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a car to improve lives

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  • Simon Norton
    I don t think there is any dispute that a car will improve people s lives if they have inadequate alternative transport options. What I do believe is that a
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 11, 2011
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      I don't think there is any dispute that a car will improve people's lives if
      they have inadequate alternative transport options. What I do believe is that a
      society has a duty to provide transport options which will enable people to
      avoid having to own a car, and that if this is done then overall societal
      welfare will be inversely correlated with car ownership other things being
      equal.

      Dave Brook said that giving poor people a Prius would improve overall societal
      welfare as if this was unexpected. Surely giving poor people anything would
      improve overall societal welfare ? Some free marketeers might say that it would
      be better to give them the money and let them choose what they spend it on, and
      although I'm not a free marketeer I'd agree in this case.

      Incidentally there is a similar scheme in the UK involving mopeds rather than
      cars and targeted at young people in rural areas, called "Wheels to Work".
      However when I once saw an article about the scheme giving the viewpoint of one
      of its beneficiaries I noticed that the person in question could have got to
      work and back by train given a very minor improvement in the local train
      service, and said so in a letter to the relevant magazine which was published.

      My basic objection to the scheme is that in areas where public transport is
      inadequate it undermines the residual market, and if this leads to service cuts
      there is no assurance that the gain in welfare for the beneficiary is not
      outweighed by the loss for remaining users. And this is before one even
      considers pollution, climate change, danger etc.

      Simon Norton
    • Dave Holladay
      It is not only in deepest rural areas that the problems arise. Many who know West London and its adjacent areas will be well aware of the radial bias in
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 12, 2011
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        It is not only in deepest rural areas that the problems arise. Many who
        know West London and its adjacent areas will be well aware of the radial
        bias in public transport - East West and generally you have a core route
        (but even then not a good general coverage*) yet try North-South and you
        are really in trouble - we have the 'sticking plaster' of bus and coach
        links to Heathrow Airport, largely due to the failure to build the
        airport with a railway line through it. A comparision in modal split
        shouts when we compare the rail share of Gatwick and to a lesser extent
        Birmingham Airports (served by through services to many destinations)
        with Stansted and Heathrow (dead-ends) or Glasgow/Edinburgh messy
        changes of mode, required. I see the same with NHS wringing therir
        hands about the cost and problems with car parking yet picking crass
        locations (Glasgow Southern General is a supreme example - it should
        have used the vast areas of dereliction East of Glasgow's High Street
        which sit across rail lines that put most of the area within a 30-40
        minute train ride on existing scheduled services, or with an existing
        rail line that can be used for passenger trains. Peter Fuller, when
        with Borders Council pulled off a master stroke with the Borders
        Hospital by providing a 'bus only' back gate that enabled operators to
        route all main road services through the hospital site without the time
        penalty of a cul-de-sac spur - which will often cost extra buses on a
        route to maintain the frequency. It is a joy to sit in the WRVS tea
        room in the main reception hall and realise that you can sit in comfort
        to watch the buses arrive and walk out to catch them.

        Only when the costs of transport choice are pulled in to a complete
        account will we get some realism in thinking of planners and
        administrators. There are a few signs appearing - in Glasgow we have
        car parks with banners advertising added value (car valet service) and
        discounted rates, £40m of UK taxpayers money was spent on building car
        parks at 17 stations, in anticipation of need but at present one site
        has a 40% discount on the planned prices, and has 1-2 levels unfilled
        for much of the time - all this with one site costing £83,333 per space
        to add just 30 places - and a daily charge for parking which will never
        amortise spending on this scale. My latest observation is at Coleshill
        Parkway - a station with a 24 hour staff presence but not for ticket
        sales or passenger information - its the security guard employed by the
        station owner - not Network Rail the UK infrastructure company, but John
        Laing, and the site is managed by London Midland - the train operator
        who have no trains serving the station, they are provided by Cross
        Country Trains (who operate no stations), and the car park has the
        ticket machines taped up with vast banners advertising Free Parking ...
        until September 2015! A brilliant example of the dysfunctionality of
        the divided up operation of the UK rail (and transport) system (and
        barely a couple of Km from the proposed Bickenhill Interchange station
        on the HS2 railway line). To emphasise this further Coleshill has
        perhaps one of the longest 'Station Road's I've seen in the UK (OK so
        its no Younge Street for those in Toronto to pull out as the daddy of
        all longest streets)

