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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Miami Marlins Risk Dropping the Ball on Transit

But wait… what if you built it and STILL no one came? I guess you’d better have some tradable players…

Exactly how those fans will get to the seats is a another matter. With the season just a few months away, the stadium’s transportation plan remains noticeably incomplete. Most fans will drive: roughly 5,000 garage spaces are intended for season ticketholders, and another 4,000 or so offsite spots will be available nearby. Still parking alone can’t fill the 37,000-seat stadium, and the team expects a considerable number of fans to arrive by public transportation

staring out the window and waiting for fenderbelly Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:13 AM | 262 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: miami

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   201. Steve Treder Posted: December 15, 2011 at 01:06 AM (#4016748)
That unfortunately was Brattain's last handle and thus he'll forever be screwing up BTF queries.

I'm not your basic believer in an afterlife, but if I were, I'd be inclined to say that somewhere, our old friend John is snickering about this.
   202. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 01:11 AM (#4016750)
Not to say that there aren't plenty of people in DC who really don't need a car, but the real auto congestion in DC isn't caused by cars with DC plates.

Well, yeah, because those cars stay parked on the side of the road for days at a time. But that also helps prove my point that cars shouldn't be allowed in most areas of DC.


Again, that's an interesting comment from someone with a major history of anti-"nannyism". Any comments from the local libertarian community?

As for the rest, I learned the first weekend that you cannot move your car from your spot or else you'll lose it and search forever for a new one. I've driven my car once (Thanksgiving Day) in the last 3 months and would love to sell it but I still have 29 payments to go on it.

That only reinforces my lifelong belief that cash beats credit every time. No interest, no problem.
   203. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 02:01 AM (#4016778)
So... yeah, we should walk more.

Chicago bus complaint: When visibly healthy people pull the stop chain the stop immediately after someone else got off. You can walk the extra 1/4 block for ####'s sake.
   204. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2011 at 03:24 AM (#4016825)
Again, that's an interesting comment from someone with a major history of anti-"nannyism". Any comments from the local libertarian community?

It has nothing to do with nannyism. The area simply doesn't have space for people and cars. I'm not for cars driving on sidewalks either but that doesn't make me pro-nannyism.


That only reinforces my lifelong belief that cash beats credit every time. No interest, no problem.


Zero percent interest for 5 years beats cash every time.
   205. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 04:05 AM (#4016839)
Not to say that there aren't plenty of people in DC who really don't need a car, but the real auto congestion in DC isn't caused by cars with DC plates.

Well, yeah, because those cars stay parked on the side of the road for days at a time. But that also helps prove my point that cars shouldn't be allowed in most areas of DC.

Again, that's an interesting comment from someone with a major history of anti-"nannyism". Any comments from the local libertarian community?

It has nothing to do with nannyism. The area simply doesn't have space for people and cars. I'm not for cars driving on sidewalks either but that doesn't make me pro-nannyism.


Still sounds to me like a bureaucratic solution in search of a nonexistent problem, but whatever floats your boat. But I really am curious as to what the libertarians have to say about this, since this is exactly the sort of governmental decree that usually has them up in arms.

That only reinforces my lifelong belief that cash beats credit every time. No interest, no problem.

Zero percent interest for 5 years beats cash every time.


My take is that I'd rather own all of my car the day I buy it than have to wait five years when who knows what might happen. Other than my house, I've never borrowed a dime in my life and I'd rather keep it that way. But I do realize the advantage of doing it your way when the interest rate is zero.
   206. A triple short of the cycle Posted: December 15, 2011 at 04:25 AM (#4016847)
Not to mention the all of the death and destruction brought by our endless war for middle east and african energy resources.
   207. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:17 AM (#4016866)
Still sounds to me like a bureaucratic solution in search of a nonexistent problem, but whatever floats your boat.

More like draconian than bureaucratic. I'm not sure how congestion in DC is a nonexistent problem. If any city in America was built for no cars it is DC.

But I really am curious as to what the libertarians have to say about this, since this is exactly the sort of governmental decree that usually has them up in arms.

How is it your personal right to drive on publicly built roads with government subsidized automobiles that were bought by taking out government backed loans?
   208. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:55 AM (#4016887)
Still sounds to me like a bureaucratic solution in search of a nonexistent problem, but whatever floats your boat.

More like draconian than bureaucratic. I'm not sure how congestion in DC is a nonexistent problem. If any city in America was built for no cars it is DC.


You must not have driven all that much in Boston or Philadelphia. And in fact once you learn all of the park roads in DC, Upper NW in particular is very easy to navigate. I can drive from Georgetown to Kensington in 30-35 minutes at the height of the rush hour with a combination of Rock Creek Parkway, Beach Drive, Jones Mill and Stoneybrook, hitting all of 5 traffic lights along the way. The traffic congestion in Washington is almost exclusively caused by the number of suburban drivers coming in and out of the city during the rush hours, a phenomenon you can find in almost any large city in the United States. Beyond that it's simply a matter of some neighborhoods being popular, again not unlike many neighborhoods all over the country. It can take you forever simply to get your automobile across Market Street in San Francisco, but that doesn't mean that San Franciscans should be stripped of their cars.

But I really am curious as to what the libertarians have to say about this, since this is exactly the sort of governmental decree that usually has them up in arms.

How is it your personal right to drive on publicly built roads with government subsidized automobiles that were bought by taking out government backed loans?


The more pertinent question would be what makes Washington drivers any different in that respect from drivers in any other city with similar congestion problems.** I realize that you're just playing devil's advocate here, but it's a curious line of reasoning that's coming from someone with your general hatred of government restrictions.

**Of course you may be meaning to apply these car bans to other cities beyond Washington, but so far you haven't indicated that. I wouldn't agree with car bans under any circumstance, but if you'd mentioned other cities then at least then you might construct the semblance of a case that made any sense at all. OTOH singling out Washington while leaving out Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and San Francisco makes me wonder where you're really coming from. And I still find it interesting that so far not a single one of the usual libertarian suspects has supported you here, for the very good reason that your idea is about as nannyish as can be imagined.
   209. Something Other Posted: December 15, 2011 at 06:01 AM (#4016890)
If people try to charge for parking in their yards in Arlington, Jerry Jones has them hunted down and ... well, not killed exactly. But the city doesn't let it happen. In fact, streets near the Stadium are closed off with roadblocks on "event days," to funnel all traffic into Stadium lots.

