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815RE: WorldTransport Forum Re: [NewMobilityCafe] "the next Jane Jacobs"??? - Road to hell is paved with public transit

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  • Lee Schipper
    May 22 6:10 AM
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      It is worth adding that the US Bureau of Transport statistics puts the BTU/passenger-mil for US buses at around 3400 btu./passenger mile in 2005, while the “environmentalist” sited by Mr Reynolds conveniently forgot that about 35%of all “cars” used by Americans are SUVs using about 4077 btu/passenger mile.

      So buses use less energy/passenger-mile than  the weighted average of both kinds of “cars” in the US – in 2005.

      And the “environmentalist” forgot to mention that the US Government he disdains is the reason why the energy intensities of cars  are expected to fall – new fuel economy standards.


      Lee Schipper

      Visiting Scholar,

      Univ of Calif Transport Center

      Berkeley CA


      skype: mrmeter

      Office: 510 642 6889

      Cell: 202 262 7476


      From: WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Yeates
      Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2008 2:42 AM
      To: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com
      Cc: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com; WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: WorldTransport Forum Re: [NewMobilityCafe] "the next Jane Jacobs"??? - Road to hell is paved with public transit


      Too often these types of stories appear to be the almost inevitable result of lazy journos copying press releases ... long gone are the days when the journos or "hacks" can do in depth critical investigatory journalism ... with of course, some welcome exceptions.

      Presumably the best strategies for those who disagree with (t)his article will involve discrediting the two authors ... primarily Mr Reynolds for not checking other sources and "experts".

      In fact it might be useful to see if Mr Reynolds will pass over the source(s) of his references.

      The most obvious indicator in articles with contentious or problematic topic or content material is an article that only cites one source .... and there can be no doubt that this is not a contentious or problematic topic.

      It would appear this article seems to fit that model well.

      In the interim, it might be useful to consider how much more road and parking space is needed as each bus load of passengers decides to use a car instead of the bus.

      And talking of hatchet jobs ... have a look at this ...


      It is also worth having a GOOGLE to see some of the articles and interviews involving Paul.


      At 06:59 PM 22/05/2008, Eric Britton wrote:

      This is a despicable hatchet job from the rabid right. What is unforgivable is not the tilted argumentation -- fair enough that is to be expected from these well known quarters -- but the gall of labeling O’Toole, as having “impeccable environmental credentials” or, can you believe it?, as "the next Jane Jacobs"???. What do you think Mr. Reynolds (pic just below and address right here: nreynolds@...) was smoking anyway? Strong stuff I would say.

      But it is important that we have this kind of argumentation fully in our sights. I think it is useful to hear these voices, because there are always small hints of truth or valid questions lurking behind the stark political agenda.

      There has been an excellent private commentary on this over the last few days which I hesitate to post her without the approval of the senders. May I suggest that discussion of this be via the New Mobility Café, of which the posting address is NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com.

      Eric Briton

      Road to hell is paved with public transit

      Headshot of Neil Reynolds


      May 21, 2008

      OTTAWA -- The average public transit bus in the U.S. uses 4,365 British thermal units, a measure of energy, per passenger mile and emits 0.71 pounds of carbon dioxide. The average car uses 3,445 BTUs per passenger mile and emits 0.54 pounds of CO{-2}. Whether you seek to conserve energy or to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, your public policy decision here appears remarkably obvious. Get people off buses and get them into cars. The decision to do precisely this will get progressively easier. By 2020, the average car will use only 3,000 BTUs per passenger mile; by 2035, only 2,500 BTUs. By this time, the car will be - by far - the greenest option in the 21st century urban transit system.

      Thus calculates Randal O'Toole, an Oregon economist with impeccable environmental credentials. Senior economist for a number of years with the Thoreau Institute (an environmental think tank in Portland) and lecturer in environmental economics at Yale and at the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. O'Toole has been described as the next Jane Jacobs, the influential contrarian environmentalist who ironically worked in more innocent times to keep cars out of North American downtowns. Author of provocative books such as The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths and The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Mr. O'Toole is now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, the Washington-based libertarian think tank. He reportedly cycles to work every day.

      Most public transit systems, Mr. O'Toole says in a research paper published in April, have never done the job that governments entrusted to them, which was to move large numbers of people safely to work in the morning and to move them safely back home at night. (On the basis of every billion passenger miles, he asserts, "light-rail [public transit] kills three times as many people as cars on urban freeways.") Judged on either environmental or economic efficiency, he says, public transit systems consistently produce diminishing returns.

      New York operates the most energy-efficient system in the U.S. - but only because its buses carry an average of 17 passengers, or 60 per cent more "load" than the 10.7 passengers carried by the average public transit bus nationwide. (The average public transit bus has seats for 39 people and standing room for 20.) New York keeps losing market share to cars, too. In 1985, the public transit share of passenger travel in New York was 12.7 per cent, far ahead of the No. 2 system (with a 5.2 per cent share) in Chicago. By 2005, though, the public transit share in New York had fallen to 9.6 per cent; Chicago, in the same period, had fallen to 3.7 per cent. At the lower end, Buffalo fell from a 1.2 per cent share of the passenger market to 0.6 per cent; Sacramento fell to a 0.7 per cent share from 0.9 per cent.

      The great boondoggle of the past few years, Mr. O'Toole says, has been light rail, a fashionable alternative to heavy rail, the underground subway train.

      "Most heavy-rail systems are less efficient than the average passenger car and none is as efficient as a Toyota Prius," Mr. O'Toole says. "Most light-rail systems use more energy per passenger mile than an average passenger car, some are worse than the average light truck and none is as efficient as a Prius." Curiously, the Prius delivers exceptional mileage but emits roughly the same greenhouse gases (per passenger mile) as the average car and average public transit train.

      Perhaps because they remain market-driven enterprises, cars and trucks have eclipsed buses and trains - by a wide margin - in energy-efficiency advances in the past generation. Americans drive four times as many miles as they did 40 years ago but produce less than half as much automotive air pollution. Some new cars pollute less than 1 per cent as much as new cars did in the 1970s.

      Public transit buses are a different story. In 1970, the average bus used 2,500 BTUs per passenger mile; by 2005, it used 4,300 BTUs, a 70 per cent increase. In 1970, by way of contrast, light trucks used 9,000 BTUs per passenger mile; in 2005, they used 4,300 - a decrease of 50 per cent. The average pickup truck is now as energy efficient now, per passenger mile, as the average bus.

      "The fuel economies for bus transit have declined in every five-year period since 1970," Mr. O'Toole says. Why? U.S. public transit agencies keep buying larger and more expensive vehicles - and then driving around town with fewer people in them. In 1982, the average number of bus occupants was 13.8; by 2006, it was 10.7.

      "Since 1992, American cities have invested $100-billion in urban rail transit," Mr. O'Toole says. "Yet no city in the country has managed to increase [public] transit's share of commuters by more than 1 per cent. No city has managed to reduce driving by even 1 per cent. People respond to high fuel prices by buying more efficient cars - and then driving more."


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