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Old 03-21-2014, 07:50 PM
 
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Obviously there is a maximum threshold for trains on a single track--but, generally, you can carry a lot more people on a single track using heavy-rail transit than a single lane of highway, for about the same cost. But it isn't an all-or-nothing scenario: a contemporary "ideal" scenario would be a mixture of highway/auto and commuter rail. The folks riding the train are making room for the folks driving automobiles--the folks driving cars aren't jamming the train full. But the idea of parity between transit and highways, or even the suggestion that highways not receive all the public pie, is called "war on the automobile."
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Old 03-21-2014, 08:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Obviously there is a maximum threshold for trains on a single track--but, generally, you can carry a lot more people on a single track using heavy-rail transit than a single lane of highway, for about the same cost. But it isn't an all-or-nothing scenario: a contemporary "ideal" scenario would be a mixture of highway/auto and commuter rail. The folks riding the train are making room for the folks driving automobiles--the folks driving cars aren't jamming the train full. But the idea of parity between transit and highways, or even the suggestion that highways not receive all the public pie, is called "war on the automobile."
I subscribe to the theory that both roads and rails serve useful and complementary purposes in a thriving, healthy and mobile society.

When I rode the commuter rail in Massachusetts it was on a double-tracked line. The most frequent portions of the train schedule would have them run approximately 30 minutes apart. One time I asked a member of the train crew why they did not run more frequently and he cited federal regulations (as opposed to cost or availability of staff and equipment). Thirty minutes between trains leaves a lot of empty track at any given time. It could be argued that all that unused track demonstrates that current railroad practices are inefficient when compared to a highway at rush hour when the entire road surface is theoretically utilized.
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Old 03-21-2014, 08:05 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
That's the same hidden catch-22 as driving. Highways were sold based on the idea that they would prevent congestion and become an effortless, trouble-free ride home. But highways become even more congested, and adding more highway lanes makes the problem worse via induced demand. The difference with transit is that it's easier to add capacity if it is justifiable by traffic: more trains instead of more lines.
However, unless transfers aren't too painful, if both the origin and destination aren't on the same transit line, the congested highway could end up being preferable to transit.

The effect you describe is why catering to the automobile can be rather anti-urban or at least anti-density: anywhere too built up runs the risk of being too congested and difficult to reach by automobile, and room for parking becomes difficult. For the transit, it's the reverse: more built up allows higher frequencies and better coverage, increasing convenience. Though, yes, you'll get crowding issues.
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Old 03-21-2014, 08:08 PM
 
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I suppose it goes without saying "all else being equal" in this scenario--if a highway doesn't have enough on and off ramps, allowing people living alongside it to get onto the highway, it won't get used much either. Crowding is probably easier to regulate with trains (which can use centralized control and signaling) vs. automobiles which are more anarchic in nature (auto drivers don't have to follow a timetable.)
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Old 03-21-2014, 08:15 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by AtkinsonDan View Post
I subscribe to the theory that both roads and rails serve useful and complementary purposes in a thriving, healthy and mobile society.

When I rode the commuter rail in Massachusetts it was on a double-tracked line. The most frequent portions of the train schedule would have them run approximately 30 minutes apart. One time I asked a member of the train crew why they did not run more frequently and he cited federal regulations (as opposed to cost or availability of staff and equipment). Thirty minutes between trains leaves a lot of empty track at any given time. It could be argued that all that unused track demonstrates that current railroad practices are inefficient when compared to a highway at rush hour when the entire road surface is theoretically utilized.
From what I read, federal regulations encourage a lot of inefficiencies, many not found in other countries. Some might be because they're designed for low frequency rail, especially mixed with lots of freight. Or just incompetency. Obviously, a train every 30 minutes isn't the practical limit of a railroad; rapid transit certainly handles far more (a ride on Boston's Red or Orange Line will show you that). Even commuter rail normally can take far more: the mainline section of the LIRR west of Jamaica handles out 40 trains per hour on four tracks. And there's always Manhattan's Lexington Avenue line..
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Old 03-21-2014, 08:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
From what I read, federal regulations encourage a lot of inefficiencies, many not found in other countries. Some might be because they're designed for low frequency rail, especially mixed with lots of freight. Or just incompetency. Obviously, a train every 30 minutes isn't the practical limit of a railroad; rapid transit certainly handles far more (a ride on Boston's Red or Orange Line will show you that). Even commuter rail normally can take far more: the mainline section of the LIRR west of Jamaica handles out 40 trains per hour on four tracks. And there's always Manhattan's Lexington Avenue line..
I would have left out the red/orange line comparison to commuter rail. There are weight differences and speed differences which combine to affect stopping distance. Over the years I have had the chance to peer into the driver compartment a handful of times due to the window curtains being askew and apparently the "rapid" transit lines in Boston don't travel much higher than 30-35mph. I suppose that is due at least in part to the short distances between stations. Boston area commuter rail definitely moved faster than that in many sections.

