Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Usual Statements

Will there ever be a day when we don't see this sentence in a newspaper article?
Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain said the N.C. Department of Transportation, "from the top down, recognizes that north Mecklenburg's roads are overwhelmed, and Barry Moose's comment shows we need to move the traffic through our area faster."
More sprawl subsidy on the way!


Peter said...

my new favorite quote:

"Adding highway lanes to deal with traffic is like loosening your belt to cure obesity."
--Lewis Mumford

Anonymous said...

Why is an advocate for public transportation upset about subsidisies for transportation infrastructure? The feds pick up most of the costs of building rail system and the fares only cover about 20% of most transit systems. In terms of huge excessive subsidies its tough to find anything that eats up subsidies like public transit.

If we are subsidising freeways and people are using that is great. It means that the subsidy is being put to good use...unlike empty buses.

If we are going to subsidize transportation infrastructure why not subsidize the most convenient form of transportation, using private automobiles?

Cars let you go where you want to go when you want to go and let you go freely throughout the country.

If we are going to subsidize transportation infrastructure, why shouldn't we subsidize the most convenient form of transportation infrastructure? Why is subsidizing the most convenient form of transportation bad?

Lets build more freeways damn it!

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

You sure did read that last sentence in the post didn't you anon.

Anonymous said...

If assuming that mass transit advocates could make the case that freeways are subsidized, I fail to see why that is somehow a compelling argument for mass transit advocates. Mass transit is clearly receiving huge subsidies as well.

What mass transit advocates can't answer is if we are going to subsidize lots of different transportation projects, why shouldn't the subsidizes go the most convenient form of transportation?

I love not sharing walls with strangers, I love being able to afford my own home and not having a landlord. I love living among the middle class.

For all the things the government blows money subsidizing, why shouldn't it subsidize life in the suburbs?

I really have no interest in government policies that are designed to make me live in itsy bitsy apartments where I live next to people spare changing me. Of all of the things government can blow money on, letting people have more space to live is probably one of the best things it could do.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I don't really feel like rehashing this argument every time a noob comes to the blog. Perhaps you could go back and read what I've written over the last few years and see why I disagree with many of your assertions.

Matt Fisher said...

Oh well, that guy sounds like a Randal O'Toole rehash.

arcady said...

By the way, the statement that "The feds pick up most of the costs of building rail systems" is not true, at least not anymore. At some point, they may have provided up to 80% of the cost, but now its definitely less than 50% in almost all cases, whereas the Interstate Highway System was of course paid for with 90% federal money. And the private mainline railroads, interurbans, and street railways they replaced were for the most part private, tax-paying enterprises.

Anonymous said...

So far no response on the merits, just pointless invective from transit advocates who will not and apparently cannot define there arguments.

Peter said...

regardless of what Tool says, i've always like the idea of an FAQ page.

Unknown said...

I'm not against public funding for streets.

Why the jihad against railways & transit?

Anonymous said...

Randal O'Toole will bash suburbs with most people not even knowing it.

To make a long story short, the man's a hypocrite.

Gaius Julius Caesar said...

"Why is an advocate for public transportation upset about subsidisies for transportation infrastructure?"

Because transit expansion funding is less than $5 billion per year, compared to many tens of billions per year for road expansion, much of which is subsidized out of the private construction markets, the cost of which is NEVER passed on to the act of driving.

Also, the tens of billions each year for mandated off-street parking, paid by the private sector but the cost of which is almost never charged to the act of driving.

You wanna-be patrician auto apologists never seem to get the fact that subsidized gumm'it spending on roads wags the tail of the much larger private development industry which must provide huge capital investments to accommodate autos without ever charging these costs back to the act of driving.

Gaius Julius Caesar said...

Uneducated libertarian currs!

Cullen said...

The simple argument for more public transit spending/subsidy instead of more highway spending/subsidy is that public transit moves more people for every dollar spent. Given that we have limited resources, it makes sense to spend our resources on the most efficient mode of transport.

True, in some cases buses run empty at night... but what about highways at night. There aren't too many people on them late at night compared to day time. A complete transit network needs to run some inefficient routes in order to permit car free living. Otherwise, there might not be critical mass to make a transit system useful. Take the example of the NYC subway... late at night, taking a taxi might be cheaper (marginal cost of taxi service vs. marginal subway service) but during the day the subway is BY FAR cheaper.

