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Old 02-28-2013, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 874,327 times
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What is it with Street Cars? A more social way to travel?

I am enjoying seeing the revival of street cars in many American Cities.

Let's look back at the "romance."

This Title was part of it:



And this Song was another part:


JUDY GARLAND: 'THE TROLLEY SONG'. A CLOSEUP. - YouTube
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:05 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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I wonder what percentage of users of public transit experience it personally as a "more social way to travel"? During the admittedly rare occasions I have ridden the bus or the light rail in Los Angeles (most recently about three months ago), I haven't noticed any strangers striking up conversations. That is not to say it doesn't happen, but my observations have been that unless people get on with someone they already know, they just don't talk to others. I can imagine the exception to that observation might be if you see the same face frequently because you commute at the same time each day, you might eventually exchange comments and then move on to real conversations with that familiar face.

There are some "social" aspects of public transit that a lot of us prefer to do without, such as body odor or people with a hacking cough (there is a TB mini-epidemic right now on skid row in Los Angeles). Of course those things are probably rare also, but my point is we can't choose our seatmates.

I have a number of long-standing good friends and a rich social life, so if I am alone with my thoughts during my commute alone in my car, that is actually a plus, a time for reflection. Anybody who needs to ride a streetcar for its "social" aspects is in very deep trouble psychologically.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:13 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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An overly friendly 14 year old boy started to talking to me on the bus yesterday
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:14 PM
 
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I rode street cars all the time growing up in Pittsburgh, but now 40+ years later, any travel on public trans is strictly "no eye contact" mode. In Philly or NYC, to make eye contact has the potential to make for a long and undesirable ride ha ha
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:32 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 874,327 times
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Sorry.
Perhaps I should have said: "More Convenient", rather than "More Social."

The key thing is the way you enter the car.

In London, they have Routemaster buses:



With this kind of entrance, you can jump on and off the bus when you want to (between stations), provided that it is traveling slowly enough. You rarely see this on American buses. But I do think you will have it with streetcars. And this is the thing that will make them more Convenient, and maybe even "more social" - since people on these sorts buses also tend to interact with each other a bit more, than on the usual driver-dominated buses.

If you have been to London, perhaps you have seen some examples of this.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:38 PM
 
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That's the romanticized view and in a different era when streetcars in urban centers were the prevalent forms of travel I would imagine there was significantly more conversation.

In today's age I surmuse no matter the transport medium you have the same predominant behavior (I'm talking peak worker commuter times) about 60-80% are on their mobile device playing games, reading email, listening to music etc... and most of others are reading hard copy of something. Very few people seem to be in 'meet' me mode when on public transit, rather everyone sticks to either talking to known fellow passengers or in the rare instance when some overriding situation forms an easy talking point such as: extremes of weather, a crazy lone passenger others will commiserate about, the vehicle becomes disabled etc...
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:43 PM
 
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streetcars aren't necessarily a more social way to travel but they are a more pleasant one.

streetcars run on silent electric power instead of a large noisy mechanical engine, for example. unlike a bus there's no transmission so you're not constantly being jerked around in your seat when it shifts to the next gear. electric rail is naturally smooth and quiet. so if you wanted to have a conversation with someone, onboard or on your cellphone, you don't have to shout over the engine noise to do it.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:43 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 874,327 times
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A lesson in talking to strangers - YouTube

Uploaded on Sep 1, 2010
Some say that it's hard to talk to people on public transport, so I'm set out to motion a new notion! It kicks off here: when I attended Global Cool's Art of Conversation lecture on a Routemaster bus, which gave tips on how to chat to the public.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Canada
4,699 posts, read 8,499,560 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
I wonder what percentage of users of public transit experience it personally as a "more social way to travel"? During the admittedly rare occasions I have ridden the bus or the light rail in Los Angeles (most recently about three months ago), I haven't noticed any strangers striking up conversations. That is not to say it doesn't happen, but my observations have been that unless people get on with someone they already know, they just don't talk to others. I can imagine the exception to that observation might be if you see the same face frequently because you commute at the same time each day, you might eventually exchange comments and then move on to real conversations with that familiar face.

There are some "social" aspects of public transit that a lot of us prefer to do without, such as body odor or people with a hacking cough (there is a TB mini-epidemic right now on skid row in Los Angeles). Of course those things are probably rare also, but my point is we can't choose our seatmates.

I have a number of long-standing good friends and a rich social life, so if I am alone with my thoughts during my commute alone in my car, that is actually a plus, a time for reflection. Anybody who needs to ride a streetcar for its "social" aspects is in very deep trouble psychologically.
I've found whether or not people strike up conversations on the bus varies by location, local culture, and sometimes even bus route and time of day. People seem to chat more when there's fewer people on the bus, during off peak hours, during longer commutes, on night buses, and in cultures where people are generally more prone to converse with strangers. Judy Garland's video is of course a wildly romanticized and unrealistic depiction of public transit.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:52 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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I've got a few bus friends. It's nice.

I've noticed a lot of social behavior on pm commuter trains ... Sometimes with drinks!
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