Thursday, August 11, 2016

Public Transit

Liberals/progressives worship at the altar of public transit; why should we pollute the atmosphere with our cars, their blathering goes, when we could all just take the bus?

My guess is that a large percentage of the people who say such things live in densely populated areas (think San Francisco or New York or Tokyo).  In such conditions it might very well make sense to have public transit, as it can be more economical to move large numbers of people around limited geographic areas.

But I don't want to live in rabbit hutches, stacked one on top of the other.  I don't want to share a wall (or a floor, or a ceiling) with my neighbors.  I don't want to live in artificial canyons.  I like living in the suburbs.

But the 'burbs aren't conducive to public transit.  For starters, the density of people doesn't allow for the large-scale movement of people.  Places I need to go aren't all in one "downtown", either.  The city folk can have their public transit, but the rest of us need our own cars.

Today I had to pick up a 1979 pickup I just purchased.  It was in a shop, getting some final repairs done after sitting for years and then having a new engine installed.  To get from my house to this shop in my own car would have required about 15 minutes. 

But it took a little longer than that to get there via public transit.  First, I had to walk a half mile (8 minutes) to get to the bus stop nearest my house; fortunately for me, the one bus that stops there was going the direction I needed.  I rode the bus to the light rail station, where I bought another $2.75 ticket to take me 4 stops.  A mile walk got me where I needed to go.  Total time:  1 hr, 20 minutes.

As I said:  public transit may make sense in dense urban areas, but not in the suburbs.


David said...

Why not just take an uber or lyft to the shop?

Anonymous said...

I am betting heavily that most of the people pushing public transit do not use it themselves or do not have kids (or they have nannies). Imagine the fun of picking up two kids from two different schools (30" apart), dropping them off at two different practices (20+ minutes apart) and spending the time before pick-up running errands - like getting groceries, picking up dry cleaning, mailing a package, returning/getting new library books etc. etc, etc - often accompanied by younger kids/babies (needing car seats and strollers). Between bus schedules (assume very inconvenient) and carrying groceries, cleaning, books etc etc, horrifically impractical and unpleasant is a huge understatement. It is like the people against concealed carry, but who live is safe (often gated) areas or who have armed, private security themselves.

Darren said...

David, that isn't the point. The point is that public transit isn't feasibly in anything other than sardine can living.

Pseudotsuga said...

We could all take the bus...but only if the bus took us where we wanted to go, and when we wanted to go there. Sometimes the bus does exactly that, but usually in congested city centers where liberal/progressives congregate.
Have these people tried to grocery shop using a bus, for example, trying to bring home multiple bags of groceries with maybe a kid or two?
And don't forget the subsidies involved -- no public transit runs on a profit, so the money has to come from somewhere (hello, Mr Taxman!)

Anonymous said...

My son and his friend wanted to go to grandma's on the peninsula in the bay area. I had to drop them at the train station. They took that to Emeryville. Bart to SFO. Then bus to 3/4 mile from her house. Total cost was a little over $60 each and about 4 and a half hours. An adventure yes, but no really practical.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right in that suburban layouts don't work with public transportation, and arguably, even some urban ones don't. The best example I can think of is that CA bullet train from SF to LA. Once you get down there, how will you get around???

But I do have to say that even if it's not efficient for 'burbanites, it's still necessary. What about the folks who can't afford a car? The ones who can't drive due to handicaps? The elderly? Those without licenses?

Darren said...

The necessity does it make it "convenient", as pointed out in my story.

Auntie Ann said...

My mom visited her home town of Minneapolis, and her sister-in-law wanted to show her the great light rail system. So, they took the train to the MegaMall. It would have taken about 20 minutes by car, but took them well over an hour on the train. Even the enthusiastic pro-train sister-in-law was embarrassed by the end.

Anonymous said...

Right, it's not convenient, but it still "makes sense" in the suburbs, as you posited that it does not.

Darren said...

I disagree, for the reasons I listed.

Another reason: a car will hold 4+ people for the price of 1, whereas for 4 people public transit will cost 4x as much as 1.

Mike Thiac said...


A few things things about the Houston METRO System that kinda tie into that/

1. Years ago METOR got all up about "light rail" and they spent 400 million on a 8 mile track up and down the center of the city. While destroying Main Street. And multiple small businesses. So we could transport the same people who rode the bus at multiple times the cost.

2. The most used service of METRO is the Park and Ride, where you park your car in a suburb and ride the bus to downtown where you work (I've used it when had an extra job). METRO was adamant they would push the light rail, even if it meant cursing Park and Ride service. The most used and useful service there.

3. The president of Houston METRO, as part of his compensation package, has, get it....a department issued car. Wonder why he doesn't take the bus?