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Old 03-13-2014, 09:51 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,284 posts, read 26,292,241 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
My assumption is that this thread is meant to give perspective to the pro-urban people (like the article was) as to why people don't like mass transit. While those perspectives are most certainly valid, I think it's important to remember that when invested in AND designed properly, it can be a very opposite experience. Some things may not go away (having to rub shoulders with people or having to do a bit more planning), but some of the most unpleasant things do go away to an extent (e.g. low frequency, poor coverage, no night routes, etc.).
Yes and no. I'm in favor of expanding mass transit, but I'm usually not in favor of the way some people want to do it.

A lot of urbanists lobby hard for rail projects in cities that can't really support them. If the region's primary CBD only has about 4% of all employment in the region, then rail is not going to be very effective. Yet people will lobby for rail because "that's the way Europe does it." This is not Europe and we have a completely different urban landacape. I think people get frustrated with urbanists because they propose transit projects they think will shape the city of their dreams (50 or 100 years down the road) instead of lobbying for projects that will help the most people right now.

For example, the $462 million Charlotte spent on a 9-mile light rail line could have been used to expand bus service to lots of areas that didn't have it. Before the light rail, the city had 16,000 transit riders. A few years after, it has 17,000 transit riders. Even if ridership doubles, it wasn't worth the price. But if you give most urbanists the choice between practical transit and cool transit, the latter will win nearly each and every time. Sure, the people who can afford to buy or rent near the fancy new light rail line come out on top, but the poor people who need transit the most often come out as the losers, as more resources are diverted from bus routes to buoy rail.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,720,175 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
That's all fine. It doesn't change the fact that this is a thread where people are giving examples of why they don't take mass transit, but several don't live in a place where adequate mass transit exists (some even inferred that they live rural/small town).
Transit availability for the most part is pretty crappy in the US. Even in the places we call "good." SF has some of the "best" transit in the US, and it is still pretty crappy. I think that 85% of people live with a quarter mile of a transit stop, which is good. But people on the western edge of the city have an hour bus ride to downtown, with no path on a dedicated right of way, in a city that is 7 square miles by 7 square miles. That is tiny. The average fleet speed for Muni is 8MPH (some busy routes are more like 5mph). And now you know why bicycling is getting so popular in SF.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:56 AM
 
4,082 posts, read 3,107,448 times
Reputation: 5631
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Haha. See, I consider hipsters to be a subset of SWPLs. I have a checklist I usually run through to assess SWPLdom. A person need not have all of these to be a SWPL, but will likely have most of them.

NPR (check)
Obama voter (2008 Primary) (check)
Whole Foods/TJ shopper (check)
NYT/New Yorker/Economist subscription (check)
Patagonia/Helly Hansen/Canada Goose (check)
Degree from prestigious liberal arts school (automatic)
Microbrews (check)
Indie films (check)
Fair trade coffee (check)
Farmer's market (check)
Vespa scooter (check)
Backpacking in Europe (check)

That's the short list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
How many can you check?
One
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,720,175 times
Reputation: 26676
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
But if you give most urbanists the choice between practical transit and cool transit, the latter will win nearly each and every time. Sure, the people who can afford to buy or rent near the fancy new light rail line come out on top, but the poor people who need transit the most often come out as the losers, as more resources are diverted from bus routes to buoy rail.
I don't think that is the case actually. Many cities would rather spend a ton of money on so-called choice riders, than a small amount of money on "icky buses."

Americans equate light rail and heavy rail with a nicer transit experience (right of way, level boarding, easier payment options, dedicated stations), and buses (dirty, slow, noisy, crappy stations) as something for poor people. So resources are allocated accordingly.