Jesus, that's on the level of a government trying to shut down a sidewalk lemonade stand. How on earth do the city of Arlington and the Cowboys ever get away with pulling off this sort of thing?

The parking ordinance was enacted last year to regulate surrounding business who hoped to cash in on parking fees. But to obtain the permit, parking lot operators must meet certain criteria including having an attendant, the lot must be lit and there must be an active business on site.

Where are all those Texas libertarians when we really need them? Does Ron Paul know about this?
I was going to try to stay out of this... arrgh. I'm sure this site's libertarians in person are excellent, principled folks, but the day I meet an actual libertarian who opposes government even when it hurts him/her is the day I get my Jeter gift basket.

Speaking of libertarianism, a few months ago I posted a question that--surprising to me--got no takers. It had to do with the more practical side of the philosophy. I asked for some details and costs of what a libertarian U.S. would actually look like. What would an all-volunteer army cost, how big would it need to be; if roads were privatized, what should we expect to pay for transportation (hard to imagine it would be cheaper, given the loss of economy of scale)... It would be a lot of work to put something like that together, though, and I'm sure our resident philosophers have other sites they need to post on. Anyone know of any books or articles that deal with that question? I'm genuinely curious, and an answer is something of a political acid test.
   210. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2011 at 06:52 AM (#4016894)
You must not have driven all that much in Boston or Philadelphia.

I lived in Philly for 6 years. You need a car in Philly.

Philly: 135 sq mi
DC: 61 sq mi

The more pertinent question would be what makes Washington drivers any different in that respect from drivers in any other city with similar congestion problems.**



OTOH singling out Washington

I didn't single out DC. It was the city we were talking about. We've had other threads about mass transit in cities before. And as mentioned in this thread and others some cities couldn't really function if we banned cars from them. For instance I don't think any city in Texas could function if you did that. You couldn't do it for the entire city of Philly but you probably could do it for China Town, Old City, Center City, and what is the other area called? Market Center? I haven't been to all the burroughs in NYC or explored every street in the areas I have been in but so far I would lean pretty heavily on banning cars from huge areas of NYC. Chicago could have their downtown and lakefront area cut off from cars. Boston is smaller than DC in terms of size, though the difference is not as great as it looks on paper once you subtract the parkland (19% to 16%), and I'm sure it could do without cars for big chunks of the city.

but it's a curious line of reasoning that's coming from someone with your general hatred of government restrictions.


I'm against the government telling me what I can and cannot eat, drink, smoke, or do to myself. I'm also against use taxes that don't really help enrich or in some way protect/safeguard/or make better whatever use they are taxing. I view them as straight shakedowns for cash. But I do think things like fishing licenses where the money is supposedly used to stock rivers and streams with fish and make sure those rivers andstreams are kept serviceable is a fair cost of enjoying those services. But I don't have any problem with the government telling me where I can and cannot drive. Again, I can't drive on the sidewalk and that doesn't fill me with rage. It is their road and if they want to keep cars off of it AND have the maintenance of those roads be funded by those vehicles that do use the roads (buses, commercial vehicles at certain hours, bikes, and such) then I have no problem with it. Like I said before, I have no problem if things we used cost us the true cost and wasn't subsidized by everyone.

And I still find it interesting that so far not a single one of the usual libertarian suspects has supported you here, for the very good reason that your idea is about as nannyish as can be imagined.

Why? I'm not a libertarian and my opinion on this is not some libertarian ideal. And again this isn't nannyish. This isn't somebody saying you can't eat trans fats because they aren't good for you and you could get sick from it down the road if you don't eat it in moderation and we don't trust you to eat it in moderation or be capable of living with the decisions you made. This is simply facing reality that certain areas in this country are so densely populated and so heavily congested with people moving to and fro that cars are simply something that cannot be used in that area. Do I have a right to drive my car in apartment hallways if I so desire? Do I have the right to drive across the National Mall if I don't like the traffic? Is it nannyish to build roads to begin with? How dare you tell me where to drive!
   211. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 07:07 AM (#4016896)
You do not need a car to live in most of the Boston region served by the T. I'm rather glad I don't have a car, actually, parking it would be a PITA.
   212. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 03:02 PM (#4016965)
McCoy,

Okay, now that you've stated that your car ban could apply to other cities or at least some areas in other cities, that's a different story. I'm assuming now that you also wouldn't be talking about banning cars in Anacostia and other parts of DC not so well served by public transportation, while at the same time extending such a ban to residents of (say) downtown Bethesda, who have nearly unlimited public transportation options.

But even with those modifications, if such car bans were to be enacted, what do you think would be the effect of placing tens of thousands of cars (or maybe over 100,000, if the ban included the entire Upper NW area) onto the open market all at once? And what do you think might be the effect on the local housing market, as many residents decide that they can't live without their automobiles? In London they only restrict the USE of cars in the central zone; they don't ban residents from owning them.

Even if your idea weren't a de facto Bill of Attainder directed against Washington drivers, I'd still be opposed to an outright car ban, because it's way too much of a one-size-fits-all solution that would have to incorporate many exceptions for people who need their cars for work---try running a book shop, for instance, without a car or van to haul books out of houses into your shop. You might conceivably write such exemptions into the law, but then you're going to wind up with a bunch of bureaucrats deciding whose car is a necessity and whose car is a "mere convenience", and don't pretend that such a system wouldn't lend itself to favoritism, cronyism and other forms of subtle corruption.

The far better way to deal with traffic congestion is the one that I'd imagine a libertarian might favor (and yes, I now realize you're not a libertarian once you leave the realm of ingestion): Let the "market" decide. Let people who don't like traffic either ditch their cars, move out of the congested area, or learn to live with it. That should be a matter for individuals to decide, not bureaucracies.

Or better yet, combine this philosophy with a radically increased investment in bus lines that will at least give people who don't live near the subway a reasonable chance of getting to work on time while leaving their cars at home.

-------------------------------

You do not need a car to live in most of the Boston region served by the T.

Sure, as long as you don't need your car for work during the day, and more or less plan on living like a 19th century small town resident, never roaming far from your immediate area. I'm not sure that's a description that fits everyone.
   213. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#4017046)
I'm not banning anyone from owning a car. If some resident of DC wants to own a car they can. They simply couldn't use it or store within the banned zone. Somehow I doubt DC is going to have a mass exodus of people leaving because they can't park their car in front of their building for weeks at a time. People go where the jobs are. For the most part people don't move into DC and then commute out of it. Not originally anyway, they might grow into that but almost nobody does it purposefully. If these people move out there are plenty of people to take their spot.

