For Mass Transit to Work, You First Need ‘Mass’

 

In my experience, mass transit works best in densely-populated cities.  There is a lot more actual demand for mass transit, and city systems can be full at least during rush hour.  Unfortunately, the Leftists who run West Coast cities are enamored of mass transit, and totally ignore the fact that they simply lack the “mass” to make it work.  Seattle is in love with “light rail,” and their mostly-leftist voters voted to increase taxes on everything (sales, property, cars) to pay for a light-rail system.  That system is partly running now, from north Seattle to the airport, but it really isn’t drawing many riders.

Of course, they hadn’t counted on a pandemic of respiratory disease that shut down the system for months, then had few riders when it re-opened; they had successfully persuaded citizens that they should fear all their fellow citizens, which doesn’t contribute much to the demand for packed rail cars or buses.  Of course, Sound Transit bemoans its funding shortfalls, which could have been expected in any case.  Then, they let kids ride free, contributing even more to the funding shortfall.  And their trains have become rolling homeless shelters, making legitimate riders very uncomfortable.

Now, they are extending the light rail to Tacoma, and there are some very unhappy business owners there, as shown by this story today: Construction Delays Pile Up. Here’s a quote:

The extension is set to have six new stations as free bus shuttles will replace Tacoma Link service for a few weeks this summer while crews connect the existing line with the Hilltop extension.

“They broke ground in front of my shop in summer of 2019. Fast forward three years, they’re still closing roads here all around my shop,” Salamone said. “They still got construction materials and construction vehicles strewn about alongside road signs, closures. They’re still digging up parts of the rail that they already installed, and then just chip it all out. And, you know, I can’t even imagine what the carbon footprint of this project is.”

Salamone stated a dip in sales occurs immediately with each closure or construction project that his business has to work around.

“The more trouble people have coming to patronize your business, the less people are going to come,” Salamone said.

Exactly what we would have expected.  But the Left never listens to reason, they just go by their feelings.  And WE pay, and pay, and pay.

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  1. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    It works just fine in Los Angeles…

    Does it work well enough for consumers to pay what costs to run it?

    If not, then it only works well according to the warped economic view of socialist politicians:

    Confiscating four loaves of bread from a customer, and giving him back one loaf works well: the customer gets a loaf of bread!

    The answer to the above question about the willingness of consumers to pay the cost is a resounding “NO”. Even ignoring depreciation, customers (the public) only voluntarily cover 25% of the costs to them of providing the service. The rest is extracted by force.

    This deal is what socialists call “compassion”.

     

    They had a big ceremony in my city when the millionth rider used the light rail, which only traveled on Main street from 22nd down to 4th street and back. As I previously mentioned, all rides were free…to the riders. They never mentioned what the taxpayers pay to build, operate and maintain the “free” system.

    • #31
  2. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    It works just fine in Los Angeles…

    Does it work well enough for consumers to pay what costs to run it?

    If not, then it only works well according to the warped economic view of socialist politicians:

    Confiscating four loaves of bread from a customer, and giving him back one loaf works well: the customer gets a loaf of bread!

    The answer to the above question about the willingness of consumers to pay the cost is a resounding “NO”. Even ignoring depreciation, customers (the public) only voluntarily cover 25% of the costs to them of providing the service. The rest is extracted by force.

    This deal is what socialists call “compassion”.

    Does the widespread and availability (e.g., buses etc are available if your car is in the shop, etc) balance out against the unfairness of funding? Can any one homeowner afford to have paid for the fire trucks etc that keep their house from being totally destroyed? Even if the costs of the trucks etc were divided by ALL the people who call the fire dept each year, could they afford it?

    The fire department is an actual public good. I don’t know about public transportation being an actual public good, but it’s sort of a welfare thing that can be screwed up by idealistic politicians. 

    • #32
  3. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Why is “light rail” almost always the proposed mass transit system? 

    As someone who has occasionally visited but never lived in a dense urban environment, surface light rail never made sense to me, especially when retrofitting into a city that already has roads and relatively wide streets. Either the light rail vehicles still get stuck in traffic, unless the system is designed to require all other traffic to yield to the rail transit vehicles (which is likely to reduce overall traffic efficiency). Busses would seem to make more sense as people-movers. 