Nonetheless 30 minute gaps between trains is definitely inefficient. I wonder if the federal regulations are different for each railroad based on system audits and quality assessments.
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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Originally Posted by Drover View Post
Then there's also the fact that people will typically change employers over a dozen times during their working lifetimes and it doesn't make sense to move every time you change jobs; or one spouse commutes one way and one commutes another; or that some places have multiple offices in a given metro area and people can get shuffled around from one office location to another on the company's whim; or that real estate is often more expensive the closer you get to major employment hubs or even the closer you get to train depots that take you to those employment hubs so people are forced to trade off time against real estate values, et cetera. Saying "just live closer to work" is about as practical telling someone who's having trouble dating, "just stop being single."

It may not always be practical for you as an individual; however, one cannot deny that living close to work is generally the best way to shorten your commute and save your personal time, how much more you're willing to sacrifice for your personal time, that's your decision. I don't want to tell you what to do in your personal situation, but I think this is pretty obvious...
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Exactly.

So let's say you live in the city and your wife is selected to be Head of Cardio Thoracic Surgery in a distant exurban hospital. What are you going to do? Divorce her? Put your foot down and tell her that a transit-oriented, eco-friendly and urban lifestyle take priority over her career ambitions? Or are you going to complain that the hospital shouldn't be in the exurbs and away from transit in the first place?
So do you contest the obvious fact that living closer to work results in a shorter commute and more personal time?

Whether it's PRACTICAL for EVERY INDIVIDUAL is a different story entirely....

Remember, it's called "mass transit", not "Universal Transit,"...by design it serves the masses, not necessarily *everybody*. Mass transit simply can't serve everybody's transportation needs. Neither can personal automobiles.
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,690 posts, read 89,203,959 times
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Originally Posted by hurricaneMan1992 View Post
It may not always be practical for you as an individual; however, one cannot deny that living close to work is generally the best way to shorten your commute and save your personal time, how much more you're willing to sacrifice for your personal time, that's your decision. I don't want to tell you what to do in your personal situation, but I think this is pretty obvious...
Right. It's as obvious as telling someone who's having trouble dating, "stop being single."
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:36 PM
 
12,299 posts, read 15,196,725 times
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Obviously there is a maximum threshold for trains on a single track--but, generally, you can carry a lot more people on a single track using heavy-rail transit than a single lane of highway, for about the same cost. But it isn't an all-or-nothing scenario: a contemporary "ideal" scenario would be a mixture of highway/auto and commuter rail. The folks riding the train are making room for the folks driving automobiles--the folks driving cars aren't jamming the train full. But the idea of parity between transit and highways, or even the suggestion that highways not receive all the public pie, is called "war on the automobile."
As an example, the Loop elevated in Chicago carries an estimated 50,000 passengers on a two-track mainline. The nearby Eisenhower Expressway carries about four times that, but takes twelve lanes ( four each way plus shoulders) and is congested most of that time. Not that we should shut down the Eisenhower and convert to rail, of course. But can you imagine if the expressway didn't have a rail line down the middle and most of its passengers drove on the already congested highway?
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