        To swing back to the car issue we have a dismal take-up of the £5000
        bung (legitimate bribe?) to buy electric cars for private use, and a
        lurching demand for private car ownership, but the car club model should
        play beautifully into the electric vehicle model. Car clubs would offer
        intensive use of the expensive vehicles, and at the same time make their
        use affordable to the individual user, the car club regime of fleet
        management would see renewals and recycling managed to get optimum life
        from batteries and charging equipment, and placing a core order
        programme to provide a stable market/production model, which by happy
        circumstance will also require less special promotional expenditure to
        target the private buyer.

        Oh and meanwhile we have overloaded diesel trains with a government
        decision never to order any new ones, and a failure to order any new
        trains at all for over 900 days (yes nearly 3 years with plenty of fine
        words but no signatures on the contracts or cheques). Enjoy!

        Dave Holladay

        *Travel Plan specialist working with one West London site near to
        Hanwell/Greenford found that it was still faster and more convenient to
        get to Park Royal and Slough at peak times by private car, than the
        convoluted routes they had to use with Public Transport!

        More than ever this also makes the clear case for a clean sheet on
        building a new airport for London, and the only location for this that
        makes sense is East of Southend, served by a through rail line (looping
        from London to Ipswich - possibly via Felixstowe or Harwich to deliver
        connections to Peterborough for the North & Midlands).

        On 11/10/11 23:50, Simon Norton wrote:
        > I don't think there is any dispute that a car will improve people's lives if
        > they have inadequate alternative transport options. What I do believe is that a
        > society has a duty to provide transport options which will enable people to
        > avoid having to own a car, and that if this is done then overall societal
        > welfare will be inversely correlated with car ownership other things being
        > equal.
        >
        > Dave Brook said that giving poor people a Prius would improve overall societal
        > welfare as if this was unexpected. Surely giving poor people anything would
        > improve overall societal welfare ? Some free marketeers might say that it would
        > be better to give them the money and let them choose what they spend it on, and
        > although I'm not a free marketeer I'd agree in this case.
        >
        > Incidentally there is a similar scheme in the UK involving mopeds rather than
        > cars and targeted at young people in rural areas, called "Wheels to Work".
        > However when I once saw an article about the scheme giving the viewpoint of one
        > of its beneficiaries I noticed that the person in question could have got to
        > work and back by train given a very minor improvement in the local train
        > service, and said so in a letter to the relevant magazine which was published.
        >
        > My basic objection to the scheme is that in areas where public transport is
        > inadequate it undermines the residual market, and if this leads to service cuts
        > there is no assurance that the gain in welfare for the beneficiary is not
        > outweighed by the loss for remaining users. And this is before one even
        > considers pollution, climate change, danger etc.
        >
        > Simon Norton
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > The New Mobility/World Transport Agenda
        > Consult at: http://NewMobility.org
        > To post message to group: WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com
        > To subscribe: WorldTransport-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
        > To unsubscribe: WorldTransport-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
      • Simon Norton
        I dare say that in areas like West London the lack of a car can cause problems, but I should be surprised if these problems were ever so big as to cause major
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 12, 2011
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          I dare say that in areas like West London the lack of a car can cause problems,
          but I should be surprised if these problems were ever so big as to cause major
          loss of employment opportunities, which, we're told, is happening in Baltimore.

          At the Conservative Party conference an announcement was made that unemployed
          people will be punishable with loss of benefit if they refuse jobs within 90
          minutes commute. In other words, this is considered a reasonable commuting time
          by our government. I am sure that one can get pretty much anywhere to anywhere
          within a sector of London in this sort of time.

