2989RE: [CarFree] Living car-free in Mexico
- Aug 7, 2001
> Buses still require roads to be sure but they wouldn't have to=v= That "if" is the crux. The only reason buses are economical
> be as large if traffic was reduced by concentrating it into a
> few larger vehicles.
is the existence of heavily-subsidized car-based transportation
infrastructure. The relationship is symbiotic. And if the goal
is to concentrate transportation into a few larger vehicles, it
makes more sense to use comfortable, energy-efficent vehicles,
which means rail.
But that infrastructure already exists. On the other hand the rail
infrastructure is mostly nonexistant at this point.
> I don't see buses as a replacement for rail. Rail is=v= For short journeys, rail is comparable with buses in terms
> increddibly in-efficent for short journeys.
of energy used, but much better in terms of emissions. (This
according to Marcia Lowe of the Worldwatch Institute.)
I should have been clearer, by in-efficent I wasn't speaking to
environmental concerns but to practical ones. Rail is fine for moving long
distances but how are you possibly going to create a system of rails that
will cover a significant portion of a metro area? It'd be a nightmare. I
live in a suburb of portland oregon and we have a combination system. There
is a light rail that runs east-west from one end of the suburbs through
portland and out to the other end of the suburbs. Combined with that is a
reasonably good bus system. You take a rail to get somewhat close and then
bus the rest of the way (or walk or bike if thats your thing). They are
supposed to open a north-south branch which will again run from the suburbs
through portland and out to the other suburban edge. I think it's a great
idea (especially since it should connect to the airport). After that though
I think more rail would be a mistake. Its job is to get you to the general
location then the bus system can better move people to specific locales.
I guess what I'm trying to get at here is we are trying to find a solution
to a problem with conflicting forces. On the one hand the larger the
transporting vehicle the less convenient. The reason for this is simple:
bigger means less vehicles which means longer waits, less frequent trips to
smaller or more distant neighborhoods and more inconvenience due to frequent
stops. To explain that last point imagine riding a hypothetical "superbus"
which holds three times as many people as a normal bus. You still would see
the superbus stopping every 5 blocks or so, only now you are slowing down
three times as many people each time you stop. And because of the greater
number of people you will be stopping more often.
On the other hand you have the cost effects which decrease as the vehicle
gets larger (assuming it actually transports more people as it gets larger).
The key of course is to find a compromise that will try to maximize both.
You have to have a reasonable amount of convenience to have any chance of
getting it implemented, and you want to reduce the costs (in terms of money
and environmental issues) for obvious reasons.
Cars are a poor solution, they are all the way on the convenience end of the
spectrum. Mythical "superbuses" would be a bad solution because they go to
far the other direction. Rail would be even worse given that it would have
the same problems as my hypothetical superbus and require much more money to
implement because as I said before the infrastructure isn't there already.
Buses on the other hand can be an ideal solution.
> Yeah, as I mentioned before buses are percieved as a poor=v= It's not just perception, it's policy. I grew up in a blue-
> persons transport. Too bad. Hopefully that impression can be
collar neighborhood that was once middle-class. They marked the
transition by tearing out the tracks and putting in bus service.
Most buses are so uncomfortable that people will use other means
of getting around, unless they can't afford to.
It sounds like you've had bad experiences. The buses here and in eugene are
really pretty comfy. I look forward to riding the bus as a time I can read
or reflect or just zone. The only bus I rode on in SanFran was prety dingy
but that was more a matter of neglect than anything else. My family owns a
car but I'd much rather bus if I'm by myself (and use the light rail too
since its all part of one integrated mass transit company). I certainly
wouldn't be so eager to bus ride if they were as horrid as you are making
them out to be.
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