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Old 03-05-2014, 11:44 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
Reputation: 11726

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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Or spending money to construct a subway station made of marble.
Haha. Marble would be nice. It's more porous than concrete (I think) and would do a better job of holding in the stench of urine.

All jokes aside, I think that supporters and detractors of transit make understandable points. Supporters say that people don't ride transit because there isn't enough of it. Build it, and they will ride it. Detractors say that there's no point in building more transit because the transit we have is lousy (in their eyes anyway, and in many cases the service is lousy). When money becomes available for capital projects, there's always concern about how they will be funded after completion, and if ridership increases aren't spectacular right away, it becomes like adding fuel to a fire.

It also doesn't help when people push for these massive, capital intensive transit projects in places that are clearly not ready for them. Kevin Drum made this point about HSR in California. Pushing for such large and expensive projects--when transit in the state's metro areas could use a lot of work--only provides more ammunition for the haters and potentially intensifies public opposition to transit projects down the road that *do* make sense.

Again, I think subsidizing operation costs for transit agencies would also be a fight, but it would pay greater dividends, imo. Could you have some type of performance standards in place where you reward agencies that manage their budgets well and increase their ridership with more funding and then "punish" those that don't? In order to justify building more transit, I think you need to make sure that people to some degree like what they already have. If too many people see transit as money going into the pockets of adminstrators, CEOs and unjustifiably fat pensions, and with little in the way of quality service to show for it, then the future of transit won't be bright.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
Reputation: 11726
Here's what Drum said actually:

Quote:
We are rapidly exiting the realm of rose-colored glasses and entering the realm of pure fantasy here. If liberals keep pushing this project forward in the face of plain evidence that its official justifications are brazenly preposterous, conservatives are going to be able to pound us year after year for wasting taxpayer money while we retreat to ever more ridiculous and self-serving defenses that make us laughingstocks in the public eye. And unless we put this project on hold until we can get some genuinely independent and plausible estimates of costs, ridership, and alternatives, we'll deserve it.
California's Ridiculous High Speed Rail Plan | Mother Jones
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,068 posts, read 16,081,530 times
Reputation: 12641
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Haha. Marble would be nice. It's more porous than concrete (I think) and would do a better job of holding in the stench of urine.

All jokes aside, I think that supporters and detractors of transit make understandable points. Supporters say that people don't ride transit because there isn't enough of it. Build it, and they will ride it. Detractors say that there's no point in building more transit because the transit we have is lousy (in their eyes anyway, and in many cases the service is lousy). When money becomes available for capital projects, there's always concern about how they will be funded after completion, and if ridership increases aren't spectacular right away, it becomes like adding fuel to a fire.

It also doesn't help when people push for these massive, capital intensive transit projects in places that are clearly not ready for them. Kevin Drum made this point about HSR in California. Pushing for such large and expensive projects--when transit in the state's metro areas could use a lot of work--only provides more ammunition for the haters and potentially intensifies public opposition to transit projects down the road that *do* make sense.

Again, I think subsidizing operation costs for transit agencies would also be a fight, but it would pay greater dividends, imo. Could you have some type of performance standards in place where you reward agencies that manage their budgets well and increase their ridership with more funding and then "punish" those that don't? In order to justify building more transit, I think you need to make sure that people to some degree like what they already have. If too many people see transit as money going into the pockets of adminstrators, CEOs and unjustifiably fat pensions, and with little in the way of quality service to show for it, then the future of transit won't be bright.
Sensitivity analysis proves that when you build it they will not ride it. If you want more efficient transit that makes sense, cut the subsidies. Supports and detractors can voice whatever opinions they want, but the empirical facts are the empirical facts.

CA HSR additional is subject to classwarfare arguments. The general beneficiaries of transit are the poor. HSR won't benefit the poor. The ticket prices are estimated to be similar to what a flight between LA and SF costs. They would mostly benefit the well-off since they are the ones that generally make trips between LA and SF. The second part of CA HSR is it's a farce. The voters approved a $9.5 billion project. According to t he people who are supposed to be designing it, the costs for the project that was approved would now cost $90 billion and change, a ten-fold increase. Instead, what we have is a blended approach that isn't HSR through most of the urbanized areas and still costs $50-60 billion while the San Diego and Sacramento legs have been removed for a latter phase.

Scrap the project and send it back to the voters. If there's still public approval for going $60 billion in debt (like they could do that on budget), by all means. There won't be, however. It was incompetently handled and the public is getting tired of blatant understating of costs that is the norm in California.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Sensitivity analysis proves that when you build it they will not ride it. If you want more efficient transit that makes sense, cut the subsidies. Supports and detractors can voice whatever opinions they want, but the empirical facts are the empirical facts.
How is cutting the subsidies going to improve service?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
CA HSR additional is subject to classwarfare arguments. The general beneficiaries of transit are the poor. HSR won't benefit the poor. The ticket prices are estimated to be similar to what a flight between LA and SF costs. They would mostly benefit the well-off since they are the ones that generally make trips between LA and SF.
I wouldn't say that the general beneficiaries of transit are the poor. I do believe in maintaining some acceptable level of public transportation because the poor rely on it to a greater extent than everyone else. But public transit has a very real benefit to everyone in terms of environmental impact. The question is whether ridership can reach sufficiently high levels to reduce carbon footprints in a meaningful way. In other words, I'm not in favor of spending a billion dollars for 80,000 people in a metro area of 4 million to live eco-friendly lives.

