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Mass Transit

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by ANewStart, Jan 11, 2009.

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How often do you use your state's mass transit system?

  1. Often.

    1 vote(s)
    10.0%
  2. Sometimes.

    1 vote(s)
    10.0%
  3. Never.

    4 vote(s)
    40.0%
  4. No system in place.

    4 vote(s)
    40.0%
  1. ANewStart

    ANewStart New Member

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    As you can see, mass transit has a lot a benefits to the people and the environment. Do you support mass transit? Also, does your state have a mass transit system in place?
     
  2. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I think mass transit is fine, however the big question is who runs it and what kind of government involvement there is etc etc on if it can be efficient or not. If the government has to subsidize it forever, be better off not having it.
     
  3. foggedinn

    foggedinn New Member

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    I disagree. Even a subsidized mass transit system would be much better than no mass transit system. I doubt a non-subsidized system is feasible.
     
  4. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Hence the problem, if it is not feasible to stand on its own, why are we doing it?

    Many areas do not even need a mass transit system either, why make the tax payers fund that?
     
  5. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Active Member

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    Let me tell you the problem with mass transit in the US - and I am speaking of busses, vans, etc. - not intercity rail or subways.

    I was a the City Engineer of a mid-sized city in California and we had fixed route bus systems and on-call vans that would pick up on an appointment basis.

    The Federal Government paid for all equipment through grants. All the mass transit facilities had to have special handicap access equipment to lift wheel chairs and elevator stairs for "walking-impaired". We had a requirement that the money paid by users (called fair box income) must pay for at least 13% of the operating budget (gas, maintenance, drivers, etc.) This did not include any capital expenses, such as buying equipment or garages, etc.

    In other words, for every $1 spent on mass transit, the riders must pay for $0.13 and the government paid for $0.87. I must say it was hard to make the system pay for 13% because no one used the system. No one used the system because it was not as convenient as using your car. Why walk down to a bus stop and wait 15 min. so you can slowly ride to your destination.

    As long as we have cars, mass transit will never work - I don't care what the environmental logic might be.

    Plus, as the City Engineer we had requirements that every shopping center provide big parking lots, we widened the roads or made new roads when the traffic got crowded. We even timed our traffic lights so that cars could travel quickly pass through a main inner-city road.

    In other words, the public demands that our roads and parking be convenient for us to drive in our private car.

    As long as that system remains in place - please no one suggest that we spend our tax money on buses and vans if you don't understand the devil in the details.

    I will tell you that Singapore has a bar code reading system along all major roads. If you drive your car (which has a bar code) you get charged each time you pass a bar code reader. If you travel in rush hour, the cost is REALLY expensive - so there is an incentive not to drive a car to work or other transit trips. If you are simply going shopping, or traveling on a weekend, you can use your car - but you still pay a small price.

    BTW, Singapore has an excellent mass transit system - both bus and rail - and it pays for itself!
     
  6. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I use the system about four times a year which is much closer to "never" than it is to "sometimes".
     
  7. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    The mass transit system is grossly inefficient considering that it does not even come close to delivering a small percentage of people anywhere near to where they want to go.

    If the system grew enough so that all the people traveling today were picked up from where they wanted to be picked up and dropped off where they wanted to be dropped off - would it, could it, still be as energy efficient?
     
  8. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Active Member

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    This is the first post that asks, "is there a mass transit that could work?" Let me tell you how mass transit (on a local level) works in Indonesia. Of course, the differences between the countries are great, but the idea may have some relevance.

    The backbone of the transit system is a van that is owned and operated by private individuals. They have basic safety regulations established by the government and a dispute resolution board which serves as a loose management of the system.

    Each van has a basic route which he travels from one neighborhood to the next and then to a common destination points. Being a private system, a driver can vary his route to insure the maximum number of passengers Since many people use the system, a van will pass near your house every 5-10 minutes during busy times, and every 15 minutes during slow times. Once you get familiar with the routes, you can ask the driver to make a small diversion to take you to specific destination.

    On busy routes, a young man stands next to the doorway and looks for passengers, takes the money, and assists with packages. The cost of a 15-20 mile trip is about $2.

    The secret to success is the flexibility of the route and regularity of the service. In the US, the system could be massively improved with the use of GPS technology and Blackberry-type communication. If you could put out a call for pickup and watch the progress of the van coming toward your house, you could finish a cup of coffee and casually walk to the street. This way you would have only a short walk and short wait for your ride.

    Of course, nothing is as convenient as a personal car - so I'm not sure any system could be devised that would get commuters of their car. However, a little innovation could go a long way towards finding a system that works.
     
  9. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I suppose if we did start using gps systems and whatnot it could be much better.

    $2 for a 15 mile trip is not too far off from what I pay now in my own car, but then I have to add insurance and maintenance. Of course with my car I can load multiple people inside and the cost does not really change.

    5-10 to wait for pickup is not as good as just running out the door but it is not bad. I do tend to forget things and have to go back in to get them. I guess I would have to get much better about that.