          That isn't to say that we don't need big improvements. Transport campaigners
          have proposed a light rail network for North-West London which would link
          several important areas, including the industrial estates in Park Royal
          mentioned by Dave Holladay. And as he says, our planning system has allowed
          developments such as hospitals in transport discriminatory locations.

          Coleshill Parkway is interesting in another way. When it opened it had buses
          every 15 minutes to Birmingham Airport, fanning out to provide 4 services, each
          hourly, to different surrounding towns. I cited it as an example of good
          practice in rail/bus coordination, as against (say) East Midlands Parkway
          station which has no buses at all except an occasional service on route 65 --
          the route between Nottingham and East Midlands Airport goes past nonstop. Now,
          following local authority cuts, the service between Coleshill Parkway and
          Birmingham airport is down to half hourly, all journeys to places beyond require
          a change at Coleshill, 2 of the 4 routes have disappeared completely and a 3rd
          is now only occasional.

          I have commented on the contrast between the 5000 pound bribe for those with
          25,000 further pounds to spare to buy an electric car, and the cuts to bus
          service support, which in Cambridgeshire has been about 5 pounds per person per
          year. In Hartlepool, which summarily abolished all bus subsidies, there is a
          case of someone who has to pay 11 pounds EVERY DAY for a taxi to visit a frail
          relative and as a result can only do so 3 days a week.

          One could argue that concessionary bus passes are a way of making socially
          worthwhile use of spare capacity on buses.

          Finally I'd like to mention an article on commuting in the US that I came across
          through another e-group: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15207973>. The
          comments on it, both from the UK and the US, are worth looking through.

          Simon Norton
        • Richard Layman
          Below is an old blog entry.  FWIW, in fiscal year 2010 I served as bike and ped planner in Baltimore County, Maryland (grant funded).  At the time, the #1
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 13, 2011
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            Below is an old blog entry.  FWIW, in fiscal year 2010 I served as bike and ped planner in Baltimore County, Maryland (grant funded).  At the time, the #1 transpo priority for the County Executive was to assist lower income households in acquiring a car.  Adding to the fixed rail transit system was 3rd on the list of 4 items I seem to recall.

            The Baltimore region's biggest problem is that it has two transit lines (one subway line, one light rail) and some commuter railroad service focused on Baltimore and DC but it doesn't have a transit network.  Without a transit network you can't realize substantive transit use and you can't generate the kinds of land use changes that increase returns and benefits to transit.

            I wrote an internal paper outlining a much more systematic approach to fixed rail transit connection and expansion for Baltimore County for the Master Plan group.  Nothing made it into the Master Plan.  I was told later that the County Executive Budget Office ("inter-agency review") deleted everything related to transit from the Master Plan because it would cost money.  Transpo. planning had been removed from the Office of Planning many years before.  In the DPW, transpo planning is mostly traffic modeling.  At my goading the then director of the planning office tried to make a play to get transpo planning back, but the move was denied by the County Executive's office.

            Richard Layman

            Tuesday, December 06, 2005

            A really really bad article in the Washington Monthly

            I love a parade on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpgFlickr photo by David Wyman.

            "To be a fully functioning citizen in this country today, a car is a virtual necessity; so the federal government should subsidize a set of wheels and the commute to work" even more than it already does, a minimum of $200 billion/year in the military budget related to maintaining access to foreign oil, 50% of the cost of roads, the provision of free parking to government workers, etc. (my points in bold)

            In "A Car In Every Garage," the author argues that, especially to end poverty, the policy choice should be to give everyone a car, and she fails to address the factors, such as land use planning that allows job locations to be disconnected from efficient transit options, etc., which make car dependence a virtual necessity for many.

            And as the Location Efficient Mortgage program makes very clear, by not being auto-dependent, and living on transit lines, families can cut spending on transit and put that money into buying a house. (The average household spends up to 20% of its annual income on automobile-related transportation.)

