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Old 05-03-2013, 08:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post

Unfortunately, those are about the only times when the advantages outweigh the obstacles. My current address has no bus service at all. Of the previous two, one involved a transfer with a long detour; the other had one run a day. My job doesn't mandate schedule flexibility, but it encourages it from time to time, with a financial incentive.
1/3 of all americans live in the 16 largest metro areas in the country - Mineapolis/St. Paul (3.42 million people) and larger. Detroit is the only one of these metro areas that lacks any sort of rail system.

1/2 of all americans live in the 40 largest metros - everything bigger than Jacksonville, FL. Only 7 of these next 24 cities don't have a rail system (or one currently under construction). I did not count the monorails in Jacksonville or Las Vegas.

2/3 of all americans live in the 100 largest metros - which basically means metro areas of 525,000 people (Spokane, Chattanooga, Harrisburg, etc) and larger.

Most of the rest of Americans live in small towns with fewer than 50,000 people where transit isn't an issue because there's not much traffic and people don't have to drive very far for most trips. People living in the exurbs are a small minority of americans.

It's entirely possible (if, say, gas hits $6/gallon) for most of these people to be within a 5-10 minute walk of a bus or train station on a route that runs every 20 minutes or less from 6am to 10pm for modest operations costs (say, a local 1% sales tax). Now, I'm not suggesting that's what should happen - just that most Americans live in areas that are relatively easy to serve with transit if people want it.

Transportation is kind of like electricity. Most people walk into a room and know how to turn on a light but they don't understand much else about it. The difference is that even though most people turn lights on and off everyday - most people don't consider themselves electrical experts.

Every road has a capacity. It's why I cringe every time I see a new parking garage built in Philadelphia. With a one lane street only capable of moving 500 cars per hour under ideal conditions (perfect drivers, no pedestrians) there are more parking spaces than there is time in a day to move all of the cars out. The entire system depends on a high percentage of empty parking spaces and other people moving their cars only once or twice a week. Anyway, most roads work fine under normal conditions. When it rains (ie, people slow down but don't decrease their following distance) or if there's an accident most roads don't cope well with it all. When the number of cars exceeds the carrying capacity, even just for small stretches, most roads grind to a halt. Often times the number of cars entering an expressway that tips it from free flowing to a hot mess is less than 20.

Consider that a busy stretch of 3-lane, urban interstate can carry 65,000 cars per day in one direction. It could actually carry more but since too many people try to use it at the same times each day the number of cars able to pass per minute slows considerably during those times. Now consider that 3.5 miles of that rush hour traffic jam is made up of only 1,800 cars. Yup, 600 cars following at unsafe distances (as people typically do) will take up 3.5 miles of a lane of interstate. That's 3% of the daily traffic on that road. That's also about 2 or 3 trains full of people. Encourage that many people to start using transit for their work trip and the relief to the other drivers would be instant. To put it another way, if everyone made one less car trip per week there would be an instant 4% reduction in traffic.

Now, a lot of people who don't use transit as part of their daily life (and even many who do) don't realize that when you live in a place with good transit you don't use that transit for most of your trips. You walk. Most car travel in the US is for trips less than 5 miles. Only 25% of all trips are journey-to-work. An astonishingly high % of trips are for silly stuff like driving 1/2 mile to get milk or to pick up kids from school. If people who drove replaced one of these car trips each week with walking, well, there's your 4% reduction (most americans average 25 car trips per week).

Quote:
Still, I know that the opportunities for use of transit have been growing, and I think it's a fine idea for those who can plan their day around it. But I see a lot of naivete' among many younger and more-fervent transit advocates, and the responsibilities which develop during the life-cycle might change their thinking someday in the not-too-distant future.
It's funny, I was 28 when I got rid of my last car. People kept telling me, "oh, when you're married you'll want to get another car." No, but we did join a carsharing organization. Then they said, "oh, when you have kids things totally change. you'll want to get a car." No, but we did buy a car seat and we did start using carshare more . . . but it wasn't because I started driving to the grocery store 4 blocks away or the school 5 blocks away. It was to visit grandma and grandpa in the suburbs or for trips to the beach.

The thing is, when most of your life happens within a 10 minute walk of your front door there's very little you have to plan for and very little uncertainty you have to take into account. You can leave when you're supposed to be there and most people won't even notice you're late. I never once got stuck in traffic walking my kids to the pediatrician . . . I'd also venture that it's precisely because most of my peers did not own cars (or when they did it was just one, paid off, beater) that most of us could afford to live in households where only spouse worked full time. (I use the past tense because I moved to a different city - but we still don't own a car).

 
Old 05-03-2013, 08:18 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
45,990 posts, read 41,989,613 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post

So the "car-lite" thing really sounds more like it in most cities. New York is the only place I've ever lived where I've known a whole bunch of people that didn't have a car.
I've meant a number of people in Boston that didn't own a car. Not saying it was the norm, but a large fraction of 20 somethings didn't own cars. In New York, I've been among groups of people where I was the only one with a car, and got surprised comments: "you drove?".
 
