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I love public transit but.........

Messages
5,353
Points
31
As inspired by Carlomarx.....I wanna hear about the 3 train wreck.

I spent most of my pre-teen and teenage years traveling to and from school on public transit. I loved it because I could do my homework before I got home or to school and I met a lot of other kids similar to me.

My worst experience on public transit was when I was 13 yrs old. It was Christmas time and I had about $20 on me, which is a fortune to kid at that age. Anyway, there were a few scam artists on the bus that were doing that nut under the cup trick. I saw this guy win extra money so I thought that I could double my earning so that I could buy more Christmas presents for my family. Lo and behold, I was robbed big time. May those creeps burn for eternity for stealing money from a child!
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
sounds like you like the transit part but don't like the public part.

I think those are called taxis.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Public transit gave me freedom to go places that I wouldn't have had if I lived in the suburbs. I got my first "cool" haircut on my first solo bus trip (awesome flat-top!) Suburban high schoolers have to be driven everywhere like babies until they're 16 and then have to do anything to get money for a car and insurance. Like most people I would take it if I worked closer to home.

But . . . buses suck for longer distances. I would take me about 1 and a half hours to take the bus to work when I can drive in 30 minutes

But . . . buses are only as fast as traffic, especially going into downtown's narrow streets. Most public transit is downtown-oriented. I now live south of the city so going anywhere other than downtown requires a time-consuming transfer.

Mid-size cities have it the worst. Real transit systems with light rail etc. would be great but the overall mass ins't there, so they're stuck with buses on clogged streets.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
So i grew up in a small town (5,000) on the jersey shore.
I don't think anyone would describe it as anything else but
suburban. At 45 miles south of New York i think it's fairly accurate.

I could ride my bike to beach in 20 minutes. I could ride to the neighboring town (12,000) to enjoy their much larger downtown in 15 minutes. I could ride to the train in 5 minutes for the one hour ride up to New York City.

Other than the train there really wasn't any transit but I still enjoyed my mobility and access to the city without having to live in it.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
39
I love public transit, but... well, we don't have any here. it may not do me a whole lot of good now, since I have the little one to take to school every day. But down the road, I would love to hop on a bus and zone out on the way to work and back.
 

bestnightmare

Cyburbian
Messages
61
Points
4
i love public transit. in fact, i depend on it. but, it's not without its share of problems. even the maddeningly sterile washington metro rail has problems sometimes....
unlike the nyc subway, each metro line has only one track in each direction for the length of the line. there are rail yards located near the end of each line, but no place to tow a broken-down train should something happen...so when a train breaks down, it causes a major delay because they are forced to 'single track' past the offending train. since the metro already strains under a normal d.c. rush hour, the crowds present when a train breaks down rival crowds for major events (i.e. forth of july) to metro's credit, these breakdowns don't occurr very often.

 

carlomarx

Cyburbian
Messages
85
Points
4
Wow. I didn't think anybody was really going to start this thread...

OK, so a group us were going on Mid-Semester break from the School for Field Studies, Center for Wildlife Management Studies in Kenya. We were leaving Nairobi to head to the coast and party like Ziggy Marley. Kenya Railways, still exhibiting British colonial panache, was to serve dinner dinner not long after we departed the Nairobi station: Oxtail soup followed by ...some other food.. I forget. But I digress.

About an hour or two into the ride, as the train passed the game ranch where we had spent the last month and a half, my friend and I were sitting on the couch in our berth, the upper bunk folded up into the wall. I think there was some talk of having a tarot session when WHAM! the train went 80kph to 0 in about a tenth of a second. We were fine, but that upper bed didn't have it so good-- it came unfastened from the wall and swung down. Now, it would have broken its hinges (giving me nowhere to sleep that night) if I hadn't been the split-second decision-maker that I am. I don't remember this, but I must have thought "my head can stop this falling bunk" and being the taller of the two I saved the bed by taking its momentum on the apex of my noggin and the base of my neck. Translated: the bed knocked me in the head.

Immediately the train bgan to warm up. All power to the cabin air-conditioning (sporadically functioning fans like those your junior high bus driver had on the visor) failed and the equatorial sun cooked us in the train.

We spent the next twelve hours dozing and playing cards, hanging out on the train, and inthe morning they got it rolling again.