    Rail is expensive to install, and once installed, is fixed in place, so changes to routes as people and jobs move around the city are difficult to make. Part of the installation expense is that rail cars are very heavy, so a rail bed is I assume more expensive to build than a road bed for busses would be. Many “light rail” systems repurpose existing road right-of-ways, but a dedicated bus lane could also do that (if for example the designers’ purpose is to lessen the impact of other traffic on the transit vehicle schedule). Rail cars are much more expensive to build and to buy than buses.

    Electric trains do have high energy efficiency, but is its efficiency really that much higher than electric buses (i.e., the buses that connect to overhead electric wires)?

    “Light rail” can accommodate trains of several cars each that could put a lot of passengers (say, a couple hundred) on a vehicle operated by a single (expensive) operator person, whereas buses are limited to 50 – 70 passengers per vehicle/driver (even articulated buses), but how many systems actually achieve enough usage for that to matter?

    Underground (a la London Tube or much New York subway), or above ground (a la Chicago “elevated” or some New York subway) gives rail an advantage of bypassing other traffic altogether, but the enormity of the installation cost requires a really high population density that will ride the system to justify the construction cost. 

    So why is “light rail” almost always presented as the “ideal” mass transit system?

    • #33
  4. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    Rail is expensive to install, and once installed, is fixed in place, so changes to routes as people and jobs move around the city are difficult to make.

    More capital and zero flexibility. In fact, it’s an insane amount of capital. 

    The other thing is, buses are controlled by one guy with both a radio and a cell phone. The cops can get to them instantly. Trains are nothing like that. Even if you covered them in that sense it would be very expensive. 

    In Minneapolis the cops have a hell of a time getting to a train when there is a crime in progress.

     

    • #34
  5. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Why is “light rail” almost always the proposed mass transit system?

    As someone who has occasionally visited but never lived in a dense urban environment, surface light rail never made sense to me, especially when retrofitting into a city that already has roads and relatively wide streets. Either the light rail vehicles still get stuck in traffic, unless the system is designed to require all other traffic to yield to the rail transit vehicles (which is likely to reduce overall traffic efficiency). Busses would seem to make more sense as people-movers.

    Rail is expensive to install, and once installed, is fixed in place, so changes to routes as people and jobs move around the city are difficult to make. Part of the installation expense is that rail cars are very heavy, so a rail bed is I assume more expensive to build than a road bed for busses would be. Many “light rail” systems repurpose existing road right-of-ways, but a dedicated bus lane could also do that (if for example the designers’ purpose is to lessen the impact of other traffic on the transit vehicle schedule). Rail cars are much more expensive to build and to buy than buses.

    Electric trains do have high energy efficiency, but is its efficiency really that much higher than electric buses (i.e., the buses that connect to overhead electric wires)?

    “Light rail” can accommodate trains of several cars each that could put a lot of passengers (say, a couple hundred) on a vehicle operated by a single (expensive) operator person, whereas buses are limited to 50 – 70 passengers per vehicle/driver (even articulated buses), but how many systems actually achieve enough usage for that to matter?

    Underground (a la London Tube or much New York subway), or above ground (a la Chicago “elevated” or some New York subway) gives rail an advantage of bypassing other traffic altogether, but the enormity of the installation cost requires a really high population density that will ride the system to justify the construction cost.

    So why is “light rail” almost always presented as the “ideal” mass transit system?

    As far as the cities are concerned, it’s probably “ideal” to them because they can get the most federal money for it, as opposed to buses etc.

    • #35
  6. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Does the widespread and availability (e.g., buses etc are available if your car is in the shop, etc) balance out against the unfairness of funding?

    Fortunately, there is a way to objectively answer your question.

    Look at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transport Authority’s financial statements and  see if customers were willing to pay the costs of the product, in order to get all the benefits. 

    They are not.  Even adding up all the benefits of having this product, like having buses available if you car is in the shop, etc., the services are only worth one quarter of what they cost.

    Thomas Sowell explained that in economics, everything is a trade-off.  For everything gained by buying or investing in one product, something is lost in products foregone.  So yes, there is always some gross benefit provided by a socialist enterprise (there is a train to use while the car is in the shop). But it is the net benefit that counts.

    • #36
  7. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Does the widespread and availability (e.g., buses etc are available if your car is in the shop, etc) balance out against the unfairness of funding?

    Fortunately, there is a way to objectively answer your question.

    Look at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transport Authority’s financial statements and see if customers were willing to pay the costs of the product, in order to get all the benefits.

