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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 01:22 AM
Original message
Despite energy crisis, U.S. slashes mass transit
In most countries, one might expect fiscal collapse to lead to more people taking public transport. After all, while buses, trams, light rail, and underground systems are less convenient than private vehicle usage, and while using such systems oftentimes involves sharing one's environs with too many people and too many competing body odours, at least it's cheaper than filling up one's car with gas and driving miles each day. Utilising public transport is a sensible, relatively painless way to penny pinch.

But, in America, at least in part because public transport has not, in recent years, won the hearts and minds of the politically influential classes in many regions of the country, these systems are peculiarly vulnerable to cuts during the down-times. In fact, a poll released in early April by the Economist indicated that, faced with declining government revenues, more than twice as many Americans would want federal public transit subsidies cut versus reductions to highways expenditures. At a local level, too, many Americans' relationship to public transit systems is tendentious at best. And hence the tragic irony: as local governments continue to haemorrhage revenues, and thus have to look for evermore ways to tighten their belts, so public transit systems suffer...

http://socialistworker.org/blog/critical-reading/2010/0...
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Newest Reality Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 01:47 AM
Response to Original message
1. Waiting for those people ...
who keep asking us to give up driving our cars for a month or forever, to chime in here.

When you live in the country, that is like asking someone to become a Zen Monk who has no job and goes door to door with a begging bowl after scrubbing the temple down. Problem is, there is no temple and nobody is making begging bowls ... yet.

Oh, there are horses, (PETA aside) and that old, reliable standby could be a potential alternative, but that is only if you can sleep overnight at work and are allowed rather lengthy commute times in-between. It could take days or weeks to get back and forth for many of us on our trusty steeds. That is, not to mention the fact that there are not really any convenient equestrian fueling stations around and a stable needs to be somewhat larger than a garage.

Of course, horses came to mind because, in places like Virginia, you will literally take hours just to get up one hill before you can coast down the next one and all of your energy for work will have been spent by the time you arrive if you rely on the bicycle.

Oh, we will manage. Hi-oh, Silver!
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 09:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
8. We have socially, economically and environmentally painted ourselves into a corner.
Edited on Wed Jun-30-10 09:29 AM by Javaman
While I urge people to do the best they can to try alternative means of transportation, I also realize, due to how our nation, over the past 60 years, has been built up, it's virtually impossible for whole sections of the population to use anything other than a car.

What happens to the people who live out in the farthest reaches of suburbia with no public transportation when the price of gas goes back up?

How will city and state budgets conform to fix the massive loop holes in our public transportation, when those same budgets are straining to pay for ordinary services?

Inner city condo's, homes and apartments are now at a premium. How does a person living on a fixed budget afford to move closer to their work to take advantage of public transportation?

These are the hard questions our government will pressed to answer in a few short years.

The peak energy community is very small, most people in the US doesn't even know what the term means or they are willfully ignorant of it (repukes). So as a result, the people most in need of a solution, don't even know which questions to ask and why they are asking them.

As long as the city and state budgets are met, the politicians can go on record as saying, "during these trying times, with a few sacrifices, we were able to balance the budget". That's all well and good, but once again, those without get tossed aside.

Interesting times, very interesting times.

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taterguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #1
13. Sorry you had to wait. Mass transit requires masses of people to work
Sending buses or trains to rural areas takes more energy than simply using personal vehicles.

So if you live in the country, you have to drive.

The good news is that you get points for living close to your food supply. Unless you just live out in the country because you don't like being around people.

Seriously, rural drivers don't bother me.

The people I have a problem with are the ones in cities who use automobiles for every damn trip, even ones that could be easily done on foot or by bike. It's a mass psychosis and it's starting to really piss me off.

:toast:

ps: Don't just coast downhill. Go balls to the wall. It's more fun and that way going up the next hill doesn't take any effort at all. YMMV of course.
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lurky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 01:58 AM
Response to Original message
2. Ridership is way up,
But they are still slashing service. Here in New York, the subway is way over capacity, but they are eliminating entire lines. For instance, they just shut down the M subway line, which was the only service for something like a hundred thousand people in Ridgewood, Queens and parts of Bushwick in Brooklyn. Not surprisingly, most of the people affected are poor people and immigrants. I guess they are the least likely to raise a stink... :(
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 02:01 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. so what do those people do?
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Luminous Animal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #3
16. In San Francisco, we are packed in.
There are some mornings that I have to wait for 5-6 trains to go by before I can crush myself into one. I'm leaving a half an hour earlier to get to work. It is fucked up.
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 09:35 AM
Response to Reply #2
11. I wish I could say the same here in Austin...
we just got our first light rail route.

The monthly ticket price is out of reach for the average person.

The very very limited times in which it runs makes it almost ineffective. (no weekends and no evenings. I know, dumb).

It's as if they designed it to fail.

Now they are trying to get a bond passed to have a new route going from downtown to the airport.

Our new route is on existing track that has to be shared with the Missouri Pacific line. The proposed one would be from scratch. Massively expensive.

I wrote to our Capital Metro board stating that instead of light rail, they should explore the electrified over head bus system that I experienced on a trip to San Francisco. As usual, no response. It's much less expensive than fixed rail, it can change lanes and it's quicker to install.

CapMetro here is such a joke and has been for years. Coming up with alternative ideas or solutions is like screaming into an empty room.

