Transit Ridership Booms in California

Mar 11th, 2014 | Posted by

Ridership on transit in the United States is booming, and California systems are leading the way:

Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time since the suburbs began booming.

Nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013, to be precise – the highest total since 1956, according to ridership data reported by transit systems nationally and being released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association….

Ridership on Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority light-rail trains increased 6 percent over 2012, as the public took advantage of an expanded network of lines. Overall, LA Metro gained 9 million trips to reach 478 million in 2013, the transportation association said. Among the other transit systems in California with record ridership was the Caltrain commuter rail service that connects San Francisco with Silicon Valley.

You might say this is just a reflection of rising employment and doesn’t suggest anything special in terms of transportation behavior. But at the same time as people are taking transit more, they are driving less during the economic recovery. Vehicle Miles Traveled has declined since the recession ended in 2009, a sharp contrast to both the rising transit numbers as well as the experience of previous economic recoveries, where VMT rose.

What does this mean for high speed rail? Well, it means there is huge demand for more passenger trains. And that means satisfying that demand is indeed a priority for California, despite what Neel Kashkari and Tea Party Republicans from the Central Valley claim.

What isn’t a priority is building more freeway lanes. California’s transportation future is on the rails, not on the roads.

  1. Resident
    Mar 11th, 2014 at 17:12
    #1

    What is sounds like is a growing demand on public infrastructure dollars, for more commute transportation, and HSR coming in like a black hole sucking up massive transportation dollars on long distance train trips, low reward, high risk, serving infrequent assistance to the growing numbers that need daily real world solutions. Funny – Robert continually loves the assertion (because it fits his spin), that the alternative to building HSR is building roads, when in reality the alternative would be, could be, should be more public transportation solutions for commuting – like – actually solving, actual problems.

    StevieB Reply:

    Dave Bultena in a Modesto Bee opinion Scrap high-speed rail; build dedicated truck routes says a better alternative is more roads.

    Funding would be spent to widen or improve all major highways in California such as Interstate 5, Interstate 80, etc., to three lanes in each direction. Most of the rights-of-way are already in place and the overall environmental impact would be minimal compared with that of high-speed rail…

    Lastly would be the dedicated freeway for trucks and heavy commercial traffic. Getting trucks off our freeway system would increase the travel efficiency of trucks and cars.

    The call for more highways as an alternative to high speed rail is common among those who grew up in the era of the idolization of the automobile.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The era of the idolization of the automobile started about 1895. And got more momentum every year as the price dropped. Last year was the centenary of Henry Ford’s inauguration of the assembly line at River Rouge.

    PB-CHSRA is inciting this freeway lobby reaction by its insistence on subsidy forever AmBART. The public can see it is the unions and the contractors behind this. The whole idea of Prop 1a was to create entity more like a self-supporting airline than Muni, where the union runs the show. That’s what Musk meant when he said CHSRA was just another Amtrak. Mediocre and forever needing more money.

    Reedman Reply:

    Actually, the first assembly line Henry Ford implemented was at the Highland Park plant.

    River Rouge is where Ford built his integrated facility where ore freighters could dock from the Minnesota Iron Range and finished cars could come out the other end.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry about that. I was taking the connection from a story on French tv news not long ago and I associated it with the Rouge plant that looms large in the PBS biopic of Henry Ford. I should have looked it up.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Mmm, in 1895 they were still arguing about whether electric or steam autos would win out.

    The era of idolization of the automobile did not really get going until the 1920s, and it died in the 1960s. Around the time when nearly every alternative to the automobile was ripped out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    steam, you could get kerosene anywhere. ELectricity on the other hand was kinda iffy.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    No Resident — car-free options complement each other while the anti-HSR folks are often aligned to the highway-industrial complex — which includes oil companies, Koch brothers, construction companies, car builders, etc. Train passengers will push for more local transit options. HSR covers its operating costs — why are you against it?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How to get to Los Angeles from San Francisco is a problem too.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    No it isnt

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just because you don’t want to leave home doesn’t mean other people don’t

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I went to Glendale today so there

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Adi: There is no problem traveling between L.A. and San Fran. There are numerous options, including flights between the main and suburban airports. There are buses, trains, and your private vehicle. You may not like these options and prefer a High Speed train ride, but your preference is insufficient to justify a $68 billion plus investment. Will these modes cease to be available or become more difficult or expensive to use? That’s possible, even probable, but posing HSR as a solution which will not become available for at least 15 years is a long shot. The existing technologies are not standing still.
    Meanwhile, in our urban areas, we have very real problems, problems that affect people’s daily lives. Do you invest transportation dollars in solving real problems or in your travel preference?

    Michael Reply:

    California should have started high speed rail in the late 80’s. People who see that our current rail system pales in comparison to other contemporary systems ask why we didn’t start building HSR a long time ago. Amtrak long distance trains are lovely like cruise ships are lovely to get from Seattle to Alaska. Patching them is not a real solution for the real world that real people live in. Yes, we also need to work on the regional systems, but with HSR, not in place of it.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    California is building HSR in the late ’80’s. 1880s! FRA, feet and inches, domesticly sourced, dagnabbit robber baron choo chooooooo!

    joe Reply:

    Go suck a Tesla.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well there aren’t any transportation problems to be solved locally either. They are obviously underpriced and therefore over used. Two three bucks a gallon congestion charge on fuel would alleviate congestion some. No need to build new highway. Poof your local transportation problems are gone. The fuel taxes could finance a few more trains for Caltrain and some more buses to get people to and from the stations.

    jimsf Reply:

    Resident. Why can’t we afford High Speed Rail and good public transit? Why does it have to be one or the other.

    If we can afford all this We can certainly trade some of that money to give the states a few hundred billion to upgrade roads rail and transit.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Sure, assuming that happens, which it won’t any time soon.

    The issue is that if the State comes up with it’s own funding mechanism for HSR (oil extraction tax etc), there is a very strong argument that those limited funds should be invested into public transit systems instead. Transit provides far greater bang-to-the-buck in terms of driving reduction, carbon emissions, urban revitalization, and the other claimed side-benefits of HSR. There is a huge need for transit projects in every major city of the state whereas HSR mostly benefits the CV/Palmdale.

    Republicans, Koch Bros, etc don’t have much to do with this. It’s a matter of priorities for the state Democrats.

    joe Reply:

    “a very strong argument that those limited funds should be invested into public transit systems instead.”

    HSR is a public transit system for all of CA. It connects to local systems and 1.5 B goes to the SJ SF corridor now.

    You apparently want urban commuter systems which I happen to think is important and a local function, not the CV and Palmdale’s job to help LA and SF commuters.

    Joey Reply:

    Nitpick on your last point – As it stands, large cities tend to subsidize smaller cities and rural areas, not the other way around.

    joe Reply:

    Since when is Fresno a smaller city? Wisely we have a state that should focus on state wide systems and local governments local systems. No one is asking LA county to build a local Kern Co transit system.

    And subsidizing is an interesting word – LA is probably subsidizing Owens Valley but maybe not.

    Eric Reply:

    Metro area populations:
    Fresno – 1 million
    Bay area – 7 million
    Greater LA – 18 million

    One of those is smaller than the others.

    StevieB Reply:

    To promote economic development which area is most in need of better transportation connections?

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Which is more important for that-Fresno’s local transit agency, or CAHSRA?

    Eric Reply:

    We should build HSR to Alaska, it’s unpopulated and in need of economic development.

    flowmotion Reply:

    HSR is not, unless you also redefine airports/airlines to be a public transit system. (Although I’m sure there are some exurban commuters in Palmdale or Gilroy who would love to free-load on HSR infrastructure.)

    Agreeing with Joey, the net effect would likely be LA/SF subsidizing transit systems in the CV and elsewhere. This is important as Bakersfield, Fresno, Palmdale, etc are all planning freeway expansions to continue sprawl outwards despite promises of HSR. A transit system might be considered an acceptable trade-off by local leaders.

    And just politically, it will be a tough sell passing new taxes solely for HSR. A lot of interest groups are going to their piece. When it is our money and not mostly magical fed dollars, there will be a much harder look at the priorities and what the goals are.

    jimsf Reply:

    MEanwhile you have slow growth folks, like this who want to slow the construction of housing until the freeway is widened first.

    Slow-growth ballot measure launched in El Dorado County

    jimsf Reply:

    Measure D does not restrict building on the 20,000+ already approved parcels. It doesn’t affect new or existing commercial, business or agricultural development, or multi-family apartments or condominiums, or state mandated affordable housing. If they want, families can divide their parcel to build a home for their children.

