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Old 01-23-2014, 09:04 PM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,955,715 times
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If you live in a place where you need a car to do everything transit is basically useless for anything but getting to work downtown. Seattle has a few dense, walkable places where can one can live without a car but most of the region built during the automobile era. You still need a car to do too many things with any degree of convenience so a lot of people use a car to do those things.

Transit isn't a means in and of itself. It's a solution to the problem of access. People don't ride around on buses or trains because it's fun - it's because they can't walk to what they need or want. Unless and until you have a lot of neighborhoods where people can walk to basic conveniences transit will continue to be relegated to a commuter service - and have relatively low ridership as a result. But a region isn't likely to get those things until it has a robust transit network.

Just as a personal anecdote I've spent 14 of the last 20 years living in various places around the US (and overseas) without a car and I've lived in places where I've been dependent on transit for most things and I've lived places where I barely used it at all (walking or biking most places instead). Being dependent on transit really sucks. I learned that lesson quickly and have elected to pay slightly higher rent to avoid those neighborhoods.

The problem with a place like Seattle is that it mostly grew up in the car era and has a lot of catching up to do in terms transit infrastructure so cities like Seattle, Dallas, SLC, etc are spending a lot of their transport budgets on transit infrastructure right now and probably will be for 2 or 3 decades to come.

Even cities like Philly or NYC or Boston which already have robust transit systems and aren't in expansion mode still wind up spending a huge chunk of change to catch up on 50-60 years of deferred maintenance. In other parts of the world where transit funding has been adequate and steady over the years you don't see the same massive capital outlays. The US political system pretty much guarantees that nothing will happen until everyone agrees that there's a problem that needs to be fixed. That almost always means that the problem needs to have morphed into a full-blown crisis before it gets any attention. On top of that the funding regime is rigged to favor new starts. There is no national "fix-it-first" mentality. Waiting to fix a bridge until it has failed will always be more expensive than properly maintaining it in the first place.
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:19 PM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,955,715 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wutitiz View Post
I don't have all those numbers...perhaps you can supply them.
supply them for what metro?

Quote:
In the meantime cost per passenger mile is a pretty basic and useful metric. Both transit and private vehicle face the same problem of transportation at odd hours, and in my experience private vehicle provides a much better solution. I start work at 5AM and there is no viable transit solution for me. If there were, I would use it.
It's a basic and useful metric for comparing one transit agency to another but it's rarely the only metric used because transit systems vary widely in service profile - that's why you also compare things like cost per hour .

It's not a useful metric for comparing transit to cars. No one hops on a CTA bus for a road trip to the Rockies or Nashville or NYC. No one uses a CTA bus to go visit grandma in Milwaukee.

It's not useful for comparing the average suburban Philly car owner who drives 20 miles a day to the average Philly transit rider who commutes 5 miles a day.
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Old 01-24-2014, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Old Bellevue, WA
18,794 posts, read 14,276,109 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
supply them for what metro?
Well, I was responding to your post, so you tell me.


Quote:
It's a basic and useful metric for comparing one transit agency to another but it's rarely the only metric used because transit systems vary widely in service profile - that's why you also compare things like cost per hour .

It's not a useful metric for comparing transit to cars. No one hops on a CTA bus for a road trip to the Rockies or Nashville or NYC. No one uses a CTA bus to go visit grandma in Milwaukee.

It's not useful for comparing the average suburban Philly car owner who drives 20 miles a day to the average Philly transit rider who commutes 5 miles a day.
Bottom line, we have a problem when it costs $1.70 per passenger mile by bus, and $0.37 by car. I don't know how the fact that a car can be used for a 'road trip' changes that. And BTW people do use Amtrak for 'road trips,' and Amtrak suffers from the same cost issues as local transit.

Bottom line the cost problems need to be somehow confronted and fixed. My solution would be privatization. What is yours?
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
4,896 posts, read 7,659,080 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wutitiz View Post
Well, I was responding to your post, so you tell me.




Bottom line, we have a problem when it costs $1.70 per passenger mile by bus, and $0.37 by car. I don't know how the fact that a car can be used for a 'road trip' changes that. And BTW people do use Amtrak for 'road trips,' and Amtrak suffers from the same cost issues as local transit.

Bottom line the cost problems need to be somehow confronted and fixed. My solution would be privatization. What is yours?
Public transit was privatized. But as time went by, and as the gov't increasingly subsidized roads, these private businesses had to be taken over by the government, (or disappear) because they could no longer compete against the subsidized roads.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:17 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 20 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,008 posts, read 102,606,536 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR_C View Post
Public transit was privatized. But as time went by, and as the gov't increasingly subsidized roads, these private businesses had to be taken over by the government, (or disappear) because they could no longer compete against the subsidized roads.
That's a very simplistic explanation. Trains have long received subsidies. And except for toll roads, roads have ALWAYS been subsidized.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,528,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wutitiz View Post
Well, I was responding to your post, so you tell me.




Bottom line, we have a problem when it costs $1.70 per passenger mile by bus, and $0.37 by car. I don't know how the fact that a car can be used for a 'road trip' changes that. And BTW people do use Amtrak for 'road trips,' and Amtrak suffers from the same cost issues as local transit.

Bottom line the cost problems need to be somehow confronted and fixed. My solution would be privatization. What is yours?
How would privatization fix this issue you are claiming? And how would it benefit those that rely on public transportation?
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
4,896 posts, read 7,659,080 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
That's a very simplistic explanation. Trains have long received subsidies. And except for toll roads, roads have ALWAYS been subsidized.
Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's wrong. Yes, roads that weren't toll roads were always subsidized; there were just a lot less of them, and less money was needed to maintain them. (i.e. dirt road vs. 2 lane blacktop) Besides being given the right-of-ways by the gov't, (sometimes) how else were railroads subsidized in the past? And, was your average trolley company given their right-of-way?
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Old 01-24-2014, 01:15 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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The "right-of-ways" given the railroads often consisted of 20 miles on either side of a rail road. That's why you had competing railroad companies out conducting privately financed wars to destroy the tracks to slow the competition and get more "right-of-way" for themselves. The government also backed low interest railroad bonds. Trolley companies were granted monopoly rights that they used to sue the competition and shut them down.

The trolley companies had a long history of subsidies. By WWI the cartel that ran Seattle's streetcars was going bankrupt and was bailed out and socialized by the city in 1918. By 1940, it was again massively in debt and had to be bailed out again this time by the federal government. It was during this time that the rise of modern mass transit which is completely dependent on subsidies really came to fruition all across America since privately operated transit funded by fares hadn't been economically viable for a good 20 years in most places. More recently, Seattle has the S.L.U.T. It's always been massively subsidized from the getgo. It also needed to be bailed out in 2009. It's currently facing massive cuts in service if it can't squeeze some more money out of the tax payer. Trains would be cut to run every 30 minutes, meaning you'd be better off walking the 1.3 mile length rather than waiting for the next train.
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:06 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 20 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,008 posts, read 102,606,536 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR_C View Post
Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's wrong. Yes, roads that weren't toll roads were always subsidized; there were just a lot less of them, and less money was needed to maintain them. (i.e. dirt road vs. 2 lane blacktop) Besides being given the right-of-ways by the gov't, (sometimes) how else were railroads subsidized in the past? And, was your average trolley company given their right-of-way?
And the population hasn't grown in say, 100 years since cars came out, either, has it?
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:15 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
45,989 posts, read 41,979,923 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
And the population hasn't grown in say, 100 years since cars came out, either, has it?
That is a true statement, however has the amount of roads kept up with population in the last 100 years?
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