White House slams carpooling, new road fees better

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by zimv20, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #1
    reuters

     
  2. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #2
    The mind boggles....

    Since when is a public road considered 'goods and services' rather than something provided by the government at taxpayer expense in order to enable the flow of people and goods in pursuit of increased economic activity? Honestly, to compare this to ski resorts is ridiculous.
     
  3. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #3
    bushco is shameless. Any and every possible opportunity is taken to slam government spending on infrastrucutre, preferring a private and corporate solution. One can't even consider it ironic anymore that he is responsible for the largest increase in public spending in US history. His only legacy will be that of a reverse robin hood. Steal from the poor and give to the rich.
     
  4. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #4
    How many more days before he is shown the door? His 400 Billion down the drain war could have built many many roads. Instead we have a ....a mess.
     
  5. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #5
    Hmm... at the oft-quoted rate of $1 million/ mile of roadway construction costs (which is probably a little low at this point), $400 billion could build (or fix) 400,000 miles of new roads in this country.

    Although they do have a point about HOV lanes and carpooling. Carpooling is not going to provide significant reductions in fuel usage no matter how much we hype it. And HOV lanes don't ease congestion if few people are commuting in them. The only good way to go is to increase fuel economy, but even that doesn't reduce congestion.

    And really I'm not totally opposed to tolls on specific roadways as a way to reduce unnecessary demand, but such tolls should be very low.
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #6
    Carpooling is really good, but my experience is that reality makes it too impractical for people in lots of fields. My experience as an engineer was ... Too many social obligations immediately after work. Too many unpredictable business trips out of the office mid-day to meet customers, vendors, testing facilities, etc, offsite. Too flexible of a workday without enough predictability of when it will start and when it will finish.

    As for the rest of the Bush plan...meh. How much longer is he in office?
     
  7. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #7
    unless you're in the HOV lane...

    i'm all for higher mileage req's and investement in public trans. and, as i've advocated, just taxing the hell out of gas to pay for public trans. that would change car buying habits in a hurry.

    what i *don't* believe is that building more capacity eases congestion in anything other than the short term. mac, is that your understanding?
     
  8. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #8
    Building more highway capacity encourages more usage, particularly when the capacity is added at the urban fringes where it is sprawl-inducing. Trying to beat traffic congestion by building more roadway capacity is like shoveling into the tide. Some of it will have to be done, but it is not the solution. This has been known literally for decades.
     
  9. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #9
    In Mexico City there was a citywide ordinance that you could only drive your registered car every other day into the city to cut down on pollution. The problem was every one just bought another car so it actually made the problem worse. Isnt there something like this in the city of London?
     
  10. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #10
    You're probably thinking of Athens. London has a Congestion Charge, which means that only rich bastards can afford to drive in to town.
     
  11. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #11
    The tax money just does not exist to build enough roadways to meet today's patterns of usage. That's a large part of the "why" for toll roads.

    Rior to the 1960s, the taxes on motor fuels pretty much paid for construction and maintenance. That went away in the 1970s, which is when general revenue funds started going into construction. Congress folks loved that, since it was a Pure Pork opportunity.

    Roughly, a mile of Interstate is gonna take 25 acres of right of way. Even in rural areas that's somewhere between $100K and $200K a mile. Bridges and culverts take a lot of concrete--which is very much energy dependent--and that doubled-in-price steel. All that earthwork takes a lot of diesel, and dozers and turnpulls aren't economy critters. A D-9 is gonna run somewhere around $100/hr.

    Just guessing, mac, I'd venture that a DOT would be happy to see a four-lane cost "only" a million a mile. :)

    We've been building all this mess since WW II. It's not gonna get changed in a short period of time, no matter how good whomever's ideas turn out to be.

    'Rat
     
  12. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #12
    More capacity is a part of any solution, but no -- it's not any kind of cure-all in and of itself.

    And while you're correct about it being better if you're in the HOV lane, I'm speaking of the pollution caused by the traffic jam in the other lanes. Having the HOV lane is kind of pointless from an "overall pollution" standpoint if you don't save more with the HOV lane than you waste in the backup not alleviated by an extra lane being available on the freeway.

    It ain't gonna get better until we stop building suburbs around the old suburbs around the even older city core. I read something a while ago that put a staggering amount of our daily driving from one suburb to another -- something the highway system was never designed to handle.

