked her a question if a stop every 0.5 miles (which is the maximum a person is willing to walk between stations) how long would it take. She says with Maglev trains/subways it would take 60 seconds per every 0.5 miles, and 75 if you include 15 seconds boarding and unboarding time. So you could go 5 miles in theoretically so 75 seconds x 10 stops = 750 seconds = 12 minutes 30 seconds on the train to get to a destination 5 miles away. She told me if the train has a lot of curves, it would take 112 seconds per 0.5 miles. So 10 stops (5 miles) x 112 seconds = 1120 seconds = 18 minutes 40 seconds.

Do you think spending 12 minutes 30 seconds to go 5 miles away in a high density metropolis is too long for you? Not to mention in a high density area, there would be a lot of employment density so there is a high chance your work will be even less than 5 miles away. Having to transfer from the 5 mile route to the 4 miles route wouldn't take that long either. So you might spend maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour total for your commute to go 5 miles east then 4 miles north on a subway.

If we really invested in mass transit like subways, you could also have experess trains that stop every 1 mile or more and be built underneath the other subway that stops every 0.5 miles, like a multilayered subway like in San Francisco.

Many people who commute by car to get to work in let's say Atlanta would have to take 2 hours going there by car, 2 hours going back and I know this because I had a friend who does. I think my family in Los Angeles also has 1 hour 30 minute to 2 hour commutes to to get work since it is so sprawled there.

One thing I also mention is that I also want commuter trains to go their maximum speed. The federal government says that 150 mph is the maximum speed a train can go on tracks that cross at grade with roads, otherwise it needs it own grade if it goes faster like 220 mph or 300 mph. If all commuter trains that cross at grade in America went 150 mph then it would be much more attractive.

How fast would mass transit need to be in order for it to be attractive to you versus taking a car to work?

05-12-2011, 11:33 AM
 Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle 6,318 posts, read 3,399,050 times Reputation: 2672
Quote:
 Originally Posted by JKFire108 How fast would mass transit need to be in order for it to be attractive to you versus taking a car to work?
Should be as fast as driving, if not faster. I'll take just a little bit slower. Not 3 times slower, as my transit commute is now.

05-12-2011, 12:10 PM
 Location: Elsewhere 19,671 posts, read 20,387,388 times Reputation: 26655
"Slow" for me doesn't mean speed; it means three bus transfers and a mile walk, or a train ride and a 1.5-mile walk. The housing project I'd have to walk through doesn't scare me nearly as much as crossing the six-lane city street.

05-12-2011, 12:25 PM
 6,875 posts, read 3,842,557 times Reputation: 2770
150 mph? Only with specialized signals and controls. In Northern IL the max speed is 79 mph even on track that Metra owns. Average rush hour speed maybe 40 mph, though that is still faster than traffic. More express trains, more scheduled to serve suburb-suburb commuters would help.

05-12-2011, 01:57 PM
 Location: Atlanta 209 posts, read 176,194 times Reputation: 222
I'm not the intended audience for this question since I'm already an everyday tranist user. But, wouldn't maglev be kinda inappropriate inside a city? And if you were going to use it, wouldn't it make more sense for the faster train to be the express and the slower one to stop more often?

Like Ohiogirl, I don't think anyone means that subways or commuter trains are "too slow" as in "don't move fast enough," but rather the time that it takes to get to the station or stop and the number of transfers required to arrive at the destination would make the trip 50, 100 or even 200 percent longer for them than it would be if they drove. That's an availability problem, not a velocity problem.

People who complain about transit taking too long are usually trying to get into or out of the high density metropolis, not just from one place to the other in it, I think. (Unless, of course they're complaining about chronically late buses, which is a whole different thing.)

05-12-2011, 01:59 PM
 6,150 posts, read 5,517,240 times Reputation: 2210
The problem is that it isn't just about speed--it's also about cost, and ease of other factors like parking, traffic, etcetera. Ideally, it's better to reduce the time taken to get to work by living closer to where you work, instead of trying to speed up the transportation system. Pick your inefficiencies!

05-12-2011, 02:13 PM
 Location: Toronto 3,339 posts, read 1,646,257 times Reputation: 2147
Yep, I already take mass transit and would appreciate it if it were faster.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by PedestriAnne Like Ohiogirl, I don't think anyone means that subways or commuter trains are "too slow" as in "don't move fast enough," but rather the time that it takes to get to the station or stop and the number of transfers required to arrive at the destination would make the trip 50, 100 or even 200 percent longer for them than it would be if they drove. That's an availability problem, not a velocity problem.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Ohiogirl81 "Slow" for me doesn't mean speed; it means three bus transfers and a mile walk, or a train ride and a 1.5-mile walk. The housing project I'd have to walk through doesn't scare me nearly as much as crossing the six-lane city street.
Yep, I agree with these sentiments too.

05-12-2011, 09:03 PM
 Location: Western Massachusetts 15,306 posts, read 5,261,614 times Reputation: 4586
Quote:
 Originally Posted by JKFire108 One thing I also mention is that I also want commuter trains to go their maximum speed. The federal government says that 150 mph is the maximum speed a train can go on tracks that cross at grade with roads, otherwise it needs it own grade if it goes faster like 220 mph or 300 mph. If all commuter trains that cross at grade in America went 150 mph then it would be much more attractive.
it would be impractical to run a 150 mph commuter train because it has to stop. Speeding up from 0 to 150 mph is rather inefficient and won't save much time if it's going to stop 5-10 minutes later anyway.

I'd say transit is fast enough, though it could be improved, most places if your starting point and destination is on the same line / route. Once you have to do transfers or aren't close to the start or end, then it's a different story.

05-13-2011, 05:55 AM
 Location: Elsewhere 19,671 posts, read 20,387,388 times Reputation: 26655
When I did take mass transit, the situation was ideal: the bus stop was a block away, the trip on the rush hour express route took 35 minutes, it dropped me four blocks from my office.

Although parking downtown was paid by my employer, and I would have saved 10 or 15 minutes in commuting each way by driving, the ease of taking the bus made it a no-brainer. I do miss my 7:30 a.m. catnaps!

Quote:
 Ideally, it's better to reduce the time taken to get to work by living closer to where you work
In a perfect world, maybe, but how practical is this really? People get new jobs, their employers move, circumstances change, and moving every time you get a new job is easier said than done.

05-13-2011, 06:06 AM
 Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle 6,318 posts, read 3,399,050 times Reputation: 2672
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Ohiogirl81 In a perfect world, maybe, but how practical is this really? People get new jobs, their employers move, circumstances change, and moving every time you get a new job is easier said than done.
I feel like I live close enough. 5 miles shouldn't take 1.5 hours on 2 buses, as it does sometimes.
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