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RE: [CarFree] Living car-free in Mexico

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  • Fahrion, Jason L
    How fascinating. Why is it that the citizens of Mexico, allegedly a less-developed country than the U.S., have public transportation vastly superior to just
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 5, 2001
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      How fascinating. Why is it that the citizens of Mexico, allegedly a
      less-developed country than the U.S., have public transportation
      vastly
      superior to just about any location north of the border?

      Probably because mass transit is seen as a poor solution (poor in the sense
      of the economy). If Mexico were richer I'm sure you'd see the same traffic
      problems there. Ditto most of the countries we are helping to "develop."


      Jason Fahrion





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    • Jym Dyer
      =v= Interesting discussion, but as I see it, a few things have gotten mixed up here. =v= I was motivated to go car-free because I saw what cars and car-based
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 7, 2001
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        =v= Interesting discussion, but as I see it, a few things have
        gotten mixed up here.

        =v= I was motivated to go car-free because I saw what cars and
        car-based land use do to society, but also for ecological
        reasons. Buses don't address land use at all, and are only
        marginally better for the environment -- especially the buses
        being described here, which are poorly-maintained and run on
        low-grade fossil fuels.

        =v= Don't forget that in the U.S., car, oil, and tire companies
        deliberately imposed bus service as an unattractive replacement
        for rail service, thereby discouraging people from using mass
        transit and instead buying cars. Buses will never be nearly as
        comfortable as rail, nor will they ever be as energy-efficient.

        =v= In the U.S. as in Mexico, buses are cheap and inferior
        service, primarily used by the poor, and primarily planned as
        service for communities of color. (Robert Bullard refers to
        this phenomenon as "transportation apartheid.") The described
        situation in Mexico doesn't suggest land use planning, but keep
        in mind that it's just a particular niche, planned to be so.
        The apparent "free market" dynamics are just chaotic processes
        within that niche.

        =v= At any rate, any situation in which inefficient, polluting
        buses are "naturally" the most competitive is a situation that's
        propped up with the usual hidden subsidies.
        <_Jym_>
      • Fahrion, Jason L
        =v= Interesting discussion, but as I see it, a few things have gotten mixed up here. =v= I was motivated to go car-free because I saw what cars and car-based
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 7, 2001
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          =v= Interesting discussion, but as I see it, a few things have
          gotten mixed up here.

          =v= I was motivated to go car-free because I saw what cars and
          car-based land use do to society, but also for ecological
          reasons. Buses don't address land use at all, and are only
          marginally better for the environment -- especially the buses
          being described here, which are poorly-maintained and run on
          low-grade fossil fuels.

          Land use is significantly less for bus users. coming from eugene where the
          bus system is really quite good we frequently had 20 people on important
          buses every 15-20 minutes. If those people used the bus as their primary
          transport then that saves on parking spaces, car dealerships, gas stations,
          etc. not to mention the land use of producing the automobiles. 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. As for
          the environment again I have to disagree. A given bus may be much worse
          than a given car, but if that bus can replace 20 or more cars it is
          obviously much much better in the long run. Given that most of the fuel
          consumption goes toward moving the vehicles mass you clearly come out ahead
          when you multiply the number of passengers.


          =v= Don't forget that in the U.S., car, oil, and tire companies
          deliberately imposed bus service as an unattractive replacement
          for rail service, thereby discouraging people from using mass
          transit and instead buying cars. Buses will never be nearly as
          comfortable as rail, nor will they ever be as energy-efficient.

          I don't see buses as a replacement for rail. Rail is increddibly
          in-efficent for short journeys. What I'd like to see is a travel heirarchy
          of bus (for in town), rail (for between towns of moderate to long
          distances), and flight (for long to very long distance travel). Cars would
          be mostly used in the country areas where other forms of transportation
          aren't so easily used. Of course I'd also like to see a big upswing in
          walking, biking, skateboarding, scootering, whatever.



          =v= In the U.S. as in Mexico, buses are cheap and inferior
          service, primarily used by the poor, and primarily planned as
          service for communities of color. (Robert Bullard refers to
          this phenomenon as "transportation apartheid.") The described
          situation in Mexico doesn't suggest land use planning, but keep
          in mind that it's just a particular niche, planned to be so.
          The apparent "free market" dynamics are just chaotic processes
          within that niche.

          Yeah, as I mentioned before buses are percieved as a poor persons transport.
          Too bad. Hopefully that impression can be changed.


          Jason fahrion



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        • Jym Dyer
          ... =v= That if is the crux. The only reason buses are economical is the existence of heavily-subsidized car-based transportation infrastructure. The
          Message 4 of 9 , 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.

            > 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.)

            > 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.
            <_Jym_>
          • Fahrion, Jason L
            ... =v= That if is the crux. The only reason buses are economical is the existence of heavily-subsidized car-based transportation infrastructure. The
            Message 5 of 9 , 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.
              <_Jym_>

              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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