    The Supervisors are asking us to trust that Highway 50 will be widened to eight lanes to handle traffic from their high growth General Plan (Measure B). The fact is, extending the carpool lane from El Dorado Hills to Cameron Park is the only Highway 50 improvement approved by CalTrans and the El Dorado County Transportation Commission for the next 20+ years.

    Measure D requires the Supervisors to fix Highway 50, not make it worse.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Thanks for posting. Great example of the immediate land use/transportation challenges facing “small city”* California that will never be addressed by HSR.

    * relatively speaking. The Sacramento metro is similar in size to Pittsburgh, Charlotte, and Kansas City.

    jimsf Reply:

    whats your point?

    flowmotion Reply:

    What’s yours? You are the guy posting random shit without commentary.

    Joe Reply:

    “Palmdale or Gilroy who would love to free-load on HSR infrastructure.)”

    No garlic for you.

    We’ll take our staton trenched and expect a visually appealing exterior inspired by our unique exaburb culture.

    Derek Reply:

    HSR is not, unless you also redefine airports/airlines to be a public transit system.

    Done.

    Joe Reply:

    And you did it in time and under budget.

    Fwiw, they are public, you need to own a plane. I’ve commuted to LA using the south San Martin country airport. All you need is a colleague with a private airplane who wants to fly instead of drive. All public.

    Derek Reply:

    You don’t need to own a plane to use an airport for transportation.

    jonathan Reply:

    HSR is a public transit system for all of CA. It connects to local systems and 1.5 B goes to the SJ SF corridor now.

    Nonsense. Caltrain is getting $600 million of Prop 1A HSR funding. It’s getting another $106m of Prop 1A “connectivity” funds, and about 24 million from Prop 1B. MT, Caltrain &c pony up to match that, but most ($500m) comes from Federal funding for (local0 transit.
    The total may be nearly $1.5bn, but only $600m of that is “HSR” money.

    jimsf Reply:

    local municipalities should raise their own money for their local commute problems.

    jimsf Reply:

    and large cities, are the ones who have the commute problems, so with their greater wealth, they can well afford to finance improvements through local taxes which is usually what they do.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so they should pay for their own transit systems and the highways all over the rural areas?

    jimsf Reply:

    the rural areas require much less investment. although they should get a lot more.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They require lots more investment per person than cities. and because those cheap roads make it cheaper to live they need less money for housing etc. So they make less money and pay less taxes.
    40 % of the people in New York live in New York City. The state collects 60% of it’s taxes in New York City. That implies that the other 60% percent of the people in the state pay 40% of the taxes. Anybody outside of New York City that whines about how “their” money is going to New York City should STFU. It works that way in every other state. Great big rivers of money flow out of the Bay Area and Los Angeles area to Sacramento never to been seen again. It works that way with the Federal Government too. One sixth of the population lives in the Northeast and pays one quarter of the taxes. California gets screwed almost as bad. Anybody out in the hinterlands who whines about “their” money going to the coasts should STFU.

    Donk Reply:

    Exactly. Red states – STFU. Red counties – STFU.

    Andy M Reply:

    There is a certain logic to that of course. Big cities tend to be richer than small towns. They have more opportunities, more infrastructure, more money. And its part of the concept of fiscal progession that the rich subsidize the poor. I don’t see why some people see this as a problem.

    Eric Reply:

    Your general point is correct.

    But it’s worth mentioning that while Manhattan has 1.5 million residents, there are 3.9 million people present there on a typical workday, due to the influx of commuters.

    So while NYC has 40% of the state’s population, it probably has more than 40% of the state’s tax base. (That tax base includes residents of NYC suburbs and even of New Jersey/Connecticut.) Which means the degree of subsidy is lower.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No matter how hard states try they can’t spend more than what they collect in taxes. If someplace is paying $1 in taxes and getting $1.01 back in benefits their money isn’t going anywhere. It’s all coming back to them. If they pay $1 in taxes and get 99 cents back they aren’t being subsidized.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Eric, 73% of Manhattan workers live in the city. The city overall has a modest influx of workers from outside relative to its size, since the Outer Boroughs supply the bedroom communities rather than just the suburbs.

    blankslate Reply:

    According to 2010 data I pulled a while ago, 4.25m people work in NYC (2.3m in Manhattan). 3.61m workers live in NYC, of whom 3.3m both live and work in the city. 917k people commute into the city and 285k workers commute out of the city. Daytime population change is +631k or +8%.

    Any comparison between NYC and other US cities is challenged by how huge NYC is compared to anywhere else. For example, the highest daytime pop. change among large US cities is DC with + 71%. On the surface, DC’s change dwarfs NYC’s in percentage terms, but in absolute numbers the net change is only 2/3 the change in NYC. (Manhattan has a daytime population change of +93%, mostly from the boroughs. More than 3 times as many people commute into Manhattan as commute into DC.)

    Tangent over, carry on.

    Joey Reply:

    They require more investment per capita. People think of cities as being expensive because there’s so much infrastructure concentrated in a small area, but it’s more efficient because there are so many more people using it.

    joe Reply:

    Think of cities as having a huge footprint.

    Counting it’s share of the roads as just what roads reside in the city presumes cities are stand alone, self sustaining islands of people that subsidize the rural areas.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Without cities to consume the natural resources being extracted out in the hinterlands it’s not very easy to live out there. Especially when you need three bucks of antibiotics. The increased births from the disappearance of birth control will probably make up for it. If they don’t starve first. Those lush vegetables they have been growing in the garden don’t breed true. The Amish can only breed so many plow horses every year. Planting enough wheat and potatoes so you don’t starve is difficult without fuel for the tractor. Or a plow. The steel in the horse drawn plow doesn’t fall out of the sky. That can probably be overcome by melting down the tractor. If you can figure out how to make charcoal to melt it with. If you haven’t starved to death. Save the cab for an outhouse because without electricity to keep pressure in the water tank flushing is a luxury you can’t afford. Don’t wash the clothes very often, it makes them wear out faster. And since none of you know how to spin or weave or have any plants or animals handy that can grow fiber you want to make them last. Not to mention you don’t have a manual laundry anymore and hauling water up from the creek or going down to the creek to do laundry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you know how to make soap from ashes and fat. otherwise you are just rinsing them. You do know how to make leather for the harness for the horse. All the crap you need to become an Amish farmer comes from cities. Otherwise you starve to death. Or die from whatever was in the creek water.

    Donk Reply:

    Are you suggesting that the whole Amish lifestyle is a complete farce? Interesting, I haven’t heard that one before.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No. They lead happy contented lives. They don’t have any illusions about where all the stuff they buy from selling all the stuff they grow and make goes to. Cities.

    joe Reply:

    “Without cities to consume the natural resources being extracted out in the hinterlands it’s not very easy to live out there.”

    So you’re dong them a favor by taking their resources.
    …People who live in rural settings are amish.
    …All ideas are created in cities.
    …Ag research / green revolution was urban. Possibly in basements of tall buildings.

    Milk comes form cartons.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Milk comes from cartons on dairy farms. Bread comes from plastic bags on wheat farms. Meat comes from foam trays on cattle ranches.

    Joey Reply:

    Think of cities as having a huge footprint.

    They have a much smaller footpring per person. That’s what I’m trying to get at.

    Are you suggesting that the whole Amish lifestyle is a complete farce? Interesting, I haven’t heard that one before.

    The Amish lifestyle exists, but that’s not how most of rural America works. For the most part, people in rural areas eat the same processed or semi-processed food and buy the same (frequently foreign) manufactured goods as people in cities.

    Again, the point of this discussion is not to say that there’s anything wrong with living in a rural area, but to debunk the myth that rural areas subsidize cities.

    joe Reply:

    “They have a much smaller footprint per person. That’s what I’m trying to get at.”

    But they don’t necessarily.

    Finland study showed rural residents emit less GHG than urban residents. An underlying reason is there is more “parallel” infrastructure in cites. This concept captures the fact restraints and stores sand theaters and domestic spaces are simultaneously maintained and thus produce a larger footprint. It means there is more intensively managed sq footage per person.

    Joey Reply:

    All of the US data I’m finding on GHG emissions says the opposite. Specifically that more urbanized states have lower per-capita CO2 emissions than rural states (see figure 2). If you have more accurate data that says something else, I would be glad to see it.

    Joe Reply:

    Urbanized state is not an urban area.

    I saw an article from EU Finland using google.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Joe, citations or gtfo.

    Joey Reply:

    1) states are not necessarily a good indicator but there’s definitely a pattern between highly urbanized states and highly rural ones. Of course there are exceptions like Idaho but there’s a definite pattern. If you’d like to claim there’s a hidden variable feel free.

