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Old 02-18-2014, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Chicago
3,275 posts, read 4,779,953 times
Reputation: 4046

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Perhaps the tax code can be altered to incentivize the encouragement of telework. If your primary goal truly is the protection of the environment, isn't that truly the fastest and most effective way to accomplish that goal? Wouldn't providing tax incentives to companies that encourage them to have fewer employees show up on a daily basis have much more immediate effects on traffic and pollution than multi-billion dollar transit projects that may or may not be successful?

The assumption is always that people will be stuck in traffic commuting to downtown, thus making expensive rapid rail transit a necessity. But perhaps the American innovation someone alluded to before will be going to the local FedEx Kinko's or conducting meetings from home on iPads. I don't see why the first resort is always "Build a train!"
I can't speak for anyone else but I would love that. The two things I hate most about my job are the dress code and the commute and working from home eliminates both.
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,305 posts, read 26,308,417 times
Reputation: 11759
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikitakolata View Post
I can't speak for anyone else but I would love that. The two things I hate most about my job are the dress code and the commute and working from home eliminates both.
Yeah, I don't think the massive overhaul of transit systems across America is really necessary. There are some jobs where people absolutely need to be there (i.e., nurses, mechanics, etc.). Then there are a whole lot of jobs that people can do at Starbucks. If you can wipe out a significant percentage of the people in the latter category (meaning keeping them off the roads through telework, not killing them) while providing reliable transit alternatives for the former (i.e., BRT or upgraded bus service), then you're making excellent progress.

I'm just not in the "traffic is bad so we need light rail/HSR/HRT" camp. Some people want those things for the sake of having them and then rationalize their way backwards from a pre-determined conclusion. I'm all for intelligent transit projects. But if there are reasonably cheap alternatives that can have a similar impact, then why not exhaust those first?
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:26 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,756 posts, read 9,871,678 times
Reputation: 9893
When America was "Queen of Oil" it made sense to dump that electric traction rail mass transit system for petroleum sucking automobiles, buses and trucks. After 1970, not much sense.

Bottom line, the most efficient form of land transport, barring a technological breakthrough, is steel wheel on steel rail. And the most energy efficient form of rail is electric powered.
Unfortunately, in America's case, the entrenched interest groups and corrupt politicians will never stop robbing the American wallet to fund their wasteful policies.

Pertinent data:
[] Peak heavy rail mileage: 254,000 miles (less than 160,000 miles today)
[] Streetcar track: 34,404 miles by 1907, in over 140 cities, with 60,000 cars in service.
[] Interurban track: 15,500 miles by 1917
(Total rail mileage was once over 300,000 miles - now, far less)
In contrast - - -
[] Interstate Highway System : 47,714 miles
...
Possible remedies:
Transfer ownership of private rail rights of way to nonprofit authorities (NGOs?), and let any private party run vehicles on them. This would prevent wasteful parallel routes (built by competing lines) and end taxation of the rail ROW.
...
It is no surprise that those interests who benefit from Americans' zero choice transportation policy won't budge.
LA's Worst Transit Decision
- In 1963, Alweg proposed to the city of Los Angeles a monorail system that would be designed, built, operated and maintained by Alweg. Alweg promised to take all financial risk from the construction, and the system would be repaid through fares collected. The City Council rejected the proposal in favor of no transit at all. (Thanks to Standard Oil)
...
When governments vote against "free" infrastructure, you know to read between the lines.
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:51 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,043 posts, read 102,757,343 times
Reputation: 33094
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikitakolata View Post
I can't speak for anyone else but I would love that. The two things I hate most about my job are the dress code and the commute and working from home eliminates both.
I recall that Missy Moron or whatever her last name is of Yahoo put some restrictions on telecommuting when she took over. It seems a lot of people were (big surprise) not actually working all the time they said they were. My spouse did some working from home recently while recovering from surgery, and he found it hard at times. There were occasions where he had to go into the office.
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:53 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,043 posts, read 102,757,343 times
Reputation: 33094
Another issue is that right after WW II, when Americans went out and bought cars (usually just one per family, though), Europe was being rebuilt with American money. They Europeans were much more affected by WW II than we were. They needed housing and other basics before they could think about a super-highway system.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:05 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,091 posts, read 16,126,368 times
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The Alweg system in Seattle remains one of the few (very few) transit systems in the US that makes sense. Important to note that what Alweg would have built would not be as comprehensive as the taxpayer teat envisioned LA subway. Absolutely, read between the lines. It's just that what's between them is Standard Oil. It was greedy, power hungry politicians who wanted more control of a more comprehensive system that feared Alweg would prevent their scheme.

