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2989RE: [CarFree] Living car-free in Mexico

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  • Fahrion, Jason L
    Aug 7, 2001
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      > Buses still require roads to be sure but they wouldn't have to
      > be as large if traffic was reduced by concentrating it into a
      > few larger vehicles.

      =v= That "if" is the crux. The only reason buses are economical
      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
      > increddibly in-efficent for short journeys.

      =v= For short journeys, rail is comparable with buses in terms
      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
      > persons transport. Too bad. Hopefully that impression can be
      > changed.

      =v= It's not just perception, it's policy. I grew up in a blue-
      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.

      Jason Fahrion

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