    2) I’m not convinced that data from Finland is necessarily applicable here. Are there any US sources saying the same thing?

    Joe Reply:

    Well you have to understand what is being measured and the variability. The geography term us support of a measurement. States are varying in size, latitude and etc and are not described as urban or rural. Maybe give a rural state and urban state.

    A rural Finland compared to an urban Finland resident They are at the right scale/ support and the same entity we discussed urban vs rural.

    Joey Reply:

    Rural states: Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, Montana, … I’m really just reading off the end of the list here. Urban states – DC (yes it’s not a state), New York (IIRC 40% of the population lives in or around NYC and that’s ignoring the upstate cities), … Exceptions – there are a number of rural and mixed states with rather low CO2 emissions, for instance Idaho and Vermont.

    Joey Reply:

    Okay update here’s actual data, by zipcode, in the united states. There’s an attached paper if you care to read it. This is per household, not per capita, which will make places with more people per household look better than they actually are and places with fewer people per household look worse (I don’t know what that distribution looks like). It should give a general idea though.

    Takeways:
    – Suburban areas are by far the worst.
    – Dense inner city areas tend to have low footprints.
    – Rural areas tend to be somewhere in the middle, but are highly varied overall.
    – The rural areas that do the best (better than some urban areas) have very low transportation emissions (actually this is true of urban areas too). Presumably this means that those people don’t drive very much.
    – The worst offending areas all have very high transportation emissions. Big surprise.

    So we may conclude:
    – Suburban and exurban sprawl should be permanently outlawed.
    – We should all probably stop bickering about who’s subsidizing who and agree to fund non car-based transportation everywhere. Similarly we should defund highway expansions.
    – Death to sprawl. Did I mention that?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For the impact of the marginal resident in an urban vs. non-urban area, there’s work of Glaeser showing the urban resident emits less CO2 in personal transportation and residential electricity in a large majority of US metro areas.

    Also, Joe, Helsinki is a relatively spread out city, at least when compared with Stockholm and Copenhagen, so it stands to reason its emissions should be higher when compared with background rural emissions. In the US, too, the only of the largest metro areas where urban development is higher-emission than suburban development, Detroit, is the one with the most spread out central city, at least in the Rust Belt.

    Joey Reply:

    Other tidbits:

    – Rural areas in California tend to fare better than rural areas in, say, the Midwest.
    – Mountainous or otherwise difficult to access areas have low footprints. Perhaps because people don’t travel as much?
    – Parts of medium cities like Fresno and less so Bakersfield do quite well, but the cannot be allowed to sprawl outward any more.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, and Alaska all have large resource extraction industries; Vermont does not. That’s the limit of arguing from average data – it has too many additional factors like this. Glaeser’s solution, to look only at residential and transportation emissions, gets rid of these additional factors, but at the cost of discarding a majority of emission sources.

    For an urban vs. rural comparison, rather than inner-urban vs. suburban, you can do it from first principles, checking what emissions are generated by hauling goods to urban areas. The answer turns out to be very low, since food transportation is very low-emission.

    joe Reply:

    Cities build highways for access to resources and transportation into and across rural areas.

    Both SF and LA flush with CV water.

    Recent assessments of the DOT (by National Academy) and Caltrans (academic panel) conclude local interests are hijacking state and federal transportation for local needs at the expense of state and national needs.

    Turning HSR into a urban commuter pot of money is exactly what is the problem.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People in rural areas like insurance and banks and antibiotics and electricity and cheap telephone service and manufactured goods in general and television programs and cheap food and … all stuff that comes from cities.

    jimsf Reply:

    and people in the cities like to go wine tasting, beachcombing, surfing, hunting, fishing, camping and hiking and swimming in places like modoc, tahoe, humboldt, mendocino, mammoth, shasta, big bear, palm springs, yosemite, bodgega, oroville, napa, sequoia, half moon bay, monterey, etc and since tourism has such an impact on the states economy, the roads and /or transit to and from these popular places, which is mainly the state highway system, should be kept in top notch condition in order to smooth access, and the revenue from tourism.

    joe Reply:

    No we do not like Insurance and banks.
    Television vs water – I pick water.
    Where does NYC grow and manufacture cheap food?

    Joey Reply:

    joe: another nitpick – the food that people eat in rural areas has on average traveled about the same distance as the food people eat in rural areas (at least in the United States).

    and jimsf – agreed, but the point of this discussion is that the “rural areas shouldn’t subsidize urban areas” argument is bogus.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    they manufacture cheap food all over metro New York. All over the Bay Area too. all over the LA Basin, Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis, Little Rock…
    Hauling water out of the creek is a lot of work. Those lovely pump factories scattered here and there make that a lot easier. The wire mills that made the wire for the electric service to your well were in cities. As were the pipe plants that made the pipes. And the central power station off someplace.

    This is the lifestyle you lead without cities.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/for-40-years-this-russian-family-was-cut-off-from-all-human-contact-unaware-of-world-war-ii-7354256/?no-ist

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not having banks is great until you realize it means you have to pay cash for your house. Huge difference between “the big banks are abusive” and “banking is bad.” Just like there’s a huge difference between “Microsoft was evil in the 1990s” and “operating systems are a bad idea.”

    Andy M Reply:

    Alon, you could argue that without banks, house prices would never have risen to the level they have as the easy availability of loans has only pushed up prices. So the banks are a solution to problem we wouldn’t have if we didn’t have banks. If houses cost more than the average family can save up by the time they need a house plus what parents etc can chip in, then house developers will face the choice between going out of business and finding a way of offering houses at that price. With real esate developers going out of businesses and nobody buying houses at that price, land prices will reced to reasonable levels. I believe it can be done.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    that is by far the dumbest idea ever presented on this board. And that is a high bar.

    You are seriously arguing that the the availability of credit is a bad thing? You want examples of societies where credit is not available to the average person.

    Feudal Europe…Current Africa for a large majority of the rural population…extend that to poor parts of India, China, Haiti, etc….

    Without banks (the short hand term for available credit) you inhibit not just houses, but transportation, starting buisnesses, running buisness, trade, farming,…in short, everything.

    Who would loan to farmers before crops come in, no one, which is why before retail banking farming was a much more precarious profession.

    Cut car ownership by 80% because people cant buy a car, but that is ok, because you are back to a society where you can only work as far as you can walk, employment flexability goes back to a 5 mile radius from where you live.

    And you live, BTW, in a rental because only the rich can afford to own land. And now that there is not a reasonable alternative to renting (i.e. owning) they can charge you whatever you like. Sure you would like to have that better job across town, but without reliable transportation you cant get there so 5 miles from your rental is your only option because your husbands job cant be moved.

    Land and houses would get cheaper, but since you just rescicted the ability to buy to the top 1-4% of the population then who cares.

    No credit cards, so you cant defer purchases for any period of time.

    Basically it makes everything harder, which causes the economy to contract, which makes everything harder, rinse repeat.

    Why do you think that micro-credit in Africa and other credit programs have a transforming effect on the economy. Lending just $20 to a woman in Africa allows her to start a clothes washing buisness which not only makes money, but frees other women up to start their own buisnesses because now they dont spend 3 hours a day washing clothes.

    Now I would love this system being in the aforementioned top 1-4%. but i dont have an overwhelming desire to be a slumlord so lets not and say we did. This is basic econ 101. I am sure you hate currency off the gold standard also, but I will leave that alone.

    In short, banks = good, especially for “the little guy”

    Joe Reply:

    It’s a wonderful life.

    Bailey’s Savings and Loan wasn’t a bank, wasn’t in NYC.
    Credit unions are not banks
    Cooperatives are ways individuals can organize to purchase goods

    The silly argument is that rural folks need a big city otherwise no loans.
    If you are not awed, your Amish.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The whole plot of “It’s a Wonderful Life” hinges on dear sweet absent minded Uncle Billy getting distracted as he’s about to make an $8,000 dollar deposit in mean old man Potter’s bank. The one that has a relationship with the clearing house and can offer checks. You lovely little credit union is able to offer things like negotiable orders of withdrawal and debit cards associated with your savings account because off in those far off nasty cities there’s a computer center managing all those transactions. Printing MICR numbers on your share draft “checks” isn’t something that can happen out in the barn. Printing the cash that comes out of the ATM can’t happen out there either. Or building ATMs. Or the concrete under the ATM or the asphalt under the car next to the ATM. Or the car. Or the fuel in it. Go ahead decide you aren’t going to use ATMs or cars or paper. I’ll give you two trees. Go make some paper to write checks on. Give up checks. Make some paper to make the ledger books to keep records for your savings account. You know which kind of oak galls make the best ink? You’ve been eying the bigger birds in the area so you have a source of quills?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    the difference between banks and credit unions is the difference between air and oxygen. One is a subset of the other but you can’t live without either.