I mentioned it above but I'm not against commercial vehicles traveling on the roads at certain hours of the day but I will also say that there are plenty examples of commercial prospering without cars having the ability to drive right up to the business whenever they want or need it. Just look at cities in Europe where a ton of businesses are not accessible by vehicle. You avoid favortism, cronyism, corruption, and such by simply not giving out exceptions. Buses, emergency vehicles, and commercial vehicles during a limited period of time.



Let the "market" decide.

So does your plan have the market paying the true cost of their decisions or are their decisions going to be subsidized by other people's money?
   214. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 04:53 PM (#4017055)
I'm not banning anyone from owning a car. If some resident of DC wants to own a car they can. They simply couldn't use it or store within the banned zone. Somehow I doubt DC is going to have a mass exodus of people leaving because they can't park their car in front of their building for weeks at a time.

Why a ban? Why not just charge for street parking? Either through a permit system or EZ-Pass enabled meters.

If people couldn't park for free, they'd own fewer cars and drive less in those areas.
   215. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:03 PM (#4017064)
Why a ban? Why not just charge for street parking?

I'd have no problem with that but I don't see politicians doing it and the voters being happy with politicians doing it.

Having said that I've often thought wanting this to happen. Park your car on the street? $70. Park in a garage? $50 tax. Drive in from VA or MD? $50 toll. Register a car DC? $5,000. Register an SUV, Pickup truck, minivan, van, large size sedan? Another $5,000.
   216. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:08 PM (#4017068)
I'd have no problem with that but I don't see politicians doing it and the voters being happy with politicians doing it.

Well, they ain't banning cars either.

Having said that I've often thought wanting this to happen. Park your car on the street? $70. Park in a garage? $50 tax. Drive in from VA or MD? $50 toll. Register a car DC? $5,000. Register an SUV, Pickup truck, minivan, van, large size sedan? Another $5,000.

Except those tax rates are absurd; you're just being punitive rather than merely internalizing the costs of road maintainance and congestion.
   217. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#4017071)
Well, they ain't banning cars either.

Yep. So there really is no realistic way for the government to get involved in this.

Except those tax rates are absurd; you're just being punitive rather than merely internalizing the costs of road maintainance and congestion.

I'm not trying to internalize the cost, I am trying to punish drivers. If you want a car in DC or use a car in DC then you are going to have to pay for it. Since most people won't less cars will be on the road.
   218. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:21 PM (#4017079)
I'm not trying to internalize the cost, I am trying to punish drivers.

That's not public policy, that's personal whim.

The goal should be to set the cost appropriately to minimize lost efficiency from congestion and inability to park, and pay for road maintenance.
   219. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:26 PM (#4017083)
That's not public policy, that's personal whim.

Yes annnnnnnnnnnnd?

The goal should be to set the cost appropriately to minimize lost efficiency from congestion and inability to park, and pay for road maintenance.

That isn't my goal.
   220. BDC Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:44 PM (#4017103)
I haven't been to all the boroughs in NYC or explored every street in the areas I have been in but so far I would lean pretty heavily on banning cars from huge areas of NYC

It would seem that way, but New York is surprisingly auto-oriented. Manhattan avenues are extremely wide (many of them used to have elevated train lines): there are few areas of Manhattan you could pedestrianize without wasting a lot of space. There are a few pedestrianized streets in the Financial District, notably Wall Street (though that's more as a security measure than for ambiance), but even downtown there are lots of wide auto routes (Broadway, West Street, Water Street). The city was laid out with first omnibuses, then streetcars and els, and then ultimately the private auto in mind; in fact, very few American cities were laid out on a pedestrian scale, notable exceptions being the North End of Boston and the Vieux Carré in New Orleans. (Maybe Charleston SC, too? I have never been there.) It is really hard to think of substantial pedestrianization making sense in American center cities and towns, the way it's often done in Europe.
   221. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:52 PM (#4017121)
I'm not banning anyone from owning a car. If some resident of DC wants to own a car they can. They simply couldn't use it or store within the banned zone.

Okay, but just to be clear: Does this mean they can't even keep it in their garage or driveway, or just that they can't park it on the street? Obviously these are two entirely different degrees of restriction. And again, does this mean all of DC, or just the congested Northwest and Capitol Hill areas? Are you really equating the sparsely populated areas of Anacostia with downtown and west of the park?

I mentioned it above but I'm not against commercial vehicles traveling on the roads at certain hours of the day but I will also say that there are plenty examples of commercial prospering without cars having the ability to drive right up to the business whenever they want or need it. Just look at cities in Europe where a ton of businesses are not accessible by vehicle. You avoid favortism, cronyism, corruption, and such by simply not giving out exceptions. Buses, emergency vehicles, and commercial vehicles during a limited period of time.

Here the devil is in the details, but one person's idea of "convenience" might be another person's livelihood. I can imagine a bureaucracy making intelligent distinctions between those two categories, but not without first pausing for hysterical laughter.

Let the "market" decide.

So does your plan have the market paying the true cost of their decisions or are their decisions going to be subsidized by other people's money?


McCoy, ALL forms of transportation involve government expenses whose "true" cost is partially borne by people who never use them. This isn't perfect libertarianism, and it isn't perfect "socialism". As usual, it's a compromise among competing interests that pleases almost no one, and the only real justification for it is empirical, since we obviously need cars, trains, buses and planes to function as a society. Hell, even bicycles get a limited extent of "subsidy" in the form of designated lanes, but considering that their taxes are used to subsidize the other four transport modes, they're probably getting less than a fair deal.
   222. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#4017124)
I'm not trying to internalize the cost, I am trying to punish drivers.

Fair enough, and I appreciate the honest answer, just as I hope you appreciate it when I call for criminalizing the marketing of tobacco products.
   223. A triple short of the cycle Posted: December 15, 2011 at 06:19 PM (#4017147)
Hell, even bicycles get a limited extent of "subsidy" in the form of designated lanes, but considering that their taxes are used to subsidize the other four transport modes, they're probably getting less than a fair deal.

