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. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    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.

    Circulator buses likely will be heavily subsidized until they can be self-driving.  Before that, I expect driver salaries (especially for union drivers) make that impossible.  And in the Phoenix area, many/most of the neighborhood circulator buses were “free.”

    But I’ve long suspected that Uber and Lyft etc hiring actual drivers were just an excuse to get by until they could use all self-driving cars.

    • #61
  2. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Here’s the other thing that relates to the labor issue James is talking about. Every bus has a turnstile. It’s called a bus driver. No turnstiles in Minneapolis with predictable results. San Francisco BART is spending millions making bigger ones after 40 years because people decided to stop using them the way they were intended. 

    The security and the controls on buses is much easier. If there is a problem, it’s easy for the cops to get to it, which is completely not true of light rail.

    • #62
  3. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    They ran light rail by a condo that is probably falling apart from it. The authorities *hid the engineering report with the excuse that nobody could understand it. lol I so want that property to be condemned. lol It wouldn’t change the choo-choo budget in any measurable way but it would be one hell of a PR disaster.

    • #63
  4. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Circulator buses likely will be heavily subsidized until they can be self-driving.  Before that, I expect driver salaries (especially for union drivers) make that impossible.  And in the Phoenix area, many/most of the neighborhood circulator buses were “free.”

    I’m sure it’s complicated to create efficiency with these things. It will always beat the hell out of putting up choo-choo trains.

    • #64
  5. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Circulator buses likely will be heavily subsidized until they can be self-driving. Before that, I expect driver salaries (especially for union drivers) make that impossible. And in the Phoenix area, many/most of the neighborhood circulator buses were “free.”

    I’m sure it’s complicated to create efficiency with these things. It will always beat the hell out of putting up choo-choo trains.

    Except most of the neighborhood circulator buses only ran every 30 to 60 minutes.  And they were small.

    • #65
  6. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Circulator buses likely will be heavily subsidized until they can be self-driving. Before that, I expect driver salaries (especially for union drivers) make that impossible. And in the Phoenix area, many/most of the neighborhood circulator buses were “free.”

    I’m sure it’s complicated to create efficiency with these things. It will always beat the hell out of putting up choo-choo trains.

    Except most of the neighborhood circulator buses only ran every 30 to 60 minutes. And they were small.

    So it’s a proven stupid idea and it should be stopped at gunpoint. I will never talk about it again.

    • #66
  7. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    • #67
  8. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    What is the value of the lives of 2 people compared to saving the planet?

     

    • #68
  9. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    What is the value of the lives of 2 people compared to saving the planet?

     

    One of the local choo-choo train enthusiasts was trying to tell me that it was a low number and totally worth it. He had all kinds of excuses about the dynamics of Choo choos vs. busses. I don’t buy it.

    Minnesota got our first choo-choo at the same time we got concealed carry. The concealed carry people were joking that that Choo choos were going to kill more people than unlawful homicides from concealed carry and they were right by factors of dozens. The left was absolutely freaked that the whole metro was going to turn into the wild west, and it never even came close to that. lol

    • #69
  10. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Just to be clear, the  Minneapolis  Choo choos have killed almost 2 people a year for almost 20 years. In that time concealed carry people have participated in only one unlawful homicide.

    • #70
  11. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

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

    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.

    I’m sure your idea is of technological interest, and I hope it stimulates creative thinking and discussion.

    But it is also, accidentally, of economic interest. From that perspective, this:

    If you were king you would have the power to force people to save and invest their labors and property in your enterprises, in order to satisfy your wants and needs, without respect to their own wants and needs, or rights.

    That is exactly the power that your politicians have today, as seen when they fund their enterprises with taxes of 22 dollars per rider.

    We don’t call them kings, of course.  But to those who have learned to think like economists, there is no real-world difference in human action.  

    They are pleased with spending their confiscated wealth on one kind of thing; another king, you for example, would be pleased to spend it on another.

    • #71
  12. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    People in cities think the rest of us can live as they live. Try to push us out of our cars and they will find out we can live without them but not our cars.

    • #72
  13. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    I suspect the almost 2 people killed per year, are not those riding the trains, but more likely those the trains collide with.

    So as with many other cases of bad drivers, the consequences are not for those people themselves, but for those around them.

    (But on the plus side, train advocates could say, if EVERYONE were on the trains instead of using cars and trucks etc AROUND the trains, then NOBODY would be killed.)

    • #73
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    I suspect the almost 2 people killed per year, are not those riding the trains, but more likely those the trains collide with.

    So as with many other cases of bad drivers, the consequences are not for those people themselves, but for those around them.

    I’m saying the death rate seems high for what you supposedly get society-wide. I’m talking about a higher level of public policy than you are. 

    • #74
  15. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    I suspect the almost 2 people killed per year, are not those riding the trains, but more likely those the trains collide with.

    So as with many other cases of bad drivers, the consequences are not for those people themselves, but for those around them.

    I’m saying the death rate seems high for what you supposedly get society-wide. I’m talking about a higher level of public policy than you are.