            From a brochure about the LEM : "People who live in location-efficient communities reap many rewards. Stores, schools, and public transit, all lie within walking distance of their homes. They have less need to drive, which gives them more discretionary income. They’re more likely to know their neighbors. Their frequent use of local amenities saves energy, which means cleaner air for us all!"

            So rather than deal with the issues of deconcentration, sprawl, gasoline dependence, the likelihood of peak oil, and the impact that this has on our society economically, spatially, culturally, and in terms of foreign policy choices (read: wars to ensure continued access to oil) she suggests everyone, particularly the poor, get a car.

            Hmm. So much for the pathbreaking nature of Washington Monthly.

            From the article:

            Among the many unpleasant realities exposed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath--from persistent income and racial disparities to the chronic incompetence of the Bush administration--one of the most surprising, to many, was this: our nearly total dependence on automobiles. 

            Nowhere was this clearer than in the exodus from New Orleans itself. The difference between those who escaped with their lives and loved ones, and those who did not, often came down to access to a car and enough money for gas. Now, in the recovery stage, many of those who were left behind have been evacuated to trailer-park camps, where they are likely to be worse off than they were before, in part because they cannot get to where the jobs are.

            portland ground Bagdad, Portland.jpgBike, car, walking, and bus are mobility options in the Hawthorne Distrit of Portland. Photos from Portland Ground.

            portland ground Pioneer Square, Max Light Rail, Protestors, at Lunchtime.jpgAnd transit options abound, with light rail

            Portland Streetcar, Oregonand streetcar, in addition to bus.


            From: Simon Norton <S.Norton@...>
            To: carfreecafe@yahoogroups.com; newmobilitycafe@yahoogroups.com; worldtransport@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 5:37 PM
            Subject: [NewMobilityCafe] a car to improve lives

             
            I dare say that in areas like West London the lack of a car can cause problems,
            but I should be surprised if these problems were ever so big as to cause major
            loss of employment opportunities, which, we're told, is happening in Baltimore.

            At the Conservative Party conference an announcement was made that unemployed
            people will be punishable with loss of benefit if they refuse jobs within 90
            minutes commute. In other words, this is considered a reasonable commuting time
            by our government. I am sure that one can get pretty much anywhere to anywhere
            within a sector of London in this sort of time.

            That isn't to say that we don't need big improvements. Transport campaigners
            have proposed a light rail network for North-West London which would link
            several important areas, including the industrial estates in Park Royal
            mentioned by Dave Holladay. And as he says, our planning system has allowed
            developments such as hospitals in transport discriminatory locations.

            Coleshill Parkway is interesting in another way. When it opened it had buses
            every 15 minutes to Birmingham Airport, fanning out to provide 4 services, each
            hourly, to different surrounding towns. I cited it as an example of good
            practice in rail/bus coordination, as against (say) East Midlands Parkway
            station which has no buses at all except an occasional service on route 65 --
            the route between Nottingham and East Midlands Airport goes past nonstop. Now,
            following local authority cuts, the service between Coleshill Parkway and
            Birmingham airport is down to half hourly, all journeys to places beyond require
            a change at Coleshill, 2 of the 4 routes have disappeared completely and a 3rd
            is now only occasional.

            I have commented on the contrast between the 5000 pound bribe for those with
            25,000 further pounds to spare to buy an electric car, and the cuts to bus
            service support, which in Cambridgeshire has been about 5 pounds per person per
            year. In Hartlepool, which summarily abolished all bus subsidies, there is a
            case of someone who has to pay 11 pounds EVERY DAY for a taxi to visit a frail
            relative and as a result can only do so 3 days a week.

            One could argue that concessionary bus passes are a way of making socially
            worthwhile use of spare capacity on buses.

            Finally I'd like to mention an article on commuting in the US that I came across
            through another e-group: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15207973>. The
            comments on it, both from the UK and the US, are worth looking through.

            Simon Norton



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