Killing Public Transit

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Killing Public Transit
Posted by Paul of Covington on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 7:49 PM

   I saw this a little over a week ago, and was going to present it, but I thought it might be considered too political.   I decided to go ahead and present it since it isn't pro or con any party, and I'm a great believer in public transit.

https://www.bing.com/news/search?q=Koch+Brothers+And+Nashville+Transit+Plan&qpvt=koch+brothers+and+nashville+transit +plan&FORM=EWRE

   NORTA (New Orleans) recently completed an approximately 500 foot extension of the Canal Street streetcar line to provide an easy transfer of passengers to several bus lines.   They had been trying to do this for many years but ran into stiff opposition.    About five years ago they published the minutes of a public meeting in which one person after another voiced his/her objections.   It seemed to me that the resistance was well organized.   Each speaker voiced concerns for safety (No details about what was so unsafe--at that time riders had to cross six lanes of heavy traffic to transfer.), and what struck me was that they all used almost identical wording in their objections.   I don't know if this was a case like the ones in the link, but I'm wondering.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 6:51 AM

The search parameters are overly specific and seem to be looking for items that make opponents of public transit look like evil incarnate.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by narig01 on Thursday, July 12, 2018 12:10 PM

What I can not understand is the Koch brothers motivation for their opposition to public transit spending. Is it a general opposition to public transport, higher taxes, or the simple greed of opposing anything that threatens their source of wealth(the reduction of the use of oil based transport). 

     The article shows how the Kochs achieved their goal, to prevent the expansion of transit. Not does it say what alternatives were proposed. A vague reference to Uber. 

      One thing is the Koch brothers are indeed the favorite bogeyman of progressives. I dislike the demonization of people. Looking at their history is interesting(their father was one of the founders of the John Birch Society).

       

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Posted by alphas on Thursday, July 12, 2018 1:27 PM

The Koch Brothers are a rallying cry on the Left.     So anything that their name is connected with no matter how small their involvment will always be blamed for whenever the Left doesn't get their way.   

Public Transit is a political animal today now that private ownership of it is gone.    It has had its ups and downs in my home area and without state and federal government grants it would be quickly gone.    No way the local voters around here would go for a sizable tax increase to keep it going or expand it.         

Having said all of this, I personally believe George Soros is currently the most powerful unelected person this country has seen since the days of JP Morgan.     I say that because both of them had tremendous influence on a political party and both basically picked a president they wanted. 

  

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Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, July 12, 2018 5:11 PM
The percentage of Americans that us public transit to commute has been relatively small and has remained so for a long period.  Overall, approximately five percent of workers use it to get to and from work.  Of course, the percentage is higher in heavily populated urban areas.
 
Most of the middle-class people I have known outside of NYC, i.e. Hartford, Melbourne, Dallas, El Paso, Austin, and Brownsville will not use public transit.  They prefer the comfort, privacy, convenience, flexibility, and reliability of their personal vehicle.  They are willing to pay more for their private ride, and they accept the slightly greater risks of driving.
 
I have ridden public transit since I was five or six years old.  I still ride it when I am in Dallas, San Diego, NYC, etc.  But I have had some really bad experiences on public transit. 
 
Last week I took the DART Light Rail from Mockingbird Station to downtown Dallas.  After sitting down, I noticed a puddle on the floor across the aisle.  What is that, I ask a fellow passenger.  Turns out another passenger had peed on the floor.  It is not the first time that I have seen this sort of thing.
 
Two weeks ago, I was in San Diego.  I rode the trolley from the Old Town Transit Center to Hazard Center, which is a small shopping area in Mission Valley.  A guy that appeared to be de-ranged scared the hell out of some of us.  We called the police but decided to get off before our intended destination.  Whether the cops showed up is unknown.  Riding with someone who appeared to have serious mental issues is not fun.   
 
These incidents illustrate why most of the people I know, that have better options, will not use public transit.  It is not the Koch Brothers that are the real threat to public transit.  It is the nature of the beast.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, July 13, 2018 2:06 AM

PJST:  What per-cent overall of the number of times you've ridden public transit have you experienced this sort of discomfort?   And what per-cent of the times you have driven or ridden in a car and observed a very unfortuate incident or its aftermath even when not affecting directly the car you are using?