This is definitely true. Bicyclists pay far more than their fair share for use of roadways. Gasoline is heavily subsidized by federal government - pump price does not include costs of environmental destruction (air pollution, strip mining, etc.) or endless war, which are borne by bicyclists and motorists alike. As others have mentioned, it is heavy truck traffic that is most damaging to the roadways and thus most responsible for costs of road maintenance.
   224. CrosbyBird Posted: December 15, 2011 at 06:33 PM (#4017158)
The goal should be to set the cost appropriately to minimize lost efficiency from congestion and inability to park, and pay for road maintenance.

That would be my goal as well, although I'd add in the cost of the pollution (both chemical and auditory) and the consumption of resources. I agree with you that we shouldn't be punishing anyone; the goal is to hold people accountable for the costs they place on the community, not to discourage them from driving if that's their preference.

I think Bloomberg was right to try and institute a London-style "car tax" for daytime use of city streets. There are few situations where I'm pro-tax, but this is one of them, because it's not really a problem that individuals feel commensurate with their contribution to the negative effects.
   225. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#4017188)
The goal should be to set the cost appropriately to minimize lost efficiency from congestion and inability to park, and pay for road maintenance.


That would be my goal as well, although I'd add in the cost of the pollution (both chemical and auditory) and the consumption of resources. I agree with you that we shouldn't be punishing anyone; the goal is to hold people accountable for the costs they place on the community, not to discourage them from driving if that's their preference.

The question is how do you measure the cost of any particular mode of transportation, and how do you balance that cost against the incremental net benefit that that mode may have over alternative modes?

There are many ways of looking at the whole issue of automobile costs and benefits, but one counterpoint question might be this: How much environmental damage would be caused by having to construct a whole series of rail lines to supplement (or replace) the existing network of highways and roads that extends to every cow town and cow farm in America?

There's a wholly rational reason why trucks have replaced trains as the primary mode of freight transportation, just as there's a good reason why cars have replaced trains and buses as the primary mode of personal transportation. But until we arrive at the utopian age of fart-propelled personal aircraft and solar powered trucks, the best way to reduce the "true" costs of a fossil-feul based economy is to put the heat on the manufacturers to lower their emissions and raise their mileage standards. The Europeans and Japanese have done this long ago, and there's no serious reason why we can't follow suit. The SUV as the prototype of personal transportation can be phased out over the course of the next 10 years just as it was phased in during the 90's.

And while we're doing that, we can also be trying to harness the sun and the wind in more efficient ways, but just getting our cars' MPG from 20-35 to 45-60 would still do both us and the earth a hell of a lot of good.
   226. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#4017193)
There's a wholly rational reason why trucks have replaced trains as the primary mode of freight transportation

That's not true. Trains still carry the large majority of freight on a tonnage-mile basis.
   227. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 07:09 PM (#4017204)
There's a wholly rational reason why trucks have replaced trains as the primary mode of freight transportation

That's not true. Trains still carry the large majority of freight on a tonnage-mile basis.


I didn't realize that, but that still doesn't negate the point that trucks can far more easily perform certain tasks of transporting goods than trains could ever dream of, especially to small towns and within big cities. And trucks have destroyed such former bulwarks of the consumer economy as the REA.
   228. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#4017210)
I didn't realize that, but that still doesn't negate the point that trucks can far more easily perform certain tasks of transporting goods than trains could ever dream of, especially to small towns and within big cities.

Trucks are clearly more flexible, but you have to remember that in the old days, there were spur lines everywhere. All industrial areas had road spurs for delivery (look at the High Line in Manhattan). Walk around any old indutrial area in a city, and you'll find remnants of old railroad tracks.

For passengers, small town trolley tracks were usually integrated into the rail lines. So, you had "intercity trolleys" that carried people from small towns to the main rail hubs.
   229. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 08:04 PM (#4017256)
Trucks are clearly more flexible, but you have to remember that in the old days, there were spur lines everywhere. All industrial areas had road spurs for delivery (look at the High Line in Manhattan). Walk around any old indutrial area in a city, and you'll find remnants of old railroad tracks.

For passengers, small town trolley tracks were usually integrated into the rail lines. So, you had "intercity trolleys" that carried people from small towns to the main rail hubs.


Indeed our country functioned very well before trucks came along, and if we were willing to sink several hundred billion dollars into resurrecting or reconstructing those spur lines and trolley tracks, it might be able to do so again. We might not be overjoyed with our tax bill, but as consolation we might get to meet Judy Garland once we arrived in St. Louis.
   230. Swoboda is freedom Posted: December 15, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#4017265)
but as consolation we might get to meet Judy Garland once we arrived in St. Louis.

Would we get to Bang Bang Bang her? Oops that is the Jeter thread.
   231. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#4017266)
Indeed our country functioned very well before trucks came along, and if we were willing to sink several hundred billion dollars into resurrecting or reconstructing those spur lines and trolley tracks, it might be able to do so again. We might not be overjoyed with our tax bill, but as consolation we might get to meet Judy Garland once we arrived in St. Louis.

Well, that system is just not practicable with the availability of the truck and car. Trucks are more efficient for certain freight, and cars are grossly more efficient for much travel.

I mean, if you wanted to go from a town 30 miles outside of NY to a town 30 miles outside of Boston, pre-auto, you were looking at horse transportation or walking to your nearest depot, intercity-trolley or local train into NYC, possibly hansom cab from Penn Station to Grand Central, train to Boston, intercity-trolly/local train to the town nearest your destination, then foot or cab to your endpoint.

Compared to hopping in your car and driving 4 hours, that's time-consuming, and wearying, if your're carting luggage along.
   232. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 08:34 PM (#4017293)
@123:
It's not like you can just plop down a new urban area in Arizona, but you can build a new low-density subdivision or twelve pretty easily.

Ok ... so where does this imaginary low-density subdivision get its water? And electricity? And what does it do with its sewage and trash? What is the libertarian answer?
The libertarian answer is that the people who move into the subdivision pay the costs of bringing it in (in the cast of water and electricity) and taking it out (in the case of sewage and trash).
   233. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: December 15, 2011 at 08:49 PM (#4017312)
Not to mention the all of the death and destruction brought by our endless war for middle east and african energy resources.

You do know that the war in Iraq is officially over and all of the remaining troops are coming home on Sunday, right? You should try keeping up with the news so you don't make a fool out of yourself.