In most cities no politician will win by advocating for transit improvements for the necessity riders.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,284 posts, read 26,292,241 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I don't think that is the case actually. Many cities would rather spend a ton of money on so-called choice riders, than a small amount of money on "icky buses."
Cities build light rail because the companies that build light rails lobby for it. Politicians really couldn't care less.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Americans equate light rail and heavy rail with a nicer transit experience (right of way, level boarding, easier payment options, dedicated stations), and buses (dirty, slow, noisy, crappy stations) as something for poor people. So resources are allocated accordingly.
Like they were in Metro Atlanta when 2/3rds of the electorate shot down a proposal that included light rail? Most voters had no need for public transit anyway (as do most Americans), so why pay more for something that you're not going to use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
In most cities no politician will win by advocating for transit improvements for the necessity riders.
And you think taking billion dollar transit proposals to voters will take you to victory? Besides, I said that scarce transit dollars could have been used to expand existing coverage instead of building a symbolic light rail that will still be left with a funding gap once it's completed.

That honestly sounds like a self-serving justification for getting the type of transit you want. "Well, voters aren't going to vote to help poor people, but they will vote for cool European style trams since I, ahem, I mean, they want to ride them." That's actually an insult to the average American voter. I don't think voters necessarily have a problem with providing better transit access to poor people. They do, however, have a problem with providing the preffered mode of transit to college-educated urbanistas who want to replicate their European study abroad experience in Nashville, Denver or Atlanta.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:33 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
45,992 posts, read 42,058,839 times
Reputation: 14811
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Yes and no. I'm in favor of expanding mass transit, but I'm usually not in favor of the way some people want to do it.

A lot of urbanists lobby hard for rail projects in cities that can't really support them. If the region's primary CBD only has about 4% of all employment in the region, then rail is not going to be very effective. Yet people will lobby for rail because "that's the way Europe does it." This is not Europe and we have a completely different urban landacape. I think people get frustrated with urbanists because they propose transit projects they think will shape the city of their dreams (50 or 100 years down the road) instead of lobbying for projects that will help the most people right now.

For example, the $462 million Charlotte spent on a 9-mile light rail line could have been used to expand bus service to lots of areas that didn't have it. Before the light rail, the city had 16,000 transit riders. A few years after, it has 17,000 transit riders. Even if ridership doubles, it wasn't worth the price. But if you give most urbanists the choice between practical transit and cool transit, the latter will win nearly each and every time. Sure, the people who can afford to buy or rent near the fancy new light rail line come out on top, but the poor people who need transit the most often come out as the losers, as more resources are diverted from bus routes to buoy rail.
Are the transit projects actually designed by what urbanists (whoever that's supposed to refer to) want or something else? I won't comment on Charlotte, because it's obviously not the best city for transit and I know little about them. It also has a very different urban form than any of the larger cities here. As to the bolded, you're not arguing against anything specific but just some stereotype or generalization. It's a bit of a strawman argument. Transit extenstions are often built for the purpose of serving gentrified core neighborhoods or extensions to outer suburbs, not neighborhoods that out of sight to policymakers. This is a good explanation:

Core Connectors and In-Between Neighborhoods | Pedestrian Observations

The new rail extensions proposed in Massahcusetts are in outer parts that aren't going to get much ridership. Though Boston has proposed the Purple Line, but I'm not sure what the results will be. The Bay Area has a similar outer metro transit extension bias:

Why People Don't Use Mass Transit

and then there's stupid perspectives like this one:

http://danielhertz.wordpress.com/201...to-be-stellar/
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,284 posts, read 26,292,241 times
Reputation: 11749
Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Are the transit projects actually designed by what urbanists (whoever that's supposed to refer to) want or something else?
This is a perfect moment in American history where the interests of corporations and urbanists (who are often at the left of the American political spectrum and usually have a more anti-corporation stance) happen to coincide. Big business is happy to build expensive transit projects and urbanists are cheering them on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
As to the bolded, you're not arguing against anything specific but just some stereotype or generalization. It's a bit of a strawman argument.
Oh really? How many articles on Greater Greater Washington, Streetsblog or Atlantic Cities do you see advocating BRT or enhanced bus service over anything on rails? This is why Jarrett Walker had to begin an article on streetcars with the following:

