Hometown: Johnstown, PA
Home country: USA
Current location: Johnstown, PA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 13,278
Hometown: Johnstown, PA
Home country: USA
Current location: Johnstown, PA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 13,278
I first read about in the Pittsburgh Business new web site:
Actual City "Request for QUALIFICATIONS" on a new Incline for the Strip district, this is just a request to do the study on the strip district includes the Incline as a transportation option but that is all:
Another city site where the option is mentioned, and that is all:
From what I have read, the actual study will not start til April 2012 and be a six month study on all transportation options, including bike trails, a commuter railway and the Incline (among other transportation options).
We need to get input into the study. The old Penn Incline, which till 1952 ran between the Hill District and the Strip District was a massive incline, designed to haul wagons, in addition to passengers, from the Strip district to the Hill District. The horse draw wagons would then only have to go down hill to Oakland, Shadyside and the rest of Pittsburgh between the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers.
Such an incline would be a big boom to bicyclists. it would be a lot easier to bike to the Strip district, take the incline up to the Hill District and then peddle home, then peddling up Center Street or Fifth Avenue.
My fear is the incline the City will opt for would be a variation of the one the National Park Service did at horseshoe curve in Altoona. That incline is nothing but an elevator car, for that is how large it is inside, the size of a medium size elevator. Such an incline could take, at best two to three bicyles along with its "normal" passenger load.
I would prefer a larger, Vehicular incline (like the surviving Johnstown Incline) as opposed to a small passenger incline as at Horseshoe curve and even the much larger passenger inclines in Pittsburgh (The Monongahela and Duquesne Incline).
Now, the incline does NOT have to be a re-build of the old Penn Incline that was torn down in the early 1950s. Given that the upper base of the old Penn Incline is a home in the Hill District and the lower base a business on Liberty Avenue, it would be better to move the incline to another location. I propose the parking lot opposite Wholley and behind St Patrick's church. You could build it to go over the Church and thus no need tear the old stone church down.
As to the actual design, I see no reason to go with the actual Penn incline original design, the Swiss have rebuild several of their incline, some with quite modern design. Given the tight room in the Strip District, an option may be to have one track till the point the two incline cars meet, and then have two tracks as their pass each other. This design would permit SIDE DOORS on BOTH SIDES of the car for people to enter and exit. A little more complex is actual design and maintenance but given the ability to use BOTH sides a huge advantage. I would also permit front and rear doors, but only use the door that does NOT open to the incline track. If you use modern glass sliding doors you can have a very modern look. With Air Conditioning (With the electrical power via a hidden access line) no need for any open windows, such as are on the Pittsburgh Incline that survive to this day OR the completely open design of Johnstown Incline (and the old Vehicular inclines of Pittsburgh).
Here is the Johnstown Incline, notice how open it is, the old Penn Incline was the same design:
Horseshoe Curve incline:
Here is a modern Swiss incline, rebuilt in 2009:
Cite for more on such inclines, called Funiculars:
Posted by happyslug | Tue Dec 20, 2011, 05:32 PM (0 replies)
Here is a paper I have been working on in regards to the Growth and decline of Streetcars in the USA
Below is a paper I have been working on, off and on, for a couple of years about how Suburbia became Suburbia. While NOT exactly on topic (we are discussing mass transit) it shows how suburbia expanded. Suburbia did not expand in one single long expansion, but a series of overlapping expansion tied in with the Automobile. I also believe Suburbia will decline with the decline of the Automobile so this paper can be a guide to how the decline will occur. The key to Suburbia was the Streetcar and then the Automobile. We can NOT address mass transit until we realized how modern mass transit came to be, and that is the reason I am posting it here.
A Short history of Suburbs and Transportation.
Background on the growth of Suburbs.
To understand today’s Suburbs you have to understand how Suburbs came about. Suburbs did not appear full form like the Goddess Athena, but started out small and expanded to the point where 1/3 of Americans now live in “Suburbs” (1/3 of Americans also live in Urban and the final third live in Rural areas. Please note some writers use One Half in Suburbs, 1/4 in Inner Cities and 1/4 in Rural America. The term “Suburb” is a relative term as you can see in part two of this paper. Some people consider some of the earliest suburbs inner City, and some of more distant suburbs rural America. This paper is NOT to define what is Suburbia BUT to set forth a short history of HOW Suburbia came to be).
Each expansion of Suburbia lead to a new situation that produced more Suburbs, but also different Suburbs. Some of these Suburbs are as different from each other as they are from the Inner City they sprang from. Three factors influenced the growth of Suburbs, first was the raise and decline of the Electric Railway systems (“Electric Railway” is a more accurate term than “Streetcar” “Trolley” or “Light Rail Vehicle”, but all four terms are often used interchangeably). Second was the Automobile. And Third was the 1964 Supreme Court Rule adopting the “one man, one vote rule”.
