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Old 01-21-2014, 07:52 PM
 
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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.

For example, in the US, the left-wing cities tend to be more public transit friendly, obviously with examples of NYC, San Francisco being the archetypes etc. plus the stereotypically liberal college towns. Rural areas or conservative towns and cities have less public transit. Often this is associated with "big government", since public transit is seen as something requiring a lot of tax money and car ownership associated with more individualism and economic independence. Whatever the causality or whatever the direction of correlation, this seems to be the case within the country.

It seems to hold across countries too (at least at the country level). European countries seem more liberal than the United States and have more public transit. Canadian and Australian public transit is said to be in between the US and Europe and indeed those countries are also intermediate politically on the spectrum: more liberal than the US but less liberal than Europe.

Are there exceptions? Is public transit usually associated with left wing places everywhere?

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.

Also, does anyone know if this is always, or generally the case that left-wing views and public transit go hand in hand, or is it likely just my impression (based on US worldview assumptions, with only a little knowledge of Europe)?
No.

Public transit has existed for centuries regardless of politics. Since the 1600 and 1700's. It depends/depended on the DENSITY of the area and IF the LOCAL PUBLIC is willing to pay. Until our spendy politicians who LOVE big centralized government decided that ALL the states need to pay for the FAVORITE states' needs.

I think you're confusing public transit with pipe dreams like BULLET TRAINS. Something WE TAXPAYERS spent 8 billion dollars for in 1968 and GOT NOTHING for our money.

Just watch California. THEIR proposal went from 30 billion to 70 billion for the line from LA to San Fran. And the mode is outdated and underfunded the very first day it would be in operation.

AND the US TAXPAYER is supposed to pay for the government to subsidize THAT. WHY? WHY are MY tax dollars going towards a train between LA and SF when I LIVE IN FLORIDA. We wont even DISCUSS if that rail line would even be used enough to make it worth a HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS by the time they're done.

Meanwhile, Florida was supposed to get a rail line (that nobody would use, either). Luckily, stronger heads prevailed.

And I say all this as a spouse of an internationally known rail transit expert LOL. But what's right is right regardless.

But you're correct about one thing. Money grows on trees in Liberal cities and states. And by trees I mean trees grown in OTHER STATES with NO INTEREST in subsidizing crooked politicians' pork.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:18 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,611,419 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runswithscissors View Post
No.

Public transit has existed for centuries regardless of politics. Since the 1600 and 1700's. It depends/depended on the DENSITY of the area and IF the LOCAL PUBLIC is willing to pay. Until our spendy politicians who LOVE big centralized government decided that ALL the states need to pay for the FAVORITE states' needs.

I think you're confusing public transit with pipe dreams like BULLET TRAINS. Something WE TAXPAYERS spent 8 billion dollars for in 1968 and GOT NOTHING for our money.

Just watch California. THEIR proposal went from 30 billion to 70 billion for the line from LA to San Fran. And the mode is outdated and underfunded the very first day it would be in operation.

AND the US TAXPAYER is supposed to pay for the government to subsidize THAT. WHY? WHY are MY tax dollars going towards a train between LA and SF when I LIVE IN FLORIDA. We wont even DISCUSS if that rail line would even be used enough to make it worth a HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS by the time they're done.

Meanwhile, Florida was supposed to get a rail line (that nobody would use, either). Luckily, stronger heads prevailed.

And I say all this as a spouse of an internationally known rail transit expert LOL. But what's right is right regardless.

But you're correct about one thing. Money grows on trees in Liberal cities and states. And by trees I mean trees grown in OTHER STATES with NO INTEREST in subsidizing crooked politicians' pork.
You must not know where the GDP comes from in this country. It is usually liberal cities and liberal metros. Blue states give more tax dollars than they get back.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,482 posts, read 11,987,213 times
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As Nei noted, that roads existed before cars is irrelevant. The point is, roads have become the dominant infrastructure for cars, and we live in a society where most of them are built with public funds, and virtually all of that public money comes from general taxation rather than fees like tolls and gas taxes. This gives cars a tremendous subsidy which rail-based transportation lacks. The actual amount varies in estimation, this one suggests upwards of $40 billion a year, while this one suggests $75 billion.

