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Old 01-13-2014, 09:59 AM
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
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I think honestly a lot of it still comes down to the legacy of race in America. Places which already have mass transit can keep it an expand it of course. But places where there was a good deal of white flight in the mid to late 20th century, and no transit system was set up, tend to think of mass transit as something for poor people - especially poor black and brown people. In contrast, in areas where the core city doesn't have a large historic underclass you don't see the same animosity towards transit, because people aren't afraid of "those people" moving into their neighborhood once a commuter line is put in, and don't see public transit as a form of welfare given to the undeserving.
As to the bolded, do you mean a rail system or something else? Having a rail network doesn't prevent Cleveland from having a abysmal rail ridership. And a black population isn't an excuse, black people ride transit too. A transit system could get decent ridership just from minorities.

Under that logic, you'd expect Boston to be more friendly towards transit than Philadelphia. And maybe San Francisco friendlier to transit than Boston. And DC less friendly to transit than all of them... the DC Metro was built after white flight*.

*People go on about Portland's transit system, DC's transit system must have a much higher impact
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:20 AM
 
Location: New York City
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Some liberals oppose extending transit into certain neighborhoods because it could increase density. Their opposition is NIMBY-based rather than a philosophical aversion to transit.
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:35 AM
 
Location: New York NY
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Mass transit in the U.S., especially light and heavy rail systems, have little to do with political ideology and much more to do with metro area density. At some point, once-sparse or near-sparse areas become so clogged with cars that rail systems are the only logical alternative to moving lots more people around, as in Atlanta, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle or Los Angeles. People will always whine about the costs of building or expanding systems, but to me that's much more an economic/fiscal fight than a conservative/liberal ideological one.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:37 AM
 
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markovian process View Post
I noticed, in most of the US there is an association of transit-friendliness with certain views on the political spectrum.

...

One exception that seems to stand out is Japan. I don't know that much about its politics but it seems not particularly left-wing, yet has big, dense cities with ample public transit.
In the country of Singapore chewing gum was banned in 1992 because vandals thought it was funny to stick gum on the door sensors in the computer-operated subway, disrupting servce. Singaporeans think having the trains run on time is more important that their right to buy and consume chewing gum for pleasure (therapeutic chewing gum is legal and strictly controlled).

Enthusiasm for public transit goes hand-in-hand with enthusiasm for doing as you're told.

Until the post-War era, Americans pretty much did as they were told. They took the trolley, the train, or the bus wherever they went. Now everyone drives are car and flips the bird at poor folks who take the bus (exception: Rich guys take the train to Manhattan from the bedroom communities of New Jersey).

Think about Japan, China, and Europe. People in those countries pretty much do what they are told to do.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:01 PM
hvl
 
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Lots of people where I live use public transit during the week, to go to work, and their own vehicles the rest of the time. If you have a densely populated area and a lack of ''problematic" populations then public transit makes perfect sense. I don't have any problem sharing the train with other white collar office workers going to their well paying job downtown.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I think you have the cause and effect wrong:

Places where public transit works well tend to be liberal, that doesn't mean their liberalness is what them support transit more. A Republican from NYC is likely to still support transit funding, a democrat from a rural area indifferent.
I tend to agree, but it needs to be understood and emphasized that the nature of mass transit itself makes the issue into a politcal footfall.

In the earliest years before the development of motor buses, streetcars and subways required huge amounts of capital. Once the money has been "sunk", depreciation is not a cash-outlay expense. So the early privatized transit systems could be "held hostage" by local poliical hacks seeking to gain support from their economically-naive community by keeping fares down.

But eventually, even in the most populist-dominated markets, the old equipment wore out and had to be replaced, So responsibiity for the physical plant (which had already been de facto confiiscated) was transferred to a public agency.

But we're just beginning to recognize the possibility of expansion of the existing facitilites beyond the leagal boundaries of the municipalities whivh inherited them, and that might require an infusion of capital far beyond "running repairs". The emerging issue of more transit/commuter systems corssing state boundaries adds yet another complcation.

The "fuel squeeze' of 1999-2010 brought a disturbing lesson home, but it now appears that we could be in for a period of "stable", albeit more expensive fuel similar to 1980-1999. And so the cycle appears posed to repeat itself.
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Old 01-13-2014, 04:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Last I checked Utah is pretty keen on public transit. I mean Salt Lake City isn't as right-wing as you'd think (the city itself is quite progressive) but support for commuter rail is even pretty popular out in the ruby red burbs.
Exactly. The Dallas and St. Louis metro areas aren't well known for being uber-left either.