And, Africa?? The nuthouse just called, and they're wondering where you wandered off to.
   234. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 09:29 PM (#4017350)
but as consolation we might get to meet Judy Garland once we arrived in St. Louis.

Would we get to Bang Bang Bang her? Oops that is the Jeter thread.


Yeah, I think that in 1904 we would have Clang Clang Clanged her, and Leon Ames would have shot shot shot our asses right off of the trolley.

Indeed our country functioned very well before trucks came along, and if we were willing to sink several hundred billion dollars into resurrecting or reconstructing those spur lines and trolley tracks, it might be able to do so again. We might not be overjoyed with our tax bill, but as consolation we might get to meet Judy Garland once we arrived in St. Louis.

Well, that system is just not practicable with the availability of the truck and car. Trucks are more efficient for certain freight, and cars are grossly more efficient for much travel.

I mean, if you wanted to go from a town 30 miles outside of NY to a town 30 miles outside of Boston, pre-auto, you were looking at horse transportation or walking to your nearest depot, intercity-trolley or local train into NYC, possibly hansom cab from Penn Station to Grand Central, train to Boston, intercity-trolly/local train to the town nearest your destination, then foot or cab to your endpoint.

Compared to hopping in your car and driving 4 hours, that's time-consuming, and wearying, if your're carting luggage along.


snapper, were you really under the impression that my comment implied that I was favoring such a return to the pre-trucking age? Jeez, if I'm gonna spring for a tax bill like that, I'm gonna have to at least get to clang Louise Brooks or Rita Hayworth.
   235. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 09:34 PM (#4017355)
if I'm gonna spring for a tax bill like that, I'm gonna have to at least get to clang Louise Brooks or Rita Hayworth.

I hate to break it to you, but I think they're dead.
   236. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: December 15, 2011 at 09:43 PM (#4017363)
I hate to break it to you, but I think they're dead.

Take your judgmental crap to the human morality thread (formerly the animal masturbation thread).
   237. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 15, 2011 at 09:44 PM (#4017366)
if I'm gonna spring for a tax bill like that, I'm gonna have to at least get to clang Louise Brooks or Rita Hayworth.

I hate to break it to you, but I think they're dead.


Yes, I guess that Louise and Rita go along with trolley tracks and spur lines as demises I wasn't previously aware of.
   238. CrosbyBird Posted: December 16, 2011 at 12:37 AM (#4017468)
The question is how do you measure the cost of any particular mode of transportation, and how do you balance that cost against the incremental net benefit that that mode may have over alternative modes?

It's a good question, and the answer is not simple. I think you ultimately have to pin it on resource consumption. Right now, it's often more convenient/cheaper to use less efficient means of transportation that is more environmentally damaging, and that's an issue.

There are many ways of looking at the whole issue of automobile costs and benefits, but one counterpoint question might be this: How much environmental damage would be caused by having to construct a whole series of rail lines to supplement (or replace) the existing network of highways and roads that extends to every cow town and cow farm in America?

It's not binary. I don't envision the entire country covered with a grid of rail lines so much as convenient connections between major hubs. I see rail as underutilized primarily as plane replacement, and somewhat as car replacement in very dense urban centers. Ideally, we'd have some sort of system of short-range swappable vehicles available at transportation hubs where public transportation is impractical.

There's a wholly rational reason why trucks have replaced trains as the primary mode of freight transportation, just as there's a good reason why cars have replaced trains and buses as the primary mode of personal transportation.

Certainly. The technology has gotten cheap enough to allow the luxury of private transport, and we don't hold people fully accountable for the costs.

But until we arrive at the utopian age of fart-propelled personal aircraft and solar powered trucks, the best way to reduce the "true" costs of a fossil-feul based economy is to put the heat on the manufacturers to lower their emissions and raise their mileage standards. The Europeans and Japanese have done this long ago, and there's no serious reason why we can't follow suit. The SUV as the prototype of personal transportation can be phased out over the course of the next 10 years just as it was phased in during the 90's.

One alternative would be substantially higher gas prices (which I believe would happen naturally if we weren't artificially lowering gas prices). Then you don't need to police the manufacturers to raise mileage standards because the market will solve the problem for you (we actually have pretty reasonable emissions standards already, at least in NY and CA). I can't imagine that we're paying anywhere close to the true cost of a gallon of gas at the pump, especially if you consider the massive subsidies and tax breaks that oil companies get from our government.

And while we're doing that, we can also be trying to harness the sun and the wind in more efficient ways, but just getting our cars' MPG from 20-35 to 45-60 would still do both us and the earth a hell of a lot of good.

I think it's not a good use of resources to optimize gas engines. It's a dying technology.
   239. . . . . . . Posted: December 16, 2011 at 01:58 AM (#4017495)
I have a cousin who has worked both as an advisor to folks in congress and the whitehouse (Democrats) and currently as a lobbyist for a large corporation that manufactures equipment relating to rail. He has often said at family dinners after too much manichevitz that the notion of trains playing a significantly larger role in intercity travel outside of he NE corridor and Tampa-Orlando is perhaps the stupidest, most obviously fallacious idea there is. Our cities are just too far apart, so unless you want to spend billions to provide for a way of travel that is slower and not less expensive than air travel, by all means.
   240. CrosbyBird Posted: December 16, 2011 at 03:20 AM (#4017522)
Even just going from DC to Philly to NYC to Boston is a remarkable amount of value added for a massive population. A Maglev train could get from NYC to DC in less than 90 minutes; that's faster than flying if you consider time spent in the airport and much faster than driving. That's a tremendous amount of business travel. Pretty much any trip on high-speed rail under 400-500 miles is just as fast if not faster than air travel, with a much lower environmental footprint.

High-speed rail doesn't need to be faster than air travel to be better; it just needs to be comparable. Even a trip like NY to Chicago is within the realm of reasonable (maybe 4.5-5 hours). To compare, it's around 2.4 hours of flight time, and you've got transportation to and from the airports, security, and baggage check and retrieval, which is fairly close in total time.

It's not a good answer for large parts of the country, but I think there's more use than just the NE Corridor and Florida. SF to LA is probably a reasonable candidate as well, and I'm sure there are other city-to-city connections that are worthwhile. Coast-to-coast travel is entirely impractical, though.
   241. Curse of the Andino Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:14 AM (#4017540)
Even just going from DC to Philly to NYC to Boston is a remarkable amount of value added for a massive population. A Maglev train could get from NYC to DC in less than 90 minutes; that's faster than flying if you consider time spent in the airport and much faster than driving. That's a tremendous amount of business travel. Pretty much any trip on high-speed rail under 400-500 miles is just as fast if not faster than air travel, with a much lower environmental footprint.