    They are not. Even adding up all the benefits of having this product, like having buses available if you car is in the shop, etc., the services are only worth one quarter of what they cost.

    Thomas Sowell explained that in economics, everything is a trade-off. For everything gained by buying or investing in one product, something is lost in products foregone. So yes, there is always some gross benefit provided by a socialist enterprise (there is a train to use while the car is in the shop). But it is the net benefit that counts.

    Seems like the same calculations apply to private vehicles.  Which spend, what, 90% or more of the time, parked somewhere?  Apparently people are willing to pay to have transportation available that is rarely actually used.  (Because if it’s not available when needed, then you have much bigger problems.)

    • #37
  8. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    It works just fine in Los Angeles…

    Does it work well enough for consumers to pay what costs to run it?

    If not, then it only works well according to the warped economic view of socialist politicians:

    Confiscating four loaves of bread from a customer, and giving him back one loaf works well: the customer gets a loaf of bread!

    The answer to the above question about the willingness of consumers to pay the cost is a resounding “NO”. Even ignoring depreciation, customers (the public) only voluntarily cover 25% of the costs to them of providing the service. The rest is extracted by force.

    This deal is what socialists call “compassion”.

    Does the widespread and availability (e.g., buses etc are available if your car is in the shop, etc) balance out against the unfairness of funding? Can any one homeowner afford to have paid for the fire trucks etc that keep their house from being totally destroyed? Even if the costs of the trucks etc were divided by ALL the people who call the fire dept each year, could they afford it?

    The fire department is an actual public good. I don’t know about public transportation being an actual public good, but it’s sort of a welfare thing that can be screwed up by idealistic politicians.

    Firemen provide a largely private good. 

    All the calls they take for fires on private property are private goods.

    • #38
  9. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    cdor (View Comment):

    Kansas City did and is continuing the same idiocy. Sometimes I think that lefties never got that model train set they always wanted for Christmas. Why they are so enamored with “light rail” is beyond me. What isn’t beyond me is what lying, cheating, miscreants they are. First, the city council makes rules that determine how they can get the electric trolley passed. So they develop “transportation districts” and only the people who live in the gerrymandered district are allowed to vote on the train. The lie is that the voters don’t have to pay one red cent because it is only the property owners who pay with increased taxation. Ninety percent of the voters are renters. Then they claim the cost will only be twenty or so million dollars. The cost overrun was over 150 million dollars. As Rush Babe pointed out, the businesses within the immediate vicinity of the construction were obliterated.

    In the meantime, once it is finally finished it becomes only the “starter” line. Now they must build more, and then, more. To encourage ridership, they don’t charge anyone even a dime to ride it. Of course, it becomes the favorite hangout for the homeless. If there is an accident involving cars on the street that it travels, the entire trolley is shut down. For small percentages, they could have purchased electric buses that can alter their route if necessary and wouldn’t have needed massive construction disruptions. But the bigger scam is that there already was a bus system. Nobody rode the busses, so they had to be subsidized.

    Rush Babe is exactly 100% correct. Mass transit needs masses of people to support it. In the midwest, people live in suburbs and drive SUV’s. We live here because we love our space and our freedom. Lefties find “freedom” a foreign concept. They love crowded big cities and want to imitate them everywhere. My blood pressure is rising, so I am going to stop.

    Ditto. I want my large yard and screen porch. I want to go 20 steps to my car, not a block or 5 to the nearest bus stop. Nearest bus stop to me right now is 6-10 miles away, I think.

    • #39
  10. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Does the widespread and availability (e.g., buses etc are available if your car is in the shop, etc) balance out against the unfairness of funding?

    Fortunately, there is a way to objectively answer your question.

    Look at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transport Authority’s financial statements and see if customers were willing to pay the costs of the product, in order to get all the benefits.

    They are not. Even adding up all the benefits of having this product, like having buses available if you car is in the shop, etc., the services are only worth one quarter of what they cost.

    Thomas Sowell explained that in economics, everything is a trade-off. For everything gained by buying or investing in one product, something is lost in products foregone. So yes, there is always some gross benefit provided by a socialist enterprise (there is a train to use while the car is in the shop). But it is the net benefit that counts.

    Seems like the same calculations apply to private vehicles. Which spend, what, 90% or more of the time, parked somewhere? Apparently people are willing to pay to have transportation available that is rarely actually used. (Because if it’s not available when needed, then you have much bigger problems.)