    My personal feeling is that congestion will not be eliminated until computers control all vehicular traffic. There is a lot of wasted space out there, a lot of inefficiencies in the system due to the limits of individual human control.

    My vision of the future of mass transit is individual transport modules that have little to no emissions, and a computer-controlled roadway system for efficiency.

    Of course that still leaves the issue of parking and it's space requirements -- and how those requirements shape urban layout. But lots can be shared when uses don't overlap, and I've seen some pretty slick parking garages...
     
  13. Stella macrumors 604

    Stella

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    #13
    Are they taking the piss?!!!

    More capacity only encourages more traffic - I believe its a proven theory. I don't have any links off hand, unfortunately.
     
  14. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #14
    i can see that being on the other side of the Grand Shift which gets people out of their cars, but i have a hard time seeing how americans are going to give up that "freedom".
     
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #15
    Nothing really changes for the better without increasing residential densities and moving people's homes closer to their frequent destinations. Large and relatively dense cities with adequate conventional public mass transportation systems can and do work today, without the application of any futuristic technologies. Sprawling low-density cities will forever be chasing their transportation needs, and all the new technology we can imagine have little prospect of helping. It's worth keeping in mind that despite all the forecasts, our transportation technologies have changed almost not at all in 100 years. What has changed is the form of our cities, and the virtual abandonment of systems that we already know works.
     
  16. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #16
    this comment caught my eye. for the past couple years, and probably until 2009, my local line of the Chicago Transit Authority is being renovated. it's over 100 years old:
    100+ years old, huge ridership increases, and just *now* they're getting 'round to renovating it. i wonder how many times the chicago highways have been renovated in the meantime. and i'd love to see some numbers on renovation dollars per customer for road and rail.

    it's amazing to me that this rail system still works, after all these years and all those riders, and all that neglect.
     
  17. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #17
    Ah, but the question is: How do you accomplish this? Do you force this on people, or is it something they have to choose? And how do you combat the inertia of the current structure? (This is rhetorical, I know you know all this.)

    Cities are easy. When density levels are at those kinds of levels your options for transportation - not to mention all the cultural benefits -- increase dramatically.

    I would hope for a combination of technology, changes in societal attitudes, and things like Urban Growth Boundaries, incentives for infill and denser development. What has little prospect for help is hoping that urban planners can solve all these problems by themselves. It's way to big of a ball of interconnected problems for them to solve. I would go so far as to say that the current structure actually prevents them from being able to reach any kind of comprehensive solution alone.

    What transportation technologies are you talking about not changing? I see the changes in transportation technology as being directly tied to the changes in city form.

    The Los Angeles Metro area would not exist in it's current form if we still drove the Model T and had 4-way uncontrolled intersections, no?
     
  18. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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  19. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #19
    Right, and the automobile, and the infrastructure to serve it, also began appearing about 100 years ago. How much as changed since then? Not much, fundamentally.

    When I was a kid, probably once or twice a year, Popular Science would run an article about the future of transportation. You know, personal helicopters, automated highways, that kind of thing. All of this stuff was supposed to be right around the corner, and it's remained right around the corner for nearly 50 years, that I know about personally. Truth is, there's not much new under the sun, where transportation is concerned.

    The rhetorical answer is, it's already happening. Urbanism is on the rebound. Case in point: One of the largest office buildings constructed in downtown Los Angeles during the 1960s is currently in the process of being partially converted into residential condos and live-work units. If you'd have suggested such a thing 15 or even ten years ago, people would have laughed.

    Cars and rail. That's what we had 100 years ago, and they remain the basic options we've got today. We know that cars can only be so efficient in moving masses of people. Rail moves a lot more.

    Ironically, the form of the modern Los Angeles area was established by the interurban streetcar lines during the 1910s and 1920s. As the freeways co-opted these routes, the lines were abandoned.

    Even half-hearted rail efforts like the Red, Blue and Gold lines in the Los Angeles Metro area have produced results -- the stops have become nodes for high-density commercial and residential development. I'd like to believe that a real, serious effort at developing a light rail backbone for the region would even more dramatically transform it. Still, this is just an application old technology to traditional urbanism. It may not be very sexy, but we know from experience that it works.
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #20
    At least in my LA experience the HOV lane(s) aren't always much better than the other lanes as a back-up happens when people in the HOV lane slow down to 5mph so they can try and merge back w/the bumper-to-bumper traffic in the non-HOV lanes. Or someone in the HOV lane is going exactly the speed limit and traffic in the non-HOV lanes is going as fast or faster.