    Andy argued that without banks, we would be better off. That is just patently untrue at every possible level. Banks (and credit unions) = credit availability of credit = the modern economy

    He argued that developers would “find a way” to make their new houses affordable. But there are not going to be any developers, because there are no construction loans, because there are no banks to provide credit. And if you are going to argue that someone else (like a credit union or pension fund) will provide the credit then all you are doing is changing the name (bank to pension fund) and nothing else. They will still charge interest. They will still demand repayment etc.

    its absurd. If you want to argue that big banks are bad, that we need to break up Citi and Bank of America and Sachs then argue that, but to argue that we need to live without banks 9and therefore easy available credit) is just beyond stupid.

    joe Reply:

    “The whole plot of “It’s a Wonderful Life” hinges on dear sweet absent minded Uncle Billy getting distracted as he’s about to make an $8,000 dollar deposit in mean old man Potter’s bank. ”

    No – the whole point is to highlight gay rights – Clarence and George were ejected from Ernie’s Bar for appearing to be “fruitcakes” thus igniting the gay rights movement.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ernie was the cab driver. Martini was the bar owner.

    joe Reply:

    I misremembered – it was Nick’s. Nick threw them out of Nick’s bar.

    MEDIUM CLOSEUP –– Nick is wiping off the bar as they sit down.

    GEORGE (cont’d)
    Oh, hello, Nick. Hey, where’s Martini?

    NICK
    You want a martini?

    GEORGE
    No, no, Martini. Your boss. Where is he?

    NICK (impatient)
    Look, I’m the boss. You want a drink or don’t you?

    GEORGE
    Okay –– all right. Double bourbon, quick, huh?

    jonathan Reply:

    People in rural areas like insurance and banks and antibiotics and electricity and cheap telephone service and manufactured goods in general and television programs and cheap food and … all stuff that comes from cities.

    … and they think they should pay as much (as little) as all the city-dwellers who benefit from economies of scale? (Where’s that donkey’s -behind Derek?) Where are these “communists”?

    ..Oops! They’re in the “Heartland”., and they’re the majority there Oops…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nick owns the bar in Pottersville. Martini owns the bar in Bedford Falls. Which is why George is looking for Martini.

    joe Reply:

    This is the Pottersville reality. George never existed.

    NICK
    Hey! Get me! I’m giving out wings!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Andy, actually, we know very well how the housing market would look without today’s banking system, because modern government-backed mortgages are less than a century old whereas urban housing goes back millennia. What actually happened was that, in the formal sector, home ownership was low, and people needed to save money for many years to be able to afford to buy. In the informal sector home ownership was higher (and is higher in third-world squats), at the expense of housing quality and size.

    Imagining a world without banking of any kind is harder, since banking and credit historically predate cash. But if you accept the informal economies of various third-world areas as a close substitute, what you’ll see is very much not a paradise freed from the shackles of Big Neo-Liberal Banksters.

    For example, because there’s no safe place to put in any savings, people can’t save any money. People who win the neighborhood lotteries in Kibera – every person puts in money in the pot, a randomly-chosen participant gets it all, with no vigorish – spend it all immediately on something they need. They’re credit-constrained so they can’t borrow money for it and pay for it over time, and conversely if they do win the lottery they can’t keep it in cash because it’ll get stolen.

    Incidentally, speaking of third-world examples, does anyone want to argue about whether the Kerala Model is a positive example of development without much urbanization?

    EJ Reply:

    Well that’s the beauty of HSR, if you’re an advocate. You can claim it’s transit, when it’s convenient, and then claim it’s not, when it’s convenient for your argument.

    You’re trying to argue as if there’s anything real to be contested here. It’s just bullshit, which means there’s no truth value, true or false. All political types do it.

    jimsf Reply:

    In the case of california, the beauty of it is that it will accomplish both.l It provides good long distance, and region to region travel and also provide fast service within individual regions. Its the most bang for the money. Of course this type of compromise pisses off purists on both sides of the issue because people have, in the past couple of decades, taken leave of their senses and no longer have the ability to compromise like adults. Personally I do not think it should be a profit making enterprise but should be an equal share of our public infrastructure which includes highways, airports, railroads and local and regional rail transit.

    Its actually ludicrous that there is anything controversial about building a railroad. but again. people are no longer sane.

    Eric Reply:

    It’s a really expensive, and not cost-effective, form of service within individual regions.

    jimsf Reply:

    Except that its passing through those regions and people can use it for local trips as well as longer trips.

    Eric Reply:

    Only if you spend many extra billions of dollars to divert it to those regions (like Palmdale).

    jimsf Reply:

    except that by serving all the growth areas you are planning for the future and serving more californians…. you know, the people who are paying for the system, and who voted for it. take it away from them and lose support = no system.

    Eric Reply:

    Most of CA’s voters are in the major metropolitan areas (LA, Bay Area, SD, Sacramento), not in overgrown inland towns like Fresno and Palmdale.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Agree with resident. Regional commuter HSR systems!

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    its going to be $50+ a ride (at best). Are people really expected to pay that every day? in a 20 mile per gallon car you can commute 60 miles a day at half that price. It seems unrealistic to assume that HSR will be used for commuters

    Derek Reply:

    According to the 2014 Business Plan Ridership and Revenue Technical Memorandum, one-way fares to San Francisco will be $17 from Millbrae, $18 from Redwood City, or $22 from San Jose, in 2013 dollars.

    Joey Reply:

    No sane operator, who doesn’t want to loose money, is going to set short-distance fares that low.

    Derek Reply:

    $22 from San Jose to San Francisco is 27 cents per km. Paris-Lyon TGV is half that price and they’re making money.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Fares don’t rise linearly with distance. Compare Paris-Lyon and Paris-Marseille fares, for a start. Or, for a better example, Tokyo-Shin-Yokohama with Tokyo-Shin-Osaka. Hyperdia tells me that the cheapest Tokyo-Shin-Yokohama Shinkansen ticket, on an unreserved seat, is 46 yen per timetable km*, whereas a standard-class reserved Nozomi seat to Shin-Osaka is 25.

    With SJ-SF, the specific problem is that unless an SJ-SF rider is paired with an SJ-LA rider, the HSR operator has to haul an empty seat from SJ to LA. If HSR fares are proportional to distance, then there will be a tidal exodus of long-distance Caltrain riders to HSR, requiring the operator to run more trains to SF just to deal with the wave of riders who by HSR standards are short-distance. Pricing short-distance travel more expensively is a standard way of doing it; think of it as congestion pricing for SF terminal space. An SJ-SF rider uses the same amount of SF infrastructure as an LA-SF rider, so such congestion pricing would charge both equally, which would raise the SJ-SF rider’s per-km fare far above the LA-SF rider’s.

    *The km numbers are based on distance along legacy rail, so the actual distances on the Shinkansen are shorter and the actual fare per km is slightly higher.

    Derek Reply:

    With SJ-SF, the specific problem is that unless an SJ-SF rider is paired with an SJ-LA rider, the HSR operator has to haul an empty seat from SJ to LA.

    Or change directions at SJ, making SJ the end of the line for that trip.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But there’s a tight limit on the available HSR track capacity into Transbay Terminal because of unfortunate design choices. So now the SF-SJ train displaces an SF-LA train that earns far more revenue. This is what I mean when I compare this to congestion pricing: the ticket pays not just marginal cost of operation below capacity, but also congestion fees at the terminals.

    jonathan Reply:

    Do you work at being dull? What’s the price-per-km for Acela, Amtrak’s showcase “High-sped rail” service? How does an Acela ticket for 50 miles compare to Regional? To NJ Transit?

    Derek: what’s the price of a 30-to-50 mile ticket on a TGV to or from Paris? Is it priced to _strongly_ encourage people to take RER? Why, Derek (“Virgina”), yes it is.

    Can this *really* be the same “Derek” who sneers at people for “not reading a demand curve”, when what he really means is drawing Ayn-Rand-ish conclusions from a graph *with no units on the axes*?

    It’s really, really hard to ridicule someone so stupid that they contradict their own main talking-point….

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Actually, there are no stations reachable from the city stations within a 50 miles radius from Paris. The two stations in the proximity of Paris are both on the bypass line.