I. The Raise of the Electric Railway Systems.
For more details see: http://www.du.edu/~jcalvert/railway/trolley.htm
Suburbs are a product of increase mobility of people. Cities in the 1800s were very compact for Steam Locomotives (Or ships) could only make stops once every couple of miles. Cities grew to exploit these stops by providing the maximum concentration of population, services and Products for such stops. Now the first suburbs (as we would use that term today) were also the product of Steam Locomotive, but given the distance a Steam Locomotive had to stop, these early suburbs tend to be VERY far apart and generally independent towns who were just 1-2 stops from the nearest big city. It was the City that made trains very profitable, and in turn the Trains made the cities profitable.
With the increase profits of the Cities, the Cities started to expand. First the Cities tried horse draw wagons but found that if you put the wagon on steel tracks and give the wagon steel wheels, one horse could pull the weight of what four horses could pull with wooden wheels on dirt or pavement. Thus the first horse draw “Streetcars” where installed into the cities. These were replaced by Electric Streetcars and with the Electric Streetcar we have the start of today’s suburbs.
On the other end of the Urban/Rural Divide, the US Post Office in the said it would provide Rural Free Delivery (RFD) to any areas with “improved” Roads (Urban Areas had such deliveries starting in the Civil War). Lobbying by Bicyclist pushed for these improvements in paved roads to ride on (Prior to 1920 most Americans lived in Rural areas not Urban/Suburban Areas). Prior to that date Rural roads were all dirt (with some exceptions, not many but some, for example US 30 was only paved coast to coast in 1925, being the first paved coast to coast). This problem with rural roads had been partially addressed by the “Good Roads Movement” of the 1880s to the 1920s (To such a degree that in 1929 the US Post Office decided to drop horse drawn delivery service in most of the US) but until the Gasoline tax, no real funding source had ever been devised.
More on Rural Free Delivery:
More on the “Good Road Movement” of the 1880s to the 1920s:
I a. The raise of Competitors to Electric Railway Systems:
Bicyclists were the major push for improved roads till 1900, when Automobiles owners joined in (and replaced the Bicyclists) to push for improved roads (See the “Good Road Movement” above). Oregon was the first state to impose a Gasoline tax in 1919, this followed the example of Great Britain which had one starting in 1905. In the 1920s most, if not all states imposed the Gasoline Tax to pay for such improved roads (this type of “user” tax was popular after 1900, for example Hunters had agreed to a 15% tax on Guns and Ammunition so that the Federal Government could have some money to pay for conservation. Both taxes were pushed by the people who were paying the tax, thus Congress and State Legislatures agreed to pass them).
History of the Gasoline tax:
One side affect of Gasoline taxes was that Motor Vehicles did NOT have to pay tolls for improved roads. Roughly 30-40% of any toll (or fare in the case of Streetcars and buses) is consumed in collecting the toll or fare. This cost of collecting is diverted to the gasoline station owners and is included in his overhead when he sells gasoline. The State’s rationale is that any cost to collect the tax is a minor addition to the collection of the money to pay for the gasoline. Thus any mass transit system always has a 30-40% greater overhead then a non-toll road system. This cost comes out of the cost of goods sold column of the Gasoline station, it is one of the expenses that the Station incurs and put on its books BEFORE the station gets to Gross Profit.
Gross profit of gasoline stations:
With the Gasoline Tax, the States had money to pave roads. The States started to pave, but only rural roads, with most “State” highways ending at the edge of any major city. Each city had to pave its own streets. Most cities had started to pave their own streets after the Civil War, but with the advent of the Electric Railway, most cities had the Electric Railway Companies pave the streets the Electric Railway ran on. This requirement that the Electric Railway Companies maintain the paved road the Electric Railway ran on, was one of the reasons Electric Railways were later replaced by Buses.
