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

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  • Richard Layman
    One of the problems with the data that conservatives use is what it measures. The most widely used congestion data in the U.S. _only studies freeway
    Message 1 of 5 , May 22, 2008
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      One of the problems with the data that "conservatives" use is what it measures.  The most widely used congestion data in the U.S. _only studies freeway congestion_!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      For those of us who use transit, drive little, have jobs-housing-activity destinations balance, and rarely venture onto Interstate and/or local freeways  this data is meaningless. 

      Anecdotally, although I have a decent empirical orientation, I see tremendous fall off on traffic within DC at most times of day, except in certain key commuter or through-traffic routes (some DC surface roads, since the city doesn't have freeways for the most part, function as through routes from MD to VA).

      One of the ways I test this is by running red lights on my bike, which I don't do with any oncoming traffic.  And I can do this on major outbound routes, during evening rush, in many places of the city.

      And this is true downtown as well, at least during evening rush hour.  (I don't get to downtown much during morning rush.)

      I attribute this to the dense and rich transit system in the city as well as the recognition that it is difficult and expensive to park, especially because with one major exception, there are no large surface parking lots in the Central Business District, and structured parking costs a lot more.

      The other problem with data is that it is national and averaged.  Of course, places like Cleveland don't have the transit efficiency of places like DC  DC's top 4 bus lines move 60--75% of the equivalent ridership of the Dallas DART light rail.  And DC bus utilization is nothing like San Francisco or Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.  (But for the most part, DC's Metrobus lines have much greater ridership than lines in VA or MD.)

      In short, you have to compare like places to similar places, and similar transit systems to comparable systems.  Generally, that doesn't happen in these kinds of articles.


      Craig Townsend <townsend@...> wrote:
      The Canadian Urban Transit Association CUTA) is apparently preparing an
      official response to the opinion column by Neil Reynolds, who is not just
      any "journo" but has been the editor in chief in two of Canada's larger
      city newspapers, and has run as a politician for the Libertarian Party. It
      is, however, just an opinion column.

      What I see as problematic in the column (and we shouldn't be attacking the
      individuals) is that 1. O'Toole is being presented as someone with more
      credibility (and I believe credentials, but I may be wrong about this)
      than he actually has; 2. the source of the data is not presented so we
      can't analyze it, 3. the reported findings are based on US transport
      system data which is so extremely high in terms of personal automobile use
      and so extremely low in terms of transit vehicle loadings that the
      findings could plausibly be true, even if it is true it wouldn't hold for
      other places, including across the border in Canada, and 4. it neglects to
      mention walking or cycling as a mode of transportation. I can see other
      flaws that are likely inherent to the paper, but rather on commenting on
      something I have not read, I'll restrain myself.

      I'm counting on CUTA to come up with a strong, reasoned response to
      Reynolds' column. If you feel strongly, I would recommend sending letters
      to the editor of The Globe and Mail newspaper, which is Canada's largest
      and most respected national newspaper. I can't find the address from the
      electronic edition and I don't currently have a print edition, but if
      anyone feels motivated and would like that address please email me
      off-list and I can find it for you.

      Craig Townsend
      Montreal, Quebec, Canada

      > 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 ...
      > <http://>http://www.theage. com.au/news/ national/ melbourne- uni-demotes- transport- dissident/ 2008/05/19/ 1211182704265. html
      > It is also worth having a GOOGLE to see some of
      > the articles and interviews involving Paul.
      > MY.......... ......... ...
      > 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@xplornet. com)
      >>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
      >> <mailto:NewMobilityCafe@ yahoogroups. com>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."
      >>No virus found in this incoming message.
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      >>- Release Date: 21/05/2008 5:34 PM

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