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View Diary: Trains and the Environment: One Cycle Commuter's Perspective (46 comments)

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  •  There is a strategy at work here ... (9+ / 0-)

    ... from the long fight against the closure of the downtown rail line in Newcastle, Australia, which is to include the impact on traffic and parking congestion, no matter what else is included.

    That is, those who either currently rely on rail, or desperately hope for rail to be put in, they are already on board.

    The swing voters include, importantly, motorists who will benefit from the removal of competing cars from the street.

    And so I very much like writing one of these with the subtext, "of course rail is in your self interest, but there is also this public good, so you don't have to feel selfish when you support it". and Energize America

    by BruceMcF on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:37:26 PM PDT

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    •  bus users are also swing voters (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, object16, xaxnar

      As a bus user myself, and knowing some much more "militant" bus users, so to speak, many of us are somewhat ambivalent about rail. There's somewhat of a class conflict, because the perception is that rail is mainly for the benefit of well-off suburbanites, who we don't feel ought to have their transportation subsidized.  Many bus users would rather see that money put to use expanding the amount and frequency of bus services.

      "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

      by Delirium on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:43:12 PM PDT

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      •  A False Dichotomy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, BruceMcF

        There's a belief that it's an either/or proposition when in fact bus and rail systems can extend the reach of both. The overused term is synergy and it it real. Washington D.C. has the wonderful Metro Subway - and bus routes that include regular service to subway stations on their routes.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:22:06 PM PDT

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      •  I'm mainly a bus user (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, A Siegel

        but buses and rail can work together -- putting a rail line in a heavily traveled corridor can free up buses that can be used to serve the outlying areas.

        And there are plenty of, well, not exactly "well-heeled suburbanites" using the light rail line from East San Jose to downtown San Jose. There was a lot of worry and fear about that extension, but it's proven to be fairly successful.

        "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -- teacherken

        by Cali Scribe on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:26:00 PM PDT

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        •  I guess it depends on what you count as success (0+ / 0-)

          The entire VTA light rail system gets an average of about 25,000 riders per day, in a county with a population over 1.6 million. The bus system isn't doing great either (San Jose is not that great for public transit in general), but it at least averages 100,000 riders.

          I do agree that it can vary by area, though. I lived in Houston for a while, so I'm most familiar with the debate over the light rail line that was put in there.

          "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

          by Delirium on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:29:52 PM PDT

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          •  What is the comparative mileage? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wu ming, mataliandy, A Siegel

            How many seat miles are on offer by the light rail and the buses?

            Of course, in a well designed system, one of the benefits of a successful rail system is an increase in bus ridership ... anyone taking a bus to catch the light rail would count as a boarding for each, which is another reason why "boardings" is a silly way to measure public transport service delivery.

            As far as the issue of whether to subsidize well heeled suburbanites in light rail or in cars, I'd rather subsidize them in light rail.

   and Energize America

            by BruceMcF on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:50:21 PM PDT

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            •  not sure on that one (0+ / 0-)

              Couldn't find some statistics from quick searches. I'd guess that the light rail doesn't fare much better, though, because the VTA light rail serves relatively short distances; in fact, the longest bus routes are longer than the longest light rail lines. They both serve basically as: 1) local transport; and 2) feeders into heavy rail like Caltrain. That's my impression of what light rail systems often seem to do (basically be very expensive bus-equivalents), in contrast to urban subways, which are much more useful.

              I agree on the latter point, but one solution to that is to cut back on road subsidies. =]

              "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

              by Delirium on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 04:58:57 PM PDT

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              •  I said car subsidies ... not road subsidies ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ... there's "free" parking, there's public investment in the size of emergency rooms required to support the auto transport system, there's the law enforcement focuses on car and traffic issues.

                When you go from there and add in external costs like congestion costs and pollution impacts, road costs are very much the smaller part of the public costs of the car transport system.

       and Energize America

                by BruceMcF on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 05:09:07 PM PDT

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