Alon Levy said...

Gmail, outside New York, I know of only three rapid transit lines that run at night: two in Chicago, and one in Philadelphia. If Tokyo manages to live with a rail system that closes at 1, so can Austin.

MB94128 said...

The rail systems in the San Francisco Bay area shut down starting at midnight. Does this strand the transit rider ? No, because several systems offer an owl service that provides a few core routes. Service is infrequent (30-60 min. headway typically) but generally reliable. I suspect most large transit systems offer something similar.

From downtown San Francisco :
BART to SFO ? Take SamTrans #397 owl service.
BART to Daly City Stn. ? Take SFMuni #14 and walk down the hill.
Other routes available - see below.

"All Nighter" service (the ads. were cute):
All Nighter info at
SFMuni to All Nighter

P.S. Some of these routes date to 2006. Others go back many years (e.g. SFMuni's Owl routes [Set "Hours..." to "Owl..." and update] ).
SFMuni's Owl routes (one-shot URL)

Alon Levy said...

The problem isn't systems that shut down at midnight; it's systems that shut down at 6 pm.

MB94128 said...

Agreed. Take a look at SamTrans . This is a functionally schizophrenic bus system. It serves four groups : sub-adult students, shoppers, commuters (to be cut way back 20 Dec.'09), and lifeline (El Camino Real) riders. Whole sections of the system shut down soon after 1800 PST/PDT or on weekends. I lived in San Bruno for several years and could only REALLY count on the 'niners (292, 390, 391, 397). And yes, I carried a fat wad of schedules and a route map.

This leads to a gnarly idea for a summer college project. What if those schedules were fed into a database (the transit agency would naturally refuse to give you a copy of theirs) and had the service gaps and shutdown times plotted on a couple of maps ? This could produce some ugly graphics of how car dependent a region is.

P.S. I've used "lifeline" in a non-economic sense above because ECR (aka Calif. SR-82) is a VITAL arterial that links San Francisco to San Jose. Of course, one would want to avoid driving the full length because it would take at least ninety minutes to cover the forty-five-plus miles from end-to-end. That's what I-280 is there for - to avoid the tangles on ECR/SR-82 and US-101.

Spokker said...

I feel so alone in suggesting that rail systems shouldn't run 24/7. It's wasteful.

Rail does the heavy lifting during rush hour. Run it until midnight, 1AM, great. It might soak up some weekend crowds. I know the Red Line in Los Angeles is still reasonably patronized on Saturday nights.

But at 3AM? Come on, that's overkill. Buses can do the job at 3AM just fine. There's hardly any traffic at that hour and few people are driving, much less taking transit.

Don't be scared of the bus. It isn't all about rail.

Unknown said...

You also need time windows to work on the track too.

Anonymous said...

With EMUs it is easy to run single car units late at night, they would be more efficient than buses and maintain all the advantages of heavy rail, including safety, same right of way and predictability (do I need to walk to the bus stop or the train station?).

MB94128 said...

1) BART is required by law to do track inspections and maintenance. The down time after midnight gives the road gang(s) and their slow moving rigs a safe window. This is preferable to having maintenance personnel killed by in-service trains. A BART track inspector was killed in Oct., 2009 while doing a spot check in the morning.

2) Most of the train stations in the San Francisco Bay area are intermodal. They typically have at least one kind of train service and a bus line. Some are monsters like Millbrae (Caltrain, BART, SamTrans, asstd. shuttles, and taxis) or Richmond (at least Amtrak, BART, and AC Transit).

MB94128 said...

3) Buses have an advantage over trains. One bus can cover portions of two or more corridors. The SamTrans #397 (Owl service) runs from San Francisco down to the airport (SFO) along the Bayshore / US-101 corridor. Then it continues on to the Millbrae BART Stn. After that it proceeds south along the El Camino Real / Calif. SR-82 corridor.

NB - Previous comments have useful links.

P.S. I love trains. But when a bus will do a better job then that's what I'll use in my trips around town or elsewhere.