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View Diary: Morning Feature: Mass Transit - Our Lives and Footprints (Plus Kossascopes) (185 comments)

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  •  good morning crissie and krew! (13+ / 0-)

    we have an non existent public transit system where i live and very nearly useless where i used to live in south florida, except maybe, maybe miami beach.

    noises about the bullet train always sound great until there's a snag of some sort.

    Sadly FL like most states has not been designed to accommodate a decent transit system and its even worse along the south east coast where every city is its own "island" (metaphorically speaking, of course).  

    Last year I created a website called where people could find and schedule rides.  I never launched it, just created it and put it on my server.  Carpooling is IMO about the only viable and immediate efficiency alternative. Improving the transit system in places like where I live, I'm sure, would still end up being bad due to the long distances and wide open spaces between major destinations and the relatively low population.

    •  Good morning mdmslle :) (12+ / 0-)

      I hear you about FL.  My child used to commute to college on the city bus, then they canceled the route. I was furious at first because it meant driving 180 miles a week to take him to and from school.

      But the reason they cancelled was that they had only a half-dozen regular riders.  After reading this, I'm glad they canceled.  There is, however, a ride matching service in our area which turned out to be a godsend.

      Hugggs and good morning!

      "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

      by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 04:18:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You should put the site up. (12+ / 0-)

      Many cities and local destinations (universities, office complexes, etc.) do have car/van pool websites - that's how Springoff the Fourth found his carpool - and Chester and Horvath's study shows that car/van pools are surprisingly green if they're running at peak occupancy.  And as you say, car/van pooling has the advantage of being immediately available, rather than our having to wait to design and build other mass transit alternatives.

      Here in the Tampa Bay area, mass transit is a high priority with local governments but as always the problems have to do with coordination and especially funding.  With over 80 cities and five counties in the metropolitan area, simply getting agreement on priorities is a political challenge.  And even when they can reach agreement, recent budget cutbacks at all levels leave them fund-starved.

      When I attended an Obama rally last summer, he promised to our local government officials that he would try to get help from Washington on local mass transit funding.  But Republicans in our state legislature have stonewalled stimulus funding for mass transit, despite our governor's support for it.

      In the meantime, car/van pooling is usually our only available option.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

      •  the challenge with putting the site up (12+ / 0-)

        is how to get a deep and wide database of users?  

        Maybe I should've been here wednesday for the 6 degrees diary but the real challenge is how do you get enough people to know about it that it becomes useful for people? People wont keep coming back if there's no use or if they cannot find someone to team up with.  Maybe one extra time, but after that, not much. So the problem is it needs a massive publicity push to work. Something I cannot fund independently. I wrote to a couple of groups including that group that was running commercials pretty heavily last year with (i think) Al Shaprton and someone from the right sitting on a park bench....

        anyway, that's the challenge.

        My stepson was taking the bus to the community college in Winter haven for some time then they just changed the schedule, eliminated some became a mess. Fortunately the school opened a campus right in out neighborhood, less than 2 miles away from our front door. Other classes  he chose to take online.  But these were choices he had...if he'd been a working adult that needed to get to work at a certain time every day, he'd have been really really screwed.  Its why everybody here has a car and those who don't end up unemployed or underemployed and chronically poor.  

        Just to get to his job at home depot less than 6 miles from home would have cost my stepson 20 bucks in a cab (!!) and there would have been no way for him to get there using a bus...or I should say he coudl walk 1/2 mile to Walmart, take a shuttle to the mall then walk the mile to Home Depot from the mall. But only until 6 p.m. and only on weekdays, which is meaningless for a retail worker.   But if he had to rely on it, he might not have been hired at all or he might have had only very few hours due to poor availability.

        The problem of lack of transit systems effects more than the environment.

        •  Bikes Work (6+ / 0-)

          Bike commuters find that trips up to 10 miles are inexpensive and healthy.

          •  yes they work for a very small number of people (12+ / 0-)

            with certain types of employment and in certain types of settings. The ideal biker is childless, has a white collar job where he/she can shower or clean up and maybe even store clothes, lives in a temperate climate and lives much closer to work that the national average of 24 miles.

            Oh, and is relatively fit.

            its not really realistic to imagine that a nation who wont take the steps to do the most basic of physical exercise is going to start biking any significant distance. Not to be snarky, but in my town, you'd be hard pressed to find any adult person who isnt at least 30-50 pounds overweight.  It's sad, really.  But its the reality in many rural communities. Motorized  grocery carts are exceptionally common and the elderly arent the main ones using them!