Old 05-03-2013, 08:25 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,252,873 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
The large amount of "car-light" people in cities are one reason why I've argued in the past that once autonomous cars are perfected, they are going to first and foremost destroy car ownership in the city.
Well, I only hope autonomous cars are nothing like cab drivers. "No, no, no, my friend, that is too far. I have a family to feed. Do you want me to live in the street?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
If you can push a button on your cell phone and have a car at your doorstep in 15 minutes, it will remove most of the hassle of even services like zipcar.
That's way too futuristic for me to even wrap my mind around.

I think most people will still have cars because it's convenient to just be able to go wherever you want on your terms. Waiting for an autonomous car to arrive is really no different than calling up a cab company.
 
Old 05-03-2013, 08:38 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,956,284 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Waiting for an autonomous car to arrive is really no different than calling up a cab company.
Seriously, taxi apps have been out for a while now .
 
Old 05-03-2013, 08:42 AM
 
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The high school I went to was very mixed income. The higher income kids were all given cars at 16 (and had parents who drove them to school before that) and the lower income kids took the bus to school. A dozen or so years later, many of the higher income kids have moved to SF/DC/NYC/Chicago (from Texas) and are car free, or one car per household. However, the poor kids all have much higher rates of car ownership than they did in high school.

I find this trend holds for all types of consumption. Once something becomes affordable to the unwashed masses the affluent don't want it any more.
 
Old 05-03-2013, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,252,873 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Considering Coming Back View Post
The high school I went to was very mixed income. The higher income kids were all given cars at 16 (and had parents who drove them to school before that) and the lower income kids took the bus to school. A dozen or so years later, many of the higher income kids have moved to SF/DC/NYC/Chicago (from Texas) and are car free, or one car per household. However, the poor kids all have much higher rates of car ownership than they did in high school.
Maybe that's why SWPLs hate buses so much? Perhaps it reminds them of the shame and indignity they endured in high school because their parents wouldn't buy them a car?
 
Old 05-03-2013, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,436 posts, read 11,933,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Waiting for an autonomous car to arrive is really no different than calling up a cab company.
In the longer run, it's going to be cheaper, as the technology will get to be lower cost than what it takes for a cab-driver to live.

Also, keep in mind cabs are not easy to hail in every city due to artificial supply limitations. Pittsburgh is notorious for this. Cabs will not pick up anyone on the street except in front of hotels downtown. In addition, when you call for a cab, the service reports to the drivers you are available, but often no one comes, because none of them want to head out that way. So more than half the time the cab is a total no-show.
 
Old 05-03-2013, 08:59 AM
 
6,635 posts, read 4,600,830 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Considering Coming Back View Post
The high school I went to was very mixed income. The higher income kids were all given cars at 16 (and had parents who drove them to school before that) and the lower income kids took the bus to school. A dozen or so years later, many of the higher income kids have moved to SF/DC/NYC/Chicago (from Texas) and are car free, or one car per household. However, the poor kids all have much higher rates of car ownership than they did in high school.

I find this trend holds for all types of consumption. Once something becomes affordable to the unwashed masses the affluent don't want it any more.
And yet, luxury car sales are up 5% in April 2013 over 2012 according to the WSJ.
 
Old 05-03-2013, 09:00 AM
 
743 posts, read 1,103,830 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Maybe that's why SWPLs hate buses so much? Perhaps it reminds them of the shame and indignity they endured in high school because their parents wouldn't buy them a car?

As a SWPL, I'd say we like the bus more than the class of people below us. We are self actualized and don't associate our transportation choices with status. That's probably because it is exactly that, a choice.


BTW, I read your list of DC friend car ownership habits. I have to say it is the exact opposite of my peer group in DC. In fact, I find car ownership more common in the Brownstone belt than in DC west of the River. I imagine it has to do with their fields of work. My DC peer group is mostly transplants on the Hill or in related policy fields. Who would take a job in MD? The Brooklynites tend more towards tri-state natives who visit their families on the weekends and teachers who work in unfashionable areas.
 
Old 05-03-2013, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,252,873 times
Reputation: 11726
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
In the longer run, it's going to be cheaper, as the technology will get to be lower cost than what it takes for a cab-driver to live.

Also, keep in mind cabs are not easy to hail in every city due to artificial supply limitations. Pittsburgh is notorious for this. Cabs will not pick up anyone on the street except in front of hotels downtown. In addition, when you call for a cab, the service reports to the drivers you are available, but often no one comes, because none of them want to head out that way. So more than half the time the cab is a total no-show.
What do you suppose cab driver unions are going to have to say about self-driving cars?
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