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Re: PRT anti-transit Disinformation

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  • Matt Hohmeister
    Yes, I have noticed this too. I can rattle off a list of the behaviors of typical Americans: - Demand the freedom to use a car at city taxpayers expense, yet
    Message 1 of 17 , Jul 16 11:34 AM
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      Yes, I have noticed this too. I can rattle off a list of the behaviors of typical Americans:

      - Demand the freedom to use a car at city taxpayers' expense, yet unwilling to live in the
      city limits to avoid city taxes.

      - Says cars are all about freedom, but they also want to force their lifestyle upon others--
      think about all the municipal codes forcing property owners to provide free parking.

      And you're right about going to Europe. I have heard countless Americans spend a week or
      three over there, comment on how much they love the lifestyle there and using the metro,
      and the second they get home, become homebound again unless their car is available.

      You have an excellent point about "unpaid taxi service". Your typical suburban American
      who claims to enjoy driving probably does not enjoy the drive to and from work. Even
      someone who wants a "nice car" and spends $40,000 or more on it will not enjoy their
      drive home from work.

      > Absolutely. When I get on teh buses and trains here, I see people
      > reading or listening to Walkmans, sure, but I also see lots of people
      > chatting happily with each other, and often end up in conversations with
      > strangers myself. When I look out the window of the bus at the people
      > in cars, I see a bunch of grim-faced automatons doing unpaid taxi
      > service for themselves in the name of status. Fuck it.
      >
      > We are social animals. We are healthier when we live in a community.
      > Our communities are healthier when they allow people to meet with, even
      > semi-anonymously, with others both similar to and different from
      > themselves. This makes life richer and safer, and all of us happier.
      >
      > Waht is it with Americans? Why must they consistently behave like
      > sullen thirteen year olds who hide in their rooms but still expect mom
      > and dad to drop off the tray of dinner at their door and do their
      > laundry? No wonder we have the highest murder and drug use rates in the
      > world here. We isolate ourselves like monkeys volunteering for a
      > contact deprivation experiment, and desperately cling to the baling-wire
      > mommy of the TV set.
      >
      > Then we go to Paris on vacation and wonder why we feel so good walking
      > the busy sidewalks and sitting in a crowded cafe on a busy square.
      >
      > Transit ROCKS. I make friends, watch dramas and comedies unfold, hear
      > the poetry of life--and get to work. I could save fifty bucks a month
      > by riding my bicycle instead, but when I do it I really miss the
      > sensation of being part of life.
      >
      > Socrates said, "Fields and trees teach me nothing. The people in a city
      > do." Well, sitting in a mobile cubicle all alone, be it a car or a PRT
      > vehicle, teaches you far less. Fuck it.
      >
      > Richard
      >
      > --
      > Richard Risemberg
      > http://www.living-room.org
      > http://www.newcolonist.com
      >
      > "Until you stop looking for simple answers, you will not be happy. You
      > will not even be human."
      >
      > RR
    • Matt Hohmeister
      I just took another look at this and it made me think of direct comparisons.... Sullen thirteen year olds :: Suburban residents Bedrooms :: Suburbs outside the
      Message 2 of 17 , Jul 16 11:59 AM
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        I just took another look at this and it made me think of direct comparisons....

        Sullen thirteen year olds :: Suburban residents

        Bedrooms :: Suburbs outside the city limits

        Mom and dad :: City taxpayers who finance six-lane roads to let these spoiled children
        drive home

        Dinner and laundry :: City utility services financed by taxpayers paying the same piece rate
        for services--electric, water, gas, sewer, and refuse--that are much more expensive to
        provide in suburbs because of long utility runs, more garbage truck use, etc

        "Mommy of the TV set" :: Since suburban children are forced to stay at home unless
        Mommy can drive them somewhere (which she frequently can't because she's working full-
        time and being the family's chef and cleaner), the kids are stuck at home in front of the
        TV.

        If I was married and had children, I would try all I could to have one parent--I don't care if
        it's me of my wife--stay home through early childhood. Living in a less expensive house in
        a closer suburb [or city] and having fewer cars--or making less use of them--would save a
        good deal of money, allowing one parent to stay home. Failing that, our lifestyle would
        still allow us to save more money for vacations, children's college education, the imminent
        $3000 re-roofing or air conditioner biting the dust, and retirement.

        Anyway, what's about status? I lived with my parents and sister to the age of 19 in roughly
        2000 square feet and never felt short on space. I hate to sound old-fashioned, but I feel
        that the same square footage seems more spacious when you have a 300 square foot
        living room instead of the 600 you find in newer houses--allowing you a separate
        playroom for the kids. Also, master bedroom bathrooms are getting huge (100 sf or
        more), further taking space away from the house. This is why I want a house built between
        the 1950s and 80s--better usable room. And sorry, I know this isn't a home design
        discussion board, but I feel that's another downfall of suburbs: the demand for bigger
        houses that "seem" the same size as smaller houses of years past.