But the train only works if you're going downtown to downtown. For me, the bus from DC-NY used to be perfect, back when the book events were in Midtown. (Actually, there's a Chinatown bus that leaves each morning from right outside my suburban home.) Getting off at the Garden and walking down to The Chelsea was a breeze. Coming back was more of an issue, I'd usually be so hungover that I'd go ahead and take the local Amtrak train (only 20 minutes slower than Acela, and usually 1/3rd the price.) Then, however, I was stuck with the DC Metro, which could make my trip 40 minutes longer, or 60 minutes, or two hours.

Once book events moved into Soho after the financial crisis, and the TSA started doing things like IDing and half-assedly searching your bags before you got on the bus, it became easier to just drive to Staten Island, park for $7 and take the ferry in to the suddenly-dirt-cheap hotels by Wall Street. Much easier than trying to subway down from the Garden (or hike over from Chinatown).

These days, all the book events are in Williamsburg/Fort Greene, so, screw transit. That extra half-hour/45 minutes on the 7, then an hour coming back from Metro to my house. 3:30 on the train. Six hours, easily, for the "joys" of transit at a couple hundred bucks, vs. 4 hours for my truck, EZ-Pass, skipping all but one of the tolls, stopping wherever the heck I feel like, and deducting the mileage--Maglev under your optimistic scenario is still slower than my truck, and I only gotta dodge Harrisburg (which I'm good at.)

/Being searched by the TSA before I got on the bus trumps any arguments in favor of transit, IMHO.
   242. McCoy Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:15 AM (#4017541)
The biggest problem with rail travel is that it isn't Chicago to New York. It is Chicago to 24 different cities and then NYC. Now that is great if you are one of those 24 cities but if you want to go Chicago to NYC it adds about an hour to two hours to your travel.
   243. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:39 AM (#4017550)
But the train only works if you're going downtown to downtown.

And if you've got 80 to 153 bucks to blow on a one-way trip from DC to Penn Station. I'm sure even that stiff fare is heavily subsidized, but it shows you why train travel is more of a luxury item than a basic transportation choice for most of the population.
   244. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:59 AM (#4017562)
Even a trip like NY to Chicago is within the realm of reasonable (maybe 4.5-5 hours). To compare, it's around 2.4 hours of flight time, and you've got transportation to and from the airports, security, and baggage check and retrieval, which is fairly close in total time.


And this assumes, what? One just shows up at the maglev station outside your house 5 minutes before departure because they are leaving every 10 minutes for Chicago, and there is no security or baggage check? Any intercity high speed rail will have just as much travel to and from the port and waiting around time as an airport.
   245. tshipman Posted: December 16, 2011 at 05:16 AM (#4017567)
Any intercity high speed rail will have just as much travel to and from the port and waiting around time as an airport.


I don't know why you would assume that. Most rail in this country, and in other countries where high speed rail is more common, does not have the problem that is unique to US airports.

Edit: I am surprised to say this, but I agree wholeheartedly with snapper:

The goal should be to set the cost appropriately to minimize lost efficiency from congestion and inability to park, and pay for road maintenance.
   246. Yardape Posted: December 16, 2011 at 05:18 AM (#4017568)
Any intercity high speed rail will have just as much travel to and from the port and waiting around time as an airport.


This is not true. If nothing else, trains are much faster to load because they have multiple access points.
   247. Babe Adams Posted: December 16, 2011 at 05:28 AM (#4017571)
On the DC Metro, there's a blog ("unsuckdcmetro") that's chronicalling the deterioration of the system. It's reached the level of influence where its scoops are sometimes picked up by the standard media.
   248. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: December 16, 2011 at 05:29 AM (#4017572)
Most rail in this country, and in other countries where high speed rail is more common, does not have the problem that is unique to US airports.


Unique to US airports? Been to London lately?

This is not true. If nothing else, trains are much faster to load because they have multiple access points.


Um, the actual boarding time is but a small fraction of the dead time required to travel by air. There's parking, checking baggage, security... I fail to see how any of that will be meaningfully reduced with high speed intercity rail travel.
   249. CrosbyBird Posted: December 16, 2011 at 05:34 AM (#4017573)
The biggest problem with rail travel is that it isn't Chicago to New York. It is Chicago to 24 different cities and then NYC. Now that is great if you are one of those 24 cities but if you want to go Chicago to NYC it adds about an hour to two hours to your travel.

I can't imagine that there wouldn't be a few express or near-express trains. It's not like it's going to stop 24 times on each route. I don't think Chicago to NY is very practical until the speed limit breaks 200 mph, though.

These days, all the book events are in Williamsburg/Fort Greene, so, screw transit. That extra half-hour/45 minutes on the 7, then an hour coming back from Metro to my house. 3:30 on the train. Six hours, easily, for the "joys" of transit at a couple hundred bucks, vs. 4 hours for my truck, EZ-Pass, skipping all but one of the tolls, stopping wherever the heck I feel like, and deducting the mileage--Maglev under your optimistic scenario is still slower than my truck, and I only gotta dodge Harrisburg (which I'm good at.)

4 hours from DC to Williamsburg? Are you driving in the middle of the night? (I drove from DC to Long Island once at a bad time of the day and it took over 6 hours.)

Acela is not a great example; it's crippled because it shares track with conventional rail. There's a proposal for a dedicated high-speed rail that estimates 96 minutes from DC to NYC with a stop in Philly. That's a pretty significant time difference. Amtrak has petitioned the government to raise the rail speed limit to 220 mph; there are currently running Maglevs that hit 260 mph.

Being searched by the TSA before I got on the bus trumps any arguments in favor of transit, IMHO.

Yeah, I'd be pretty annoyed with that.

And if you've got 80 to 153 bucks to blow on a one-way trip from DC to Penn Station. I'm sure even that stiff fare is heavily subsidized, but it shows you why train travel is more of a luxury item than a basic transportation choice for most of the population.

Is it that much cheaper than $80 for a single person to travel from DC to NYC by car? Maybe you're saving $30 each way, which isn't nothing, but it's a moderately long drive and you have the hassle of your car in the city (which might cost you $30-40 per day to park).

