A word about mass transit.

Since actual Ford Talk has lulled here for the time being, I'd like to comment on some issues that have been brought up in other threads concerning mass transit. Folks
have brought up the subject of "trolleys" and "streetcars". These were often conveyances to take people from place to place within cities, small and large. Their usefulness can be argued, pro and con, even today. Does anyone remember the Interurban Rail Systems that were popular until the late 20s-early 30s?. Don't worry. Very few folks now remember them. Even their remnants can be hard to spot. When you hear about the Big Three buying up local "trolley" and "streetcar" lines, those were a pittance. Ford, Chrysler, and Cadillac (pre General motors)spent Millions of Dollars in a concerted effort to buy out and kill the Interurban lines between many major cities.(Including the Lake Shore Electric, that crossed Ohio) That loss was promoted as a technological advancement with the advent of the motorcar. This isn't urban legend. It's fact that is a matter of public record, if you care to research it. The automobile has ruled for the last 70 or so years, and IMHO. it's time has passed. If it's not time for a resurrection of rail as a means of public conveyance, I must be an absolute Idiot and will claim the title freely if proven wrong.
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Tom Adkins wrote:

The Portland, Oregon area has a world class public transit system-light rail, bus and trolley-that has extensive coverage. My wife and I spent 9 days at Christmas with our oldest daughter's family and I was green with envy. See www.trimet.org
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On Fri, 01 Jun 2007 07:51:20 -0400, Jim Higgins

But unlike when you drive your car, you only paid about 25% of the actual cost of building and operating that system. And chances are it worked well mostly because you were a tourist and most of these systems handle tourists needs a lot better then the needs of 95% of the people who live there. Last read up on their system, when they were thinking of expanding it and found out that they would have to foot the ENTIRE cost (instead of getting 70% of the money from podunk ciies in the other 49 states) they decided they didn't really need the expansion after all.
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Sorry, but drivers do not pay for the full cost and effects of vehicle use themselves. In Portland, there is a billion-dollar sewer project going on to control runoff-caused overflows that go into the river. It has been said that 40% of the runoff comes from roads, yet road- users are paying for none of it. Also, in nearby Washington County, road improvements are being paid for by property taxes (not an uncommon example). And this does not include things like "free" parking. http://www.commissionersam.com/node/238 http://www.co.washington.or.us/deptmts/lut/cap_proj/mstiphis.htm
Overall, using money from people elsewhere to fund rail lines is no different then using money from those people to fund the extra costs of urban freeway construction. And transit is not heavily subsidized when you take out things like discounts given to seniors, disabled and youth that would have to be paid for anyways. In fact, the actual cost of a single ride on MAX is about $1.50. While this may not include construction costs, if everybody paid the full $2 fare and MAX was made more efficient, there would be a decent amount of money left over to pay for those costs. http://www.trimet.org/pdfs/ridership/busmaxstat.pdf
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On Sat, 02 Jun 2007 11:55:17 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@jasonmchuff.net wrote:

Overall they pay around 90% of the costs. And of the federal gas taxes collected from ROAD users, around 20% of it winds up going to NON road use. Transit riders rarely pay more then about a third of the actual cost of their ride.
In Portland, there is a billion-dollar sewer project

And I guess you think that if the roads weren't there the rain would not fall from the sky.
Also, in nearby Washington County,

As a proportion, the property owners are the same people getting the benefits to a much greater extent then the transit riders are paying the cost of their ride. You can try and spin it all you want, the bottom line is that transit riders are by far the biggest leaches on the face of the planet in terms of taking money out of other people's pockets who get ZERO benefit from the transit and putting it into their own.
Just for fun, why don't you come up with an example of property owners in one state who are paying property taxes that are then used to fund either road or transit construction in some other state. I suspect you'd be hard pressed to even find an example of this happening between two cities that aren't conjoined. Yet you have no problem with people in Bumfrick Nebraska being taxed on their gas and then that gas tax being sent 2000 miles away to Portland to fund the transit ride to work for eco minded snobs who think the rest of the country owns them nearly free rides to work.
If you like transit so much, why are you unwilling to have the LOCALs pay for it?

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I agree. But this isn't the problem. The problem is in Portland that the rail transit lines do not go to where most people need them to go. They go to politically expedient locations, not practical locations. They follow routes that are far away from businesses because the land was cheaper there. They have far too frequent stops downtown (there are some rail stops that literally are within 3 blocks) and out in the remote ends of the line, the stops are very few and far between and do not have good bus service.
And in any case, for what was spent on MAX rail, many more people could have been carried on busses, and the bus lines made to run far more frequently.
Ted
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In Portland OR, that would be Oregon Electric Railroad, and the rights of way still exist. I pick blackberries down there during the summer.

Most of those rail lines do not go where people want to go now because cities have changed in how they grow. The reason rights of way like the old OR Electric rights of way haven't been paved over with a street is because of this.

