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Old 01-24-2013, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,771,048 times
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I think park and ride transit can work quite well at low densities. Toronto's commuter train network has the highest farebox recovery of any transit system in North America as far as I know, and it's main role is to connect outer suburbs to downtown. The busiest lines are also the ones that serve the wealthiest and least dense suburbs. I think the main thing you need for park and ride transit to be effective is a big downtown that's inconvenient to drive to, whether it's because of high parking costs or congestion.

I agree that from the point of view of a driver though, what would matter is not how the capacity of the transit line, but the expected ridership, how many people it will actually take off the road, which is often much less.

At the same time, I think the cost to outbuild congestion would be pretty astronomical. Theoretically, it's possible, if you have a highway with a capacity of 100,000 cars in a city with less than 100,000 cars... it obviously won't get congested. However, in a typical city, even if the highway gets built pretty fast, I think you could spend a lot of money and get only minor improvements. Congestion should go down, but commute times would probably barely go down, since it would encourage people, and jobs, to spread out more because you can now drive further in the same amount of time.

Even if you choose not to move further, the fact that others will means that your job might move too. It could also reduce the value of your home, since people are no longer going to be willing to pay a premium for a home that's close to jobs since driving from far away where land is cheaper is now a viable alternative.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:30 PM
 
2,493 posts, read 2,200,316 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hensleya1 View Post
That sounds fairer, although if road users wind up overwhelmingly subsidizing transit users I'll have a problem with that too - obviously I'd have transit fares come as close as possible to actually paying for the construction and maintenance of those lines....
But are road users "coming as close as possible to actually paying for the CONSTRUCTION and maintenance of those roads? I don't think the gas taxes I pay to day have much to do with the CONSTRUCTION costs of the 25 year old freeway that I drive. Colorado has gone to private tollroads to finance in highways and it costs $12 to go to the airport from the northern suburbs, because it pays for both CONSTRUCTION AND operation.
Taking the older roads, no toll, just pennies in gas tax, I am certainly NOT paying for CONSTRUCTION.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:55 PM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,010,703 times
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Well, the road use is going to increase regardless of what you do, but it is well (enough) known that adding capacity to popular road routes only serves to accelerate use changes. No matter how you look at it, adding capacity is a pain killer; eventually it wears off and the underlying problem remains.

Besides, transit has never been a realistic way to remove existing cars from roadways in large quantities. At best (which never happens because of underfunding), PT can slow the rise of car use by limiting future new cars.

PPS, your argument makes the underlying assumption that automobile-centric suburbs should be treated as a given. The conversation, then, has problems from the very beginning, as not everyone would agree with that assumption.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hensleya1 View Post
Hi Komeht--

That sounds fairer, although if road users wind up overwhelmingly subsidizing transit users I'll have a problem with that too - obviously I'd have transit fares come as close as possible to actually paying for the construction and maintenance of those lines.

I keep hearing here and on other forums that expanding the road is ineffective at alleviating traffic congestion. I say that while that's technically correct, it's due to the sheer amount of time and planning it takes to ramrod through any road construction these days - not because adding lanes is a bad idea.

I'll give you a hypothetical: an Interstate that's three lanes in each direction, designed to carry 80,000 cars a day, is carrying 120,000. The city proper is at one end (let's say in the south) and the growing suburbs are at the other, in the north. The apparent solution is to add a fourth or even fifth lane to handle traffic flow, since I doubt any new mass transit solution could get 40,000 cars off the road (it may take a few thousand at best).

But consider the environmental studies, the impact statements, the design phase, securing funding, invariable litigation over securing the right of way, eminent domain issues especially if the land is already built up, litigation by the city because they don't want to lose jobs to the suburbs, this could take years. Then there's the actual construction - numerous reroutes of traffic as you need to rebuild overpasses, union and labor disputes that send workers off the job for weeks at a time, weather delays, accidents, etc.

It could be decades before the upgrade is finished. But the northern suburbs won't stop growing, they'll continue to add population - and by 2030 or so when the road is upgraded, the 120,000 capacity road is now carrying 160,000 cars.

