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Old 01-19-2014, 11:45 AM
 
1,998 posts, read 2,934,738 times
Reputation: 2150

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Quote:
Originally Posted by LookingtoleaveFL View Post
Because most posters on this forum are europhilic liberal yuppies whom live in a bubble in the big cities and have a bizarre hatred of open space and cars. They're not a true representation of the general population though; I've never heard anyone talk about density or walkability in the "real world". There also seems to be a consensus of bashing anything American but worshiping anything European, no matter what it may be.

These posters seem to forget that Europe is a continent, made up of many countries. These counties are also very small, so they have to build things to be dense. Another thing is that many of their towns and cities were built hundreds of years ago, before cars even existed. The US on the other-hand, is a very large country with lots of open space so there's no need for us to build things so dense.
So you think all of the millions of people who choose to live in big, dense, walkable cities like NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, etc are just bizarre freaks? You realize that while certainly most people in those cities are liberal, there are still plenty of Republicans, libertarians, etc in those cities, numbering in the millions? So there goes your theory that you have to be liberal to like cities.
You're really that unable to understand people with different life preferences than you, huh?
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Old 01-19-2014, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,072 posts, read 16,094,154 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eskercurve View Post
I think you're looking at it too narrowly.

Eliminating car usage or relegating it to a per-use paid service should be the goal for cities.
Why?

Cars are among the most environmentally friendly means of getting around. They're better than buses and most light rail systems and continually getting better. An electric car uses about 30 kw/hour per 100 miles, or about 1,000 BTU/mile, or about 645 BTU/passenger mile. Actually, the more straightforward way would be to look at MPG-e. Most get over 100, and one gallon of gas has 114,000 BTUs (summer blend). No public transport system in the States comes close to 1,000 BTU/passenger mile. The only thing that does is select commuter rail service. TGV Duplexes in France, for example, run at about 18 kw/hour passenger mile. It also has the advantage of speed. The fastest line runs at an average speed, including stops, of 170+ mph. Not bad.

The problem with cars is they're in a way too much of a good thing and so despite being very efficient, they encourage a lot of transportation. Compared to electric cars, we'd likely use less total energy on transit because it's generally so inferior you want to use it less. That's a going forward approach that requires drastically altering the built environment, however. Just getting someone out of a car and into a bus for equal miles is horrible. Bad for the tax payer, bad for the consumer, bad for the environment. That's also the problem with high speed commuter rail. Go look at a TGV train at 7 a.m. Le Mans to Paris would be an unimaginably bad commute by car, 130 miles and two hours each way. Without traffic. TGV opened it and any other number of towns up for the 200-300 mile daily commutes.

Quote:
You're ignoring the effects of maintenance on a car, loan payments, gas, in addition to the environmental X-factor.
Not at all. That's why I said the big sell for wanting to willingly raise your taxes is if you can go from a two- to one-car household. The maintenance, gas, etc are included in the marginal cost. Things like insurance and payments/depreciation and registration are not. If you can't get rid of the second car in a two-car household, you're only relying on the reduced marginal cost of driving. It's unlikely to ever be worthwhile unless congestion/parking fees are high in your area or you can eliminate the second car.

Cars are better for the environment than buses already. It really depends where we're talking. If it's an existing suburb where there's no way rail will be economically feasible to implement, cars are hands down better for the environment, even if not looking at the future which is electric cars albeit we're a good 20 years from there. Electric cars are also better than any light rail system in the country, but with the mileage I can see the point. Electrified rail while extremely expensive would allow higher densities which could reduce total miles traveled. Electric buses would be a possibility as well, although they're rarely used.

Quote:
But, in the end, I agree that it is a process to reduce the number of miles driven per year. And part of it will be cars, always will. For instance, it is not like the suburbs will wilter and rot. Plenty of companies exist in the suburbs and more and more workers are moving closer to work. What works best, then, is well-funded subruban roads that have technology in the pavement and the car to increase gas mileage, as well as better funding for mass transit into the cities. Portland and Seattle are excellent examples where mass transit can work (and Seattle desperately needs better options for folks living on the Eastside).
I'd agree with that. The difficult is of course in funding it, something Portland is experiencing all too keenly right now with years of service cuts with no end in sight as the pension costs they chose not to fund begin to loom. Even if it's built for you for free, Portland's was mostly built by federal dollars, you still have to pay for it. Not always easy. Portland collects more in parking fees than it spends on its deteriorated roads. The bulk of that money goes to transit but it's not even close to enough. Hence the "fix what we have and pay what we owe" motto for 2013 and 2014. Don't expect much in the way of ambitious expansions as Portland deals with funding the excessively large transportation system it already has. The other thing is building smart. Paris-Lyon, not the most efficient line but not the least either, returns a 7% ROI. It not only pays for itself, but it will eventually pay for its capital cost of construction.

Last edited by Malloric; 01-19-2014 at 12:41 PM..
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Old 01-19-2014, 02:34 PM
 
7,936 posts, read 5,048,234 times
Reputation: 13596
Quote:
Originally Posted by LookingtoleaveFL View Post
Because most posters on this forum are europhilic liberal yuppies whom live in a bubble in the big cities and have a bizarre hatred of open space and cars. ...

These posters seem to forget that Europe is a continent, made up of many countries. These counties are also very small, so they have to build things to be dense. Another thing is that many of their towns and cities were built hundreds of years ago, before cars even existed. The US on the other-hand, is a very large country with lots of open space so there's no need for us to build things so dense.
Though phrased contentiously, there's much truth to this, at least in my view.