    Also, the SNCF does not have distance-dependent fares, but “market fares” which are under a yield management system like airline fares. That’s why there is not such a big difference between Paris – Aix-en-Provence and Paris – Avignon, or Paris – Valence, for example.

    jonathan Reply:

    Derek,

    I’m so, *so* glad to see you arguing that — since SNCF charges something approximating the “market clearing price” for Paris-Lyon trips, *per km* — that we should apply that same pricing strategy — market-clearing-price for long-distance, Paris-Lyon or SF-SJ rips, *per km, — to the SF-SJ market, *per km*.

    That is *EXACTLY* your argument. It’s totally faithful to the structure of your argument.
    (I can translate it into first-order predicate calculus, for my standard hourly contract fees)

    Way to go, Derek. Shoot yourself, not in the foot, but the mouth.

    joe Reply:

    Derek’s just pointing out the facts in the current business plan’s which has printed schedules and pricing as part of the modeled ridership and revenue. 22 dollars form San Jose is less than the cost/mile for a private owned vehicle. It’s about the cost of parking near TBT today.

    I’m sure some common sense can debunk a more disciplined approach because humans are notorious good at making decisions with multiple variables and nonlinear responses and interactions.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Some real-life examples:
    Tokaido Shinkansen, Odawara-Tokyo, 83.9km/35min, 3130 yen (~$30.48)
    Tokaido Shinkansen, Shin-Yokohama-Tokyo* 28.8km/18min, 1320 yen (~$12.85)
    *this is a less common routing for HSR commuters than the Odawara one (the conventional options are numerous and more affordable), but I include it for comparison purposes.

    Odawara is on the periphery of Kanagawa Prefecture, also there is some shinkansen commute traffic from origins in Shizuoka Prefecture, namely Mishima.

    Costs are likely cheaper if season passes are purchased.

    swing hanger Reply:

    To add, most commuters use the all-stops Kodama services, unreserved seating, so the number of potential long-distance fares taken away are close to nil.

  2. Jerry
    Mar 11th, 2014 at 17:14
    #2

    Expect greater increases in the future.
    Google contributed $6.8 million for youth SF Muni passes for 2 years.

    Jerry Reply:

    Sun Rail in Orlando, Florida will start up soon. All Aboard Florida gets state aid for a new rail terminal at the Orlando Airport. Amtrak will soon be pulling into the Miami airport. Public transportation usage will definitely increase. Neel is going to get run over by a train.

  3. Alon Levy
    Mar 11th, 2014 at 18:05
    #3

    So… half the per capita ridership of 1956? That’s not all that amazing.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The statistic isn’t impressive, but the implied correlation is.

    The mid 50s marked an explosion in car ownership and the rise of auto-centric suburbs to react to the end of racial covenants. With car ownership among Millennials in decline, the implication is that transit users are the future adds a level of urgency that helps to shift the political climate.

    joe Reply:

    Per Capita means Transit ridership = f(People)

    Transit ridership = f(People, Service)

    We have more people than 1956 but have not equally invested and expanded service.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s worse than that. That was a time period when we as a nation were actively destroying our rail infrastructure, probably hundreds of billions of dollars worth in today’s money.

    Donk Reply:

    Everyone always talks so longingly about our old rail infrastructure. But was it really even that great? When you see all these old pictures of single car red cars or yellow cars with a single track going thru the center of a blvd with overhead wires everywhere, most of them look like they had no future anyway.

    EJ Reply:

    By the time they were demolished, they’d been suffering under years, if not decades of deferred maintenance. They were literally falling apart. You can blame GM and Firestone all you want, but the fact is that Southern Pacific had been losing money on Pacific Electric, and tried to sell the system to LA, for less in fact than what Firestone ended up paying, but the public had no interest.

    Joey Reply:

    Curious that passenger railroads (both urban and intercity) started loosing money around the same time the government started subsidizing other modes of transportation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But Pacific Electric specifically never made any money, and the New York City Subway operators started losing money mainly after post-WW1 inflation eroded the real fare.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It is true that there was a period when the majority of the public was all “autos! planes! atomic cannons! who needs railways!”.

    I’ve read memoirs from some of the people fighting against the tide at the time, who basically said that the public had gone stupid.

    Yes, there was a time period when useful rail infrastructure was actively ripped out in large quantities, and usually for the benefit of asphalt and gasoline interests. They tore out the (elevated!!!) tracks to the downtown Syracuse, NY train station so they could build an expressway (now falling down).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Of course, this was also a period of very high lead poisoning, so perhaps the public simply HAD gone stupid.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nah, the rich by then lived in bucolic suburbs deliberately placed upwind or upriver from the factories.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There is no upwind unless you want to move to Hawaii.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Made all sorts of sense when they tore it down. Nobody was going to be riding trains within a few years if then current trends had continued. Everybody knew that trains would never be faster than a bus and why maintain railroads when all those “free” interstates were going to be whisking us around at 80 MPH right into downtown. where there would be unlimited free parking for anyone who wanted it. Nobody paid attention when people would point out if you pave over downtown there’s no longer any reason to go there. It was all going to be like at Futurama.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Big chunks of it never should have been built to begin with.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Big chunks of BART should never have been built – at least certainly not as BART.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No part of BART should’ve been built as BART, but that’s water under the bridge – or over the immersed tube, as it were.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ontologists want to know: does that mean that no part of BART, as it exists, should have been built?

    Alon, I’m not being snarky. English grammar is ambiguous. The above is the *direct transliteration* of what I get, when i do a *direct transliteration* into FOPC (with equality). That equivalence taught by Big Names in modal logic, and that kind of “translation”.
    Yeah! let’s figure out how to do temporal-logic symbols on a preview-impaired WordPress blog!

    Does “should” (should’ve been) == a prescriptive sense? What Synon, a Latinist, might call future subjunctive? That’s how I read it, but my Latin goes back to when … the White House had solar water heaters on the roof.

    O tempora o mores

    synonymouse Reply:

    From Albert Harkness’ very readable “Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges” of 1881:

    496. FUTURE TIME IN THE SUBJUNCTIVE – When the future is used in the principal clause, the Future and Future Perfect tenses, wanting in the Latin Subjunctive, are supplied in the subordinate clauses as follows:

    “I. The Future is supplied-(1)after a principal tense by the PRESENT, and (2) after an historical tense by the IMPERFECT:[examples]

    II. The Future Perfect is supplied-(1) after a principal tense by the PERFECT, and (2) after an historical tense by the PLUPERFECT: [various examples]”

    Some of the words should be in italics but this keyboard goes crazy periodically as it is. Petronius likes to use the imperfect subjunctive more often it seems, and my personal take is you could almost call it the subjective tense, adding a feeling of wishing, doubting, commanding and the like to the action of the verb.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There’s no LaTeX here – I’ve checked – so we sadly can’t use logical symbols.

    What I mean by “no part of BART should’ve been built as BART” is that no part of BART should’ve been built with BART’s present characteristics, i.e. broad gauge, wheel-rail profile, and probably also the loading gauge.

    To me, “should” and “should have” are both prescriptive, at least in most cases. In others they denote probability: “I should get this job” is ambiguous between “I deserve to get this job” and “I will probably get this job.” In this case, I am using the word prescriptively.

    joe Reply:

    Donk

    Noe Valley has this infrastructure The J Muni with overhead wire running along the street and the MUNI 24 – it’s not crappy or ugly. I lived off 24 line and it was clean and silent.

    I think longingly of the systems we could have maintained and ROW protected.

    flowmotion Reply:

    J-line has that scenic cut through Dolores Park that looks so nice in photographs. But the people I’ve known in Noe Valley walk right past it to the BART station 5+ blocks away instead.

    I also think longingly about what could have happened. But let’s not romanticize the old transit systems, in most cases the system performance was pretty lousy and the operators were bastards. We needed more BARTs not more trolleys.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On top of that, what could be achieved in an America with 200 cars per 1,000 people can’t be achieved in an America with 800 cars per 1,000 people. Mixed-traffic streetcars had to deal with way less traffic then than now.

    joe Reply:

    Used the J often for getting into the city and up into Castro/Civic center.

    I never used BART in Noe. Stops only at Glenn Park, Mission/24th street or Mission/16th street stations don’t come close to servicing most of Noe. BART can’t even add a station at 30th. Perfect is the enemy of good.

    24 MUNI is quiet – ran by my home and never bothered me. J worked – the cars were heavy but that’s a MUNI mistake.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ flowmotion

    TWU 250A

    Andy M Reply:

    Many Japanese and European systems didn’t look any better in the 1950s. In fact many looked decidedly worse. But they gradually modernised them.