From your end, it probably makes a lot more sense because you've already got the car.
   250. CrosbyBird Posted: December 16, 2011 at 06:06 AM (#4017575)
And this assumes, what? One just shows up at the maglev station outside your house 5 minutes before departure because they are leaving every 10 minutes for Chicago, and there is no security or baggage check?

I am literally ten blocks from Penn Station, so it's not right outside my house, but it's practically that close. Last time I took an interstate train, I showed up with my ticket 15 minutes before departure and the entire security was showing my ticket and ID to someone.

Um, the actual boarding time is but a small fraction of the dead time required to travel by air. There's parking, checking baggage, security... I fail to see how any of that will be meaningfully reduced with high speed intercity rail travel.

There isn't nearly the amount of security for rail as there is for air travel. That may change, but I don't see why we should expect it, especially since interstate rail already exists and doesn't have very high security. Check-in is a matter of minutes, where you might spend an hour and a half at a major airport just getting through security.

You also often don't need to check baggage on rail because storage space is far less limited. (Amtrak allows 2 50 pound bags as carry-on, no additional charge.) Parking is much more of an issue in airports, which require huge lots that are often not in walking distance from the terminal. (Do most people use long-term parking? I don't think I've ever parked even overnight at an airport; a cab is cheaper.) Also, airports are usually in out of the way places and most people don't live very close to one. Also, planes rarely take off on time these days (or everyone I know is just very unlucky). If there's even a mild drizzle, a lengthy delay isn't uncommon.

I can't speak for other cities, but most people in NYC have a shorter, cheaper commute to Penn Station than they would to any of the three major airports in the metro area.
   251. . . . . . . Posted: December 16, 2011 at 06:12 AM (#4017576)
The issue, as my cousin phrases it, is that where there's enough traffic and the cities are close enough to support the trains, theres so much sprawl that the eminent domain requirements are prohibitive; where there's empty flat land the cities are too far apart or the traffic levels too low to sustain without crazy subsidies; and overarching all of this is the problem that plane travel is always going to be faster for trips over -250 miles or so. Remember that the issue with the Acela isn't the top speed, it's that it cant run at that top speed for more than a faction of the journey because of the shitty tracks its on. Your super-awesome maglev from NYC to Boston requires blowing a rhumbline-straight path through densely populated NY and Boston suburbs. Or we could just fly.
   252. . . . . . . Posted: December 16, 2011 at 06:14 AM (#4017577)
The issue, as my cousin phrases it, is that where there's enough traffic and the cities are close enough to support the trains, theres so much sprawl that the eminent domain requirements are prohibitive; where there's empty flat land the cities are too far apart or the traffic levels too low to sustain without crazy subsidies; and overarching all of this is the problem that plane travel is always going to be faster for trips over -250 miles or so. Remember that the issue with the Acela isn't the top speed, it's that it cant run at that top speed for more than a faction of the journey because of the shitty tracks its on. Your super-awesome maglev from NYC to Boston requires blowing a rhumbline-straight path through densely populated NY and Boston suburbs. Or we could just fly.
   253. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: December 16, 2011 at 06:57 AM (#4017579)
I am literally ten blocks from Penn Station, so it's not right outside my house, but it's practically that close. Last time I took an interstate train, I showed up with my ticket 15 minutes before departure and the entire security was showing my ticket and ID to someone.

There isn't nearly the amount of security for rail as there is for air travel. That may change, but I don't see why we should expect it, especially since interstate rail already exists and doesn't have very high security. Check-in is a matter of minutes, where you might spend an hour and a half at a major airport just getting through security.


And how do you think that would change if the intercity traffic were increased by 100 fold, and trains traveled at 200 MPH vs 60 MPH? IOW, you cannot compare today's train experience and say it would be similar if it were the primary intercity mode of transportation.
   254. CrosbyBird Posted: December 16, 2011 at 08:51 AM (#4017593)
Your super-awesome maglev from NYC to Boston requires blowing a rhumbline-straight path through densely populated NY and Boston suburbs. Or we could just fly.

There are solutions that reduce the need for straight track (tilting trains, for example). The speed limitation for the Acela is not track curvature, but that it runs on tracks designed with 1935 technology with insufficient tension in the overhead lines to support top speeds (and regulations for any shared track; speed is capped at 150 mph on any track shared with non-high-speed rail). This problem could be solved with dedicated track rather than shared track.

Local regulations also limit speeds, but generally for very short runs. The Acela, for example, can't travel over 90 mph for a 4 mile stretch in NYC. That's not a serious crimp in total travel time; that speed cap costs only a few extra minutes.

As population continues to grow, there's going to be a need for more throughput of traffic. Rail can support far more passengers with far less space; if it's a hard sell to get enough land to build rail, it should be much harder to get the much more significant land needed to build wider interstates. (Not to mention that we could replace a good deal of already existing track to avoid needing additional land; this country already has tremendous areas of land dedicated to rail, particularly here in the Northeast.)

High-speed rail works to connect a bunch of large, densely populated cities in Europe, so it's not like it can't work for dense populations.

And how do you think that would change if the intercity traffic were increased by 100 fold, and trains traveled at 200 MPH vs 60 MPH? IOW, you cannot compare today's train experience and say it would be similar if it were the primary intercity mode of transportation.

Do you think that airport security is a function of traffic, or a function of the ability to weaponize aircraft? There are nearly 300,000 passengers on the LIRR each day, and more than twice that on the subways. There's no significant security check for either service. The Acela has stretches of 125+ mph travel already; we're not talking about going from 60mph to 200mph. A speeding train is certainly dangerous, but an airplane is a flying bomb. You can eliminate the danger of a hijacked train by just killing the power; a hijacked plane can't be so easily incapacitated.
   255. Curse of the Andino Posted: December 16, 2011 at 09:13 AM (#4017594)
4 hours from DC to Williamsburg? Are you driving in the middle of the night? (I drove from DC to Long Island once at a bad time of the day and it took over 6 hours.)