And then the anti-road advocates declare victory, saying upgrading the road didn't help - when they're likely the ones the spent years delaying and litigating the road in the first place. Of course it didn't help - they made sure it wouldn't help.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:29 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,725,753 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hensleya1 View Post
Hi Komeht--

That sounds fairer, although if road users wind up overwhelmingly subsidizing transit users I'll have a problem with that too - obviously I'd have transit fares come as close as possible to actually paying for the construction and maintenance of those lines.
Would you say the same applies to toll roads?

But isn't the larger issue that getting people in and out of the city - as our suburban/urban system is based on, necessitates a variety of options and that roads will never do it alone, as rail cannot, nor bus. . .

As long as we're going to have growing rings of low density around urban nodes of commerce, it seems impossible to take a single approach to transportation. And everything effects everything else. So why should a dollar spent on transit only pay for that transit?
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:21 PM
 
226 posts, read 195,520 times
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Dark economist,

How would you propose getting rid of the auto-centric suburbs?
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:32 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,725,753 times
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Originally Posted by tifoso View Post
Dark economist,

How would you propose getting rid of the auto-centric suburbs?
Not speaking for DE - but for myself. I wouldn't get rid of them. I'd just stop subsidizing them. They'll fall on their own weight when we stop offering more roads, more transit, more services, more cheap gas all subsidized by urbanists.
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:04 PM
 
4,023 posts, read 3,274,492 times
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That's far worse than Amtrak, which covers 85% of its operating budget with ticket sales and other revenue, with ridership at an all time high.


Amtrak covers 85% of operating costs | News | Breaking Travel News
September 28, 2012
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:21 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,096 posts, read 16,143,023 times
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According to this, transit users cover just 33% of costs while generally paying 0% of infrastructure costs. So.. yeah. While I'll continue to think that gas taxes should be raised to fully fund roads, it's kind of hilarious watching transit zealots making these hilarious gesticulations.

Government Transportation: $5.09 Subsidy per rider, one way on average
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:22 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,096 posts, read 16,143,023 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cisco kid View Post
That's far worse than Amtrak, which covers 85% of its operating budget with ticket sales and other revenue, with ridership at an all time high.


Amtrak covers 85% of operating costs | News | Breaking Travel News
September 28, 2012
And for most (all?) routes, 0% of the tracks it runs on.

I pay for more than 100% of the operating costs for my car since they keep charging me non-operating expenses every time the registration comes due.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:44 AM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,096 posts, read 16,143,023 times
Reputation: 12696
Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Not speaking for DE - but for myself. I wouldn't get rid of them. I'd just stop subsidizing them. They'll fall on their own weight when we stop offering more roads, more transit, more services, more cheap gas all subsidized by urbanists.
Not sure I really buy that.

Last estimates I've seen for the Sacramento area, an increase in gas taxes of 50 cents to $1 would be necessary to fully fund roads. Greenfield development in California often comes under Mello-Roos, which is effectively a secondary property tax that lasts 30 or so years and pays the bonds necessary for roads, utilities, parks, schools, and what have you. It's not actually the general tax payer that are subsidizing those costs. It's the people who choose to live in those communities. The added $1000-2000 in supplemental property taxes hasn't stopped development. Similarly, we've seen gas prices rise from $1-2/gallon to $3-4/gallon. There's been no mass-exodus to buses and development of urban neighborhoods in Sacramento hasn't exploded. A slight shift, yes. People are driving less and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, which has the unintended consequence of lower gas tax revenues.

For a typical two-car household that drives 30,000 miles a year with vehicles that get 25 mpg, a $1 increase in gas taxes just isn't going to cause things to collapse under their own weight. It's a $1200/year increase in gas costs. That's fairly easily absorbed merely by a combination of less expensive vehicle purchases, more fuel efficient vehicle choices, and driving less. That's exactly what people did with the weak economy and rising gas prices. Raising the gas tax would also allow for lower general taxes on income and sales here in California since that funding would no longer be needed for roads.
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