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Thread: Subway question

  1. #1

    Subway question

    How big of a city is generally required for some sort of subway system? Also, I'm an exchange student in Japan right now, and their mass transit is wonderful and all, but it only runs until shortly after midnight. Is that the norm for large cities or is Japan just socially, uh, retarded?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Subways usually require a large city (1-2 million or more?). Then there are logistical issues, terrain, water table (no subways in New Orleans), population densities, locations of employment and other issues. From what I have seen, most transit systems shut down around midnight, or run very sporadic service. There just are not enough customers to justify the cost of operating. The big need is still during times when people are commuting to and from work. Since most shifts begin/end around 7-9 am and 9-11 pm....

    Of course, no city should be without a monorail.

  3. #3
    What about the notion that subway can help to move towards higher density development, is there any truth to that?

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by Quail64
    What about the notion that subway can help to move towards higher density development, is there any truth to that?
    Only if there's a growing demand for office and/or residential space, and little land to accomodate it. Buffalo's subway attracted very little high-density development. In fact, a drive-through freestanding McDonalds began construction next to one station after the subway first opened.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    So I guess the best way to really get one going is to have a joint effort between the city, developers, and clients--where the city says "We'll build this subway if the developers build denser projects around the stops" and the clients say "We'll move in if the city builds the subway." The developer comes of with some bucks, the clients have a bunch of cool new stuff and the city is moving foward to a brighter future. sweeet....

  6. #6
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    Buffalo's system is a short 1 line lrt system which runs downtown in traffic like a trolley. I don't think this act alone can make up for the many freeways and auto dependent transportaion planning of the last xx years. Mcdonald's agreed, and ignored the line. Places which traditionally had more extensive subway vs freeway systems have more riders. Places with newer lines like Buffalo, Los Angeles and Baltimeore have to work harder if they're trying to even out the system. Density and concentration of jobs alone won't ensure transit use if the city is designed for easy car use. Walmarts, Ikeas and office parks are car, not pedestrian friendly. Only those without choice would take transit to these locations. Some transit is designed mainly for commuting to park and ride lots, which is more expensive and inneficient. Instead of having revenue producing valuable land around stations which will encourage more riders. In this system it is necessary to build subsidized parking lots for picky customers who decide to take the train that day. Also, having all of the trains and drivers go one way in the morning and then sit idle until the rush hour , creates the need for idle workers and trains. Although the tickets for these commuter trains cost more than for conventional transit, they pay a smaller part of their subsidized ride, especially when combined with park and rides. The price of gas, availability of parking and road space, and commuting patterns all play a major role in the attractiveness of transit. Detroit might be a huge city with huge office density downtown, (Rennaissance etc), but I'm sure there is some less dense town of 20,000 out there in Japan or Europe that would use their monorail 10x as much, based largely on less car friendly land use policies.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    In DC the Metro runs till midnight on week nights and 2 am or so on weekends. Great system that will HOPEFULY be expanded in the next 15 or so years.

    PG
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

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    maudit anglais
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    Like Michael said, I don't think there are any hard and fast rules about subways and cities. Typically though, I don't think you'll find a proper subway in any city with less than a million residents. You really need a critical mass of density, plus a good mode split to transit.

    I think Toronto's subway runs 'til about 1 or 2 a.m. I think New York may be the only city with a 24 hour subway service.

  9. #9
    If you want to run a subway in your City it needs a very large population and should be a 24 hour City. I dont know of any metro areas with populations less than 6 million where subways are the preferred transit mode. The City must be a 24 hour City where the graveyard shift, around the clock entertainment, and many night owls will justify the extended hours past midnight to service this segment of the ridership. In other words think in terms of mega cities such as New York. The expense of this endeavor, the fixed route nature of a subway, and the environmental factors make it an option for only large metopolitan areas that have a very mature built environment.

  10. #10
    I would place density as the most important factor in supporting a subway system.

  11. #11
         
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    Originally posted by Tranplanner
    Like Michael said, I don't think there are any hard and fast rules about subways and cities. Typically though, I don't think you'll find a proper subway in any city with less than a million residents. You really need a critical mass of density, plus a good mode split to transit.

    I think Toronto's subway runs 'til about 1 or 2 a.m. I think New York may be the only city with a 24 hour subway service.
    I can't recall for certain, but I think the Underground in London also runs late into the night. Marvelous system there, and some stations dating back to the Victorian era (with various states of preservation).

    Cincinnati is a good case study right now for large-scale transit system planning problems. A sales tax increase was recently defeated by the voters which would have funded a MUCH needed regional light-rail system. I know we're talking subways in this string, But my point is that public opinion and funding are perhaps even more important than any physical constraints for developing a mass transit system.

    Useless trivia item here: Cincinnati also has a mile or so of tubes from a subway project which was abandoned in the 1920s. http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/ for more info.

  12. #12
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    subway

    Unfortunately the london tube stops early, around 12:30. I haven't heard any plans to extend service, they do have 24 hour bus service.

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