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Re: [carfree_cities] RV: (Public.Spaces) PBS History Detectives

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  • Mike Morin
    Which city are you describing or are you making generalities about many different cities? Boston, for example, has a very highly utilized subway system at
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 29, 2006
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      Which city are you describing or are you making generalities about many different cities?

      Boston, for example, has a very highly utilized "subway" system at least in the heart of the city. Eugene, OR has no street cars and what is left of the city that was built before the automobile is hard to discern.

      The era of the automobile and its concomitant sprawl is quickly passing as the freak of nature, the historical super-nova that it is, and we as a society must adjust and make the hard individual and collective decisions to transition to more walkable and mass transit environments/neighborhoods.

      I think that studying the planning that has occurred in any and all cities reveals that the norm is that there have been macro planning decisions made with regards to infrastructure. The question that we must pose is, are the decisions to be made for the benefit of an elite class or for the public good, or alternatively should we suffer and die with the momentum of laissez faire entropy?

      Keep hope alive!!!


      Working for peace and cooperation,

      Mike Morin

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Carlos F. Pardo SUTP
      To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 3:46 PM
      Subject: [carfree_cities] RV: (Public.Spaces) PBS History Detectives


      This below is wonderful (I hope everybody can see the image). Carfree
      thinking since long back.

      Best regards,

      Carlos F. Pardo

      _____

      De: Richard Layman [mailto:rlaymandc@...]
      Enviado el: Lunes, 28 de Agosto de 2006 10:36 p.m.
      Para: public.spaces@...
      Asunto: Re: (Public.Spaces) PBS History Detectives

      <http://static.flickr.com/92/227735603_1c2445cced.jpg?v=0>

      Ad from 1940.
      ______
      I'm all for beating up on GM, Firestone, and Exxon but they were merely
      icing on the cake. Long before their campaign to convert streetcar systems
      to bus systems (to sell buses, tires, and gasoline--GM didn't manufacture
      streetcars) streetcar systems were on the decline due to the availability of
      automobiles generally, and cheaper automobiles specifically (Henry Ford)
      which fueled outmigration and deconcentration in earnest beginning in the
      1920s.

      Before the Depression interurban systems were going out of business, and
      intracity streetcar systems too.

      The Depression didn't help.

      Neither did the Utility Holding Act, which eliminated cross-subsidy of
      streetcar systems by electricity generating companies. Many streetcar
      systems created electricity generating companies to run their systems, but
      the generating business became much bigger. When forced to make a choice
      between owning the electric company or the streetcar company, they chose the
      electric company...

      And state and city regulation of streetcar systems and limits on fare
      increases underfunded the ability of such systems to invest in their
      infrastructure and remain competitive.

      Not to mention the fact that they paid franchise fees and taxes, unlike the
      roads, which were used by vehicles that competed (gas taxes yes, but not
      property, this was a problem too for railroads compared to trucking
      companies).

      WWII led to a revitalization of streetcar usage. No automobiles were
      produced during the war. Plus gas rationing--which was instituted not
      because of gas supplies, but because of lack of access to rubber for tires
      (the Japanese took control of Malaysia from the British). So people rode
      streetcars.

      But after the war, due to the demand for consumption of consumer goods the
      price of streetcars went up greatly (demand for steel, etc.). Buses were
      seemingly cheaper to purchase (they had a shorter useful life, and reduced
      capacity compared to the average streetcar). So more streetcar lines were
      abandoned, even by systems not controlled by GM...

      Plus, streetcar service was "too frequent" often every 3 minutes, leading to
      congestion. Reducing frequency (headway) even by a couple minutes--from the
      need for 20 cars/hour to 15 or 12--would have reduced investment
      requirements.

      Plus, the rush to the suburbs, fueled after 1954 by white flight, further
      deconcentrated the market for public transit and streetcars.

      It is incumbent on those of us demanding better public spaces to be accurate
      in the recounting of history. And if you're interested in finding out more,
      there was a good discussion of this topic earlier in the year on the H-URBAN
      e-list. (It happens that transit is one of my advocacy interests.)

      There are two good books about this wrt DC. One quotes from one of the
      abandonment hearings for the system in my old neighborhood, although I
      haven't tried to track down the actual testimony myself.

      Richard Layman

      http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com

      John Williams <john@...> wrote:

      Tonight's episode of History Detectives looked into the history of
      electric streetcar systems and the role of GM et al in eliminating
      transit networks in many US communities. They mention the Snell
      Hearings and also talk to the author of a new book, "Internal
      Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to
      Oil and Derailed the Alternatives," by Edwin Black."

      Interestingly enough, the book will be released Sept. 5th, the day
      ProWalk/Pro Bike 2006 starts in Madison. Coincidence? Hmmm...

      J

      ==============

      http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigations/410_electric_car.htm
      l

      CLEVELAND ELECTRIC CAR
      AIRED: Season 4, Episode 10
      THE DETECTIVE: Wes Cowan
      THE PLACE: Cleveland, Ohio

      THE CASE:

      A Cleveland man with a passion for trains has long wondered about an
      electric street car in his city's transit museum.

      He is curious to learn what happened to the city's once extensive and
      highly praised electric trolley car network.

      Streetcars were once the most popular form of urban transportation in
      the country -- by World War I, most cities of more than 10,000 people
      had an electric railway system. But by the 1950s, this form of

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Will
      This material is highly generalized (as another poster mentioned) and short on facts. It even has contradictory statements (e.g., too few materials for
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 30, 2006
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        This material is highly generalized (as another poster mentioned) and
        short on facts. It even has contradictory statements (e.g., too few
        materials for construction of streetcars, but plenty for buses).

        It appears this person is simply talking off the top of their head, so
        I don't see any merit in this 'information'.

        Will Stewart
      • Will
        The PBS transcript can be found here; http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/pdf/410_electric_car.pdf I have no idea where the blog comment came from. Will
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 30, 2006
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          The PBS transcript can be found here;
          http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/pdf/410_electric_car.pdf

          I have no idea where the blog comment came from.

          Will Stewart
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