Whoo... long story. Here are the mechanics of the wreck: at points, the single track becomes a double so that two trains going opposite directions can pass each other. The trick to this is that the trains have to agree to go on DIFFERENT TRACKS. A few hours before our train came to the area, two trains lacking "the social skills" faced each other on the same track. Boom. They jack-knifed and the wrecked cars spilled over onto the parallel track, upon which ran our unsuspecting train. Boom: three-train wreck.

Well, I hope I've entertained somebody. I have to get back to work.

Cheers,

c
 

sthooligan

Member
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5
Points
0
Ahh the beauty of the MBTA in Boston. While the T and busses do run, Boston can be a real headache to get around on public transportation. The T follows the classic hub and spoke system so everyone has to go in to get out. Going from Cambridge to Allston is roughly a 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive; taking the T you will average roughly 45. A circular line connecting all the lines would be great, however it seems like all the city's money is tied up in the Big Dig. Wow, my first semi-rant on cyburbia, liberating.
pl
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Wasn't there a folk song from the 1960's about a guy doomed to forever ride the MTA because he did not have a dime to get off?
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
sthooligan said:
Ahh the beauty of the MBTA in Boston. While the T and busses do run, Boston can be a real headache to get around on public transportation. The T follows the classic hub and spoke system so everyone has to go in to get out. Going from Cambridge to Allston is roughly a 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive; taking the T you will average roughly 45. A circular line connecting all the lines would be great, however it seems like all the city's money is tied up in the Big Dig. Wow, my first semi-rant on cyburbia, liberating.
pl

Is the bus system good at connecting the outlying neighborhoods?

The T is dirty, hot, ugly and crowded but I love it. I love its gritty efficiency and the cross section of people all going somewhere. I haven't heard of much crime on it either, unlike NY.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,889
Points
38
Seabishop said:
The T is dirty, hot, ugly and crowded but I love it. I love its gritty efficiency and the cross section of people all going somewhere. I haven't heard of much crime on it either, unlike NY.
I love the T. I never drive beyond Sullivan Square when I go to Beantown....I always use the T.
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
Yeah, there is some folk song about Scollay Square in Boston. It's now called Government Center and sometimes there is a subway performer down there who sings it.

The bus system does cover the suburbs and the urban areas that are not reachable or convenient via the T. sthooligan has a good example of how the T can be seen as inefficient. However - I used to live in Allston - you can take a 10 minute bus ride to anywhere in Cambridge or the other way to Brookline.

Boston's MTA does need some updating, but compared to what most US cities have, it's pretty good. NYC and DC have better systems - and maybe Chicago does, too (I've never been there) - but there are no other rivals.

The Big Dig did sop up our public works money, but it's just so damn cool. I drove through the central tunnel last week for the first time and drove over the new cable-style bridge. Pretty cool. I can't wait to see what downtown Boston will look like in 4 years when they finally dismantle the elevated highway. Of course, that's one thorny planning issue right now.....
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
The T in Boston always reminded me more of a tic-tac-toe board than of a hub and spoke system. And other than not having a connection between North and South Stations the regional rail system is pretty comprehensive.

Which is the great thing about SEPTA - all the regional rail trains pass through the same 4 stations Temple U., Market East, Suburban, and 30th St. so you can change between any of the 15 lines that serve the suburbs and outlying 'hoods in the city.

http://www.septa.org/parking_project/fullmap_septa.html
 

sthooligan

Member
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5
Points
0
Yeah the new Zakin bridge is pleasing to the eye but I think some of the design is silly. I think the tops are supposed to resemble the bunker hill monument which just seems a bit cheesy.
The busses do have good coverage and the T is safe and clean I just wish the system was a bit more extensive. The busses are very hit or miss. Sometimes you catch them and make it to where you need to go in no time. Other times it takes a bit longer...
There is also something to be said about the MBTA coverage being less than optimal in low-income areas. The recent "Silver Line" is not really all that the MBTA claims it is. Several community groups wanted a light rail system rather than a "high-speed" bus line.
pl
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
Yes, the Zakim bridge was designed to mirror the Bunker Hill Monument. I usually think things like that are cheesy, but I acutally think the bridge looks sharp, especially at night when they light it up with purple.

Here's a daytime picture if anyone's interested. I know this thread started out about safety on the subway. Sorry!