I b – The three types of Electric Railways
Electric Railways (other wised known as Streetcars, Trolleys, Trams (In Britain) and today known as “Light Rail Vehicles” or LRVs, for ease of use the Term “Streetcar” will be used in this paper) of the 1890-1920 can be divided into three types of Streetcar mania in America:
1. Rural Interurbans. While most Interurbans died out in the 1920s, some survived till the 1950s. Some were later truncated to be Streetcars for the Suburbs that grew around them. The problem with most rural Interurbans is that they were seen as competitors to Steam Train, in an age where the Steam Train had no real competitors. Interurbans hauled almost as much freight as passengers, and were hurt as rural farmers and business converted to Trucks in the 1920s. Many survived till the 1950s, then promptly went out of business.. The following are some example of Interubrans, usage of such line peaked in 1918. Most failed in the 1920s and 1930s:
a. Lehigh Valley transit survived till 1951, then just shut down when it could not make payroll, for more details see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehigh_Valley_Transit_Company
b. The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad converted from a Interurban line to a diesel coal hauling line in 1952, parts of it is still used for freight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lackawanna_and_Wyoming_Valley_Railroad
c. Some of these Rural Interurbans could be expensive to maintain, for example the Charleroi to Pittsburgh interurban. In the early 1950s the part of the line from Charleroi interurban line was cut back to the Allegheny County line. It survives to this day, first as a Suburban Streetcar system to the new suburbs that grew around it, and in the 1980s rebuilt as a modern LRV system. For more on the Charleroi systems see the following: http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~florian/transportation/trolley/index_photos.htm
d. West Penn Railway system survived till the 1950s, this was due to the fact the roads in the area were so bad, people did not think buses could operate, but the roads were improved after WWII which lead to the decline in usage of the line and its closing down. Televsion was also blamed for its demise, with TV, people stayed at home instead of taking the Streetcar to a place of entertainment. For more see http://patheoldminer.rootsweb.ancestry.com/westpenn.html , http://www.davesrailpix.com/wpenn/wpenn.htm , http://www.railroadiana.org/info/pgWestPenn.php , http://www.pittsburghtransit.info/wpenn.html and
i. Here is a Map of the West Penn Railway system, showing the Pittsburgh Railway interurbans to Donora, Charleroi and Washington Pa, AND the two interurbans to Butler PA. The Butler lines were closed down in the early 1930s, West Penn and Pittsburgh interurbans were shut down in 1952:
e. But most failed do to the fact most Interurbans were marginal at best and anything that could go wrong, if it did, ended up bankrupting the Interurban. For example that is what happened to the Southern Cambria line in 1927, it could not pay the bonds it had issued after a 1918 accident and when the bonds came due, they just closed down. For more on the Southern Cambria see:
2. Urban Streetcar lines. These actually THRIVED in the 1920s and 1930s and plans were made to EXPAND them at that time period. . For example Pittsburgh’s peak year for Streetcar use was 1927, but passengers still were close to that number till after WWII. Los Angles Peak Streetcar use year was 1944. Even after WWII if urban areas had a choice AND not forced to adopt buses for political reasons (Political reasons seems to be the reason New York City started to replace its streetcars with buses in the mid 1930s) the first choice was for Streetcars. For example the City of Johnstown, the smallest city ever to use the PCC Streetcars, purchased them after WWII, for even at that date you could haul more people at lower costs with Streetcars then with the buses of the post WWII Era. Urban Streetcars did not see a substantial drop in ridership till after WWII.
An example of the above was the plan to expand streetcar use in Pittsburgh adopted by the vote of the people of Pittsburgh in 1919. The plan was the installation of a Subway system for Streetcars in Pittsburgh, The plan was adopted but money was used for Highways instead: http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/14019/23248559.pdf?sequence=1
Thus by the end of WWII, most Urban Streetcar system had seen almost 20 years of no new equipment, and were in need of major rehaul (Including the Streetcars themselves, the tracks the Streetcars ran on and the over head wires) of these system more below.
3. Small City operations. Many small city streetcar operations were tied in with the Interurbans, but many survived even as the Interurbans were dying in the 1920s and early 1930s. The problem was the profit margins were slim, and with more and more people buying cars it was cheaper to replace the Streetcars in such low density environments with buses, for with buses you did NOT have to maintain the road, as the streetcars were obligated to do for the right to have their rails in the street. Thus when it came time to replace the rails, these cities transit systems tended to convert to buses given the low volume such transit systems had in riders. Even in such system the key seems to be how connected the Small City was to any larger city via electric railway. Two examples of this follows and helps illustrate how these small city system ended.
i. Harrisburg Pennsylvania’s Streetcar shut down in the late 1930s and converted to buses for the State Capitol of Pennsylvania. For most of its riders lived within walking distance of Downtown or they own a car, thus Streetcar use fell do to low volume of riders.
ii. In Washington Pennsylvania (The County Seat of Washington county, the County directly South of Allegheny County, which county seat is the City of Pittsburgh), Streetcar service survived till the early 1950s do to the connection between Washington PA to Pittsburgh Pa via the Washington Interurban Rail line that connected to two County Seats. Only with the over decline in Transit use in the early 1950s did the City of Washington Pa convert to Buses. This conversion was aided by the fact the part of the old Interurban Streetcar line was taken over by the State for use as part of a then new Four Lane Highway connecting Pittsburgh with Washington PA, thus cutting the connection by Streetcars between Pittsburgh and Washington PA. For Photos of one of the last run of Streetcars on the Washington Interurban see the following site for photos of West Penn Streetcars from Greensburg Pennsylvania, that ran on the Washington Interurban line on their way to the then new Streetcar Museum in Arden Pa): http://www.pa-trolley.org/Roster/832W.htm More photos of West Penn Streetcars: http://www.davesrailpix.com/wpenn/wpenn.htm
1 c. Decline of Rural Electric Railways:
In 1890, when most urban areas (and many rural areas) first started to have Electric Railways, such Electric Railway service was very profitable, but by the 1920s profit margins had dropped so much that the Electric Railway companies in rural areas could NOT replace their tracks AND still stay in business.