    Thomas Sowell would answer: Is paying for a private vehicle that spends more than 90% of the time parked somewhere a beneficial trade-off?

    Yes, if someone voluntarily pays 100% of it, it is. If someone will only voluntarily pay 25% of the cost, then no, it is not.

    • #40
  11. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Firemen provide a largely private good. 

    All the calls they take for fires on private property are private goods.

    Have fun organizing it to reflect that. That’s the point. 

    If you an emergency covered by the fire department they are going to respond to you. It’s a public good. 

    Also have fun setting up a system where people can opt out. 

    I get that the severe Austrians don’t believe in public goods, but that does not move the conversation forward. 

    • #41
  12. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Does the widespread and availability (e.g., buses etc are available if your car is in the shop, etc) balance out against the unfairness of funding?

    Fortunately, there is a way to objectively answer your question.

    Look at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transport Authority’s financial statements and see if customers were willing to pay the costs of the product, in order to get all the benefits.

    They are not. Even adding up all the benefits of having this product, like having buses available if you car is in the shop, etc., the services are only worth one quarter of what they cost.

    Thomas Sowell explained that in economics, everything is a trade-off. For everything gained by buying or investing in one product, something is lost in products foregone. So yes, there is always some gross benefit provided by a socialist enterprise (there is a train to use while the car is in the shop). But it is the net benefit that counts.

    Seems like the same calculations apply to private vehicles. Which spend, what, 90% or more of the time, parked somewhere? Apparently people are willing to pay to have transportation available that is rarely actually used. (Because if it’s not available when needed, then you have much bigger problems.)

    Thomas Sowell would answer: Is paying for a private vehicle that spends more than 90% of the time parked somewhere a beneficial trade-off?

    Yes, if someone voluntarily pays 100% of it, it is. If someone will only voluntarily pay 25% of the cost, then no, it is not.

    Cars and roads to have a lot of utility. 

    Buses and those vans they have for old people and people with handicaps are partly welfare.

    • #42
  13. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Firemen provide a largely private good.

    All the calls they take for fires on private property are private goods.

    Have fun organizing it to reflect that. That’s the point.

    If you an emergency covered by the fire department they are going to respond to you. It’s a public good.

    Also have fun setting up a system where people can opt out.

    I get that the severe Austrians don’t believe in public goods, but that does not move the conversation forward.

    Thanks for your comments.

    • #43
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Firemen provide a largely private good.

    All the calls they take for fires on private property are private goods.

    Have fun organizing it to reflect that. That’s the point.

    If you an emergency covered by the fire department they are going to respond to you. It’s a public good.

    Also have fun setting up a system where people can opt out.

    I get that the severe Austrians don’t believe in public goods, but that does not move the conversation forward.

    Thanks for your comments.

    The left says is socialism, and you say it’s private. Great. Zzzz….

    • #44
  15. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Firemen provide a largely private good.

    All the calls they take for fires on private property are private goods.

    Have fun organizing it to reflect that. That’s the point.

    If you an emergency covered by the fire department they are going to respond to you. It’s a public good.

    Also have fun setting up a system where people can opt out.

    I get that the severe Austrians don’t believe in public goods, but that does not move the conversation forward.

    Thanks for your comments.

    The left says is socialism, and you say it’s private. Great. Zzzz….

    Thanks again.

    • #45
  16. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Why is “light rail” almost always the proposed mass transit system?

    As someone who has occasionally visited but never lived in a dense urban environment, surface light rail never made sense to me, especially when retrofitting into a city that already has roads and relatively wide streets. Either the light rail vehicles still get stuck in traffic, unless the system is designed to require all other traffic to yield to the rail transit vehicles (which is likely to reduce overall traffic efficiency). Busses would seem to make more sense as people-movers.

    Rail is expensive to install, and once installed, is fixed in place, so changes to routes as people and jobs move around the city are difficult to make. Part of the installation expense is that rail cars are very heavy, so a rail bed is I assume more expensive to build than a road bed for busses would be. Many “light rail” systems repurpose existing road right-of-ways, but a dedicated bus lane could also do that (if for example the designers’ purpose is to lessen the impact of other traffic on the transit vehicle schedule). Rail cars are much more expensive to build and to buy than buses.

    Electric trains do have high energy efficiency, but is its efficiency really that much higher than electric buses (i.e., the buses that connect to overhead electric wires)?

