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View Diary: Sunday Train: Rapid Streetcars and Suburban Retrofit (26 comments)

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  •  Some mass transit is necessary (0+ / 0-)

    for the poor and elderly.
    Buses work well for that.
    Fuel cell or NG hybrid buses will work for those.

    It's been estimated that rail mass transit is about 1/3 as energy intensive as cars.
    Answer--more efficient cars and buses.

    •  There is no way to bring ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... gasoline cars down to the energy efficiency of electric rail, its thermodynamically impossible.

      Typical efficiency in urban service (Strickland's numbers, cached)

      Mode: Passenger-miles per gallon
      Rail: 600
      Trolleybus: 290
      Tesla Roadster: 246
      Diesel bus: 78
      Scooter/light motorcycle: 75
      Smart fortwo cdi: 74
      Toyota Prius: 72
      Ford Explorer: 21

      As far as the idea that there is a single silver bullet replacement for cars, the argument here is that it would be idiotic to escape the legal restrictions on personal freedom required to support a "one-size-fits-all" policy of all-cars, all-the-time only to set up an alternative set of legal restrictions forcing as many people as possible into some other single transport choice.

      The alternative being proposed here, instead, is personal freedom and responsibility, to replace the heavy hand of legal restrictions required to make the car transport system work and the massive levels of cross-subsidies that all suburban drivers have come to expect as some kind of birth right, even as it becomes less and less economically possible to keep the subsidy flowing for suburban motorists.

      Indeed, one of the main channels for subsidizing suburban motorists on the back of urban motorists, the Highway Trust Fund, has been requiring repeated bail-outs because the original tax rate that was used to take money from urban drivers to subsidize suburban drivers was never indexed for inflation. Add the fact that the subsidy has led to a massive increase in the share of drivers who are suburban drivers trying to get a free ride off the backs of a declining share of urban drivers, and the whole rigged system is creaking and requires a rethink if it is not going to collapse.

      It is also unusual that the focus of the comment is on mass transit. This article is not about mass transit at all, unless the rail corridor used by a Rapid Streetcar is shared with mass transit. And the kind of public transport provided as a back transport for the people who are not served by the massive public and forced-private subsidies to drivers is almost never mass transit. It is, in other words, far more likely to be bus service than high capacity, high frequency heavy rail.

      If you join the twitter #HSrail swarm, find me @BruceMcF

      by BruceMcF on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:07:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not according to DOT, EIA (0+ / 0-)

        Weird numbers.
        EIA says
        cars get 3600 Btu/ passenger mile travelled
        mass transit gets 3000 Btu/pmt
        light trucks 5900 Btu/pmt
        air 9600 Btu/pmt 5.16

        USDOT and wikipedia says
        cars 3525 Btu/pmt
        transit motor buses 3626 Btu/pmt
        amtrak 2100 Btu/pmt
        transit light/heavy rail 2784 Btu/pmt
        hybrid car 1659 Btu/pmt

        electric mass transit ran 16291E06 passenger miles (light/heavy/trolley--commuter rail is mainly diesel)on 5952E06 kwh of electricity or 2.74 pmt per kilowatt hour.

        70% of US electricity is from fossil fuels and 20% of US electricity comes from nuclear both of which average around 33% efficient. 3412 x .9/.33 =10236 Btu/kwh.

        So 10236 Btu per kwh  produces 2.74 pmt on mass transit or 3396 Btu per passenger mile. DOT gives 2784 but clearly there are no government numbers indicating the tremendous energy savings you suggest.

        Wikipedia is similar.

        One problem with mass transit at street level is that it is very slow--buses at 13 mph, trolleys at 7 mph, light rail at 15 mph, heavy rail-els and subways at 20 mph. It's in the nature of the mass transit beast as people clamber on and off them.
        For most people, time is money.
        On the other hand van pool goes at 38 mphs average.

        One advantage of buses is that they cost little compared to rail in infrastructure.

        You seem to think that a Rapid Streetcar isn't mass transit. If it isn't bus or light rail it must be heavy rail which is still pretty inefficient compared to hybrid cars.

        For years I was a rider/booster of mass transit and I still support it for people who can't afford cars.
        I think more people should try to use it to reduce congestion but now favor rideshare and higher efficiency cars/buses as they cost far less.

        •  Buses, trolleys and light rail are not mass ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... transit, are they? They are all local public transport.

          Mass transit is high frequency heavy rail - subways, mainline commuter rail, etc. BART is mass transit. The San Francisco trolley is not.

          And note that the speeds that you list for local public transport and mass transit are not "in the nature of" the transport mode, its in the nature of the focus of a massive share of transport subsidy to cars.

          When you are running a skeleton system that is providing a bare minimum of service, primarily to those most disadvantaged by the massive public subsidies of the car-based system, that means there are no express services - no express heavy rail, no express light rail, no express quality buses. Cut back to the bare bones, and then the bare bones has to be a low-frequency all-local-stops service connecting the strongest patronage drivers and with limited transfer options.

          Of course, that welfare-focused skeleton network results in very low load factors in off-peak periods, which directly reduces the energy efficiency of local public transport.

          So your argument is a perfect hermetically sealed circle: local public transport should only serve as a welfare-service for those excluded from driving even under the massive subsidies we presently give to cars, because of what happens to local public transport when they are run as a welfare-service in competition against massively subsidized cars transport.

          And, indeed, you also forget or ignore that the focus of present local transport systems is in densely populated urban areas where rival car transport is itself quite slow in mph terms. Comparing "average speed of an urban light rail line" to "average speed of a suburban door-to-door pooled van" is not comparing like to like.

          Consider the above system. For the sake of argument, assume 7mph through a New Suburban Town Center of 2 miles. That is 17 minutes. 60mph through the balance of the 28 miles of the segment described above is 28 minutes (90mph is a maximum for existing Streetcars under trolleywire, but reserve some of the speed limit for making up time on a schedule). Add a minute for each station stop, and its 33 minutes. So its 50 minutes to span a segment, and a normal trip is under half an hour, so it is inside the Marquette limit.

          And of course that is conservative, since an average of 7mph for a Streetcar line through a retrofitted suburban commercial district assumes very limited intersection priority and a very high density of stops. If it achieves 16mph to span a Streetcar segment, than a 2 mile segment takes 7 1/2 minutes and a full segment is spanned in 40 and a half minutes.

          So that is in the range of 36mph to 43mph as a local transport service, which can off course be sharing the rail corridor segment with a 110mph or 125mph HSRail service offering Express trip speeds of 70mph to 100mph.

          If you join the twitter #HSrail swarm, find me @BruceMcF

          by BruceMcF on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:39:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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