            These folks are NOT going to bike anywhere. And to be honest, I'm not sure there really could without dropping 100 pounds first somehow.  My community doesn't even have a gym. We have the YMCA. A lake with a decent walking trail around it but taking a look around my town, its obvious that not enough folks even bother to use that.

            Besides, in the case of rural/semi-rural communities like mine, its really not even safe. Even I wouldn't bike out here on  those roads. There are no sidewalks (and yes i know you shouldnt bike on sidewalks but I would anyway if they had they were there, rather than take my chances in the street).  I stand in wonder of those brave souls i see biking in my community because they are literally riding on the "white line" on the edge of the road. Beyond that line is only grass. No way would I ever ever do that.

            I do think, however, that these folks would be open to carpooling. It fits the psyche of the geography and melds with the lifestyle a bit better. I think carpooling would be easier to pull off in a rural/semi-rural community than in a suburban community. Hands down.  

            •  So bike to the subway. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              EJP in Maine, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

              Best of both worlds.  And if my fat ass can bike for 2 miles to get there, anyone can.

              •  What subway? (8+ / 0-)

                Here in Florida (where mdmslle and I live) there are no subways, and subways aren't even theoretically possible because of our water tables.

                Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

              •  subway? there's no subway in FL (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                winterbanyan, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

                and even if we had the money to build them they arent possible due to aquifers.

                i would respectfully recommend you travel outside of americans major cities and stay in those "other places" for at least two weeks to get a better understanding of how a very large number of americans live day to day.

                we dont have subways and many places barely have a decent bus system.  

                •  Development/tax patterns are key. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  The real question is why somebody chooses to live several miles away from a small town when they could live in the town, and walk or bike safely to most places they want to go.

                  I know -- because they like the privacy, or the animals, or the trees, or whatever. But there should be a cost attached to this that is commensurate to the extra strain the resulting sedentary/driving lifestyle places on our health system and atmosphere. I would impose a payroll tax on those who commute more than a mile or two. Motor fuel taxes should be higher, too.

                  "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                  by HeyMikey on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 11:15:34 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  well as someone who's lived (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    winterbanyan, NCrissieB

                    in such diverse places as Washington DC suburb where I grew up, South Florida less than 3 blocks form the beach, and central florida in a town of 15,000 (where I bought my home) i'll give you my perspective:

                    The fact is that where I live now has very few jobs actually IN TOWN. I call it semi-rural because its not exactly country living where I live (although if you drive three miles out it would be). I can walk to walmart or winn-dixie grocery store (1/2 mile) or Walgreen (less than 1/2 mile) from my house. Most people who live "close in" could bike where they want to go but its not likely for the reasons i explained upthread.  While where I live is gorgeous (theres a huge lake in the middle of town and a walking trail around it) and we have a very vibrant ecosystem (certified bird watching sites right in the middle of town), there's just not a lot of commerce here.  Most folks drive to the next biggest town to work about 20 miles away.  I wouldn't characterize this community as a place people go to b/c of privacy or trees or animals. But you can TODAY buy a decent house for 80,000.  You can buy a mansion for 150,000 and a lakeside mansion for 200,000 or so.  When I left palm beach florida, converted crap apartments that were renting for 1000 month were being sold as condos for 500,000. That's bullshit. AND you still needed a car to get anywhere!! How about we charge THOSE folks extra. They can clearly afford it.

                    The cost of living is much lower AND the neighborhoods are more friendly and "old fashioned" (IOW kids play outside without constant adult guards watching to make sure some pervert doesnt snatch them up).  I dont have kids but I like it that most of the kids play outside like we used to, in groups and seem to be happy without the latest ipod or other gadget hanging from their pockets.  Stress level is lower. People are friendlier, in general. that was something i was sort of unaccustomed to..not that folks were rude where I came from but here people actually engage. Its sort of nice.

                    As far as having to pay extra, consider us already paid up. If it weren't for us, there would be no green trees and plants. Having come from the city of DC where, granted, we have rock creek park, everywhere else you look is concrete. I consider it even.

                    •  Not to mention ... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      winterbanyan, mdmslle

                      ... moving to central South Blogistan brought you nearer the campus of Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, making it more possible that someday you might meet Chef or the Professor of Astrology Janitor or even the resident faculty.

                      On a serious note, I agree.  The "everyone should just do X" approach is exactly the kind of attitude that created our environmental crisis.  It flies in the face of nature's values of "openness, diversity, resilience."  Nature has a word for species that only live in a single kind of habitat: extinct.