    In Indonesia they do have to force people to use the system by making it very expensive to drive yourself. The laws of supply and demand would indicate that if they need to coerce people to not drive there must be some problems with their system.

    Unrelated to Indo I can tell you one of the problems with busses here in the Chicago area is the way routes are set up. Each route is roughly an oval shape with the long ends meeting in the middle like the hub of a wheel or a daisy. If you want to travel around the daisy you get on a bus, go to the center and then go back out from the center on a new petal or oval. But I find that there are plenty of times that I would want to just hop over from one petal to the next and not have to go all the way to the center. Frequently the various petals come within a mile of each other but they do not touch. Obviously to be most efficient there needs to be as many points as possible where the various routes touch each other.
     
  10. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Active Member

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    I can't stress enough that we created our own dependency on the automobile through Interstate highways and also by the principles we use in Urban Planning.

    I went to college in a small college town in Pennsylvania which (at the time) still had a town layout of the 19th century. People still lived in houses the the lower story was designed as a store, and the upper story was the living area. So if you wanted any basic necessity (similar to a 7-11), you could easily walk down the street to buy it. The car garage was off a back alley and it was more difficult to get your car out than it was to walk to the store.

    The Interstate highways were not yet finished, and the streets that criss-crossed across the state would pass through every little town along the way. With this kind of a system, it was slow to get anywhere - so you might as well take a bus. It was slow, but at least you didn't have to struggle with the driving. Plus, you could get around without a car. This was an important factor in earlier times when many people did not have a car. Of course in some cases the train was another way to travel.

    Speaking of Chicago, I grew up in a northwest suburb about 35 miles outside of the Loop. My grandparents lived in a suburb to the south of Chicago. No freeways or toll roads in those days. It was a long and painful drive to visit my grandparents because we had to drive the whole way on local streets. I can still remember the endless chain of stoplights and the endless number of times we had to make stops by the side of the road so that one of us kids could get out and pee. But when we finally got there, we stayed for a few days because we only made the trip a few times a year.

    Today you can make the trip in less than an hour via the freeways. These are just a couple of examples of how our land planning and transportation planning allowed the private car to become the dominant form of transportation. Things have progressed too far for "mass transit" to ever become viable.
     
  11. Pidgey

    Pidgey Well-Known Member

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  12. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    I commute into London on a daily basis - up to about 2 million people daily join me on trains, busses and the underground and if these didn't work then London would cease to function - simple as that.

    The pupose of mass transit is to transport the masses - its a service that allows people to get to work on time and in an orderly fashion. It allows businesses to have their employees in the right place at the right time. Which if they were all stuck in trafic jams or looking for parking places would cause problems and thus prove unattractive to industry to locate in your area. Thus, taxes subsidising mass transit are a useful and fair way of industry contributing to the travel of their employees into the cities where they find it convinient to locate themselves.

    Many European cities are again looking at bringing back trams - bloody good idea if you ask me!
     
  13. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Active Member

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    European cities are laid out in a differently than American cities. Los Angeles, our second biggest city doesn't even have a central business district. Plus the workers live in large houses scattered all over the place and they all work in different places.

    The only economical and practical solution is to get non-polluting cars on the road. That will help EVERYWHERE in the world - not just a small fix for a select few.
     
  14. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Hi HOBO - I think the point is one of willingness.

    There is the obvious love affair with the car so the point is to break that. Mass transit systems can only work if the altertnative is better thus planners have to apply their brains. This is where the scare factor comes in because the alternative is re-modelling the infrastructure to accomodate the transport system in place of the car. There is obviously a point where a magical symbiosis occurs its a case of management of information with the population and intelligent design on the part of the planners.

    I think the lay out of most American cities would lend themselves to this sort of re-design as the grid system would be easier to manage than the ancient meanderings of the roads and by-ways of the European cities? Anyway I say there has to be the "will" first place.
     
  15. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Active Member

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    Scotsman, to create a willingness in the commuting public, one must have a solid and logical argument that promoting mass transit is really the best way to use our tax money. This is one of those environmental problems that fall into a "global problem" category, in the sense that the greenhouse emissions are theoretically causing global warming and stopping the global dependence on petroleum will stabilize energy prices.

    This is not the kind of environmental problem that will result in cleaning up the river that passes through your town, or cleans up the air that you breath. In the US, we have already come a long way to cleaning up the most blatant pollution problems were the tax-paying public can actually see the results of the clean-up programs.

    It is a lot harder to convince people to spend a bunch of money to restructure our a whole new transit system. Recent mass transit programs have proved to be massively expensive with extensive cost overruns. When these transit projects are finished, they result in only a minimal decrease in the number of cars using the highways. In the meantime, other countries like China and India have benefited from the shift in industrial manufacturing areas and in turn have significantly increased the output of their greenhouse gasses.

    Finally, the flexibility of an automobile is hard psychological barrier to overcome. In colder climates, it is much easier to stop at the store on the way home, or pick up the kids, etc. With a point to point mass transit system, running a few errands is not possible. Getting people to pay for new mass transit systems is a very hard sell when most people can see no real tangible results from a new system. Again, it is an obtuse way to reduce emissions.
     
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