Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Psychological

From the Charlotte Observer's Steve Harrison:
The streetcar proponents say it will be far more successful than a bus because people respond positively to trains. A big part of the light-rail line's success – more than 15,000 weekday trips – is psychological: It's doubtful that buses offering the exact same service as the Lynx Blue Line would carry as many people.
Something must feed that psychological feeling. My favorite thing about rail is how smooth the ride is generally. Sometimes you get a really awful Muni driver who doesn't know how to slow down or accelerate correctly but for being able to read on transit without tossing your cookies, rail is the way to go.


Duncan Watson said...

Not just psychological. I can't use a laptop on a bus or in a car (passenger). Motion sickness will stop that but I can easily use a laptop on a train. Even a relatively rough ride like the LIRR diesel sections.

During one of the transit strikes I tried to use my laptop in a car, very bad idea. The difference points toward a physiological difference.

Bob Davis said...

There's an old story from Southern California about a businessman who lived in San Marino and normally took the Pacific Electric "Red Car" to his office in downtown LA. Occasionally he would drive his car (probably a Buick, Cadillac or Packard) but usually he would walk to Huntington Drive and catch a Red Car. One morning he was leaving for work and headed for the garage. His wife said, "Driving in today, I see." And he replied, "Yes, the Red Cars aren't running any more." The wife said, "There was something in the paper yesterday--PE will be running buses. You could take the bus when I need the car." "Certainly not!" said the businessman, "Buses are for poor people."
This story goes back to 1951, and there's still some truth today--trains have more "snob appeal" than motor coaches.

Spokker said...

Rail tends to be more stable, especially if the street is filled with potholes. Try riding LA'a subway to Wilshire/Western station and then transfer to a rapid bus. I guarantee the rapid bus will be a hair-raising experience compared to the Red Line if you have to stand.

M1EK said...

I tend to have the same problem, but let's be fair: I couldn't read on the subway in Manhattan either - rail can be jerky if old and/or poorly maintained, too. (You're comparing brand-new rail to (what type of bus) on a bunch of different roadway conditions, in other words).

I view this as a "usual" advantage of rail, but not a given.

AJ said...

I, and most of the people on my train, had no problems reading when I was in NYC, even when smashed in to near absolute functional capacity.

Spokker said...

The New Yorker reading on the subway is like a stereotypical image in my mind.