    EJ Reply:

    Tram systems didn’t last, for the most part, except in Eastern Europe and a few cities like Vienna and Zurich. Tokyo, London, Paris, etc. ripped out all or almost all of their trams.

    Even Vienna gradually replaced a lot of its tram with subways. Trams/Streetcars are a fad – they’ve got some justification as a cheap way to run light rail systems through urban environments, but if you don’t give them a dedicated right of way, they get stuck in traffic (and if you give them a dedicated right of way, what’s the point of paving it?). They’re also a hazard to pedestrians and bicycles, and when the bill becomes due to replace and refurbish tracks with pavement on top of them, municipalities are going to balk at it, just like they did back in the 1950s.

    Michael Reply:

    Yeah, no trams in Germany, except for about 50 cities, some of which built subways for the trams to duck under congestion in the middle of downtowns, like SF. Munich stands out, as it has trams, S-Bahn, and a extensive U-Bahn. When I think of what could have happened in the SF Bay Area, I look at Munich. Vienna also has a ton of trams, with a complimentary subway.

    EJ Reply:

    It wasn’t intended to be an exhaustive list. I would be interested in which 50(!) cities in Germany have trams, and, of those, which weren’t formerly in East Germany. (I’m well aware Berlin has extensive tram system – mostly in the former East Berlin). Also which of them have a tram system that’s anything like the extent they had in 1950.

    I specifically called out Vienna as a Western European city that had hung on to its tram system. I could have added Milan, Munich, etc. But even in Vienna, it’s been curtailed substantially since the 1960s, as much of it’s been replaced by the U-Bahn. Munich I’m less familiar with, as I’ve not spent much time there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A number of towns in France have streetcars now. Michelin is reputed to have had a hand in the loss of streetcars in the 30’s-40’s but the German success was too good to pass up and now France is manufacturing trams, lrv’s. streetcars, yada yada in, IIRC, La Rochelle, and exporting to places like Dubai.

    EJ Reply:

    I’m aware that streetcars are now being built in various small to mid-size cities around the Western world. They do have an advantage of being able to carry more people than a bus, if that’s what a particular corridor requires.

    However, most streetcar fans, particularly in America, aren’t really transit advocates, otherwise they’d be in favor of transit that was more broadly useful. They’re “urbanists” who nostalgically want to return American urban life to how they imagine it was circa 1925.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In France 1925 is considered a golden era.

    In so far as public transport goes 1925 was still pretty healthy – 1929 killed off many a rail operaton.

    Roland Petit and Zizi Jeanmaire did an album of flapper era songs called Paris 1925. Avalon, Deauville and Rudolph Valentino.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Cologne and Frankfurt have extensive subway-surface systems (think Muni Metro but bigger).

    Paris is building an extensive light rail system; one of its lines, T3, carries 200,000 passengers per day. However, those trams have exclusive lanes, whereas American streetcars are mixed-traffic. A collective attempt by a few of us to find an example of a European city building a new mixed-traffic streetcar has only shown a handful of examples, in all of which the streetcar has dedicated lanes most of the way and mixed-traffic lanes only part of the way. What’s more, the mixed-traffic areas are usually very narrow streets, of the kind that doesn’t exist in California, or anywhere in the US outside Downtown Boston and Lower Manhattan.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Over 60 German cities with trams listed here.
    Geographically, look for the circular and-triangle-inside-circular markers in this map

    Max Wyss Reply:

    A lot of tram lines disappeared in the late 1920s, early 1930s. That was mainly small operations which barely made enough to keep maintenance, and rolling stock renewal was up.

    The really big tram system killing happened in the 1950s, early 1960s. In that era, trams were considered outdated, old fashioned, and essentially an obstacle for the ah so glorified automobile. In that era, also many sub/interurban lines (German term “Überlandstrassenbahnen”) disappeared, because widening of the roads they followed “had to be” widened. But here too, it was also the question of bigger investment in the rail system. Most of the surviving lines are now prospering (and could be called “light rail” in many cases).

    About München: If I remember correctly, they actually were intending to completely replace the tram system with the U-Bahn. But as U-Bahn was/is quite expensive, there was still a need for something between the U-Bahn and buses, capacity-wise. And that’s why they stopped ripping out the trams, and started expanding the network again.

    Several cities (such as Wien, Köln, Bonn) did put the tram lines underground (and in some places actually labelled the lines as “U-Bahn”, but it was essentially a tram line, just similar to the Green line(s) in Boston).

    There was a big project in Zürich for doing that as well, in the early 60s, but it got voted down badly by the voters. In some ways, that “defeat”, together with the refusal of a “real” subway a decade later, cleared the way for the now very successful Zürich transit network. And, yes, Zürich still has kilometers of lines shared with road traffic. But blocking the tram operation can get quite expensive for the blocker, because besides the traffic fine, they have to reimburse the VBZ (tram operator) for their cost. Blocking the tram operation at the “right” place can set you back a 5-figure amount, and you will get more than a simple parking ticket…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does Zurich build new tram lines in mixed traffic, or does it only retain mixed traffic on tram lines that have been in operation forever?

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The latest built extensions and the planned lines are essentially on separated lanes. In many cases, the new tram line will use the existing bus lane; in other cases, the street will be blocked for automobile traffic, and turned into a pedestrian area.

    A good starting point to look at the recent and current project is http://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/content/vbz/de/index/die_vbz/die_unternehmensentwicklung.html (you may check if the page also exists in English). The next projects are “Tramverbindung Hardbrücke”, and then “Der neue 2er”. The first is a link between two lines, over the Hardbrücke bridge, mainly using the existing bus lanes, whereas in the second project, they create a pedestrian zone with tram and bus and then join a line on segregated right of way.

    Under “Realisierte Projekte”, you will find the new line “Zürich West”, which is serving a new development area, and where the road mainly used is wide enough for a separated right of way.

    Note that the latest network extensions of the Zürich network are all serving new (or re-) developments, and are in rather peripheric places, which means that there is enough space for separation.

    Mixed operation, however, remains in the center, where it is too difficult to segregate (meaning that the streets are too narrow). It is also to note that Zürich has some kind of policy to dissuade automobiles (well, transit is so good that you really do not need a car when living in Zürich, and if you really need a car, there is a good car sharing service).

    EJ Reply:

    @Richard Mlynarik – interesting. I wasn’t aware that so many cities in West Germany had hung on to their tram systems. Why is that? When France and the UK ripped them out wholesale? Surely not because the Germans were any less enthusiastic about automobiles than the rest of Europe. Was it just the economic situation of Germany in the immediate postwar period that gave the trams enough of a reprieve?

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @EJ: I may be a bit speculative, but immediately after the war, the tram networks in German cities got (kind of) rebuilt as primary transit system, of course together with buses. That meant that in the mid-50s, they were in relatively good shape. Also (I am not sure what caused what), the German industry came up with a very successful design of a streetcar (I think they call it “Standard car”), which not so much later got stretched to the single articulation car with a truck under the articulation. Another aspect may have been that when rebuilding the cities, the streetcars got their own right of way.

    On the other hand, in the mid-50s, the British and French streetcar networks were in worse shape than the German ones, and it would have cost much more to get them up do date, and there were no leading manufacturers coming up with a modern design of streetcar.

    Another thing with the modern design streetcars was that they were way more efficient than the typical pre-war models; they had more capacity per vehicle, making the cost of staff a bit less important. They were more comfortable (trucks instead of two-axle running gears).

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Donk

    Do you have any idea of the idea of the difference in, shall we say, capitalization between the PE and BART? The Bay Area has lavished billions upon billions upon BART and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Or as PB-Amalgamated would say: “Youse gotta problem with that?”

    Charlie Miller saved Muni streetcars with a lease-purchase deal with St. Louis for its PCC’s for like Dorothy Dugger’s salary.

    Donk Reply:

    I have no idea who Dorothy Dugger is. But yeah, clearly PE under-engineered their system and BART over-engineered their system.

    synonymouse Reply:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/dorothy-dugger_n_3417426.html

    The PE used typical interurban engineering of the era and many lines continued freight operations after the loss of passenger service. Ergo the Santa Monica Airline. Some started out double track but got cut down to single to save money but hurting travel times.

    The Soto Avenue overcrossing was clearly an attempt PE to grade separate as well as the Hollywood Tunnel. But it was curtains when the freeway construction crowd took over LA ca. 1940.

    The PE could run successfully in the street, a real advantage when that is all you can afford. The only alternative and the next step down is buses

    EJ Reply:

    Not a real option anymore, at least not in LA. The LA bus system has come a long way since the bad old days of the 1990s, but still the average speed of a “Metro Rapid” limited-stop express bus is about 8 mph, since ultimately it has to fight its way through the same traffic everyone else does. If it doesn’t have a dedicated right of way, it’s of limited use.