I agree with your point on HSR.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:41 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
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As far as roads that pay for themselves, the NJ Turnpike apparently does. In 2012, it squeezed out a very small profit (after factoring in operating and capital costs).

Report: NJ Turnpike ‘most profitable’ toll road in nation | NJ.com
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,169 posts, read 29,669,595 times
Reputation: 26661
I guess you have to ask yourself, what should be a public benefit?

So if you look at it from this perspective, around 30-40% of the population does not drive at a given time.

About 20% of people in the US are under 18, so feasibly most do not have access to a drivers license.

And then of course there is another percentage of people with no license, looks like it could be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% of adults. (Interesting article about the decline in drivers licenses: Driver's licenses ubiquitous no longer | MSNBC).

And then another group of people can't afford to get a car. Roughly 8% of the US households do not have access to a car (Report here: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~raphae...kenRaphael.pdf)

And then there are the elderly people who stopped driving. And the people who have suspended licenses.

So no matter how you slice it, a good chunk of people need to use transit, as they would have no other ways of getting around.

Of course, lots of you will say, well kids don't count they should have their parents take them. But these days, we all know how people work long hours, and sometimes have long commutes. So (older) kids are just supposed to be trapped at home till mom comes back? What if you want an after school job, but parents can't drive you? I know I was lucky, in my first job in high school, my mom could drive me to work. And in my second job at the mall, I was able to carpool with my neighbor (she was the manager of the store....) and schedule shifts with her...until I got my license. I would have been SOL otherwise, because my mom started working odd hours in my later years of high school.

So the question is, is it beneficial to "subsidize" a system that 20-35% of our population needs to be productive citizens?
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
Reputation: 11726
Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
So the question is, is it beneficial to "subsidize" a system that 20-35% of our population needs to be productive citizens?
I think people already recognize that, which is why public transit is subsidized in the first place. The question is how much more should it be subsidized.

Last edited by BajanYankee; 03-05-2014 at 02:20 PM..
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,169 posts, read 29,669,595 times
Reputation: 26661
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I think people already recognize that, which is why public transit is subsidized in the first place. The question is how much more should it be subsidized.
The question is, how much is enough? Should the amount be proportional to the current users, anticipated users or something else. NYC Metro has about a 50% transit mode share, but transit doesn't get 50% of the transportation money.

DC Metro is about 30-35%. Bay Area is around 20% on the whole. Even car-happy LA is 10%.

Bike/pedestrian infrastructure typically get about 1% of the total transpiration money, and constitute 5-20% of trips depending on how you decide to calculate it (commute only...percentage of time spent per mode...), even in metros where barely anyone walks or bikes, it is still more than 1% in most cases.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
Reputation: 11726
Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
The question is, how much is enough? Should the amount be proportional to the current users, anticipated users or something else. NYC Metro has about a 50% transit mode share, but transit doesn't get 50% of the transportation money.
62% of the cost of the MTA's annual budget is funded by the taxpayer.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign - Transportation 101

And no, public transit should not receive 50% of all transportation funds because there are things to pay for other than subways and commuter rail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Bike/pedestrian infrastructure typically get about 1% of the total transpiration money, and constitute 5-20% of trips depending on how you decide to calculate it (commute only...percentage of time spent per mode...), even in metros where barely anyone walks or bikes, it is still more than 1% in most cases.
Bike infrastructure is also cheap compared to highways (which our economy actually needs). "Equity" isn't necessarily dedicating 10% of transportation funds to bike infrastructure simply because 10% of a city's residents bike to work. It's providing funding sufficient to ensure a quality level of transportation for each mode (whatever the public considers that to be). A city doesn't need a billion dollars to have adequate bike infrastructure.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:00 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
Reputation: 11726
I think grants for bike lanes would be better expenditures than grants for most light rail projects. You could build 40 miles of bike lane for less than $4 million. Even if you splurged and went Copenhagen, I don't see that as a big deal. That's a reasonable investment. It's also a greener investment.

It's difficult to make transit work in most American cities. Transportation planners seek to entice "choice" riders with all types of bells and whistles (i.e., streetcars), but the bottom line is that you're not going to ride transit if it doesn't take you where you need to go. In a lot of metros, it's a very difficult to task to connect all of the scattered employment nodes in the region by rapid transit. And most cities still have inexpensive parking, which encourages driving.
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