                    •  Think through implications of commuting tax. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      I'd impose it on the employer, not the employee. That would give the employer incentive to develop affordable housing, support good schools, good police protection, etc.

                      In your case, some employer from that town 20 miles away would probably relocate to your town. Then its employees could avoid the tax while enjoying good schools, green space, friendly neighborhoods, etc. And folks in your town wouldn't have to drive 20 miles to work.

                      And there's more:

                      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                      by HeyMikey on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 02:04:32 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  love it. nt (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        HeyMikey, NCrissieB
                      •  We tried that once ... (0+ / 0-)

                        ... that system where the employer provided housing, schools, shopping, civic services, etc.  Called 'em "company towns," as I remember.  It didn't work like you think it will....

                        •  Unions, etc. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          In those days employees had no clout. No unions, mostly. And poor whites were often pitted against blacks, to the detriment of both.

                          Understand, I'm not claiming I have the key to Utopia. Certainly we'd be trading one set of problems for another. But I think the problems we'd gain would be more amenable to management by the psychological tools of average humans than the problems we now have.

                          And I've focused on the employer as the key to housing, schools, police protection, etc. because -- in the words of Willie Sutton -- "That's where the money is." Corporate profits have increased significantly over the last several decades, while real middle-class earnings have been flat or even lost ground.

                          I would be interested to see what effect the recession has had on inflation-adjusted corporate profits compared to the last several decades.

                          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                          by HeyMikey on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 11:45:50 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  And I don't commute at all (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    because I have a business in the home.  So should I get a tax credit?

                    I have a problem with this idea because very often people don't get to choose where they live.  I know many are on the fringes of town because they're too poor these days to live in the Urban Renaissance, or because they were pushed to the fringes by their color.

                    And frankly, not many people can find a job within a mile or two of home, or find a home within a mile or two of their job.

                    "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

                    by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 12:47:00 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  We get bikers killed on our narrow (8+ / 0-)

              roads and busy intersections all the time.  And a recent study showed that drivers consider the bike lanes to be merely extensions of the driving lane.

              And this despite a new state law requiring vehicles to give a 6-foot berth to anyone on a bike.

              There's definitely some consciousness-changing that needs to be done.

              "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

              by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 06:01:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Road rage and cyclists (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HeyMikey, winterbanyan, BYw, NCrissieB

                It's pretty darn easy for drivers to become enraged at bicyclists. Sometimes they have "good reason" as cyclists blithely ride two abreast, or unnecessarily far out into the road, causing multiple cars to stack up behind them for extended periods of time. Often, there is no reason, but the rage happens anyway, just from general irritation at a slightly inconvenient "other". And it goes the other way too-- it's easy enough for cyclists to feel contemptuous, superior, and entitled with respect to those fat, inconsiderate slugs hurrying by in their cars.

                In my area, we've had a few deaths in recent years (of cyclists, of course) as a result of these rageful interactions. In a couple of cases, there was alcohol involved. IMHO, it was not so much that drinking made the drivers lose control of ther cars, more that they lost control of their emotions.

                My sense is that the rage factor is a bit less these days, thankfully. In part this may be due to an extended "share the road" campaign by county gummint, and maybe also just because cyclists have become more numerous, so sharing the road with cyclists has become a more routine, expected part of driving.

            •  Rural & semi-rural communities (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HeyMikey, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

              You are quite correct about the transit realities for folks living in rural or semi-rural communities (like me, for instance). Most everyone is very "green" around here, at least in their awareness, yet we live so spread out, and sometimes so high up on the ridges, that we wind up having to use a car for almost every trip out of the house.

              It's a beautiful way of life, except for the car thing. But that one thing means that in the long term (or sooner), it's just not sustainable for a typical American lifestyle. Rural living used to mean a great deal of isolation, and a much slower pace to life, with none of the convenience and variety of city living. Soon enough, it will be like that again, with the possible exception of a few rich people who can continue to drive everywhere as if global warming and peak oil are someone else's problem.

          •  Until they get run down by a semi. (7+ / 0-)

            Every year, are always 2-3 bicyclist killed on the highway I would have to use.  That looks like a small number, until you consider nearly no one is crazy enough to ride on a major interstate highway with virtually no shoulder.

        •  We found out about ride matching (7+ / 0-)

          through the local college website.  We were sure there had to be a way for students to ride together.  What we found was an area-wide matching service that also guarantees emergency transport of you should become ill and need to get home fast.

          So there would be colleges/businesses in your area that would put your link on their sites.

          "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

          by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:57:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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