Thus from the 1920s till the 1960s whenever a major rebuild of tracks were needed, the rural Electric Railway lines were abandoned. Some of the old Electric Railway Companies converted themselves to buses, other went bankrupt and replaced by a new company running buses. Most of these bus companies survived only five to ten more years and then closed down. The buses replaced by nothing (If you did not have a car you were out of luck for transportation in rural America).
Please note I am discussing Rural Electric Railways NOT Inner City Electric Railways. . Rural Electric Railways peaked in 1918 and than declined rapidly in the 1920s. Urban Electric Railways peaked in 1927 and declined slowly in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s with some surviving till today (The drop after 1927 is tied in with the coming great depression more than the raise of the Automobile. The Automobile’s full effect would not hit the urban Electric Railways till after WWII). Rural Electric lines went out of business decades before their urban cousins but the cycle of decline was the same for both urban and rural lines except that urban lines lasted a good bit longer than the rural lines.
II. The Automobile and the Decline of Urban Electric Streetcar Systems:
In urban areas you had a different set of dynamics going on. Most Urban Streetcar systems built in this period were part of a plan by land developers to sell plots of land in new trolley suburbs. The problem was most of the Streetcar systems devised were just to show people they could get from their home to their work NOT a truly viable transit systems. After the homes were built and sold, the transit system was left on its own, many of them with very marginal profits margins. This continues to this day, except starting in the 1920s, public highways replaced Streetcars as the method to get from the New Housing developments to work. This use of roads has continued to this day. Thus GM’s famous plan of the early 1920s to concentrate on Rural America and Upper Middle Class Americans. The reason for the plan was those were the groups most likely to buy an automobile in the 1920s, working class Americans either walks to work OR took the Streetcar (With most Americans living close enough to work to walk, thus even the Streetcars were geared to upper Middle Class Americans NOT working class Americans).
While the above was going on as to Electric Railways, the Automobile was moving on. 1920 was the first Census of the US where more people lived in Urban Areas than Rural Areas. While this was important, the effect of the Automobile on Rural Transportation seem to be quicker and greater the on urban America. Unlike Urban America, all classes of people living in Rural America would buy automobiles in the 1920s. The 1920s was a boom period for Rural America, Europe was recovering from WWI and Russian and Ukrainian wheat and other food products, the main competitors to American Wheat and food products prior to WWI, were just not purchased for Russia had turned Communist. Thus the price of wheat and other agricultural products were high, and would remain high till Stalin entered the international wheat market as part of his first five year plan in 1927. That along with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s put rural America into a tailspin, where many of the poorer farmers and farm workers would take their automobiles purchased in the 1920s and move elsewhere (generally urban America, but many also went to California to work the fields, but then moved into urban areas of California during WWII when workers were in short supply and took their love of their cars first purchased in the 1920s with them).
While paved roads would come late to such Rural Areas (Most rural areas would not have paved roads till the 1930s, most urban areas had them by 1900s) the Automobile driven on Dirt Roads during dry weather could move faster than a horse draw wagon. The Automobile’s biggest competitor, the rural Electric Inter-urban Electric Railway, had to maintain its own right of way and collect its fees.
With the competition of the Automobile and the movement of people from the Country to the City such Rural Electric Railways quickly went into a death spiral. What happen is as less people used the Electric Railway, to maintain profitability the Street-cars ran less often, with the Street cars running less often people said “Why should I wait for the Rural Electric Railways? I just take my Automobile”. People thought this way, people went out and bought an automobile, and the Rural Electric Railways had less and less customers. Most rural Electric Railway lines failed in the 1920s, with a few lasting till the 1950s (I am speaking of Electric “Electric Railways” in “rural” areas NOT in urban or suburban sittings).
Now as the Country side lost population, the City gained populations (With inner city Electric Railway use peaking in 1927). Just like the rural area, urbanites wanted to be able to use Automobiles also. Most cities had paved roads so the Automobiles operated on these roads, and starting in the 1920s you had city planners started to retrofit roads designed for the Automobile into the inner city. These retrofits tended to put more Automobiles on the same streets the Electric Railways were on, slowing the Electric railway in addition to other automobiles (and you had a situation similar to the Rural areas 10-15 years earlier). Urban Planners than decided to make expressways for Automobiles and these worked for a time, until the growing number of automobiles exceeded the capacities of these expressways (For more details see Part III Below)
Study that Car Pool lanes INCREASE single car rides not Decrease them:
II B. The Great GM Conspiracy
In 1974 Bradford C. Snell made a claim that General Motors (GM) conspired to kill off the Streetcars system in the US. One reporter who agrees that there was a “plot” by GM to replace Streetcars with buses has called Snell’s statement of the plot so outrageous that Snell must have been in the pay of GM when he made his claim. Snell’s claims were so outrageous AND contained so many errors in details, that anyone else following up on the plot would also be dismissed as a conspiracy nut. The reporter believes there was a plot, but did not start till after WWII and involved more lobbying then bribes (Some of the brides were just new cars or other gifts for the people making the decision) after GM have lobbied management of those transit systems) AND provided such management with reasons why buses were superior to Streetcars. At the same time Streetcars makers did NOT have the profit margin to do the same in favor of Streetcars.