I drove cars 1954-1995, up to one year before moving to Israel.  At 85, I know my reaction time is not good enough for me to consider driving.  So I use public transiit.  Public transit in Israel, while not perfect by any means, is far more universal that in the USA, which gives Senior Citizens like me the ability to access the entire country.  I began using public transit, by myself, at age 8 in New York City and made my first solo intercity train trip, Washington, DC - Charlottesville, VA, at age ten.  (A Mr. Eppler, a German Jewish refugee living in the basement apartment of my family's W. 85th St. Brownstone, had ridden with me NY - Washington.)  In addition to NYC and its suburbs, rode public transit in New Haven, Providence, Boston, Concord,NH, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnepeg, Seattle, Portland, OR, Sacramento, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Denver, Colorado Springs, Milwaukee, Chicago, South Bend, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, New Orleans, Shreveport, Atlanta, Charlottesville, Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, Wilmingtonl, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Philadelphia, London, Paris, Berlin, Heidelburg, Franfort, Genevea, Zurich, Bern, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Porto, Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam, Brussels, Ostend, Charlevoi, Gent, Antwerp, Jacksolnville, Orlando, and of course, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Kiryat Shemona, and I'd say less than one per=cent of the rdies had the kind of incident you describe.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Friday, July 13, 2018 5:06 AM

alphas
  

Public Transit is a political animal today now that private ownership of it is gone.    It has had its ups and downs in my home area and without state and federal government grants it would be quickly gone.    No way the local voters around here would go for a sizable tax increase to keep it going or expand it.          

You might be surprised.  Voters here voted for a sales tax increase to support increased public transit.  That tax then survived another ballot when the NIMBYs tried to get it repealed.

Now those same voters have voted out two politicians and keep filing law suites to stop the state's sudden fascination with building toll roads.

Dave

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Posted by PJS1 on Friday, July 13, 2018 9:19 AM

daveklepper

PJST:  What per-cent overall of the number of times you've ridden public transit have you experienced this sort of discomfort? 

The percentage of incidents is not what most people factor into their perceptions.  One bad incident leaves an inflated, indelible negative impression on most people.  And it is this impression that the people I know have about public transit in the United States that is the killer. 
 
For all the money that has been invested in public transit in the U.S. over the past couple of decades, the results have not been overwhelming.  For example, DART invested more than $6.6 billion in its light rail system.  Yet it only recovers 16.1 percent of its operating budget from the farebox.  It relies relies heavily on sales and other tax revenues to cover most of its operating expenses. 
 
For all of its claimed virtues, DART ridership has been falling even though the population of the DFW Metroplex has increased significantly.  Ridership on the light rail system, which is supposedly the Queen Jewel of the system, was down 2.3 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.  The 2017 numbers have yet to be published.
 
I have been a strong supporter of public transit.  I have used it for years, which is probably more than many of the people who extroll its virtues but seldom use it can say.  But I have come to believe that attempting to force people onto public transit in the United States has been a costly mistake in many instances. 

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Posted by 54light15 on Friday, July 13, 2018 3:03 PM

I think that most people will support mass transit but for people other than themselves. A person riding mass transit is one less car on the road which makes room for more cars. I really don't know what the answer is, but a city like Toronto or New York or London would not work without transit. 

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Posted by alphas on Friday, July 13, 2018 5:22 PM

There are 6 different local governments in our transit system.    They would have to all agree for a tax hike to take place.    5 of the 6 only get  service in small corridor areas.     There's no way there would be an agreed upon tax increase despite what happened in another place in the US.    

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Friday, July 13, 2018 11:10 PM

54light15

I think that most people will support mass transit but for people other than themselves. A person riding mass transit is one less car on the road which makes room for more cars. I really don't know what the answer is, but a city like Toronto or New York or London would not work without transit. 

   That was my thinking exactly during the 14 years before I retired.   I drove 48 miles to work in New Orleans, and although there was a van pool available right to where I worked, I was required to have a car available and sometimes had to work overtime with no advance notice.  Although I couldn't use it, I figured a good transit service could take some of the traffic off the roads.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 15, 2018 6:54 AM

And outside of New York and possilby Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston, that is the main reason for the expansion of public transit, including DART.

Apologies for leaving out Belgrade and Bucharest for use of public transit systems.

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Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, July 15, 2018 1:33 PM

daveklepper

And outside of New York and possilby Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston, that is the main reason for the expansion of public transit, including DART. 

DART probably has taken few cars off the roads.  Many if not most of the light rail users, as well as the express bus riders, drive to Park N Ride lots, where they get the train or bus.  So, while they may not be driving as far as they would have driven before the implementation of light rail and express buses, they still drive at least part way to get to work. 

For a substantial number of DART's riders, taking the bus or train has had no impact on the number of cars on the road.  They are too poor to own a car.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22.9 percent of the people in Dallas live below the poverty line.  

Unlike the major northeast and upper Midwest cities in the U.S., which tended to expand along existing rail lines, the cities in the south and southwest developed along highways.  Moreover, most of them have multiple employment areas, which means that only a small percentage of the commuters are going downtown.  This is one reason why only 1.6 percent of the people in the DFW Metroplex used public transit.    