Europe of course has much higher population density than the US, but the raw density numbers are only part of the picture. Europe tends to have concentrations of population, whether in large cities or small villages, where neighbors live shoulder to shoulder; and then comparatively open space in between. America, at least east of the Mississippi, is a nation of houses 200 yards apart from each other. Though partially explicable by the fact that America urbanized after the advent of cars, and Europe urbanized earlier, there's another operative factor: Europe has a feudal past, and America does not. Rural Europeans were peasants, while rural Americans would never identify themselves as such.

Flying into a midsized airport in the US, the airplane circles and approaches over an expanse of small plots of land, dotted with houses. Eventually these expanses give way to industrial warehouses and service-buildings, before the airport-proper begins. Not so in most European countries. Approaching a midsized European airport, there are forests and empty fields, with occasional clumps of houses built abreast of each other, and then finally the warehouses etc. and the airport. One gets a bird's eye view (literally) that Europe is a land of villagers huddled together, while America is a land of individual yeoman farmers. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.

As for LookingtoleaveFL's first paragraph quoted above, again there's a prescient smattering of truth - and I say this as a hard leftist, who somewhat incongruously owns a house in the countryside, in a conservative part of the country. The "Europhillic liberal yuppies", or at least some of them, crave a society resembling Bismarck's Germany, which combines the dynamism of industrial capitalism with a supreme central authority and rewards the most outstanding intellectuals and simultaneously gives the workers social guarantees.
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Old 01-19-2014, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,686,954 times
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Cars are efficient on per vehicle measures but are extremely inefficient for per person measures. 10 people on a bus are using less energy/resources than 1 person in a car. They are also using much less road space.

But the number one reason I support walkability and density is because I support free choice. People should not have to purchase a car to have a reasonable quality of life. People should be able to have a choice in transportation and mobility. Whether that means drive, transit, bike, walk and whatever else. We have engineered choice out of our communities.
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Old 01-19-2014, 02:57 PM
 
9,520 posts, read 14,842,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Cars are efficient on per vehicle measures but are extremely inefficient for per person measures.
No. Cars are more efficient per passenger mile. And that's without even accounting for the additional circuity of bus routes.
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Old 01-19-2014, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,686,954 times
Reputation: 26671
Quote:
Originally Posted by nybbler View Post
No. Cars are more efficient per passenger mile. And that's without even accounting for the additional circuity of bus routes.
Cars are rarely used anywhere near capacity. It is always more efficient to have several people on a bus (over the threshold for that vehicles size, typically from 5-10 people) than having the same individuals making that trip alone. More importantly most cars spend 85% of their time idle in a parking spot taking up valuable land while the bus or train is constantly moving people around.
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Old 01-19-2014, 04:10 PM
 
9,520 posts, read 14,842,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Cars are rarely used anywhere near capacity.
Cars are more efficient than buses per passenger mile based on actual utilization of both modes.
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Old 01-19-2014, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,072 posts, read 16,094,154 times
Reputation: 12647
Quote:
Originally Posted by nybbler View Post
Cars are more efficient than buses per passenger mile based on actual utilization of both modes.
Take your facts away. They're getting in the way of someone's preconceived notions.

http://cta.ornl.gov/data/tedb32/Edition32_Chapter02.pdf

Table 2.12, Passenger travel and energy usage.

3,364 for cars and 4,240 for buses.

There's also cars and cars. A Prius is more efficient than not only buses, which the average car on the road today is, but also most rail, probably similar to NYC commuter rail. It's not quite as good as ACE here, which is the second most efficient in the country, but we benefit from having extremely long gaps between stops.

Last edited by Malloric; 01-19-2014 at 04:51 PM..
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Mt. Airy
5,311 posts, read 5,335,456 times
Reputation: 3562
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Take your facts away. They're getting in the way of someone's preconceived notions.

http://cta.ornl.gov/data/tedb32/Edition32_Chapter02.pdf

Table 2.12, Passenger travel and energy usage.

3,364 for cars and 4,240 for buses.

There's also cars and cars. A Prius is more efficient than not only buses, which the average car on the road today is, but also most rail, probably similar to NYC commuter rail. It's not quite as good as ACE here, which is the second most efficient in the country, but we benefit from having extremely long gaps between stops.
One thing to consider is this note on each page:

Great care should be taken when comparing modal energy intensity data among modes. Because of the inherent differences among the transportation modes in the nature of services, routes available, and many additional factors, it is not possible to obtain truly comparable national energy intensities among modes. These values are averages, and there is a great deal of variability even within a mode.

Buses are certainly not the most efficient, although on routes that have high ridership (while running hybrids), I would think it's more efficient to transport 100 people who take transit over 100 people commuting in personal vehicles (not saying it is the case). Hopefully, as density increases and transit becomes more popular, it will improve efficiency numbers.

It would be really interesting to see the comparisons focused on the individual in terms of where they live (e.g. dense, urban location vs. non-dense, suburban location) instead of just vehicle type. However, it's probably not too easy because there are so many one-off factors to account for.
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,072 posts, read 16,094,154 times
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Obviously, this is just an average. It can't be used to compare car to transit in San Francisco or even more apples to potatoes bus in San Francisco to car in Pleasanton. If you watch the buses around here, there's an awful lot of them running around on their long, circuitous routes with 0-4 people. Given they get about 4 mpg a Hummer would do better per passenger mile. Last time I was on a bus was the 38 Geary in SF. That had a lot more people on it. More than enough to make up for the less than ideal conditions as it slogged along at an average speed of <6 mph.
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