For more details see: http://www.baycrossings.com/Archives/2003/03_April/paving_the_way_for_buses_the_great_gm_streetcar_conspiracy.htm
As you can see, while other factors kicked in, lobbying by GM was a serious factor in the demise of the Streetcars.
One of the ways GM lobbied was to convinced highway departments to opt for Buses instead of Streetcars. GM would point out that fuel taxes paid for the road (even if this was untrue, for example almost any road that had Streetcar tracks, the Streetcar operators had to maintain, and most of such road had been paved by the Streetcar operator as a cost of using the Street).
Thus GM would lobby state legistlature, local officials, highway departments ect that since fuel taxes were only paid by oil propelled vehicles, roads should be only for automobiles, trucks and buses and other oil operatored vehicles NOT electrical Streetcar systems. One aspect of this is that in the Manual on how to build Roads in the US used for decades nu most state Highway departments called pedestrians “Traffic impediments” NOT primary users of roads,
The US Supreme Court has consistently ruled that people living in America have “Freedom of Movement” but it is a freedom the state has no duty to assist AND has no right to interfere i.e. you have the right to walk on any public road NOT expressly built for use of Automobiles (i.e. Expressways) AND such EXPRESSWAYS can NOT interfere with any existing right to walk on existing roads. i.e. the State can build a Interstate Highway, but it must be independent of preexisting roads that people can walk on. Highway department hate this rule and try to work around it, but also knows they can NOT build an expressway on top of an existing road UNLESS pedestrian travel is taken care of. i.e. permitted or diverted in some reasonable way.
In my area of Cambria County Pennsylvania this is done on US 22. You can walk or bike on what had been old US 22, the road that dates back to colonial times. In roughly the same area, the State has built what the local call “New 22”, this is an exclusive right of way for Automobiles, you can NOT walk on it, you are to walk on “Old 22” that is in the same area. The problem is parts of “Old 22” was covered over by parts of “New 22”. Here the state does something weird. On intersections and ramps going on “New 22” where “Old 22” exists, the signs clearly says no Pedestrians and bicyclists, but when “Old 22” merges with “New 22” those signs are missing. The reason is simple, such a ban would violate the Constitutional right known as the “Freedom to move”. On the other hand in the areas were “old 22” and “new 22” are two different roads, such a ban in completely constitutional.
I point this out for GM was behind much of the reconstruction of the Interstate System and the upgrading of the US highway system. GM lobbied the State Highway Department (later Penndot) to make sure “New 22” would be for automobiles only, but it also knew that if “Old 22” disappeared under “New 22” such a ban would be unconstitutional. Thus GM lobbied the State to put up the signs where it could, but in the areas were such signs would be unconstitutional; the signs saying so just do not go up. In many ways this lobbying is a more effective way to get what GM wanted then out right bribes and GM did it constantly. This was legal AND effective.
One last comment, after WWII, the US was in a tight credit period, for example do to the regulations to prevent a recession AND to convert from war time production to peace time production you could only get a loan of 18 months to buy a car. This credit shortage had the affect of forcing many cities to look to GM for financing of transit vehicles. GM wanted them to buy buses and would give credit for buses. The PCC Streetcar had been in production since the mid 1930s and was a vast improvement over previous streetcars, but unless the transit company could swing a bank loan to buy the then new PCCs, they had to operate equipment most of them has purchased in the 1920s and were reaching the end of the usable life. Most transit companies had NOT purchased new equipment in the 1930s do to the depression and do to WWII they could not buy new equipment during WWII. Thus new vehicles were needed and financing was tight, but GM was flush from its WWII production profits and had the money to loan, if the transit system opt for buses. This was legal but like the lobbying mentioned above, part of the GM “Plot” to replace Streetcars with buses.
II C New York City and advertising.
One author suspects the Mayor of New York in the 1930s was under the guidance of William Randolph Hearst, who had been attacking the “Transit Trusts” in New York City for decades. I suspect, while that may be true, the real reason for the replacement of Streetcars with buses was based on the Concept of “Advertising”. If you understand Advertising, it is MORE then commercials on Television or billboards. It covers everything from how something looks on the shelf in the store and how it is worn in movies and on Television programs. When it comes to Streetcars, it worked itself against Streetcars in the 1920s through the 1950s and has been working itself in favor of Streetcars since the 1970s.