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Monday, July 16, 2018 12:53 PM

In most of rural America there is a need for some sort of Dial A ride bus system. Iowa has a decent system that hits most of the rural communities. Rode a bus from Mason City IA to Clear Lake for 3.00. see-https://iowadot.gov/transit/iowa-transit-services/transit-agency-maps-and-listings

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 3:19 AM

1. DART has taken cars off THE MOST CONGESTED roads.  The fact that car owners still use their cars to access DART doesn't change the fact that if it were not for DART, driving into Dallas during rush hours would be far more fretfull.

2.  I doubt from others' observations that most people that ride DART are too poor to own cars.  PoorER people are served by a second-hand car market and by sharing.  But if it were not for DART, possibly some poor people would be even poorer by finding difficulty in commuting to the jobs they have.

3.  Off this Forum, former colleagues in the Dallas area have nothing but good things to say about DART.

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Posted by Kiwigerd on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 6:22 AM

I would like to support Mr. Klepper's view. I am living outside of Vienna, Austria, a city where a good part of its workforce is commuting into the city on a daily basis. Some people are actually commuting more than 50 miles per way. Of these 400000 or so people, two thirds use a private vvehicle, one third is using public transport in form of suburban trains, long distance trains or busses, some of them express. Either way it is very costly, if one goes by car all the way has to meet very high car park fees, going by rail isn't exactly cheap either. But, the closer you come towards the city the more options are available (some underground or metro lines reach the city limits, also trams and city bus routes) the more you see people using it. After all, an annual concession card costs just 1 Euro ($1.15) a day. The network is very dense and the leeway between trains or trams are between 3 and 7 minutes. So they can rightly claim that more than 40% of commuting traffic is using public transport and it covers a high proportion (nearly 50%) of the operating costs. This are the hard facts, the soft facts are that one can use the system safely and relatively comfortable beween 5.30 a.m. and 1 a.m. There is a smoking ban, alcohol ban, ice cream ban in force and now the consumation of intensive smelling food will be prohibited soon, based on a public poll amongst the ridership. 

Now my point is: if a community is large enough and willing to invest into infrastructure, comfort and safety their systems will be used by the masses.

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Posted by PJS1 on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 8:51 AM

daveklepper

1. DART has taken cars off THE MOST CONGESTED roads.  The fact that car owners still use their cars to access DART doesn't change the fact that if it were not for DART, driving into Dallas during rush hours would be far more fretfull.

2.  I doubt from others' observations that most people that ride DART are too poor to own cars.  PoorER people are served by a second-hand car market and by sharing.  But if it were not for DART, possibly some poor people would be even poorer by finding difficulty in commuting to the jobs they have.

3.  Off this Forum, former colleagues in the Dallas area have nothing but good things to say about DART. 

The numbers regarding the percentage of people that use DART on a daily, weekly, and annual basis can be found in the DART 2017 Reference Book.  The 2018 book has not been released.

A transportation consultant probably has good things to say about DART, especially if he had a vested interest in it.  Whether he is a regular user would help with the creditability. 

DART spent more than $6 billion of the taxpayer's monies to build the light rail system.  It has many positives.  But this does not change the fact that most people in the Metroplex don't use it, even in light of the fact that the typical rider in 2016 got a $4.55 subsidy per ride. 

DFW has 34 major employment centers.  Only two of them are downtown Dallas or Fort Worth.  Far more people work in outlying employment centers that are scattered all over the Metroplex.  This is a major reason why public transit in DFW draws less than two percent of the population.

So, back to my original point.  It is not the Koch brothers that are killing public transit in the U.S.  It is the nature of the beast.  Most people don't want it.  Especially when  they have to wait for the next train or bus in 102-degree heat, which is the 5 pm forecast for today in Dallas.   

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Posted by PJS1 on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 5:04 PM

According to the July 17th edition of the Dallas Morning News, Dallas is among the top five cities in the United State for reverse commutes.  The article claims that more than half of Dallas's highly educated workforce living the urban lifestyle commute to jobs in the suburbs.  

Many millennials live close to Dallas City Center because it is the cool thing to do.  But they work in the suburbs because that is where many of the jobs are located.  Toyota, State Farm Insurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance, TD Ameritrade, and JPMorgan Chase have open new facilities in the suburbs or expanded existing ones.  Most of them are not convenient for public transit users.  

I suspect this phenomenon was not even on the DART planner's radar scopes when they put together the light rail plan.  This is one of the problems with rail.  Once it is down it is hard to adjust to shifting employment, residential, and commute patterns. 