    “Light rail” can accommodate trains of several cars each that could put a lot of passengers (say, a couple hundred) on a vehicle operated by a single (expensive) operator person, whereas buses are limited to 50 – 70 passengers per vehicle/driver (even articulated buses), but how many systems actually achieve enough usage for that to matter?

    Underground (a la London Tube or much New York subway), or above ground (a la Chicago “elevated” or some New York subway) gives rail an advantage of bypassing other traffic altogether, but the enormity of the installation cost requires a really high population density that will ride the system to justify the construction cost.

    So why is “light rail” almost always presented as the “ideal” mass transit system?

    I’m not so sure that it is. Lots of cities need heavy rail (subways and commuter trains) or on the other hand, no rail at all, if they’re diffuse places without much density anywhere. If light rail is pushed on the wrong places for it it might be because heavy rail is really expensive and light rail superficially looks like a “split the difference” solution. 

    Lately, the fad has been for BRT (bus rapid transit) which is also a money saver compared to rail, provided you already have grade-separated roadways for it. We have that here too–the Orange line, which runs along an old rail right of way. Voters in the San Fernando Valley (L.A.’s northern half) didn’t want trains in the 90s, so they got BRT, which is now so popular that SFV voters want it replaced by light rail. During peak hours, there aren’t enough buses to meet demand, and as you point out, every bus has its own driver so labor costs are high. 

    Of course, for people who really don’t like cities, none of these are desirable, not even buses. 

     

    • #46
  17. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Lots of cities need heavy rail (subways and commuter trains)

    BART is a comprehensive fiasco. Even if they need it, it’s impossible to manage these things.

    • #47
  18. db25db Lincoln
    db25db
    @db25db

    I live two blocks from Seattle.  I hate light rail with the force of 1,000 suns.

    • #48
  19. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Does the widespread and availability (e.g., buses etc are available if your car is in the shop, etc) balance out against the unfairness of funding?

    Fortunately, there is a way to objectively answer your question.

    Look at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transport Authority’s financial statements and see if customers were willing to pay the costs of the product, in order to get all the benefits.

    They are not. Even adding up all the benefits of having this product, like having buses available if you car is in the shop, etc., the services are only worth one quarter of what they cost.

    Thomas Sowell explained that in economics, everything is a trade-off. For everything gained by buying or investing in one product, something is lost in products foregone. So yes, there is always some gross benefit provided by a socialist enterprise (there is a train to use while the car is in the shop). But it is the net benefit that counts.

    Seems like the same calculations apply to private vehicles. Which spend, what, 90% or more of the time, parked somewhere? Apparently people are willing to pay to have transportation available that is rarely actually used. (Because if it’s not available when needed, then you have much bigger problems.)

    Thomas Sowell would answer: Is paying for a private vehicle that spends more than 90% of the time parked somewhere a beneficial trade-off?

    Yes, if someone voluntarily pays 100% of it, it is. If someone will only voluntarily pay 25% of the cost, then no, it is not.

    If people are voting for it, they’re volunteers.

    • #49
  20. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Lots of cities need heavy rail (subways and commuter trains)

    BART is a comprehensive fiasco. Even if they need it, it’s impossible to manage these things.

    Why? If a city has a crime problem they refuse to solve, it’ll be there whether it’s on trains or streets. 

    • #50
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Lots of cities need heavy rail (subways and commuter trains)

    BART is a comprehensive fiasco. Even if they need it, it’s impossible to manage these things.

    Why? If a city has a crime problem they refuse to solve, it’ll be there whether it’s on trains or streets.

    I pay pretty close attention to BART. Everybody hates it now. Crazy people and homeless people. It didn’t used to be that way. Crime. The fiscal metrics are horrific. Minneapolis is the same way. I think those things are too hard to run right. Furthermore, if all of the real estate next to the BART gets over priced what good is it? My sister lived the exact furthest place from all of the airports and the BART system for a reason. 

    • #51
  22. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I would love to know what Joel Kotkin thinks about this discussion. That guy is so smart about these types of things. I would pay a ton extra if ricochet had a feature where they could get guys to do that. 

