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Re: [carfree_cities] Perspectives on Portland

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  • philip@aal.cix.co.uk
    ... Hard-core Libertarians in the US. This is mainstream politics in the UK. All UK public transport was privatised in the 1980s and early 1990s. The question
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 25, 2001
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      > Well, we hear a lot from him here in Portland, and he's part of a very
      > loud group of cranky hard-core Libertarians (Randall O'Toole, Mel
      > Zucker, Ted Piccolo, and one professor at PSU whose name I forget) who
      > not only are against rail but also want to privatize the bus system
      > (which was put under public control after the private line failed in the
      > early 1970s) and introduce jitney buses.

      Hard-core Libertarians in the US. This is mainstream politics in the UK.
      All UK public transport was privatised in the 1980s and early 1990s. The
      question is; do such as John Charles advocate Deregulation - that's whats
      done the *real* damage to Britain's bus system.



      > The anti-rail types also argue that light rail is only for "rich"
      > suburbanites. Actually, the line runs into east Multnomah County, which
      > is home to a lot of poor and working-class Anglos and recent immigrants
      > from places such as Russia and Rumania. The western suburbs are more
      > affluent, but even they are home to a large number of decidely
      > non-affluent immigrants, especially from Mexico and Korea.

      I can see from James Rombough's points, that where Commuter Rail does
      exist in the US, it is more like mainland Europe, and therefore *is* more
      of a positive tool against long-term traffic problems. In the UK it *is* a
      form of transport for the comparatively rich, as fares for regular
      passengers (ie. commuters) are considerably higher than for Bus users.
      Again, there is also the question of access. Apart from the seemingly
      frequent system breakdowns, due to minor accidents, power failure etc, its
      no coincidence that one of the biggest source of complaints about
      Manchester's LRT is lack of car parking at the stations.


      > Residents of north Portland complained that they were the most
      > transit-dependent part of the city and still had the oldest, most
      > run-down buses. Their Metro councilor and a few other city officials
      > patched together a funding proposal to build the extension in north
      > Portland only, all without requiring any rise in property taxes.
      >
      (That's one thing the rail critics miss: rail is so much more comfortable
      > than buses. I think that deep down, their attitude is, "Buses are good >
      enough for poor people.")
      No different to Britain with that attitude. However, UK trains are not
      necessarily that much more comfortable than Buses. Indeed, the Manchester
      LRT units have poor legroom, and thin, uncomfortable "modular" seating ie.
      A plastic moulding with a cushion that's barely an inch thick.
      Unfortunately, the bus industry has just discovered these cheap seats.
      However, all buses over about six months old have bench type seats with
      comfortable three-inch thick cushions, and the older double-deckers also
      have better leg-room - important to me as a six-footer.


      > If rich suburbanites ride the rails, so much the better. It is a sad
      > fact in our supposedly non-class-conscious society that middle class and
      > upper class people support only those government expenditures that
      > benefit themselves.

      This is *exactly* why Rail gets so much more investment and media support
      than Bus in the UK. It is also an open secret that this is why London's
      buses were not deregulated.


      > Since most middle-class Americans see buses as the transport of last
      > resort for the despised poor, any shabby old system will do. If more
      > affluent people start using the system, as they do when rail is added,
      > they demand better service.
      Yes. But at the further expense of the "poor" left on the declining bus
      services.

      > Taken as a whole, they are definitely pro-car. After all, buses are made
      > by the same companies that make automobiles, and they run on petroleum
      > products.

      That might be relevant to a general debate about Big Business controlling
      our lives in general, but who makes the vehicles and who supplies the fuel
      is irrelevant to the practical & financial arguments about what form(s) of
      transport maintains the freedom not to obtain a car.
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