Rockville to Long Island City (lot of bookish stuff in Greenpoint these days, or I'm 10 minutes to Grand Central on the 7, so the decently-priced hotels in L.I.C. near Van Dam St. are perfect, safe and bedbug free. Also, Irish bars in Queens ftw.) Usually leave home around 10 a.m., but to be fair, I go 270-15-81-78-Lincoln Tunnel-Midtown Tunnel and the tricky jams you might get at the DC Beltway, Baltimore Beltway, Harbor Tunnel, Delaware Turnpike, GW Memorial Bridge, NJ Turnpike, G.S. Parkway merge, etc. are avoided... along with all the tolls. Usually get to my hotel before the room's ready. If I'm heading to Williamsburg, it's more of a hassle coming out of the Holland Tunnel into Soho, but there aren't the hotel deals in Williamsburg. Also, hipsters. I prefer Greenpoint, before and after...

The I-81 route to NY and beyond has gotten a lot better now that they've upgraded freight rail, added a bunch of inter-modal facilities, and taken a ton of trucks off the highway. It's even better heading south towards Nashville/NoLa/Austin. I do believe in freight rail, but those mostly work 'cuz Congress got us out of the business with the Conrail sale, and 50 mph avg. speeds are perfect for low-value cargo/commodities. We'd probably have decent intercity passenger rail in places where it makes sense if they'd dumped Amtrak years ago.
   256. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:06 PM (#4017649)
Just out of curiosity, I looked up the price for an unlimited weekly subway pass on the Washington Metro, and the price for a similar weekly pass in New York City.

Talk about sticker shock: The New York subway, which is incomparably better than Washington's in terms of where it will take you and frequency of service, charges only $29.00 for a 7 day unlimited use pass, which includes buses, whereas Washington's 7 day pass is $47.00, and $15.00 more for a separate bus pass. I always suspected that DC was higher, but I had no idea it was that much more---over twice as much as New York.
   257. BDC Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:33 PM (#4017667)
there's more use than just the NE Corridor and Florida. SF to LA is probably a reasonable candidate as well, and I'm sure there are other city-to-city connections that are worthwhile

Austin to several Texas cities offers pretty viable routes. The routes exist, but are scantly used, poorly served, and must be run by Italians, to judge by their efficiency. Even with all the ineptitude of Amtrak, it currently takes only 4½ hours from Austin to Ft Worth, which doesn't compare badly to the process of getting through security and boarding in Austin to fly to DFW and then somehow get to Ft Worth. The potential, even some actual capacity, is there; the willpower to fund a good service is completely lacking.
   258. Curse of the Andino Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:47 PM (#4017682)
Austin to several Texas cities offers pretty viable routes. The routes exist, but are scantly used, poorly served, and must be run by Italians, to judge by their efficiency. Even with all the ineptitude of Amtrak, it currently takes only 4½ hours from Austin to Ft Worth, which doesn't compare badly to the process of getting through security and boarding in Austin to fly to DFW and then somehow get to Ft Worth. The potential, even some actual capacity, is there; the willpower to fund a good service is completely lacking.


You, sir, make excellent points. Particularly as they're trying to make downtown more residential. Have you ever used that Austin light rail? I walked past it last time I was there (2010). Its existence shocked me. Was just looking for barbecue/coming up from I guess Lady Bird Lake (Priceline didn't quite put me downtown.)

/Leaves DC a lot. Or used to.
   259. bunyon Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:52 PM (#4017684)
Do you think that airport security is a function of traffic, or a function of the ability to weaponize aircraft?

You guys are having a great discussion and I don't wish to derail it (HA!), but this point caught my attention.

TSA is not now designed just to prevent weaponization of aircraft, though I agree that is why it got it's start. Preventing weaponization, though, is trivial: no entrance to the cockpit from the passenger cabin. TSA today is designed to prevent blowing up aircraft and to catch unwanteds from entering the country and moving around. Well, anyway, it's designed to make us think it's doing that.

If we get Maglevs with 1000 people on board travelling 260mph, that would be a much richer target than a plane with 100 or so. They will never again pull off 9/11 because no passengers on a plane will ever again surrender without a fight. TSA, whatever else you think of it, is fighting the last war.


And, beyond that, the idea that TSA will allow a huge expansion of passenger rail service without taking advantage to greatly expand its reach and power is absurd. It COULD be done without TSA. But it won't be.
   260. OsunaSakata Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:57 PM (#4017685)
Although I would like it, I'm not convinced extensive high-speed passenger rail lines are politically practical. But what about extensive government investment in freight lines? More cargo on the rails means fewer trucks on the road which would make passenger traffic much happier. Rail seems to have it backwards from the other transportations system. The government maintains the ports, the airports and the roads while private industry operates whatever gets transported through those facilities. But with Amtrak, the government transports the people, but private entities own the rails.
   261. Babe Adams Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:58 PM (#4017689)
Before spending trillions on transportation infrastructure, everyone should consider the pace of change in communications. The huge investment in people moving won't be needed if in 20 years most service jobs and business "travel" are being done on-screen.
   262. Ron J Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:59 PM (#4017692)
#159 I've been on a New York City bus exactly once. Did not enjoy it at all, and will go to almost any length to avoid repeating the experience. (cheap cabs and a great subway make this easy, but I've walked a long way when no cabs were available) But I use the airport shuttles all of the time, and I use buses here (Ottawa) all the time.

Not much fun when they're seriously over-crowded, but it's generally acceptable. One of the nice things about the bus setup here is that there's a number of buses that cover the East/West (it's not nearly as good North/South) with very few stops (and those buses run very frequently). Kind of an express/local setup. Basically it's good at getting people to and from downtown, much less good at anything else.
   263. CrosbyBird Posted: December 16, 2011 at 05:06 PM (#4017812)
If we get Maglevs with 1000 people on board travelling 260mph, that would be a much richer target than a plane with 100 or so. They will never again pull off 9/11 because no passengers on a plane will ever again surrender without a fight. TSA, whatever else you think of it, is fighting the last war.

There are over 600,000 trips on the Manhattan subway system each day, with such light security as to be useless. Foreigners walk right onto the subway carrying giant pieces of luggage without so much as a twitch from the officers in the station. I cannot imagine a more impressive (and devastating) target for some form of attack than the NYC subway system, and yet it hasn't happened. Especially something like aerosol-delivered botulism. That can't be difficult to create, since it's naturally-occurring.

The hard part has to be getting into the country in the first place.

And, beyond that, the idea that TSA will allow a huge expansion of passenger rail service without taking advantage to greatly expand its reach and power is absurd. It COULD be done without TSA. But it won't be.

I don't know that we'd get to airport levels. What's security like on the Eurorail?
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