    @blueyeti

    I forget the name of the guy I am supposed to tag about this. lol 

    • #52
  23. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Recall, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg first pushed congestion pricing, much of it was geared toward improving connections to underserved transit deserts. Now the goal is seemingly to make up for the MTA’s own capital shortfalls — which, by the way, exist despite already implementing a congestion charge on for-hire vehicles south of 96th Street.

    https://nypost.com/2022/07/06/limo-liberals-wont-be-hit-by-congestion-pricing-but-middle-class-will/

     

     

    • #53
  24. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    db25db (View Comment):

    I live two blocks from Seattle. I hate light rail with the force of 1,000 suns.

    Yep (we live 20 miles from Seattle in Everett); and we are paying for it forever, even if we will never use it.  There does seem to be a lot of buyer’s remorse, and if it were on the ballot today it would not pass.  But now we have no recourse whatsoever. (if you are not yet a member of the Pacific Northwest Ricochetti group, please join!)

    • #54
  25. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    The people in our area who are pushing light rail, and all the board members, live in exclusive neighborhoods where there is no access to that light rail (by design).  When asked why they do not use it, their response is “well, it’s not convenient to my neighborhood”.  Anyone in government wanting a light rail system must be required to use it every day.  Same with all employees of the system-you work here, you must get here by light rail, no exceptions.

    Now, Seattle has a fairly unique geography, and for a rail system, it pretty much has to go north-south.  I-5 through the city is always congested.  The Seattle city government is determined to get its citizens out of their cars and onto government transit.  Their routes, their schedules.  Public parking is quite expensive, and even the parking meters are very expensive and getting more expensive.  Yet, to my knowledge, none of them use transit to get to work-that’s for the peons.

    • #55
  26. DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
    @DonG

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    Light rail doesn’t work anywhere.

    It “works” here in Austin, because for every person boarding the train, the tax payers kick in $22.  The bus server has recently rolled out an “uber” type service for $1.25, which I think is statement on the utility of individual vehicles over fixed routes.    That said, if I was king for a day I would create city clusters of high density and circulator buses.  With work-from-home and everything available for delivery and Uber, there are 30% of folks that don’t need a car.

    • #56
  27. DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
    @DonG

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    So why is “light rail” almost always presented as the “ideal” mass transit system?

    Because the ribbon cutting ceremonies are amazing.  Golden shovels and hardhats for everyone!  Ain’t that right, Tempe!?

    Valley Metro opens Tempe Streetcar line | Mass Transit

    • #57
  28. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    Crazy people and homeless people. It didn’t used to be that way. Crime. The fiscal metrics are horrific. Minneapolis is the same way. I think those things are too hard to run right.

    Not too hard, but too labor intensive, at least in the current environment. You need lots of transit police on the stations and in the cars. Mpls transit is having a hard time recruiting for the job. You also need greater social stability outside the system, so the quantity of disorder that could spill into the transit system is diminished. The current leadership of the city is more interested in accommodating the disorder than dispelling it.

    Every time someone on the Minneapolis subreddit posts something about the old trolleys, there’s a flood of predictable bitchery: how great it was, how it was destroyed by oil and car and tire companies. They don’t know that the ridership peak was in the 1920s. They don’t know that people regarded the bus as a superior alternative for obvious reasons. They regard the liberating possibilities of the car and the suburb as a catastrophic error. 

    I love European mass transit systems; I take my morning coffee in a china cup branded with the logo for the London Central line. I might take a trolley if it rolled past a couple of blocks to the north, but for the most part, I love my car, as Americans do. 

    • #58
  29. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Also in many place, buses and light rail etc, don’t really replace cars.  People just drive to a “park and ride” station that’s all parking lot, and then ride a bus into downtown, or maybe ride a bus to the light rail and then into downtown…  That’s how it was – and is – in many parts of the Phoenix area.

    And of course, those big city-owned parking lots took up space that could have been used directly for more housing, etc.

    • #59
  30. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    Light rail doesn’t work anywhere.

    It “works” here in Austin, because for every person boarding the train, the tax payers kick in $22. The bus server has recently rolled out an “uber” type service for $1.25, which I think is statement on the utility of individual vehicles over fixed routes. That said, if I was king for a day I would create city clusters of high density and circulator buses. With work-from-home and everything available for delivery and Uber, there are 30% of folks that don’t need a car.

    There is a notorious line in Minneapolis that each commuter gets subsidized $700 per trip right now.

    I am totally on board with circulator buses. I know for a while a few tech companies were trying to make smart bus lines, but it must have not gotten anywhere. 

     

    • #60
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