Injecting politics into it is only of interest to ideologues and doesn't have any real merit. It's not true anywhere else in the world and it's not true in the US. When a city (read:metro area) gets to be about 2-3 million people and it can either expand the capacity of its transportation network with new transit facilities or with new or expanded freeways and arterials. Places like SLC, Portland and Denver went this route. By the time a city hits 5-6 million it doesn't really have a choice. You can keep expanding your expressway network like LA but travel times will continue climb faster than you can pour concrete.

It really has nothing to do with being on the left or right - it just has to do with how big your city is. Cities require infrastructure. The bigger a city is the more intensive the infrastructure needs to be. Infrastructure costs money.

Quote:
I think honestly a lot of it still comes down to the legacy of race in America. Places which already have mass transit can keep it an expand it of course. But places where there was a good deal of white flight in the mid to late 20th century, and no transit system was set up, tend to think of mass transit as something for poor people - especially poor black and brown people. In contrast, in areas where the core city doesn't have a large historic underclass you don't see the same animosity towards transit, because people aren't afraid of "those people" moving into their neighborhood once a commuter line is put in, and don't see public transit as a form of welfare given to the undeserving.
I think you're trying to put too much into a narrative that's questionable to begin with (white flight). In the 1950s through the 1980s suburban development was heavily subsidized by the federal government. At the same time urban growth and regeneration was discouraged or penalized. It was only 2 years ago that developers could get federally insured financing for mixed use projects - something that suburban developments have enjoyed for decades. The US population doubled between 1945 and 2000 and all of that growth happened in the suburbs + more because as urban disinvestment dragged on for 5 decades more and more people began to flee cities.

The cities/metro areas that still have a strong transit culture (or whats left of it) read as a list of the top 15 biggest metro areas back in 1950. I grew up in the suburbs and so did my parents. We also lived not far from a train station. There is no one on either side of my family going back 3 or 4 generations who hasn't used it. Nearly every adult in my family has used it at one point or another to commute to work or school. It doesn't mean we never drove into the city. It also doesn't mean we didn't use the car for nearly everything else. But no one would've ever questioned the purpose or legitimacy of having a rail line run through our town and, having seen the benefit, no one would really object to its expansion. It really has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with familiarity.

People are scared of change and, more specifically, about things they don't know about. They create (or at least parrot) these hostile, conspiracy laden narratives and try to give them an air of legitimacy (at least in their own minds) by cloaking them in the coded language of their particular political movement. This comes from the fringe right in the form of opposing public spending on transit (or bikes or peds) and from the fringe left in movements like the opposition to offshore wind projects (or wind in general).
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Old 01-13-2014, 04:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huckleberry3911948 View Post
in france if you have got any money you buy a small car so you dont have to ride the public transport with the thugs. this is especially true in the suburbs of paris.
In my experience, the bolded statement is true in most of the US. My view is that public transit is more strongly associated in the US with the poor than with the left. So insomuch as public transit is associated with liberalism, it is probably due more towards liberal policies towards the poor.

That said, the non-poor that ride public transit in the US are most likely predominantly liberal. There are only a few places in the US where it is more convenient to ride public transit than to drive (NYC, San Francisco, Washington DC). In most other places, the people who ride public transit either can't afford a car or do so for ideological reasons (e.g. environmentalist, new urbanist, etc.).
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Chandler, AZ
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Portland's public transit system is in the process of being slashed thanks to abysmal ridership when compared to the expense incurred in building it and the revenue it generates as demographer Joel Kotkin pointed out recently in the Orange County Register.

The answer to the thread title is no; SF, DC, Boston, Chicago & NYC all have successful transit systems with rail serving as the backbone due to density, as well as the fact that folks of all income levels ride the rails in those cities daily as opposed to here in LA, where the overwhelming majority of metro riders live in near-poverty level, with an average income of around $18K.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:31 PM
 
Location: World
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In 1930s, USA had some of the fastest passenger rails in the world. By contrast, Nazi Germany under Hitler was trying to build Autobahns (highways).
Now things have changed. In America, trains means communists while Germany has high speed trains ICE.

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