    EJ Reply:

    Regardless of whether it’s a bus, train, trolley, or light rail.

    Donk Reply:

    Wow, this is pretty obscene.

  4. Reality Check
    Mar 11th, 2014 at 19:20
    #4

    To lure more bids, HSRA board OKs $2m stipend for losing bidders

    synonymouse Reply:

    contractor welfare

    therealist Reply:

    WELFARE QUEENS !!

    Travis D Reply:

    This is a common practice. It was also done for the first construction contract. The companies were told that if they did put together a comprehensive proposal they’d be reimbursed for the cost.

  5. Derek
    Mar 11th, 2014 at 20:35
    #5

    California’s transportation future is on the rails, not on the roads.

    Railroads are roads.

  6. Donk
    Mar 11th, 2014 at 21:03
    #6

    The housing situation has to have something to do with the people driving less. I am not saying it is THE reason, but think about it – in 2008, there was a build up of many years where it got more and more expensive for workers to live near where they worked, so there was a huge increase in long distance commuting, traffic, and public transit ridership.

    Then in the last 4 years or so, everything got rejiggered – housing prices tanked and then rose again, tons of people lost their jobs and got new jobs, tons of companies went down the shitter and new ones were born. This partial reshuffling had to lead to some changes in where people lived and companies located that could have led to improvements in choices of people, where in 2009 their ability to choose was at an all time low.

    I have absolutely no data to back any of this up, but it seems that this effect has to have had some impact on commute times. In the meantime, many new rail routes have opened up since 2008, which likely also had somewhat of an impact.

    TomA Reply:

    But does it have to do with why people are using transit more?

  7. Donk
    Mar 11th, 2014 at 21:24
    #7

    Some of might find this interesting. They are updating all of the signage and way finding at LA Union Station. What I was amazed at when I read that article is that they are going to get it al done in the next 2 months. I didn’t think it was possible to act that quickly.

    http://thesource.metro.net/2014/03/10/signage-project-to-improve-way-finding-at-union-station-set-to-begin-march-11/

    Eric Reply:

    Robert Moses would have done it in a week.

  8. morris brown
    Mar 12th, 2014 at 09:12
    #8

    ABC News 10 out with this report:

    http://www.news10.net/story/news/politics/john-myers/2014/03/12/california-high-speed-rail-searches-for-money-and-tackles-criticism/6313673/

    Bullet train officials defend project in wake of recent obstacles, unpaid bills

  9. Alan Kandel
    Mar 12th, 2014 at 11:42
    #9

    I think what we should also not lose sight of is: Of all land-based public transit modes, trains by far fare best, that is, according to one highly respected and reputable source.

    See: http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2014/03/03/recent-trends-in-bus-and-rail-ridership/#comments

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Tens of billions wasted on retarded pork-tastic Buy American low-ridership (unless you’re “competing” in Special Olympics, where effort counts!) rail boondoggles.

    Nothing (to two orders comparative of magnitude) spent on transit lanes. You know, the stuff that has a negative cost.

    Choo choo!

    EJ Reply:

    Which, as I understand it, is Freemark’s actual point. That investment in Transit lanes and proper BRT infrastructure would lead to significant increases in transit use.

    Anandakos Reply:

    “Investing” in transit lanes, which in America means building new ones since the roadies won’t free any existing ones, costs very close to as much as building light rail lines. Now you can have “BlueStreak” type service with busways that isn’t possible with LRT, and that’s certainly nice.

    But the cost is nowhere near “two orders of magnitude” different. Not unless you are the reincarnation of Robert Moses, only with a love for BRT facilities rather than parkways.

    Nathanael Reply:

    ““Investing” in transit lanes, which in America means building new ones since the roadies won’t free any existing ones, costs very close to as much as building light rail lines. ”

    Actually, in all existing examples (Harbor Busway, Pittsburgh Busways, Ottawa Busway, etc.), it costs MORE than building light rail along the same alignment.

    Eric Reply:

    Indeed, paving over a rail ROW is expensive. But rail ROWs are rare and most of the useful ones are already being used for rail. However, the typical US city has dozens of wide boulevards on which it would be cheap to reserve a couple lanes for buses. This is controversial in high-traffic cities like Chicago or DC, but I could imagine less objection in a place like Denver or St Louis.

  10. Thomas
    Mar 12th, 2014 at 19:21
    #10

    UP and BNSF are concerned about HSR’s electrical system interfering with their signals/crossings. The Authority needs agreements with them in order to start construction. Who knows how much time it’ll take to get this resolved.

    https://www.pge.com/regulation/High-SpeedRailElectricSafetyOIR/Pleadings/Joint-BU/2014/High-SpeedRailElectricSafetyOIR_Plea_Joint-BU_20140131_295470.pdf

    jonathan Reply:

    “Who knows”? Anyone who has a degree in Electrical Engineering. Pretty much.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    There is a lot of experience with interferences between electrification, vehicles and signalling systems out there all over the world, in particular in Europe.

    swing hanger Reply:

    American railway engineers:
    http://metro.co.uk/2012/12/25/gallery-weird-pictures-of-2012-3313855/hear-no-evil-orangutan-ay_99009502-jpg/

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is not a real problem — although UP and BNSF are quite capable of creating fake problems.

    Find out what frequencies they’re using for their signal system. If they’re using AC harmonics of 60Hz, there are problems and they need to be changed — but also, they’re idiots, because every power line in the country will interfere with the signal system — so this is unlikely.

  11. morris brown
    Mar 13th, 2014 at 08:19
    #11

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasdelbeccaro/2014/03/12/can-one-judge-stop-california-from-being-railroaded/

    Forbes: OPED: Thomas Del Beccaro

    Can One Judge Stop California From Being Railroaded?

  12. Jon
    Mar 13th, 2014 at 08:48
    #12

    You’ll never guess who’s submitted a helpful public comment to CAHSR:

    http://hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2014/brd_mtg_cmmts_3_11_2014.pdf

    “Stop further subsidy to Caltrain”. Because BART has never been subsidized.

  13. morris brown
    Mar 13th, 2014 at 09:32
    #13

    Liberal commentator Chris Mathews says, Demos can lose 10 seats in the Senate this fall.

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HrrEBN_5Q0

    As Robert continues to proclaim, we will get Federal HSR funding when we get rid of the Tea Party and gain control of the House, reality is nobody of any stature is predicting the Demos wll gain a majority in the House this fall. Now many such as Chris Mathews here, are saying goodby to the Demo Senate Majority in the Senate is a very strong possibility.

    jimsf Reply:

    However, Hilary Clinton will be elected in 2016, and is more likey to manage congress better than President Obama has and that will include deals that will allow for increased infrastructure spending in return for some things the left may not like.

    StevieB Reply:

    This year could be the last hurrah for the Republican party as demographic changes continue to erode their share of the electorate.

    jimsf Reply:

    As it is they can only win with gerrymandering and voter suppression. Otherwise they would have ceased to exist already.

    Its sad and very embarrassing to be part of a party that is so desperate that the only way they can win is to keep people from voting. That’s just embarrassing for them. Of course republicans have zero shame and zero morals so it doesn’t bother them.

    Donk Reply:

    It is ridiculous that people can vote without an ID. Go to the DMV and get a goddamn ID like everyone else. If you aren’t capable of doing that, then too bad, don’t vote. This should not be a political issue. There are basic responsibilities you have when you are part of our society.

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually, voting is a constitutional right and doesn’t require a drivers license. As for people having id, as someone who is required to ask every customer for it everyday, I can tell you that the number of people who don’t have it, or only have some barely acceptable half assed version of ID that stretches to very outer limits of what we can accept, is astounding. Nevertheless, these people, while they can be denied travel on a plane or train (which is not a constitutional right) can not and should not be denied the right to vote, ( which is a constitutional right)

    People don’t have them for a variety of reasons.

    joe Reply:

    State IDs require documentation which may not be available or very difficult to obtain especially for poor or elderly.
    We are two post grad educated adults and struggle to get our parents paperwork and signatures and etc. SS card and etc. It’s difficult and bureaucratic and full of (intentional) barriers.

    Here’s Mississippi

    What to Bring

    To obtain a state ID card, visit your local driver’s license office with the following information:

    A completed application form.