When it comes to Transit, advertising includes seeing a Streetcar or bus going down the street. Upper Middle Class people where the first urban dwellers who opt for cars over transit. In New York City this meant a lot of traffic jams, for the New York City was built for walking not driving a car and then parking it. Drivers (Remember we are talking about Upper Middle Class people, the people who today are making more then $150,000 a year) complained to the Mayor of the Traffic Jam, and tended to blame Streetcars even if they did NOT see the Streetcars for they did see the Tracks in the Street AND the overhead wires. The Tracks and Wires were advertising the Streetcars almost as while as the Streetcars themselves. The problem was the people getting the message, included the Upper Middle Class stuck in Traffic Jams. They complained to the Mayor who tried his best to figure out a way to end such complaints.
The Mayor of New York realized the reason Streetcars were getting the blame for the Traffic Jams, was that people in Traffic jams were seeing the Rails and the Wires and thus blaming the Streetcars, even if the Streetcars had nothing to do with the Traffic Jam. By replacing Streetcars with Buses the Rails could be covered up and wires removed, ending any complaints that Streetcars were causing the traffic jams. No one would see what was causing the Traffic Jam and without the rails in the Street or the other head wires, drivers would not THINK streetcars when they were in a traffic jam, instead they would blame what they saw, other automobiles.
Now, Buses would be blamed if seen, but you only saw a bus if it was also in the Traffic Jam, you did not have anything on the street that reminded a driver that buses also traveled that street. Thus do to the advertising effect of Rails in the Street and Wires overhead, it reminded people that streetcars also ran on that road, but no such reminders existed for buses except for the actual buses.
This affect has been seen since the 1970s in cases where Streetcars (mostly in the Form of Light Rail Vehicles) started to be re-built. The rails and the Overhead lines reminded people that Streetcars (LRVs) also ran on the Road or on their own private right of way and thus was an option. Concrete Road bed, even of a bus only road, would just be another lane on a highway. A bus lane thus does NOT have much advertising affect when compared to rails and overhead wires and as such is the best explanation of WHY when rail in built, it tends to exceed pre construction estimates, while bus ways tend to fall short of them.
This adverting affect seems also to be a factor in the decline of Streetcars in other urban areas outside of New York City.
III. The US Supreme Court’s 1964 “One Man, One Vote” rule:
In 1964 the US Supreme Court ruled that every American had the right to vote AND that every person’s vote had to be viewed as Equal. This outlawed the practice in most states of providing more representation in their Legislature for Rural Areas than Urban Areas. Prior to 1964 (Which is the era we are discussing in this paper) Rural areas had more representation and thus more power in most state’s legislature than Urban Areas, even as more people lived in urban areas. This had several affect, first rural roads were given priority over urban Roads, second such Rural legislators could be easily convinced that certain rural areas near urban areas should have priority over other rural areas (Thus provided more funds for the development of Suburbia). A third side affect is a total opposition to mass transit (Since you could not have mass transit in rural areas, the rural legislators saw no reason to vote for mass transit in urban areas).
Now, the Supreme Court Decision reduced the power of the Rural areas of this country, but did it at a very bad point in the history of what is now called the “inner City” i.e. Non-suburbia. Do to the expansion of Suburbia prior to 1964, the power switch caused by the 1964 Supreme Court Decision was NOT from Rural to Urban, but Rural to Suburban. By 1964 approximately 1/3 of the US population lived in Rural Areas, with 2/3 in Urban Areas, the problem was the inner city was losing its population and suburbia was increasing its, thus by about 1980 it was Rural 1/3, inner-city 1/3 and Suburbia 1/3. With most rural areas voting Republican after 1964, and most inner City voting Democratic after 1964, the fight for control of both the state and Federal Government was fought by the two political parties in Suburbia. Thus neither party has a very good reason to fight the growth of Suburbia, for it would be cutting itself off from the votes it needs to win.
History of Suburbia.1890-2000
(All dates used herein are to establish a guideline to go with this paper. None of these dates are fixed in stone. The dates are being used to set forth HOW suburbia developed NOT the exact dates of any one development in that history.)
A. The Trolley Suburbs 1890-1920.
With the perfection of the Electric Railway, people could have a quick clean and reliable way to get from Home to Work WITHOUT having to live near a Stream Locomotive line. This helped developed the first true Suburbs (Suburbs had existed before but on the Stream Locomotive right of way and as such restricted in area). These areas are now mostly in inner-cities but people who moved into these areas intended to take the Electric Railway to and from work instead of the earlier means of walking (Contrary to the Movies NO one took a horse to work, if you did you had to keep it in a stable and had to feed it. If you went by Carriage, the preferred way, you had to keep the carriage stored away from the horse, horse manure is hard on wood and metal. Horse manure is also hard on Saddles, thus no one rode a horse to work). Once these tracks were in the people would move out into these Trolley Suburbs as they were called. Stores would move out to be along the track for that was were the people who had money were.