        > Waht is it with Americans? Why must they consistently behave like
        > sullen thirteen year olds who hide in their rooms but still expect mom
        > and dad to drop off the tray of dinner at their door and do their
        > laundry? No wonder we have the highest murder and drug use rates in the
        > world here. We isolate ourselves like monkeys volunteering for a
        > contact deprivation experiment, and desperately cling to the baling-wire
        > mommy of the TV set.
      • Karen Sandness
        It s hard to convince people of the advantages of transit if they ve never experienced a good system. Heavens, living in Minneapolis, trying to use
        Message 3 of 17 , Jul 17 7:04 AM
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          It's hard to convince people of the advantages of transit if they've
          never experienced a good system. Heavens, living in Minneapolis, trying
          to use non-automotive means of transportation as much as possible, I'm
          often stymied in attempts to get around without a car, and after ten
          years of car-free living in Portland, I'd become pretty ingenious.
          Judging from my 2001 trip to Los Angeles (where Richard gave me some
          excellent hints about getting around), that quintessential car city has
          better public transit than the Twin Cities do. Express buses running
          every 15 minutes on a Sunday are just unimaginable here, where the MTC
          pats itself on the back for running 3 buses per hour on weekdays one of
          the most useful routes.

          As I travel around the area with newly sensitized eyes, I can see that
          what hindered the development of sustainable transit in this area was
          the rapidity and efficiency of the freeway building program. Because
          the area acquired so many freeways so quickly, there are now a number
          of "island" neighborhoods that are or could be terrific walkable
          neighborhoods, but they are utterly inaccessible without a car. In
          addition, some idiotic urban planners let the big box stores knock down
          existing commercial structures and set up suburban-style shopping
          centers and fast-food outlets in the city--but only in the poorer
          neighborhoods, where developers could get away with throwing up
          structures that are ticky-tacky even by the generous standards of that
          sort of building.

          Judging from the bicycle and pedestrian traffic jams that I encounter
          on the lakeside paths in good weather, Twin Cities people are not
          averse to cycling or walking, although they are understandably averse
          to riding the neglected bus system. It's just that wherever they go,
          they inevitably run into barriers.

          Meanwhile, we've got a city council member, a Green no less, pushing
          PRT as the salvation of us all. Ken Avidor is valiantly fighting that
          bit of idiocy.

          The one bright spot is that the new light rail line seems to be
          attracting riders, despite its limited area of service, and that city
          officials are making favorable noises about connecting the downtowns of
          Minneapolis and St. Paul with light rail, which is a great idea, since
          the route would run through the University of Minnesota's main campus
          and non-affluent and immigrant neighborhoods, thereby negating the
          talking point that rail critics used in Portland about rail systems
          being toys for suburban commuters at the expense of inner city
          residents.

          In transit,
          Karen Sandness
        • Steve Geller
          PRT should not be rejected out-of-hand. It could be a good idea on a college campus or for serving an office park / light industrial area. But generally,
          Message 4 of 17 , Jul 17 8:23 AM
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            PRT should not be rejected out-of-hand. It could be a good idea
            on a college campus or for serving an office park / light industrial area.

            But generally, public transit works best in bulk. It thrives amid dense
            development, and is most efficient when it moves many people; large vehicles
            like buses are the way to do that.

            I'm more convinced than ever that the success of public transit anywhere
            is limited by two things: density (of riders/destinations) and the
            availability of parking. Vast acreages of parking can only encourage
            use of private cars. If any locality wants to cut congestion, the decision
            must be made to cut back parking while providing public transportation.

            I think a PRT could be a "feeder" to buses and lite rail, in areas
            where there's a lot of coming and going, but not in big crowds.

            As I travel around the area with newly sensitized eyes, I can see that
            >what hindered the development of sustainable transit in this area was
            >the rapidity and efficiency of the freeway building program. Because
            >the area acquired so many freeways so quickly, there are now a number
            >of "island" neighborhoods that are or could be terrific walkable
            >neighborhoods, but they are utterly inaccessible without a car.

            This is deliberate car-first public policy. The "islands" should be
            connected by PRT, buses, rail or whatever is most appropriate.
            And parking space within an island should be limited to
            delivery vehicles.

            One of my favorite "Roadkill Bill" cartoons shows RKB amazed at
            a main street with no cars, and people getting about by foot,
            trains and trolleys. He's at Disney World, where pre-car America
            is exhibited as a nostalgic historical curiosity.
          • Patrick McDonough
            Take a read- ... *Paying the Pumper* By J. Robinson West Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A29 With the return of the highest oil prices since the energy crisis of
            Message 5 of 17 , Jul 23 5:10 AM
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              Take a read-
              -----------------------

              *Paying the Pumper*

              By J. Robinson West

              Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A29

              With the return of the highest oil prices since the energy crisis of the
              early 1980s, there are growing cries of alarm that the world is running
              out of oil. Some speculate that Saudi Arabia has reached maturity as a
              producing state and that its production will decline. Others cite the
              Hubbert curve, which postulates that once more than 50 percent of
              reserves are produced, output inevitably declines.