    Although I hear Londoners complain about the state of the tubes and buses, I absolutely loved them while I spent a semester in London back in 2000. It was awesome not having to worry about your car and finding parking. I'd kill for public transpo like that in LA. I wish I could take advantage of LA's subway system but it's pretty limited and I rarely have to go somewhere it goes. When the weather warms up again (tis a bit chilly once the sun goes down) I'm gonna start riding my bike to work again a few days a week. I like that I can do that here where as when I lived in Indiana geography and lots of not-bike-friendly weather made that a non-option.

    I agree w/the previous poster(s) who said that one of the biggest hurdles is getting American's to "give up" a bit of their commuting freedom. We like our cars and the go anywhere anytime service they provide.


    Lethal
     
  21. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #21
    i've only visited LA, so i'll have to defer. i've had good HOV experiences in both LA and atlanta.

    agreed about the london TFL system, and i actually really enjoy riding the busses. also, chicago's CTA finally caught on to better technology and i have a ridership card that automatically pulls from my credit card when needed -- seems a small deal, but it actually saves a lot of hassle.

    i think even small technology improvements can greatly improve rider experience. over the past couple years, the CTA has installed some kind of
    ground sensors at bus stops. i'm not certain how they're going to use it, but if they can put up displays that'll say when the next bus is coming (a la the tube displays on the platforms), that would save a TON of hassle.
     
  22. Thanatoast macrumors 6502a

    Thanatoast

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    #22
    George Bush is a tool. In this case, both figuratively and literally. A tool of the companies that stand to make money selling cars, gas and multi-hundred-million dollar highway construction projects.

    I just moved to a new apartment in downtown Denver. It just happens that it's half a mile from the nearest light rail, which also has a stop a mile from my work. The biggest problem with our light rail is that it doesn't go very many places, and even the huge build up we just approved it will only follow the highways. If your destination isn't right off the highway, it's kinda useless.

    I've never considered the bus an option - our bus system is incredibly useless. Heck, when they opened up the light rail station near my work they also canceled the bus service that went through the DTC. WTF? What we need is someone to design mass transit routes that go where people go. A streetcar (or even a "mall shuttle") from the University Light Rail station up to Cherry Creek would make a huge amount of sense. A DTC bus route making the rounds to the many office towers in the area would make even more sense, allowing commuters more options to actually get to work instead of dropping people off miles from work.

    The other thing I've noticed about all these fancy "new urban" developments is that they're still built assuming that the residents own cars. Where's the supermarket in these places? Or even a grocer/butcher/baker? I don't need a fine wine shop/yoga center/activity spa. I need bread, cheese and toilet paper!

    I've been without my car for three days (sold it). I've had to get up 45 minutes earlier in order to get to work on time. The light rail is nice, a lot less stressfull than the highway, it's better excercise and cheaper than owning a car. But it only works because I *happen* to live where I do and I *happen* to work where I do. With better planning and investment I think transit could make a huge difference.

    Sorry that was mostly random and my thoughts over the last couple of days using light rail as my only means of transport.
     
  23. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #23
    i love that observation.
     
  24. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #24
    So taxes are bad, but tolls are ok? I refuse to drive a toll road if I don't have to. Especially if I live in the area, I'm not paying for something twice. Not that it would matter where I am, a lot of the time the back roads are faster than the freeways. They need to do something though, traffic here is a nightmare and it's only going to get worse. During rush hour, it's practically a parking lot. Worst part about living near L.A.
     
  25. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #25
    While urbanism may be rising, IJ, there is still a tremendous amount of the urge for "five acres, five miles from town". Unfortunate, from many standpoints.

    "Nodes" for an urban mix of multi-family residence, service business (gotta have the toilet paper) and bus/rail hubs would/could reduce the overall need for the existence of the multi-car family. Seems to me where the wise use of tax-advantage would lead to the creation of such nodes. Basically, re-create linked small towns.

    In the aggregate, the auto is a truly great people mover. A strong attraction is the independence of where and when one can go, obviously. Plus, the psychology, today, that waiting in slow traffic is better than waiting at a bus stop. It's probably gonna take a serious trend of increase in the cost of such independent travel to bring about much change in the pyschology of the majority of our population.

    One thing for which I have no answer for persuading people to make a significant change: Living on one side of the outskirts of a city and working on the other side. Or vice versa. Change jobs or move, dangit! :)

    'Rat
     

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