In my home town of Pittsburgh, the Oakland area of Pittsburgh was a “Trolley Suburb”, The University of Pittsburgh moved out from Downtown Pittsburgh to the Oakland section of Pittsburgh during this time period for it could build a bigger building (the Cathedral of Learning) on a bigger plot of land than you could in Downtown Pittsburgh. Other Business followed.
B. First Automobile Suburbs, 1920-1945.
These differ from the earlier Trolley Suburbs is that people who moved into these suburbs expected to used their Automobile either to commute to the old inner city or to the Electric Railway line and take the Electric Railway line to work. People still tended to view the Electric Railway as backup if something should go wrong with their car. The homes were still within a distant, but reasonable walk from the street car line. One of the Characteristics of this time period is the movement of Branch Stores of the Major Downtown Department Stores to the end of the Street Car lines. These branch stores were on the Street car lines so their workers could get to them without the need for a car, but people in the new Automotive suburbs could drive their car to these same stores.
C. Post-WWII Suburban Boom 1945-1964.
This is an expansion of the First Automotive Suburbs to areas to far to walk to the Street car (or bus lines as the Electric Railways are replaced by Buses), but people can still be dropped off at the Electric Railway stop if their spouse needed the car for the day. This people saw the expansion of strip malls and discount stores in such strip malls. K-Mart type stores come into domination, stores not only relying on customers driving to work, BUT ALSO THEIR EMPLOYEES.
D. The Mall Age 1964-1990.
This is an expansion of the Post-WWII suburbs to even further from the inner-city AND a switch to employment in SUBURBIA and that only the poor would be using public transportation. Four things distinguish this period from the prior period:
1. , First is the Switch to the Mall being the main shopping Mecca,
2. Second (and related), the death of most inner-city department stores (Only the biggest ones tend to survive),
3. Third, most Public Transportation switch to both buses AND Government ownership of Public Transportation (With Public Transportation being seen only as a means to provide transportation for the poor as opposed to a serious transit alternative for the automobile) and
4. Fourth, the first branch stores of the old inner-city department stores slowly close down and are moved to the mall. Many Survive the conversion from Electric Railways to Buses, but some do not, for the call of the Mall is to great. Unlike earlier eras, if you do not have a car your employment opportunities are VERY limited.
Now the First oil Crisis occurred in this era, but looks like it was more of a minor hindrance to the furthering of Mall America (a mere hiccup for America was still producing 90% of the oil it was using, not till the 1980s did that number start to drop till today’s 50% production).
E. The modern Era, 1990-2010.
This area saw two conflicting movements, first the re-turn of Public Transportation as a serious means of transport for the non-poor, Second the growth of the Super K-mart (i.e. Wal-mart) in areas even further out from the inner-city. While the Mall age saw Public Transportation almost die, the further growth of Suburbia show increase traffic tie-ups between suburban areas. The earlier solution of building bigger and bigger highways was increasingly showing to be a dead-end, but the attempts at improving mass transit feeble do to the feeling that it is only for the poor.
People were looking at Mass Transit but since most states restricted Gasoline Tax money to highway use, mass transit had NO stable funding source. With Gasoline the cheapest (in real terms) it has ever been in the late 1990s, no push to increase funding for mass transit is made. Furthermore with more jobs in the Suburbs than in the inner city the old method of all transit going to the urban core is not time efficient for most workers. Why go to the Urban Core by one bus to catch another bus to where you work, when you can drive directly to the suburban work location?
On the other hand, as the price of gasoline climbed after 2000, more and more people took transit every year, but after 2008 the movement of most state governments were to cut back on subsidies to mass transit as they attempted to balance the state budgets.
We are in some sort of transition, people have been talking of the need for Public Transportation for 30 years (since the advent of Mall America) but these have all failed for failing to come up with a funding source for such mass transit. Buses have failed for the same reason the earlier Electric Railway failed in the cities, as the roads have more and more cars, the bus service that uses the same roads goes down hill. The only solution has been known for over 50 years (as shown by many of the surviving Street car lines), mass transit to work has to come frequently, reliably and as fast as using a car. The only way to do that is to have the transit on its own right of way, but that is expensive, buses running on the same roads as Automobiles are cheaper to buy.
The Future of Suburbs and Public Transportation.