    You would have to figure out deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever.  At 2 per year, I expect it would be pretty low.  I don’t know how it would match up to deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever, for those using private cars.  (I also don’t know if the death rates for cars/trucks include people who they may run into etc, or only those who are in the cars/trucks themselves.)

    • #75
  16. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    I suspect the almost 2 people killed per year, are not those riding the trains, but more likely those the trains collide with.

    So as with many other cases of bad drivers, the consequences are not for those people themselves, but for those around them.

    I’m saying the death rate seems high for what you supposedly get society-wide. I’m talking about a higher level of public policy than you are.

    You would have to figure out deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever. At 2 per year, I expect it would be pretty low. I don’t know how it would match up to deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever, for those using private cars. (I also don’t know if the death rates for cars/trucks include people who they may run into etc, or only those who are in the cars/trucks themselves.)

    That’s why I used the word “seem”. I doubt society gets much benefit for killing those people every year compared to the forms of transportation. 

     

    • #76
  17. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    I suspect the almost 2 people killed per year, are not those riding the trains, but more likely those the trains collide with.

    So as with many other cases of bad drivers, the consequences are not for those people themselves, but for those around them.

    I’m saying the death rate seems high for what you supposedly get society-wide. I’m talking about a higher level of public policy than you are.

    You would have to figure out deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever. At 2 per year, I expect it would be pretty low. I don’t know how it would match up to deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever, for those using private cars. (I also don’t know if the death rates for cars/trucks include people who they may run into etc, or only those who are in the cars/trucks themselves.)

    That’s why I used the word “seem”. I doubt society gets much benefit for killing those people every year compared to the forms of transportation.

    But we know how many thousands of people get killed each year from transportation other than trains.  Unless the rate is higher for trains, then trains are safer.

    Although there would be some complications involving total distance traveled including whatever extra distance might be involved with using trains, versus not.

    But the counter-balance there, again, is whether people are being killed who are ON the trains, or not.  Very seldom does a train colliding with a passenger car, result in any deaths ON the train.

    The Twilight Zone episode about that would be someone who thinks trains aren’t safe, so they drive, and are hit and killed by the train they would have ridden.

    • #77
  18. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The other thing is, the Minneapolis choo-choo train kills almost 2 people every year from accidents. That seems really high to me. You have this very controlled environment moving relatively few people. It doesn’t seem worth it, but I have no actual idea how these things are analyzed.

    I suspect the almost 2 people killed per year, are not those riding the trains, but more likely those the trains collide with.

    So as with many other cases of bad drivers, the consequences are not for those people themselves, but for those around them.

    I’m saying the death rate seems high for what you supposedly get society-wide. I’m talking about a higher level of public policy than you are.

    You would have to figure out deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever. At 2 per year, I expect it would be pretty low. I don’t know how it would match up to deaths per million passenger-miles or whatever, for those using private cars. (I also don’t know if the death rates for cars/trucks include people who they may run into etc, or only those who are in the cars/trucks themselves.)

    Perhaps someone will give a solid estimate on the deaths per rounds shot by those with concealed carry permits.  Probably in the range of deaths per passenger miles.  

    • #78
  19. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But we know how many thousands of people get killed each year from transportation other than trains.  Unless the rate is higher for trains, then trains are safer.

    False. It’s the rate versus the amount of productivity or utility the train gives society-wide compared to buses.

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But the counter-balance there, again, is whether people are being killed who are ON the trains, or not.  Very seldom does a train colliding with a passenger car, result in any deaths ON the train.

    This is your concept that you are introducing, not me. I don’t think it adds anything.

    • #79
  20. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But we know how many thousands of people get killed each year from transportation other than trains. Unless the rate is higher for trains, then trains are safer.

    False. It’s the rate versus the amount of productivity or utility the train gives society-wide compared to buses.

    Do you have any basis to believe or claim that train miles for passengers are any less “productive” than car miles?  Or bus miles, for that matter.  People do a lot more with their cars than go to work and back, or buy groceries and back…  People use cars recreationally, and people use trains recreationally too.  If anything, I suspect that recreational car use is far higher than recreational train use.

     

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But the counter-balance there, again, is whether people are being killed who are ON the trains, or not. Very seldom does a train colliding with a passenger car, result in any deaths ON the train.

    This is your concept that you are introducing, not me. I don’t think it adds anything.

    Except the possible argument that if EVERYONE was on trains instead of cars, then nobody in cars would be killed in collisions with trains.  And even when trains collide with cars, deaths on the train are probably going to be zero.

    • #80
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Do you have any basis to believe or claim that train miles for passengers are any less “productive” than car miles?  Or bus miles, for that matter.  People do a lot more with their cars than go to work and back, or buy groceries and back…  People use cars recreationally, and people use trains recreationally too.  If anything, I suspect that recreational car use is far higher than recreational train use.

    We are done here. 

