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View Diary: Sunday Train: Sustaining Our Suburbs (93 comments)

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  •  What people want is ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Egalitare, JayinPortland

    ... to a large extent determined by the transport tasks that they are faced with. Of course when presented with a landscape in which they have to make a series of point to point trips to a variety of destinations, they want point to point private transit.

    If what you want to do is to get to the town center, either for what is there or to travel further from there, then the need for a one-size-fits-all point to point vehicle capable of meeting all local, regional and intercity transport needs drops dramatically.

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    by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 05:16:14 PM PDT

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    •  "to get to the town center" (0+ / 0-)

      probably accounts for 5% of my transit needs, and I'm probably atypical in it being that high (and I live in a relatively high density urban area, three blocks from a mass transit station which can, every couple of months, take me somewhere I want to go.  For Senior Citizens putting a bus stop at the co-located Senior Center and Trader Joe's might change that destination distribution, but I'm not there (yet).

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 05:27:46 PM PDT

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      •  Yes, under business as usual ... (5+ / 0-)

        ... because that's what property development under the rules we have played by for over half a century creates.

        But business as usual is not an option in any event.

        A key part of the Suburban Village approach to retrofit is that it does not require immediate change of a majority, or even a large minority. A quarter mile radius around a strategic stop provides the core for a five mile radius ... but occupies 0.25% of the total area. Even with urban density, that is well under 2% of the potential population of that 5 mile radius.

        So an effective transport corridor stop that attracts demand from 2% of potential residents of that suburban radius has ample residential demand to anchor the development of the Suburban Village core.

        That then is the seed around which clustered suburban development can grow to replace sprawl suburban development.

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        by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 05:38:52 PM PDT

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        •  "the Suburban Village approach" (0+ / 0-)

          would have been fine implemented 50 (or more) years ago . . . but it wasn't.  For the foreseeable future we have to deal with the buildout that exists, and we cannot expect wide scale retrofit to resolve that.  Some, for sure, but in large number of areas it would require teardown and rebuilding that is going to take time (if it ever happens).  Minicar point-to-point, however, can be implemented with minimal change in existing housing and retail/industrial stock . . . even if only as a (decades long, I suspect) stopgap pending more fundamental infrastructure change.  I don't believe we have the time to wait to rebuild the whole country . . .

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 06:05:24 PM PDT

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          •  That's what 'suburban retrofit' means. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RunawayRose, bronte17, JayinPortland

            Rather than trying to get over half of the US population to move into central cities, restructure the opportunities available where they presently live.

            If existing low density housing can be placed within five miles of a point of departure for the regional transport grid, it can be sustainable under current technology, including a substantial reduction in the per seat material requirements of the transport system.

            By narrowing down the question to a one size fits all silver bullet to allow people to live in existing suburbs in the existing way, you've increased the energy and material requirement of the retrofit.

            If we can afford the material and energy resources for your version, we can afford the material and energy resources for what I've sketched above, and with additional energy and resources to spare for other uses. However, if we can afford the material and energy resources for what I've sketched above, there is no guarantee that we can afford the material and energy resources for the more expensive per seat-mile system you are sketching out.

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            by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 06:13:45 PM PDT

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            •  "the material and energy resources" (0+ / 0-)

              for the kind of "retrofit" you describe (including incredibly inefficient "mass transit") is far greater than a simple conversion to efficient point-to-point, which requires nothing more investment wise, and less in "material and energy resources", to replace a vehicle fleet that is rolled over every decade anyway.

              The notion of computing "per seat-mile" falls to pieces when you observe that 90% or more of those "seat-miles" in suburban mass transit are empty seat-miles.  Even the present motor car is more efficient overall, as can be demonstrated by simple passenger-mile calculations (if you remove the mass transit subsidies paid by motor car taxes).  Not to mention the money saved by not having to pay for delivery every time you buy something a little too big or a little too heavy to carry to and from the bus/train, or vehicle rental every time you want to go somewhere even a little "out of the way".

              Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

              by Deward Hastings on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 07:32:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  See, Business As Useal ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RunawayRose

                to replace a vehicle fleet that is rolled over every decade anyway

                Since the material and energy resources required to recreate the motor vehicle fleet is required for Business As Usual, the energy and material cost of doing so does not exist.

                Its only possible to do that trick rhetorically. In the real world, its still real material and energy resources required to provide transport capacity with effective load factors of well under 5%.

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                by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 07:40:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  here's the reality (0+ / 0-)

                  of fuel efficiency:

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                  Even today's cars are more efficient than buses and trains, and the small urban vehicle (some of which already exist) are far more efficient.  Their use could be implemented now, not decades in the future (as it will take for a new transportation infrastructure and re-purposing existing architecture).  Done simultaneously with a rollout of new nuclear (to provide the energy necessary for a growing electric fleet) and we'd be off of fossil fuels far faster, and far cheaper, than some imaginary conversion of all of American society.

                  Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                  by Deward Hastings on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 09:12:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You cite a source that gives ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RunawayRose

                    ... 0.085 MJ/passenger-km in Basel, or 0.024 kWh/passenger-km, versus a General Electric EV1 at 0.23kWh/vehicle-km.

                    Should I take it you are putting more than ten people in each electric car?

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                    by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 11:40:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  We aren't in Basel . . . (0+ / 0-)

                      and we're not going to turn the US into Basel.  Why don't you look at the US Passenger Transportation chart?

                      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                      by Deward Hastings on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 12:13:13 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  But the US transportation chart is under ... (0+ / 0-)

                        ... current US institutions, so it only tells us what will happen is we continue to do more of the same. However, since we need to cut the resource impact of our lifestyle in half, more of the same is not an option.

                        Accepting the current outcome under the current mode share and current policies with massive subsidies for private motor vehicle transport is the limit of what can be achieved is begging the question ... you are building your conclusion into your assumptions, not reaching them on the basis of empirical evidence.

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                        by BruceMcF on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 09:02:48 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

                Bruce has debunked your phony numbers on "incredibly inefficient" mass transit, as well as your phony numbers on the cost of replacing the gross excess of cars in this country (why do we have an average of more than 1 car per household, pray tell?) and so have others.

                The key point which hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread, however, is parking.  The current ludicrous number of cars driving long distances to land at concentrated destinations is unsustainable simply due to the massive cost of putting parking at those destinations.  Train service should be extended to the point where park-and-ride lots at the outlying stations of the train lines are sufficient, and where those park-and-ride lots don't have to be that big (and can therefore be relatively cheap).

                Spending downtown real estate space on parking -- including on building multi-story buildings just to store cars in -- is what is incredibly inefficient.

                -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

                by neroden on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 09:22:10 PM PDT

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          •  Actually, it's easy enough to implement now (0+ / 0-)

            The hard part is building the train lines between suburbs, but in most case you either have:
            (1) former streetcar rights-of-way
            or:
            (2) excessively wide streets

            The easy part is installing local commercial (and even local industrial) centers within the residential suburbs: building "town centers" into suburbs which lack them.

            The slightly less easy part is installing local residential within the "office park" suburbs.

            The really easy part is reconnecting the sidewalk and road networks to point to those town centers.

            The minicars will be part of that, as the suburbs will still be too sprawling (at first) for everyone to walk to the town center.  However, they won't be driving all the way to the main city.

            -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

            by neroden on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 09:17:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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