    Proof of residency (if 18 years old or older).
    The following may work: electric or water bill, lease agreement, vehicle-registration receipt, mortgage documents, homestead exemption receipt, bank statement, notarized employer verification on company letterhead (with a phone number) that states your address, your parent or guardian’s state driver’s license (if under 21 years old).

    Social Security card (non-metal) or a print out from the Social Security Administration.

    Certified copy of birth certificate (not a hospital certificate).

    How hard can a certified birth certificate be?

    Alice Weddle, 59, was born at home in Mississippi, delivered by a midwife, and was never issued a birth certificate. Ms. Weddle, who moved to Wisconsin with her family when she was three years old, never had a driver’s license and is a regular voter. Without a birth certificate, however, she has not been able to obtain the state-issued ID now required to cast a ballot. – See more at: http://www.advancementproject.org/pages/whos-really-affected-by-wisconsins-voter-id-law#sthash.pwZd6Cmr.dpuf

    And many DMVs are only open during working hours.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m an election judge – one of those poor souls who sit there waiting for you to come to the polls. It’s real easy to get fake ID. It’s much harder to fake a signature. Two of us have to watch you do it and we both have to agree it’s your signature. To get a sample of your signature into the poll book you had to prove who you were. Most people do it when they get their driver’s license. But the people who take voter registration in other places take the same ID. And a sample of your signature. There’s two people in my district who can’t sign things anymore. One of us in the polling place knows either of them, where they live, how long they’ve been living there and that they are incapable of signing the poll register.
    When I was living in New Jersey the Republicans decided to have their consultants flag people to be challenged at the polls. I had been living at the same address since 1964. The same people work the polls year in year out. I have a last name with far too many consonants in it and a first letter that makes a lot of sense to someone who spells Polish. I dutifully went to the polls with two forms if ID and the letter. When I started to open it up the woman who had been seeing me come there to vote for the past 30 years suppressed a giggle. The neighbor from two doors down rolled her eyes as she opened the book to my name. The third one at the table said something rude about all the poll challenges they had been seeing and asked how I was doing since my father died….

    Eric Reply:

    Presumably you live in a district with a stable population. There are also districts where there is high turnover in the population, where there are many immigrants (legal or illegal) and transients, where there is no chance of everyone knowing everyone. Your system would not prevent fraud in such a district. Incidentally, such districts probably lean Democratic.

    jimsf Reply:

    And aside from that, that fact is still that the reason republicans are passing voter id laws is IS NOT because they are concerned about fraud and YOU and I BOTH KNOW IT.
    Their desperation is sooo fucking pathetic it turns the stomach. They are the ones who made it a political issue.

    AND THEIR CONSTANT LYING
    TO THE FACES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE is insulting to our intellegence, and dispicable.

    Its hard wired into the nature of people who are “conservatives” to be phony. I know a phony when I see one and I been seein these for decades with their fake ass concerns and their fake ass morals, and their fake fucking ass bullshit all day and all night. It never ends.

    Ted Cruz? Phony, LIAR. PAul Ryan. PHONY LIAR. The dumbass from florida, desperate phony liar. RAnd Paul, coniving phony liar. Mitt Romney , rich lair.

    Oh how they all love to look into the camera with their sad puppy eyes and phony expressions and tell us how worried and concerned they are for the country. The are only concerned for their political careers and the people who have paid for them. People whose last concern is the plight of the average american worker. Total bullshit.
    I have zero respect for people who vote repulbican. Disgusting.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The reason Republicans are passing so-called “voter id” laws is to have an excuse to prevent people from voting. Specifically, to prevent people who (they think will) vote Democratic or Independent from voting.

    Republicans have actually admitted this several times.

    Voter suppression and fraud are the only way Republicans can stay in power, since Republicans are grotesquely unpopular among the under-40s.

    Donk Reply:

    You guys all make compelling cases, and I do agree that voter ID laws are clearly a tactic by the Republicans to suppress Democratic votes. I also think it is a brilliant move by the Republicans.

    I am sorry but I am tired of having to stoop down to the lowest common denominator. If Alice Weddle really needed to get a goddamn ID card, she could have gotten her shit squared away and gotten one. If you want to succeed in this country you have to put some goddamn effort in and put your mind to something and get it done.

    It doesn’t take a lot of money to get an ID card, it just takes a few brain cells for some basic investigation work, or the help of a friend. If you don’t have one competent friend or enough brain cells to get your shit squared away, then honestly, you probably don’t have enough brain cells to make an informed decision on who you are voting for, and are probably one of those people who get tricked by the sleazebag political commercials.

    I know I sound like a complete asshole, but we need to move forward as a country and some people are going to have to get left behind. I am interested in the greater good of our society, not a few vignettes about agnes or billy bob. If I ever get to the point where I am incapable of getting an ID card, even if someone else takes me to the DMV, then shoot me. Or just tell me I shouldn’t be voting anymore. I don’t care if it is my constitutional right.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    fake ids are easy to get, it’s much harder to fake a signature.

    Donk Reply:

    JimSF, I agree with most of what you say about Republicans. But the same can be said about most Democrats as well. John Kerry? Harry Reid? Joe Biden? Antonio Villaraigosa? Gavin Newsom? Cruz Bustamonte? They are also phony. I am not as quick as most on this blog to call people liars, but all of these guys make shit up to get elected.

    Unfortunately, I can no longer argue with Republicans that Obama is not a liar – his statement “if you want to keep your insurance, you can keep it” is the same as “read my lips, no new taxes”.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Don’t even need to look at that. Obama said that he would not vote for the FISA Amendments Act, which purported to legalize Bush’s unconstitutional spying program.

    Then he voted for it. And lied about what was in it.

    He appointed a “Director of National Intelligence” (Clapper) who has been proven to have lied to Congress under oath… lying about the unconstitutional and illegal activities he was conducting. Obama is still defending the traitor Clapper, who hasn’t resigned, hasn’t been arrested, hasn’t been prosecuted.

    Obama actually should be impeached and removed from office for the NSA and CIA criminal activities which he has continued, which (as we now know from recent revelations by the patriot Snowden) include spying on Congressmen, presumably for the purposes of blackmailing Congressmen. These activities were started by G. W. Bush but it’s too late to impeach Bush.

    Donk Reply:

    Everything you said sounded ok until you called Snowden a patriot. A patriot, or “whistle-blower”, is more selective about the materials he releases. This guy didn’t even read or understand all of the documents he released. He should be executed for that. He could have done this in much more responsible way, and then maybe he might have been considered a whistle-blower or patriot.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Certain war crimes don’t have a statue of limitations.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes they all lie to some extent. But the democrats are generally truthful about their overall agenda because, perks for everyday americans are popular and thats basically what democrats are about whereas the true agenda of the republican party which is medling in peoples personal lives, while gutting perks for everyday americans, just isn’t popular at the end of the day so they REALLY have to lie about their whole deal.

    As for obamacare. its very strange to me because I know that I fully understood from the beginning that “ytou could keep your insurance as long as it met certain requirments” because that was the whole point of obama care, to make sure the insurance companies would give you your monies worth and provide crap insurance. SO he didn’t say that everytime, but I knew what he meant. Why didnt everyone else?

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed and agreed.

    Republicans generally make up more wacky stuff. The Democrats to me are like the bad guy admirals from the Empire that keep getting choked by Vader because they are inept. The Republicans are more like the Sith lords. Both bad, but the Democrats are more of a joke and some of the Republicans are just downright sinister. I can’t think of many Democrats that are sinister – just a lot of buffoons.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Most of the people whining about how they lost their insurance didn’t lose it because it was illegal. The actuaries at the insurance companies never got that far. After most of the people in the risk pool left, it wasn’t worth offering anymore.
    The real agenda of the Republcan party is to reward rich people. If God didn’t love rich people they wouldn’t be rich. Everybody else gets punished, God obviously doesn’t love them or they would be rich.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In Kansas, when Brownback passed voter ID laws, he also passed DMV reform that made everyone wanting an ID stand in line for eight hours. For the benefit of people with IDs other than drivers’ licenses, Kansas permits many other in-state IDs for voting, and some out-of-state IDs. If you have a gun permit from another state, you can use it to vote in Kansas, but if you have an out-of-state student ID, you can’t.

    Donk Reply:

    Well that is just good politics. I am impressed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Other states issue gun permits to Kansas residents? How odd. Out of state student ID makes sense except maybe for people who are commuting to another state. Otherwise you aren’t a resident of Kansas, you are a resident of wherever you spend most of your time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It depends on whether you change your voter registration when you move. I think California doesn’t even let you change your registration to Californian until you’ve lived there three years. And I have plenty of friends in their mid-20s who vote in districts where they last lived when they were 18.

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