So frustrating.
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Jkid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 05:51 PM
Response to Reply #11
18. No more like
Screaming into a room full of people who have their ears stuffed with cash from their paychecks.
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. LOL exactly! LOL nt
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lurky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-01-10 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #11
23. Man, that's frustrating.
You see that a lot. I think the philosophy of the designers is "make it just adequate enough to get the proles to their service jobs and keep the big businesses happy, and absolutely no more". And you see an attitude among a lot of people, especially in more conservative and suburban areas, IME, that only poor people ride transit. People don't want to be seen on the bus or the train because of some kind of class perception. Unfortunately, a lot of these folks are the ones designing the transit systems.

BTW, I used to ride the electric buses in SF. In some ways they were very nice, but I think they would work a lot better if they had their own dedicated right-of-way, or ran in a less crowded place (like Austin?). They would always get bogged down in the congestion on the narrow streets, and then the arms would usually detach from the overhead wires when they were going around double-parked trucks, so the driver would have to get out and spend a couple minutes reconnecting them. In that case, they also don't have the capacity to serve the needs of that city, unfortunately. Most cities of roughly that size and density (Boston, DC, Philly, Toronto, etc.) have extensive heavy-rail subway systems serving local neighborhoods. It's too bad we just don't build that stuff anymore.
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End Of The Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-01-10 06:46 PM
Response to Reply #11
26. In my neck of Austin (Oak Hill)
they moved the park-n-ride lot to a very inconvenient spot, and are planning on cutting the neighborhood routes in order to force people to drive to the lot. By the time I get to the lot, I might as well just drive the rest of the way to work.

I HATE Cap Metro. All crooks and liars.
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Toucano Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 02:06 AM
Response to Original message
4. Ah, but Obama thinks we need to go to Mars
Safe and efficient public transportation could be a transformative project for generations.
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Sen. Walter Sobchak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 02:12 AM
Response to Original message
5. I can't afford to dedicate an hour to making an eight mile trip,
that doesn't qualify as a "relatively painless way to penny pinch"
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taterguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 06:44 AM
Response to Original message
6. Mass transit would be much more popular if we had any idea how much auto use costs the government
I've asked a lot of smart people. No one knows. There are just guesses.

To calculate the automobile subsidy you'd have to analyze the budgets of every government entity in the country.

Even then, you'd have trouble agreeing on what constitutes a subsidy to cars.

My city loses half a million dollars a year on downtown parking decks.

Is that a subsidy to automobile users or downtown businesses?

What do you do with the percentage of First Responder (Police, EMTs) budgets that's spent on automobile accidents?

And of course what portion of our defense budget is devoted to protecting oil fields.

Calculating mass transit subsidies is much easier. You simply take the expenditures and subtract from it the revenues (ie, ticket sales).

So even though mass transit is cheaper, no one really knows how much cheaper it is.

Now watch this thread sink like a stone.
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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
7. Mass transit was only on the upswing because gas prices once were above 4/gallon.
Once those days return, you can bet people would be demanding more mass transit.
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. Like I said in the past, if you want change in this country, raise the price of gas. nt
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taterguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-01-10 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #12
24. The major change of raising the price of gas is people have less money to spend on other stuff
There was limited increase in use of mass transit during the last gas spike.

Most of the reduced consumption was because people lost their jobs and didn't go to work. Because people had less money to spend on stuff that keeps people employed.

Gas spikes don't impact a lot of basic fuel consuming behaviors:

People aren't going to move closer or buy more efficient vehicles because that's too damn expensive, especially during a recession when no one knows if they're about to lose their job.

People won't bike or walk places because those are short trips and the savings would be minimal. It costs me less than a quarter to drive to work instead of biking. If money was my only motivation I would need a much bigger bribe.

So you get a slight increase in the use of mass transit. Is that worth the other costs?
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #7
21. More people are taking mass transit here and they're STILL cutting service.
Of course they also plan to hike the fares again as well.
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Subdivisions Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
9. What energy crisis? n/t
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Karmadillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
10. Somebody email Obama! Quick! He needs to know about this!
nt
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amborin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 05:34 PM
Response to Original message
14. K&R
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NuttyFluffers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 05:39 PM
Response to Original message
15. public transport is a great way for people to save money & directly make jobs...
alas, that's logical, so it's impossible in these modern days of America.
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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 05:50 PM
Response to Original message
17. Doing the wrong thing is becoming a bad habit.
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Jkid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
19. The great irony....
Edited on Wed Jun-30-10 05:55 PM by Jkid
They want people to be more green, but their actions have created a hypocrisy. They cut transit, they force passengers to pay more for less services. They might as well tell people to get a car and start sacrificing their money to the alter of the oil cartel.

What's even worse, the US is still building roads after roads. We have more than enough roads.
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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 07:21 PM
Response to Original message
22. Because this country has been in the thrall of Big Oil and Big Auto for so long......
....... it suffers from some form of Stockholm Syndrome.


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Old Troop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-01-10 05:55 PM
Response to Original message
25. I use mass transit and love it. On week days that is. Trains run so infrequently
during holidays and weekends that I have to use my car. Sharing one's environs with other people is the best part -- I've made acquaintances of people who are in totally different places in life than I am. We talk politics, sports, current events.
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