## total cost of public transit?

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• If you convert money spent on a transportation system into typical labour hours and compare that to the distance traveled, then how fast do you actually go?
Message 1 of 2 , Aug 8, 2002
If you convert money spent on a transportation system into typical labour hours and compare that to the distance traveled, then how fast do you actually go?

People here will surely know about Ivan Illich (http://www.cogsci.ed.ac.uk/~ira/illich/) who made this computation for cars. After accounting for time spent in traffic jams, working to buy, run and maintain the car, and taxes paid to help the automobile industry, he calculated that the USA doesn't get any more speed out of cars than can be achieved by walking, let alone bicycling. And still, that computation didn't factor in all the costs.

Of course, subways have a set of affordances to them that often make them preferable to bicycles even if they go at the same speed. For example, it's possible to sleep, eat, read, and chat in a subway. They're also more comfortable, egalitarian (eg, children and the elderly) and less strenuous to use. Finally, automation is bound to make public trasport cheaper, faster and safer as time goes on.

Still, it would be interesting to make the computation for public transportation systems. How fast are subway, tram and bus systems when the hours spent paying for them are factored into the equation?
• ... --snip-- ... It s an interesting question. Some points should be noted. The average speed of a car calculated this way would surely depend on the car and
Message 2 of 2 , Aug 10, 2002
--- In carfree_cities@y..., "prometeus57" <prometeus57@y...> wrote:
> If you convert money spent on a transportation system into typical labour hours and compare that to the distance traveled, then how fast do you actually go?
>
--snip--
>
> Still, it would be interesting to make the computation for public transportation systems. How fast are subway, tram and bus systems when the hours spent paying for them are factored into the equation?

It's an interesting question. Some points should be noted. The average speed of a car calculated this way would surely depend on the car and where it is driven. If mostly driven on the open road, its average speed would be greater than if driven in the city or suburbs. Still the drivers time is occupied while driving to get between distant points.

To find the speed, distance traveled is used. Is the value of traveling between two points seperated by 3km the same in pedestrian, transit, and automobile oriented settlements? As you're well aware, automobile oriented development tends to be more dispersed because of the space needs of the automobile and the needs of people to get away from all the car pollution, noise, and aggression. They do this by driving to patches of country which soon demonstate a well known ability to accomodate lots of pavement.

Oh yeah, speed. It's a good calculation to help make a point, but speed itself isn't value. Value would be how much people are willing to pay to get between particular points within a given time duration -- what they would pay for that speed under a particular set of circumstances. Airlines market this.

Air travel, automobile use, and other travel related behaviors are subsidized to lesser and greater degrees. Both subsidies and the externalities described in the previous paragraph induce people to travel farther than they would otherwise. In other words, society is buying more travel than its individuals would willingly buy were markets for travel perfect and transportation choices private.

What would we do with all the time freed up by not working to pay for a very pricey transportation system? We might sit in driving simulators and still work a couple hours to earn change to pay for the privaledge of doing so. Maybe I should not entertain such a dour thought. However look at what people do now.

As you noted, people can read, socialize, and even work while traveling on public transit. Being freed from the job of driving changes the calculation of speed. For the driver, distance over all the time dedicated to achieving travel over that distance includes not only the time earning money to pay for the trip but the time driving.

The mass transit user or cab rider isn't necessarily dedicating the travel time to the achievement of the trip. She or he may be accomplishing something else. The value of the thing being accomplished will be affected by the trip. Some people may be able to catch a great nap, be engrossed in a book, or have a wonderful conversation with a fellow commuter. Some bide their time, glad not to be driving a motor vehicle. Others would rather be driving but can't afford it.

For the mass transit user who would rather be driving, booths with pay driving simulators on board should be provided;-)

Bill Carr
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