Quote:
WARNING: This article contains an observation about streetcars that is not entirely effusive
And yet you say the bias towards rail in urbanist circles isn't real? Okay, man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Transit extenstions are often built for the purpose of serving gentrified core neighborhoods or extensions to outer suburbs, not neighborhoods that out of sight to policymakers.
What does this have to do with building something practical? So instead of DDOT spending $400 million on two miles of streetcar track, they couldn't use that money to improve and expand services all over Washington, DC? If we're going to sit here and feign concern about the poor, I'm not exactly sure how expensive, symbolic transit (that serves a few) addresses any of their mobility issues. In this particular case, we're talking about a very expensive transit project that will only serve the urban gentrifiers that live near the line.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:59 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,284 posts, read 26,292,241 times
Reputation: 11749
Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I won't comment on Charlotte, because it's obviously not the best city for transit and I know little about them. It also has a very different urban form than any of the larger cities here.
To be clear, I'm not opposing rail projects everywhere. I'm saying that rail projects in the vast majority of American cities don't make any sense (yet that's what urbanists are usually demanding...more rail). There are other American cities beyond NYC, SF, Boston, DC, Chicago, Philly, Portland, Seattle and LA.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:09 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,720,175 times
Reputation: 26676
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
This is a perfect moment in American history where the interests of corporations and urbanists (who are often at the left of the American political spectrum and usually have a more anti-corporation stance) happen to coincide. Big business is happy to build expensive transit projects and urbanists are cheering them on.

Oh really? How many articles on Greater Greater Washington, Streetsblog or Atlantic Cities do you see advocating BRT or enhanced bus service over anything on rails?

And yet you say the bias towards rail in urbanist circles isn't real? Okay, man.
I see a good deal of coverage on BRT, it is hip to take a field trip to Bogota or Curtibia. I wouldn't have four out about BRT otherwise.

Some "urbanists" have a rail bias, many people don't. Human Transit posts about BRT all the time.
This is from a couple of weeks ago: Why More U.S. Cities Need to Embrace Bus-Rapid Transit - Yonah Freemark - The Atlantic Cities

Our BRT project got significantly downgraded when progressive Berkeley decided they didn't want BRT because of parking concerns.

Americans don't like buses. Politicians don't get it:
Why mass transit is doomed in America: Politicians don’t know people who use it - Salon.com
How the U.S.'s obsession with cars is hurting the middle class - The Week

We can't even have funding equity for drivers and transit users for commuter tax breaks. Transit users get half as much as the drivers.
Commuter Tax Break Set To Plummet For 2014 - Forbes

This onion article sums it up quite perfectly: Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Quote:
What does this have to do with building something practical? So instead of DDOT spending $400 million on two miles of streetcar track, they couldn't use that money to improve and expand services all over Washington, DC? If we're going to sit here and feign concern about the poor, I'm not exactly sure how expensive, symbolic transit (that serves a few) addresses any of their mobility issues. In this particular case, we're talking about a very expensive transit project that will only serve the urban gentrifiers that live near the line.
Usually practical means stuff in the operating budget and not the capital budget unfortunately. And no one wants to fund capital anything, maintaining infrastructure or operations isn't really a funding priority whether it is transit or roads.

I don't agree this is a "urbanist" problem, this is par for the course for all infrastructure and policy decisions in the US. We only notice the issues when the white people* come in and complain. It is the modus operandi for american cities. If we as a nation cared about poor people, cutting WIC, unemployment and other social benefits wouldn't be up for debate every 10 minutes. Most urbanists are like typical Americans, they don't know any people who rely on transit.

*Don't take this as prejudice or an inflammatory comment about white people
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,720,175 times
Reputation: 26676
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
To be clear, I'm not opposing rail projects everywhere. I'm saying that rail projects in the vast majority of American cities don't make any sense (yet that's what urbanists are usually demanding...more rail). There are other American cities beyond NYC, SF, Boston, DC, Chicago, Philly, Portland, Seattle and LA.
I disagree, I think they can work, if the rest of the planning/infrastructure goes with it. Putting a rail line in the middle of sprawl isn't a great plan. But adding in rail, when denser development is planned for the stations is good. But plenty of funding should be used to improve it for existing users. Because a good user experience is contagious.
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