Transit Notes from All Over

A few questions to consider when you are not watching today’s election returns.

Should cities be car-free, or simply driver-free?

Has Atlanta reached peak transit?

Should Indianapolis spend nearly $100 million on a bus-rapid transit line that will increase congestion and greenhouse gas emissions?

Does the new DC streetcar go 12 miles per hour or 4 miles per hour? And why, after more than a decade of planning and construction, hasn’t the city figured out how it will collect fares?

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16 thoughts on “Transit Notes from All Over

  1. FrancisKing

    Thanks for the choices.

    I’d much prefer a car-free city. I’ve never owned a car, nor needed to do so. Each car is important to their owner, but collectively are an absurd blunder. We end up with massive flows of cars, and freeways stuffed with cars, often with most going in the same direction. With all this money on show, you’d imagine that there was massive amounts of money for walking and cycling. Then we wonder why there is so much obesity.

    As for ‘peak transit’, I doubt that there is any such thing. What we’re seeing here is the natural consequence of poor-quality transit. So the customers, not having any particular reason to choose except on the merits of things, choose cars.

  2. metrosucks

    …says the government planner who’s probably never earned an honest buck in his life (ie, one not earned in the employ of the “crown”).

    You can tell there is a government planner in the room when he starts referring to the private, beneficial actions of individuals as an “absurd blunder”, while ignoring the billions government pours down the toilet in pursuit of its various frivolities.

  3. OFP2003

    How fast does the DC Street Trolley go? 12 MPH or 4 MPH.
    Even more importantly…. WHERE DOES IT GO???

    The system is inherently flawed with built-in safety defects. It will have to go excruciatingly slow so it can stop quickly enough to keep from running over people that step out of their parked car directly into the path of the trolley. It was popular on opening night, but I bet it is empty from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon.

  4. Frank

    “I’d much prefer a car-free city. I’ve never owned a car, nor needed to do so.”

    Good for you. Don’t try to force your preferences on others.

    “Each car is important to their owner”

    You better believe my cars are important to me, especially since I reputured my Achilles and had surgery. Can’t safely crutch up or downa steep hill in the rain the quarter mile to work. No way I’m riding a crowded bus an hour each way to and from surgery and follow up appointments.

    You better believe cars are vital to their owners, and that I am an individual, not a drone in your collective.

  5. FrancisKing

    @metrosucks:

    “You can tell there is a government planner in the room…”

    Except that I work for a private consultant, doing work for private clients. I guess that theory of yours needs a little bit of calibration.

    Yes, the government does waste a stupid amount of money, even when the experts have told them not to. But then elected representatives don’t instantly become experts at all things, contrary to their opinion, just because they’ve been elected.

  6. FrancisKing

    @ Frank

    ” Don’t try to force your preferences on others.”

    Nor do I need to. Venice is very attractive – so much so that the locals have been priced out.

    “You better believe my cars are important to me, especially since I ruptured my Achilles and had surgery.”

    Sorry to hear about your leg. However, this is not typical of rush-hour traffic. Instead of driving nose-to-tail to work, they could take a work’s bus from a local fatility. Just as quick as a car- no stopping every 200 yards – but it makes it much easier to fit in a new business. It would take them direct to the front door of the office or factory.

    “not a drone in your collective.”

    Not yet, anyway.

  7. FrancisKing

    “Somebody doesn’t ride transit (FrancisKing) or live in the real world. Calling cars an “absurd blunder” is quite out of touch.”

    Indeed I don’t ride transit. A return ticket by bus, 1.5 miles each way, is £4 ($6), and since it stops every 200 yards, it is quite slow. Shoe leather is cheap and faster. As for the real world, though, here I am.

    Cars are an ‘absurd blunder’. In a hundred years time, people will be astonished that anyone thought that the motorcar was a good idea.

  8. metrosucks

    “Except that I work for a private consultant, doing work for private clients. I guess that theory of yours needs a little bit of calibration.”

    Uh huh. You work for a private consultant doing transportation and land use planning work for private clients in a country where all land use and transportation planning decisions are firmly in the grasp of government.

    Just how stupid do you think we are? And since when did the government bodies you work for = “private client”?

  9. metrosucks

    “Cars are an ‘absurd blunder’. In a hundred years time, people will be astonished that anyone thought that the motorcar was a good idea.”

    You keep smoking that dope. I notice you used a hundred years timeline so naturally none of us will be around to point out you were wrong.

  10. prk166


    I’ve never owned a car, nor needed to do so. Each car is important to their owner, but collectively are an absurd blunder. We end up with massive flows of cars, and freeways stuffed with cars, often with most going in the same direction.
    ” ~FrancisKing

    This is like saying that individual’s choosing what music to listen to is is great but when they do it in unison – that is one of those big music festivals or stadium concert, it’s absurd. It’s either one or the other BOTH individually and as individuals together. It can not be both.

    If you have a problem with the outcome of the indivudal choice, you have an issue with the individual beign able to make that choice.

  11. prk166

    ” In a hundred years time, people will be astonished that anyone thought that the motorcar was a good idea.” ~FrancisKing

    Technologies will be around as long as they’ve been around. The chair has been around for thousands of years and will likely be around for thousands of years.

    Cars have been around since the late 1800s. They’re likely to be around for another 130 or so years.

    Mass transit via rail, going back to omnibuses on wooden rails pulled by horses, lived around around the 1830s to the 1960s. After that it was a dead technology that only existed through artificial means.

    I don’t disagree that at some point autos will disappear. That is not a profound statement. The question is what will replace them.

  12. metrosucks

    “If you have a problem with the outcome of the indivudal choice, you have an issue with the individual beign able to make that choice.”

    It’s no coincidence that one could say smart growth was born in Soviet Russia and planners in the Western world pine for the days when they could just simply make people live in tiny apartments and take the tram, and shoot any who disagreed.

  13. prk166

    The problem with that idea is the Russians as a whole didn’t have cars or apartments. Keep in that the Soviet Union, like China today, was a growing economy for decades. A key part of that was urbanization.

    In many ways they did what they could with the resources they had . It was an improvement for a lot of people. I don’t say that to be an apologist, just acknowledging that part of the history.

    The problem was that as time went on, the organizations’ – ( aka the Soviets, the companies, etc ) activities changed . They didn’t follow the central plan. They had other priorities ( graft, survival, etc ). No matter how well the planners did in planning — and the Soviets employed their top mathematicians, etc in their central planning office; no offense but these people were far more brilliant than any of us or most any planner — no matter how good the plan was, the system was designed to fail.

    Soviet planner were never going to meet everyone’s needs. And when people want something, a lot of them will find a way to get it. Want a summer dacha but don’t have one? Get your company, your soviet to build them ( or at least one for you ). Nevermind that the company’s focus is building zambonis or office furniture. All those deviations from the plan turned into an avalanche. By the time Reagan took office the Soviet Union wasn’t just running on fumes, the engine had died and any movement it had was pure momentum.

  14. prk166

    Smart growth comes from a completely opposite place than the Soviet apartment blocks ( I’ve lived in them; not pretty but the lumbersexuals of today would pay big $$$ to live in them in the right neighborhood ). They’re not trying to take meager resources and cobble together something for the masses.

    The problem, as they see it, is the masses. Of course they don’t see it that way. They’re just trying to “save the planet” or please Shiva or make cities human scale and all the rhetoric.

    The Soviets, at least in theory and a bit in practice were about getting the serfs, the working poor a little bit of something.

    The smart-growthers are different. They’re about restricting wealth for the masses. They don’t want to add to people’s lives but diminish them.

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