Unfortunately, that's what you have in the US is basically crap transit to everywhere that's so bad that in 95% of the country it's basically useless to anyone with a car or even a bicycle. That means that TOD, as in organic, market-based TOD, not the taxpayer subsidized crap planners here talk about, is generally impossible.

Put transit in the hands of a for-profit company and they'll build a system that is actually competitive and makes sense. Alweg recognized that. On a larger scale, Asia realizes that. America, not so much. It isn't really completely the transit operators fault. They're just told to operate on the minimum level of service paradigm, efficiency or cost effectiveness be damned.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,305 posts, read 26,308,417 times
Reputation: 11759
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvh View Post
Sorry Bajan. Not buying the density makes the US unable to support transit argument. In 1940 Atlanta had a population density over 6,000 ppsm (Ten times your beloved UK density) and dozens of private private streetcar lines crisscrossed the city. The only thing that is preventing transit in the US similar to over seas is our policy.
Here's a classic case of material omission to make a point.

First, Atlanta annexed 99.47 square miles of surrounding areas after 1940. So the 6,000 ppsm figure is based on an area of roughly 33 square miles.

Second, the UK is about 2,848 times larger than the City of Atlanta as it existed in 1940. That's a stupid comparison to make. But if you do want to make a valid comparison, Georgia has a density of 162 ppsm (59,425 sq. miles) compared to England's 1,051 ppsm (50,346 sq. miles). We can throw in Wales just to make it exactly even and Georgia still ends up getting crushed.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:22 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,305 posts, read 26,308,417 times
Reputation: 11759
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvh View Post
You think transit cannot work in the US and only highways can: take away subsidies from both. Make highway users pay 100% of the cost with user fees. Let people vote with their wallet what they actually prefer instead of forcing people to the suburbs to save money.
This is off topic. The topic is not "Can transit work in America" but rather "why the US ended up more car dependent than Europe." What you seem to not understand is that America in 1950 was very different from America in 2014. Nobody was thinking about the consequences of suburban sprawl then. Compared to Europe, there was endless land to chew up for development, so why would they? Without population pressure and land constraints to check development, we have a lot of low density suburban sprawl as a result.

In California, metros tend to be denser because of land constraints. Since the East Coast didn't have that, suburban development sprawled more.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:24 PM
 
10,627 posts, read 7,544,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Here's a classic case of material omission to make a point.

First, Atlanta annexed 99.47 square miles of surrounding areas after 1940. So the 6,000 ppsm figure is based on an area of roughly 33 square miles.

Second, the UK is about 2,848 times larger than the City of Atlanta as it existed in 1940. That's a stupid comparison to make. But if you do want to make a valid comparison, Georgia has a density of 162 ppsm (59,425 sq. miles) compared to England's 1,051 ppsm (50,346 sq. miles). We can throw in Wales just to make it exactly even and Georgia still ends up getting crushed.
Right, but it does not make sense to run a subway line to rural UK nor rural GA. Transit feasibility is dependent on the area it will serve, not the country side 100 miles away.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,653 posts, read 15,362,860 times
Reputation: 6670
Cars, as soon as they became practical, were luxuries for the rich or at least wealthy. At the time, most of the population in both the U.S. and Europe, rural or urban, could not afford a car. Many European countries imposed stricter taxes on gasoline.

Just before World War I, Ford unveiled the Model T.

Except of course for the war casualties, the U.S. emerged largely unscathed from World War I. In fact, perhaps the war aided industry in the US by making it more productive. Compare that to the industrialized countries of Western Europe, which suffered much more damage, as it was the theater for most of WW1's battles. Not to mention that the US was economically ahead of those countries, on a per-capita basis, before the war.

Some time around the Great War, the car went from being a luxury for the rich to a practical tool for the middle class - in the US. In Europe, having a car was too great an expense for most of the middle class until the 1950's at the earliest. In the U.S., on the other hand, there were 0.6 cars per household as early as 1925; that figure reached 1.0 by 1950 (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Transpo...usehold_in_U.S. ) . Farm households (which were much more common then) had the added benefit of using the car's engine to operate some farm equipment. Also, taxes on gas created an unaffordable differential.

After WW2, the most economically-advanced countries in Europe saw widespread car ownership, and city planners emulated the U.S. somewhat. This was the case in the Netherlands, Sweden, etc. In the NL's case, the motive for change were deaths caused by driving. I don't about other countries. In some of these countries you can see housing resembling American houses from the '50s and '60s. For example:

http://goo.gl/maps/3Fa2y

Also, you have to take into consideration a number of other factors: There isn't as much land in Europe. Even before the car was introduced, Americans still preferred to ride in horses pulled by carriages. "American individualism" probably has a role to play, although Finnish culture, for example, is very individualistic. There has never been a tradition of making narrow "medieval streets" in the U.S.; instead, the 19th-century preference was for broad avenues.
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