Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

Re: On the subject of mass transit

Nicely done. Let me add my 2c:

  1. Mass transit works well only in densely populated areas. It is a simple fact of life. Basically your trip consist of 3 components:
  1. the trip to the departure station
  2. the trip itself on a mass transportation system
  3. the trip from the arrival station.

Let's assume that the tolerable trip to/from a station is 15 minutes. If you walk, it means that it is approximately 1 mile long. Now imagine a 1-mile sphere around your station. This is a service zone. You better have a lot of people living/working/visiting here. You need skyscrapers to utilize this volume efficiently. Some underground facilities (like underground malls) will be helpful too. How many U.S. cities fit the picture? New York --- yes, Los Angeles --- yes, Chicago --- probably, Houston --- unlikely, and so on (I covered the top 4 most populous cities). My point is: a mass transit system will be unprofitable in almost all American cities or it would be inconvenient to use.

A case in point: it takes me >15 minutes to drive to the nearest DART station, which will take me to the downtown. It takes me 20-25 minutes to drive to the downtown in my car. Could you guess what I do? My DART line goes along 75, which has a speed limit of 60 MPH. DART cannot exceed 45 MPH and stops frequently. It takes more than 20 minutes to get to the downtown using DART. Like everybody else I pay my taxes to support DART (1% of all sales goes there) and like majority of locals I cannot use it.

  1. Any mass transit system sucks, if you need to travel with bags, packages, and stuff in general. Try to go shopping and bring back what you bought. Try to visit several stores during one trip. No matter what you do it is inconvenient.
  2. Mass transit is convenient, if the only thing you need is to haul yourself. If your commute to work takes >20 minutes, there are many things you can do to spend this time productively rather than being alert driving: reading, answering e-mails, working on laptop, and so on.
  3. There is one good alternative to a mass transit: a telecommute --- the most economical and efficient form of transportation. :-) As far as I can tell there are many lines of work, where it is appropriate and acceptable.
  4. A lot of public transportation advocates use European countries as an example. Usually they forget to mention that their price of gas is roughly twice higher than in U.S.A. because of excise taxes, which were designed to help European economy after WWII. ;-) It is one more example of punishment you mentioned.
Comment on On the subject of mass transit
by Eugene Lazutkin