I go through the above to show you how we became what we are. To eliminate the Automobile would mean to reverse most of the above. Public Transportation has not been viewed as a serious transportation option for most commuters since about 1964 (and I am being generous, I believe we have to go back to the 1920s to see HOW our society has to be structured when we abandoned the automobile). 1964 is the start of the Mall Age of America AND the rule by Suburbia. While the Inner-city would adjust to an oil-less age rapidly (everything tends to be in walking distance and with oil scare most stores will return to the urban core) how can Suburbia switch? I have less concern about Rural America than Suburbia for Rural America can always go back to horses and a life style of going to “Town” once a month (more often when the crop is in). Even Rural industry can adjust by just having the workers move back to the Company towns that still surround most such existing rural industry (Or moving the industry to the inner-city). Most “Rural Industry” tend to be on rail lines anyway so not much a problem for them. Rail tend to be more fuel efficient than Tractor-Trailer AND can more easily convert to electricity as a source of power)
Thus Suburbia is the problem. Bicycle are NOT much help (Please Note I am referring to bicycles in SUBURBIA, I see them as very valuable help in the urban cores AND even rural America). Now Bicycle are quicker than walking, most suburbs have separated work areas from where people live by distances that are to far to bike EVERY DAY. Furthermore most of these work sites are NOT on a rail line so truck transportation is their lifeline (i.e. if oil becomes so scarce that Tractor-Trailer owners can no afford to buy oil, these suburban work shops will die, even if the workers can bike to work).
One last note, when I mention Trains using electricity as a power source, I know you still need some sort of energy to produce the electricity, but that can be Natural Gas(which like oil is in decline), coal, Solar, wind, Hydro and even Nuclear. Thus you have more option than just oil.
In the final review the best solution will be an adjustment to a clearer Urban-Rural divide with what we call Suburbia slowly dying. People will have to move closer to their jobs and those jobs will move closer to the cheapest transportation that will exist at that time (probably rail, but can be barge or ship and even bicycle or horse).
Suburbia will retreat to the old inner cities. Some Suburbs retreating to the new urban cores that exist around some of the malls that exists today. These will survive only if connected to the inner city by a LRV system (Or other rail connection), but once that is up and running you will see people moving closer and closer to these urban cores. For example I see the malls all building apartment complexes for their workers over the existing parking lots. This will permit people who can no longer afford to operate
a car to move closer to their work. As more and more people abandoned the Automobile, do to the increase in oil prices, these people will fill in the areas around the old malls developing what the old downtown of 1900 had, shops and workers. After a while the mall will cover all of their parking lots with such apartments as people other than workers decide to live next to the mall. Just like today’s growth of Suburbia is lubricated by cheap oil, the existence of expensive oil will lubricate a retreat from Suburbia.
In Rural Areas I see the return of the horse and increase rural population. Modern Farming techniques require huge tractors. With fuel expensive, the horse can be competitive but only if the present large farms are broken up into the smaller farms such farms were only a couple of generations ago. Today, a Horse can compete with tractors on farms of less than 50 acres (but you can not survive as a farmer on such a small farms, most farmers who are full time farmers are farming 500+ acres, and to do that you need a huge tractor AND oil to run that tractor). Once oil is to expensive, the economics of farming will change and that will lead to a slow return to smaller farms.
One area where overlap will occur is some of the Mall Age and post Mall age Suburbs. I see the Post-Mall Age Suburbs (and the Mall Age Suburbs not close to a LRV Line) being abandoned and return to farm land. With decrease yields do to reduce use of Natural Gas derived fertilizers we will have to do so to just to feed our present population. Thus as you travel from the rural farm land to the urban core. you will see acres and acres of small farms than move right into urban areas with small yards. Than as you near the urban core you will enter an area of Apartment buildings (no more than six stories high) around a central shopping district (a old mall or an old inner city center). The Cities will be dispersed but compacted, connected by electric rail service (on both LRV system and the old locomotive systems that will convert to Electricity).
In review you see we have only been living in a Automotive dominated society since about 1920, which means it has taken us 90 years to get to where we are. Once we start to convert to non-automotive society it will take us just as long and will require a slow increase in the price of oil (which is expected). Thus whenever oil production peak occurs, that is when we will start the long and “interesting” switch to a post-automotive society.
Side note, one researcher believes that do to the sand oil fields in the West, the US can return to its 1969 peak oil production by 2017. He acknowledges this means oil must stay above $90 a barrel for this to work. He is counting on two things, both of which are questionable. First the recent increase in oil production in the Gulf of Mexico will continued, while I believe it has not yet peaked, I suspect a peak while before 2017. The Second presumption is that out of the Oil Sands we will see a huge increase in oil production, the problem with this is most of the oil in the Oil Sands have to be mined not drilled for. Fracking it may be cheaper but Oil Sands is NOT oil, it is the stuff that would become oil is several more millions years, thus has to be processed into oil, then refined. Much of this oil is marginal, almost one gallon of oil may have to be use to produce one gallon of oil. When that occurs, the oil sands become an energy sink and thus only good as a base for products people are willing to pay a premium for (Oil inside an engine used to lubricate the engine for example).
Posted by happyslug | Mon Dec 19, 2011, 06:46 PM (17 replies)
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