Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I'm sorry if this seems a little (or more than a little) scatterbrained.

Not at all; it's excellent.

I'm utterly convinced that we inhabitants of the USA must -- must -- cut down on driving, right away, immediately, now... and it's far too late for voluntary measures.

We need either gasoline rationing, or heavy gasoline taxes above some level of usage per person (with negotiable ration coupons, I think), or... well, write down your best idea on how to limit private driving.

We need subsidized public transportation, plausibly supported by gasoline taxes, especially short-distance intra-urban vehicles such as jitneys or small buses. These should pervade the urban area so that no one has to walk more than two or three blocks from home to get into a jitney. Some of the jitneys should deliver people directly to their destinations rather than running over a fixed route. Computer routing, recalculated whenever a new passenger states a destination or a new pickup comes in from the dispatcher, should greatly help to speed the trips. Live traffic reports must be funneled into the routing system (this feature is not optional, and will require new, funded traffic reporting).

And that is just the beginning. Next come mandatory measures pertaining to winter heating in cold climates, airline transportation, railroad shipping instead of trucking where possible, and... well, you get the idea. It's way past time to get serious about all this.

by Ralph on Tue Jul 8th, 2008 at 12:00:15 PM EST
... rail infrastructure in place, and bankruptcy court will see to it that the less efficient system of using long haul trucks will bite the dust.

That is, after all, a big reason why that rail infrastructure is not being put into place right now by the federal government. Lot more campaign contributions in trucking than there is in rail.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 8th, 2008 at 10:32:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine matching electrified rail for long distance travel with plug in hybrid trucks for local delivery.

The distribution issues that occur with regular auto traffic aren't as big when you have the limited distribution network that trucing requires.  Let alone for short distance deliveries.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Jul 8th, 2008 at 10:47:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't need on-the-fly re-routing (and I think it'd be a royal pain to implement). Just take a look at how Berlin does their subway. I'll admit that I've only used it as a tourist, not a commuter, but I don't think I've ever had to walk more than two blocks in downtown berlin to find a subway station, and I don't think I ever had to change lines more than twice to get from point A to point B. And they run all the time, at least during the day. Needless to say, travel times are very manageable.

Or even how Göteborg does its tram lines. I've used those as a commuter and damn they are good. Cover everything they need to cover, the trams run all the time in the daytime and every hour or half-hour during the night (depending on how far into the suburbs you need to go). Car? Pffft. Bus? Yeah, it's there - and the coverage is very good, actually, but it's not like you need it.

And it's not like Göteborg is a big city - about half a million people in a semicircle with a 20 km radius or thereabout. Half the area of Denmark has that kind of population density. We could cover somewhere between two thirds and three quarters of our population with light rail service to their local city/high-speed rail hub.

A little intelligent planning and a big check to a couple of German train factories and we could cut our personal car fleet by at least 50 %...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:21:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The importance of continuous service must be underscored. In an urban environment, people should not feel the need for a car ; that requires evening and night service. Even if they are less frequent, or of a different kind. For example the Paris metro shuts at night, but this is compensated by a night bus service, the Velibs, and taxis... Whereas in many provincial towns, going out for the evening means needing a car. And once it's there, it begs to be used...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 03:26:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that a ubiquitous and continuously running subway would be better than jitneys for most purposes. But we don't have that kind of time.

We will have to build the subway (or other light rail) at the same time as we are deploying jitneys and banning non-commercial vehicles from the city centers. Eventually most of the jitneys move out to the area beyond the light rail lines... assuming we ever get those lines built.

Transportation fuel has become a major near-term crisis for the whole world. The longer we wait, the worse things are going to get. At this point we no longer have the luxury of letting some envisioned optimal solution prevent the quick implementation of some kind of working system.

We no longer have a choice.

by Ralph on Thu Jul 17th, 2008 at 12:05:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Come, now, it doesn't take that long to slap together a sensible light rail system. But FWIW, if you want an over-the-counter solution, you could just levy a prohibitive congestion charge on cars going into the city and equally prohibitive parking fees on cars staying in the city overnight and then increase the bus coverage to compensate (I assume you have a more or less working bus network that can be easily expanded). Flourishes and details such as an exemption for trucks delivering goods (or centralised logistics and delivery system, if that would work better in your city) might be applied as needed. Then migrate from bus to subway and light rail as you go along.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jul 17th, 2008 at 04:50:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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