Monday, August 11, 2008

The Real Freedom Machines

I really shouldn't have to go through all the reasons why this article is just wrong. It's the same junk we've heard over and over again. But what it shows, is what the other side is really thinking. A lot of folks try to argue intelligently, but here is usually what city and transit planners are up against.

1. Transit Doesn't Pay for Itself - We've covered this before. Roads don't either, get over it.

2. Transit and Bikes are Stealing from Cars! - Mary Peters started this junk science and apparently people are repeating it. Then there is the user pays junk that TxDOT debunked recently. Didn't they get the memo?

Roads have gone unbuilt because the "user pays" principle of transportation has been violated. Highway trust funds (your highway user taxes) have been siphoned off. Whereas other forms of transportation receive subsidies, drivers pay subsidies.

Supposedly our fuel taxes go to build and maintain roads and bridges. But for many years at least a fifth of the money has been diverted into high-priced mass transit projects, bicycle paths and tourist attractions instead. That's a huge factor in the backlog of unbuilt and unkempt roads and highways.

3. Cars are More Energy Efficient - People are starting to get all righteous with the Department of Energy Databook which shows transit is much more efficient than a single driver car. Yet the databook assumes cars all carry 1.5 people per car and thus adjusts its numbers accordingly. Are you !$&#%^ kidding me? Istook takes this as gospel and doesn't mention anything about those pesky things like people that take transit also walk and bike more, and drive less over all. You know, this kind of thing. From the 1994 Portland Travel Survey...

So even if we did travel 1.5 people to a car, they still drive twice as far negating any energy efficiency. That 1.5 number is still ludicrous. Even more ludicrous, these comments.
Nor does transit save energy. U.S. Department of Transportation figures show that transit buses actually consume more energy (in BTUs) per passenger mile than autos do! Further, as charted by the U.S. Department of Energy, American buses average 4,650 BTUs per passenger mile, compared to only 3,702 for autos. Rail travel does slightly better, with 3,172 on average, but rail's energy consumption figures are higher in cities due to stop-and-go nature of commuter rail.
Again, that assumes 1.5 people per car. And rail always operates in cities, so I'm not sure what he is getting at here except to say, here's what the numbers say, here's what my brain thinks. One would argue that cars energy consumption is worse in cities because of stop and go as well. I'm really confused with this idiocy.

4. This is Just a Trick to Save the Planet. Hahaha. Those tricky planet savers.
But not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of having to sacrifice our freedom of mobility because "green" politicians chose to "save the planet" by hampering our country's ability to produce affordable energy.
Is it really a choice? And why does freedom of mobility mean all car all the time. I feel like I can move quite freely here without driving the car, I at least have the choice to do so. But the real meaning of this is "Why won't they let us drill until the carbon chokes us?"

3. Libruls are Forcing Me Into Transit. Here's the funniest comment of the day, comparing transit advocates to the Tokyo Train pushers.

Trying to force everyone onto mass transit will never work. But be prepared for those who will use today's challenges to push us in that direction – perhaps as brutally as the professional pushers who cram riders into the cars of the Tokyo subway system.

It's time for drivers to stand up against efforts to demonize the automobile. Forcing people to use a particular mode of travel is not the American way. Life is better when you have the freedom to drive, not just find a ride or wait at bus stops.

I don't remember the last time I tried to force my friends and relatives to ride mass transit over taking the car. In fact, I own a car and there are many times when it is useful to have. No one is forcing them to take transit, I just want options. I want to have the choice. And I know that is the wrong frame, the choice frame. But what else is there? How can we talk about these things using the right frame. If I were a Karl Rove disciple, I would just say driving cars funds terrorism. That would be the end of it right? Anyone got a good frame?


Corey said...

Oh. My. God.

I know people lie, but when they LIE, it's almost funny!

That guy is a politician? Kind of makes me glad I'm Canadian...

arcady said...

"Forcing people to use a particular mode of travel is not the American way. Life is better when you have the freedom to drive, not just find a ride or wait at bus stops."

Damn right! Stop forcing me to drive! I want the freedom to get places without sitting in traffic or having to look for parking or the constant worry that if I or anyone else makes a mistake on the road, the result will be sudden crunchy death. I want freedom from that stress!

Anonymous said...

Just another reason never to visit Oklahoma. There's a great Bizarro cartoon where someone calls NYC from Nebraska or Oklahoma, and a man on the street in NYC answers on his cell. He say, "it's 4:30 PM here, which means where you are it's..."

And the voice on the phone answers, "1978."

Cap'n Transit said...

I came here to say what Arcady said. Aren't the people who complain about liberals "forcing" people to choose a particular mode of travel the same ones who say that transit "will never work" in the US because of all the sprawl?