              The world will not run out of oil soon, but there's still good reason
              for alarm. What the world is running short of is production capacity.
              There's plenty of oil -- we just can't get it out of the ground. It's
              important to understand some history to appreciate the problem.

              Beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the energy crisis of the
              '80s, the oil industry was restructured. The Western international oil
              companies, which had controlled reserves and production just about
              everywhere except the Soviet Union and Mexico, had many of their largest
              assets nationalized by governments in such countries as Saudi Arabia,
              Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Venezuela. These governments organized national
              oil companies to manage their resources. National companies are
              government agencies accountable to their governments first and the
              international markets second.

              In response, competition among the international firms became intense as
              they focused on exploration in places where they were still permitted to
              invest: the United States, Canada, the North Sea and Australia. These
              companies diversified global oil production to the extent they could.
              With the development of sophisticated technology, they moved into
              deep-water production, notably in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast
              of West Africa. Whenever a new petroleum province opened for investment,
              they tried to enter -- in Yemen, Colombia, the Caspian Sea and Russia.
              The technical and political risks were immense, and some large
              investments failed.

              The indigenous oil industries in these countries, usually national
              companies, resist international foreign investment. They don't want the
              competition, nor do they wish to share the economic rent from the oil.
              When oil prices were low, and governments needed money, as in the 1990s,
              some foreign investment was permitted in certain countries, often over
              the objection of the national company. Substantial production growth
              resulted. Oil prices are now high, and most of the national oil
              companies are capable of meeting the financial requirements of their
              governments without foreign investment or interference.

              The world economy is confronted with a situation in which there are
              large reserves -- more than in 1985 -- but in places where it is hard to
              tap them. The international oil industry is the only business in the
              world in which global capital cannot invest in the lowest-cost, most
              efficient production. National oil companies provide about 60 percent of
              the world's production but control 87 percent of the reserves, and their
              share will rise. Many commentators point out that a rising share of our
              oil will come from fewer countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
              Should these countries continue to maintain their production, or even
              increase it, as we expect, there will remain the fundamental problem of
              increasing production capacity sufficiently to meet growing world
              demand. For example, sustained Saudi production is likely to grow by no
              more than 3 million barrels per day over the next 10 years, but
              worldwide demand, driven by the United States and China, is expected to
              grow by 15 million barrels per day.

              The capabilities of the national oil companies vary widely. Some are as
              competent as the international firms, with excellent management and
              efficient operations. Others are deeply corrupt and lack the capital and
              skills to meet the sophisticated requirements of portfolio and reservoir
              management. Furthermore, exploration for new reserves can involve
              massive risks, which most governments are unwilling to underwrite,
              whereas the internationals, with huge balance sheets and diversified
              portfolios, are quite comfortable with these risks.

              The thesis of the Hubbert curve is correct, but the conclusion that a
              fall in global oil production has inevitably begun is not. The Hubbert
              curve analysis applies where full commercial exploitation has taken
              place, but in many areas, other factors, including politics and policy,
              weigh in. It is true that production in most of the United States,
              Canada and the North Sea is in decline -- there, exploration and
              production have been exhaustive. But the most oil-rich areas, notably
              Mexico, Venezuela, Russia and the Middle East, have not been fully explored.

              National oil companies may open up for investment if there are enough
              political and economic incentives. Production may also increase if there
              are changes in technology. This has happened many times before, most
              recently with the development of deep-water technology in the 1980s and
              '90s. One approach includes enhanced oil recovery from existing fields,
              where more than 60 percent of the oil often remains in place. Another
              breakthrough may come in efficient production from extra-heavy oil and
              tar sands, which is now very costly and capital-intensive. There are
              greater reserves of extra-heavy oil in Venezuela and Canada than in
              Saudi Arabia. Likewise, the industry has been seeking commercial
              breakthroughs in gas-to-liquids technology, converting natural gas
              reserves into ultra-clean diesel fuel.

              Supply will increase if costs remain high long enough to justify the
              huge investments necessary. But oil markets have been cyclical for more
              than 120 years, and too much investment in capacity, as in the 1970s and
              '80s, inevitably leads to price crashes, followed by further commercial
              and political uncertainty.

              Virtually every thoughtful policymaker knows that there is a serious
              problem in energy, but they are afraid to act. The U.S. government can
              do little to increase oil supply, but steps can be taken to reduce
              demand. Getting between Americans and their cars is the third rail of
              American politics. But if the American people refuse to accept some
              modest discomfort now, they will almost certainly be dealing with higher
              prices and serious economic disruption later. The obvious solution is
              for politicians to gather their courage and tackle demand.

              /The writer, a former assistant secretary of the interior, is chairman
              of PFC Energy, strategic advisers on international oil and gas./
            • Patrick McDonough
              The 22september.org website has a list of European cities that are taking part in Car Free Day. Other than our event in Orange and Durham county in North
              Message 6 of 17 , Aug 1, 2004
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                The 22september.org website has a list of European cities that are
                taking part in Car Free Day. Other than our event in Orange and Durham
                county in North Carolina, are there any other events going on that
                people are organizing or aware of?

                Patrick
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