Again, as Nei said, one can argue that roads are needed infrastructure (they are after all) that the government should construct. Certainly there is no evidence that a market-based road building policy would work - imagine toll roads everywhere! But the system we pay for roads in does result in implicit wealth transfer, insofar as those who drive little or not at all pay nearly the same amount for road maintenance as those who drive a lot. A fairer system would be more reliant upon usage-based systems like gas taxes, highway tolls, or congestion pricing..

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Long distance buses (as Greyhound/ Megabus) do, but there's usually parallel rail infrastructure that could be used instead. As I said before, none of the intercity bus routes do anything that couldn't be done on rail, constructing highways didn't help transit as there was already existing rail that did the same thing. Which is why I said highway construction was for drivers*. Anyway, buses are generally on local roads, with some exceptions: commuter buses in NJ and a couple of express buses I've seen in CT and a few rush hour only routes in our system.
It's also worth mentioning that the per-person wear and tear that a bus puts on a road system (presuming it's reasonably full) is far less than that of a car.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:36 PM
 
9,524 posts, read 14,893,344 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
It's also worth mentioning that the per-person wear and tear that a bus puts on a road system (presuming it's reasonably full) is far less than that of a car.
Also false. Road damage increases much more than linearly with axle weight. And for most major roads there's a threshold weight below which damage is negligible (because certain modes of damage do not happen), meaning that essentially all damage done by vehicles is done by heavy vehicles, including buses.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:39 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
45,992 posts, read 42,130,556 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
As Nei noted, that roads existed before cars is irrelevant. The point is, roads have become the dominant infrastructure for cars, and we live in a society where most of them are built with public funds, and virtually all of that public money comes from general taxation rather than fees like tolls and gas taxes. This gives cars a tremendous subsidy which rail-based transportation lacks. The actual amount varies in estimation, this one suggests upwards of $40 billion a year, while this one suggests $75 billion. [/url].
However, since there is far more driving than public transit use, the per capita subsidy for driving is likely lower. I suppose you could argue there's more driving because roads were initially subsidized more...

Quote:
It's also worth mentioning that the per-person wear and tear that a bus puts on a road system (presuming it's reasonably full) is far less than that of a car.
That doesn't sound right. Road wear and tear is roughly proportional to the axle weight to the fourth power. Even if a bus replacing 30 drivers that has the same weight as ten cars would be less vehicle weight per person, the road damage would be higher. Trucks, of course, would cause even road damage. And bicycles negligible road damage.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:46 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,482 posts, read 11,987,213 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
That doesn't sound right. Road wear and tear is roughly proportional to the axle weight to the fourth power. Even if a bus replacing 30 drivers that has the same weight as ten cars would be less vehicle weight per person, the road damage would be higher. Trucks, of course, would cause even road damage. And bicycles negligible road damage.
Math isn't my strong point, needless to say.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:41 PM
 
Location: Old Bellevue, WA
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Nobody is against mass-transit per se. After all we all use mass media, mass marketing, etc, liberal and conservative alike. Airlines are mass transit, and no conservatives are griping about them.

The problem is the cost when you get gov't running the whole show, and decisions are made on the basis of politics rather than cost/benefit. Remember the story about Amtrak when they were selling a cheeseburger for $9.50, but it cost them $16 to produce?
Amtrack lost 800 million dollars on burgers and soda

A non-gov't operation could not do that. But in the case of Amtrak, they get the taxpayer to make up the difference, and conservatives tend to frown at that.