I've lived in Portland OR since 1975. Your right, it is world class - for the tourists. For anyone who actually lives here and needs to use it to get around it's stupid. It's also way, way overpriced. A few years ago someone did a study and for the amount of money spent on westside light rail, they could have manufactured all of the rails used in the rail line out of solid gold.
Portland has this system because the politicians here are too pussified to condemn private property to widen streets. So they vote in more transit money so they can claim the are doing something about the traffic congestion. There's a dozen spots in the city that are hell-holes. Interstate 5 for example needs at least 4 more lanes added, the congestion on it is so bad the feds are getting worried, and it is costing the region billions of dollars in productivity because truck drivers are idling away doing nothing on the Interstate instead of actually moving freight. But, since it's not public money being wasted the politicians don't give a shit.
Putting in a lot of public mass transit DOES NOT reduce road congestion. All it does is allow friends of developers who own property along the rail line to put in condos and make a killing. Then 50 years from now those condos will be run down hellhole tenaments. Transit proponents point to full trains on light rail and claim that it means all these cars aren't on the road. They conveniently forget that the cost-per-seat to put in light rail is ten times what it would cost to put it in by widening roads. As a result the transit only sucks off a small percentage of new growth on the roads - the roads are still clogged.
Portland is an excellent example of how mass transit proponents engineered a gigantic con job on a city. Portland would have been far better served by taking a tenth of the money dumped into rail and spending it on more busses and making the bus lines more extensive and frequent, then taking the rest of the money and widening streets. But, busses aren't as sexy as trains, so the trains won so a few dandified Yuppies from the Perl district can ride the train once a month and feel good about themselves helping the environment, while the rest of the teeming poor and illegal Mexicans can't find busses to take them to work on a daily basis, so they run out and buy beater cars and drive them without insurance, then abandon them by the side of the road when they break down and the city has to tow them off.
New York City has a world-class public transit system. If you want to see transit done right, go there.
Ted
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In Portland OR, that would be Oregon Electric Railroad, and the rights of way still exist. I pick blackberries down there during the summer.

Most of those rail lines do not go where people want to go now because cities have changed in how they grow. The reason rights of way like the old OR Electric rights of way haven't been paved over with a street is because of this.

I've lived in Portland OR since 1975. Your right, it is world class - for the tourists. For anyone who actually lives here and needs to use it to get around it's stupid. It's also way, way overpriced. A few years ago someone did a study and for the amount of money spent on westside light rail, they could have manufactured all of the rails used in the rail line out of solid gold.
Portland has this system because the politicians here are too pussified to condemn private property to widen streets. So they vote in more transit money so they can claim the are doing something about the traffic congestion. There's a dozen spots in the city that are hell-holes. Interstate 5 for example needs at least 4 more lanes added, the congestion on it is so bad the feds are getting worried, and it is costing the region billions of dollars in productivity because truck drivers are idling away doing nothing on the Interstate instead of actually moving freight. But, since it's not public money being wasted the politicians don't give a shit.
Putting in a lot of public mass transit DOES NOT reduce road congestion. All it does is allow friends of developers who own property along the rail line to put in condos and make a killing. Then 50 years from now those condos will be run down hellhole tenaments. Transit proponents point to full trains on light rail and claim that it means all these cars aren't on the road. They conveniently forget that the cost-per-seat to put in light rail is ten times what it would cost to put it in by widening roads. As a result the transit only sucks off a small percentage of new growth on the roads - the roads are still clogged.
Portland is an excellent example of how mass transit proponents engineered a gigantic con job on a city. Portland would have been far better served by taking a tenth of the money dumped into rail and spending it on more busses and making the bus lines more extensive and frequent, then taking the rest of the money and widening streets. But, busses aren't as sexy as trains, so the trains won so a few dandified Yuppies from the Perl district can ride the train once a month and feel good about themselves helping the environment, while the rest of the teeming poor and illegal Mexicans can't find busses to take them to work on a daily basis, so they run out and buy beater cars and drive them without insurance, then abandon them by the side of the road when they break down and the city has to tow them off.
New York City has a world-class public transit system. If you want to see transit done right, go there.
Ted
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wrote:

It's not time. It will never be time if this kind of high cost, inflexible rail was made to compete economically with other modes. The only way it ever works is for it to be HEAVILY subsidized to the tune of typically 70%. I don't think it's "fair" that taxpayers in cities all over the USA are forced to send their tax dollars to the 5 or 10 largest metro areas to subsidize the ride for those few million users. If it's such a good deal, let them pay the FULL cost themselves. There is not a single place in the US where the users of mass transit pay what it costs. Nor is there a single place in the US where Mass Transit has solved their congestion problem. All it does it allow Real Estate developers to make more money from the gvt subsidies to the transit system, which makes their RE more valuable.
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