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 6:28 PM

Dallas had less people then Buffalo Ny in 1960...and by no means was a big city in 1970 about the size of Baltimore MD. This boom went out of control in t he 1980s

HISTORIC POPULATION (CENSUS BUREAU)
County Population
Census 1970: 1,327,321
Census 1960: 951,527
Census 1950: 614,799
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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 2:31 AM

Excuse me, but my profession was not basically that of a transportation consultant, and I rarely had the opportunity in the USA to perform that function, except as recommending public address and acoustical absorption material for stations and railcars.  The people who tell me of the great benefits of DART are fellow acoustical consultants who understand that congested roads would be far more congested without DART.

I was a reverse-commuter with an apartment in Manhattan and an office in White Plains, for 25 years, via the subway and PC/Conrail/Metro North, 1971-1996.

The purp;ose of public transit in not "to get cars off the roads,  It is to get cars off congested roads.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 9:42 PM

PJS1

For a substantial number of DART's riders, taking the bus or train has had no impact on the number of cars on the road.  They are too poor to own a car.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22.9 percent of the people in Dallas live below the poverty line. 

Another reason public transit is necessary!

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 9:47 PM

PJS1
daveklepper

PJST:  What per-cent overall of the number of times you've ridden public transit have you experienced this sort of discomfort? 

The percentage of incidents is not what most people factor into their perceptions.  One bad incident leaves an inflated, indelible negative impression on most people.  And it is this impression that the people I know have about public transit in the United States that is the killer.

I imagine this is the impression of public transit that many people have:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL5l3k7vBsk

Unfortunately it is not entirely undeserved, I too have had my share of bad experiences while riding buses or the LRT in Edmonton and Calgary.  But a regular transit user knows that the majority of trips go normally.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, July 19, 2018 4:44 AM

Here is some speculative math, fomr what I remember from calculaations performed years ago and just a rough estimate of the Dallas area population that is the basis of the 2% using DART statement.  Say the overall population is 10,000,000.  2% means 200,000 people a day us DART.  To quote my MIT classmate Marty Whole in a textbook he co-authored:  "Investing in public transit does not make sense, because it does not pay for itself from the farebox."  But, indeed, it does make sense if the addiitonal land for essential roads without subsidized public transportation convert huge areas of poductive agricultural, residential, business, and factory land into highway lanes.  Now, what I remember from old calculatons is that transporting commuters by light rail makes economic sense as compared to buses on highways or buses on dedicated roads when pasenger count is highter than 25,000/day.  This assumes no extensive tunnels, or if extensive tunnels or subways are included, there is ample compensation in use of exising railroad rights-of-way and even track.

200,000 people a day means 400,000 trips per day.  Divide that by the number of lines the Dart has and we probably exceed the 25,000 figures.  So DART is more efficient than a bus system for the same number of riders.

Why is light rail more efficent economically when installation costs far far more than a bus system?  Because one operator can be responsible for three, four, or five times as many passengers.  Becuase the vehicles last twice as long.  Because they require one-quarter the maintenance.

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Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, July 19, 2018 1:28 PM

SD70Dude
PJS1 For a substantial number of DART's riders, taking the bus or train has had no impact on the number of cars on the road.  They are too poor to own a car.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22.9 percent of the people in Dallas live below the poverty line.  

Another reason public transit is necessary! 

True.  I am not arguing against public transit.  I rode a subway, bus, or streetcar to and from work for more than 40 years.  But I was a rarity among my middle-class peers.  Especially in Dallas! 
 
Most people in Dallas, as well as throughout Texas, who can afford a car prefer to drive as opposed to ride public transit.  The numbers make it perfectly clear, even in communities like Dallas, which has the largest light rail system in North America.  
 
If one wants a realistic glimpse of DART, he needs to ride the system at many different times during the day and the night over a year.  Not just to the State Fair of Texas or the American Airlines Arena! 

Observe your fellow passengers!  And look out the window at the cars on I-35 or U.S. 75.  Observe the empty spaces in the DART parking lots.  Then get a copy of the DART Reference Book and look up the numbers. 

For all of the money spent on the light rail system in Dallas, it carries a very small percentage of the people in the Metroplex; it even carries a relatively small percentage of the people in the communities directly served by the system.  Was it a good investment?  It seemed like it at the time; in retrospect there may have been better options.  But it is what it is!

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Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, July 19, 2018 1:56 PM

SD70Dude
 But a regular transit user knows that the majority of trips go normally. 

Agree, most transit trips are uneventful.  So too are most auto, plane, train, etc. trips. 

But a bad image of public transit is one of many factors that have turned most people in Texas away from it.  Or at least those that have an option.  And this leads me back to the key point I tried to make earlier. 

It is not the Koch brothers that are killing public transit in the U.S.  It is the nature of the ride.

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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