    • #81
  22. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

     

     

     

    • #82
  23. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Based solely on anecdotes and having no statistical underpinnings, it seems to me that most of the people killed by urban rail transit are pedestrians who walk in front of the trains, not people in cars that collide with trains, and probably never people on the train. A train cannot take evasive action should a pedestrian walk into the path of the train. A bus or a car can. A thorough analysis would also need to account for pedestrians killed by other vehicles while the pedestrian is trying to get  to or from the urban rail transit (which often travel down the middle of urban streets), as well as pedestrians killed by other transportation elements (buses, cars, etc.). 

    • #83
  24. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Based solely on anecdotes and having no statistical underpinnings, it seems to me that most of the people killed by urban rail transit are pedestrians who walk in front of the trains, not people in cars that collide with trains, and probably never people on the train. A train cannot take evasive action should a pedestrian walk into the path of the train. A bus or a car can. A thorough analysis would also need to account for pedestrians killed by other vehicles while the pedestrian is trying to get to or from the urban rail transit (which often travel down the middle of urban streets), as well as pedestrians killed by other transportation elements (buses, cars, etc.).

    Yes, there’s that too.  When I lived in Phoenix I mostly heard about trains colliding with cars, and sometimes even the city buses.  There were occasional pedestrians too, but pedestrians already have to be watching for cars and stuff, so they didn’t seem to get run into by trains as much.

    • #84
  25. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Based solely on anecdotes and having no statistical underpinnings, it seems to me that most of the people killed by urban rail transit are pedestrians who walk in front of the trains, not people in cars that collide with trains, and probably never people on the train. A train cannot take evasive action should a pedestrian walk into the path of the train. A bus or a car can. A thorough analysis would also need to account for pedestrians killed by other vehicles while the pedestrian is trying to get to or from the urban rail transit (which often travel down the middle of urban streets), as well as pedestrians killed by other transportation elements (buses, cars, etc.).

    It’s everything in Minneapolis. Bikes, pedestrians, cars. 

    • #85
  26. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But we know how many thousands of people get killed each year from transportation other than trains. Unless the rate is higher for trains, then trains are safer.

    False. It’s the rate versus the amount of productivity or utility the train gives society-wide compared to buses.

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But the counter-balance there, again, is whether people are being killed who are ON the trains, or not. Very seldom does a train colliding with a passenger car, result in any deaths ON the train.

    This is your concept that you are introducing, not me. I don’t think it adds anything.

    I don’t always agree with comments by Rufus Jones.  But when I do, I agree with comments by Rufus Jones that agree with the Austrian School of economics. (Like this one.)

    –The Most Intelligent Economist in the World  (so far)

    • #86
  27. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But we know how many thousands of people get killed each year from transportation other than trains. Unless the rate is higher for trains, then trains are safer.

    False. It’s the rate versus the amount of productivity or utility the train gives society-wide compared to buses.

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But the counter-balance there, again, is whether people are being killed who are ON the trains, or not. Very seldom does a train colliding with a passenger car, result in any deaths ON the train.

    This is your concept that you are introducing, not me. I don’t think it adds anything.

    I don’t always agree with comments by Rufus Jones. But when I do, I agree with comments by Rufus Jones that agree with the Austrian School of economics. (Like this one.)

    –The Most Intelligent Economist in the World (so far)

    Uh, I will take that as a complement. 

    • #87
  28. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But we know how many thousands of people get killed each year from transportation other than trains. Unless the rate is higher for trains, then trains are safer.

    False. It’s the rate versus the amount of productivity or utility the train gives society-wide compared to buses.

    kedavis (View Comment):
    But the counter-balance there, again, is whether people are being killed who are ON the trains, or not. Very seldom does a train colliding with a passenger car, result in any deaths ON the train.

    This is your concept that you are introducing, not me. I don’t think it adds anything.

    I don’t always agree with comments by Rufus Jones. But when I do, I agree with comments by Rufus Jones that agree with the Austrian School of economics. (Like this one.)

    –The Most Intelligent Economist in the World (so far)

    Uh, I will take that as a complement.

    A compliment by the MIEitW(sf) is a huge compliment because it is so rare, and so indisputably deserved.  And yes, you must take it that way: your account is still in positive balance, but it’s down a bit recently.

    • #88
  29. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Stad (View Comment):

    When I first started traveling to DC as part of my job with the Department of Energy, I was in awe of how cool the DC Metro was. The cars were clean, ran on time, and the way you purchased the fare cards was slick. Unfortunately, like many large systems, maintenance gets the short shrift (especially when funding is tight) and systems begin to deteriorate. Another area is security, which also can take a hit when it comes to funding. Both cases leads to lower “mass” as you put it, which leads to lower revenue. Thus begins the death spiral . . .

    Clearly you have not been on the Metro lately. Also their new fare rates punish the occasional user over the commuter. Which given the amount of tourists DC has (had?) seems to be a deliberate fleecing.

    • #89
  30. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I believe that the majority of people killed by light rail trains are pedestrians. Trains operate in big cities where many residents do not own cars so they walk to the train station. Big cities also have homeless folks who ride the trains and are often drunk or high on drugs.  There are also incidents where criminals push others into the path of oncoming trains, like we are seeing in NYC. City governments who want their citizens to give up their cars and ride trains might be contributing to the death rate. 

    • #90
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