This artcle from a think tank in my state gives cost per passenger mile of various forms of transit (from 2010)
Want a Transportation System That Works? Vanpools. | Washington Policy Center
Quote:
Originally Posted by WPC
It costs about 20 cents per passenger mile to build and operate the vanpool program in the Puget Sound region. Compare this to other intercity transit modes like express buses or rail. Sound Transit Express buses cost about $1.70 per passenger mile and Sounder Commuter Rail costs a whopping $5.39 per passenger mile.
According to AAA the cost per vehicle mile in 2010 for a medium sedan driving 15,000 miles was 56.2. The average car has 1.5 people in it, so that translates to 37 cents per passenger mile. So:

vanpool: 20 cents per passenger mile
car: 37 cents per passenger mile
bus $1.70 ppm
train $5.39 ppm

Just like with the cheeseburger, the bus and train cannot charge fares high enough to cover their costs, so the taxpayer gets to make up the difference. It's as simple as that. What is needed is a different model for ownership and operation of the mass transit systems so that the costs are not so high.
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Old 01-21-2014, 10:52 PM
 
Location: Kalamalka Lake, B.C.
3,044 posts, read 4,030,134 times
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Public transit takes you to where the money is spent, not where it's earned.
Downtown, stadiums, and malls.
It may appear to be leftist but when the money is added up it feeds you right into the store chains and big revenue stream.
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:17 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
12,366 posts, read 7,543,806 times
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[quote=runswithscissors;33122851]No.

Public transit has existed for centuries regardless of politics. Since the 1600 and 1700's. It depends/depended on the DENSITY of the area and IF the LOCAL PUBLIC is willing to pay. Until our spendy politicians who LOVE big centralized government decided that ALL the states need to pay for the FAVORITE states' needs.

I think you're confusing public transit with pipe dreams like BULLET TRAINS. Something WE TAXPAYERS spent 8 billion dollars for in 1968 and GOT NOTHING for our money.
[quote]

I'm an economic conservative, and will aggree there's a lot of waste. But the Northeast Corridor (referenced in the second paragraph) is not so simple a case. Years odf politicians holding down fares and neglecting the property turned it into a shambles. Today, it's in good shape, and has considerably higher speeds -- just not on the entire length.

The California project will grow the same way (and some of the obstacles) are considerably larger). So improvements will be slow and incremental.

Transportation (and especially rail transportation, which owns its own right of way and has huge capital costs) faces special problems, and requires huge population density, But the people who expect miracles overnight have expectatons as unreal as some of the opponents.
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:48 AM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
12,366 posts, read 7,543,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runswithscissors View Post

Public transit has existed for centuries regardless of politics. Since the 1600 and 1700's. It depends/depended on the DENSITY of the area and IF the LOCAL PUBLIC is willing to pay. Until our spendy politicians who LOVE big centralized government decided that ALL the states need to pay for the FAVORITE states' needs.

I think you're confusing public transit with pipe dreams like BULLET TRAINS. Something WE TAXPAYERS spent 8 billion dollars for in 1968 and GOT NOTHING for our money.
I'm an economic conservative, and will agree there's a lot of waste, - a lot of it due to union protection of non-operating employees like waiters, bartenders and car cleaners. But the Northeast Corridor (referenced in the second paragraph) is not so simple a case. Years of politicians holding down fares and neglecting the property turned it into a shambles. Today, it's in good shape, and has considerably higher speeds up to 150, 135, or 110 MPH vs a maximum of 80 MPH in the 1950's -- just not over the entire length. And unfortunately, the remaining roadblocks -- the drawbridges along the Connecticut shore and the tunnels in Baltimore -- will be very difficult to eliminate without huge infusions of capital.

The California project will grow the same way (and some of the obstacles are considerably larger). So improvements will be slow and incremental. Some of the worst of those obstacles, such as the montain grades near Tehachapi, could be done at lest cost if the freight carriers can be conviinced to pick up part of the reduced cost of a joint effort. (not possible in the East -- very little freight).

Transportation (and especially rail transportation, which owns its own right of way and has huge capital costs for electrification, signals, etc.) faces special problems, and requires huge population density. But the people who expect European-style "miracles" overnight have expectatons as unreal as some of the opponents.
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