I don't know how to upload photos, but I'll give it a try:




Here's the link in case it doesn't work:
http://www.bigdig.com/thtml/f062802/img004.htm
 

LouisvilleSlugger

Cyburbian
Messages
216
Points
9
sthooligan said:
Ahh the beauty of the MBTA in Boston. While the T and busses do run, Boston can be a real headache to get around on public transportation. The T follows the classic hub and spoke system so everyone has to go in to get out. Going from Cambridge to Allston is roughly a 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive; taking the T you will average roughly 45. A circular line connecting all the lines would be great, however it seems like all the city's money is tied up in the Big Dig. Wow, my first semi-rant on cyburbia, liberating.
pl
I experienced what your talking about during my Boston days. When I lived in Salem I found it frustrating to reach the close by cities and towns that weren't between Salem and Boston. it was esier for me to go into Boston than to some of the neighborhing communities. When I lived in Boston I found the classic hub and spoke system to work towards my advantage though.
 

LouisvilleSlugger

Cyburbian
Messages
216
Points
9
Greenescapist said:
Yeah, there is some folk song about Scollay Square in Boston. It's now called Government Center and sometimes there is a subway performer down there who sings it.

The bus system does cover the suburbs and the urban areas that are not reachable or convenient via the T. sthooligan has a good example of how the T can be seen as inefficient. However - I used to live in Allston - you can take a 10 minute bus ride to anywhere in Cambridge or the other way to Brookline.

Boston's MTA does need some updating, but compared to what most US cities have, it's pretty good. NYC and DC have better systems - and maybe Chicago does, too (I've never been there) - but there are no other rivals.

The Big Dig did sop up our public works money, but it's just so damn cool. I drove through the central tunnel last week for the first time and drove over the new cable-style bridge. Pretty cool. I can't wait to see what downtown Boston will look like in 4 years when they finally dismantle the elevated highway. Of course, that's one thorny planning issue right now.....
lol. Scolley Sq. has been called Government Center for the longest.
 

green22

Cyburbian
Messages
101
Points
6
transit

The new governor of Mass. says that he was going to try to shift funding from sprawl inducing highway projects and far flung commuter rail projects to well used urban transit. The inner circle line is a high priority. Boston's inner city coverage is pretty good, but Philly is not far behind with the west side lrt routes, and subway system. Boston seems to still be expanding it's transit system however, while Philly is contracting.

New york City's transit system is no longer a dangerous system for the most part. I was a messanger there using the train at all hours, thousands of times, and never had any trouble. They have rebuilt most of the crumbling stations and cleaned up the subway cars. The new trains are bright and modern. Some lines are overcrowded. The MTA tried to solve this problem by misstating it's finances and raising the fares.
 

Jen

Cyburbian
Messages
1,704
Points
25
iBus

I used mass transit, a stinking city bus, as a teenager to get to the beach and the mall.

Today I think it is a shame that we are no closer to let someone else to do the driving. Still, American kids in the suburbs and rural suburbs are cultured to use mass transit, starting in the form of school bussing and the local subsidized on call dispatch jitneys and city busses, to then as adult individuals in the suburbs we ditch the whole idea of using public transportation because it is so easy to acquire a vehicle. SO in suburbanizing rural areas, we ususally see just the nondriving population using public transit. It is not really even touted to the driving population as an alternative to the car. Too expensive per trip for the dispatch busses, i suppose

In rural suburbanizing areas we could do a better job of encouraging that continued use of public transportation, keeping that young ridership that will grow into adulthood and want to use an express bus to the metro centers to work or shop.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
excellent point.

when i was in northern ireland working with a community group on their "rural transport scheme" they were completely beffudled by the incredible waste of us having 3 of 4 different types of transit operating in the same area.

public school buses
shuttles for seniors
shuttles for the disabled
and transit for everyone else
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
Go German

My only public transit ridership was during three years in West Germany during the late 80’s. I lived in downtown Mannheim and commuted via the Straßenbahn to the base I worked at which was located on the outer edge of the city. By the time I left Germany, I was using public transportation for about 90% of my personal transportation.

I still kept a car for mainly tourism uses. Often you could not get a train back to base from downtown late at night. This fact alone forced me to have to search for overnight lodging with the native female population more than once.

Therefore, a car was necessary when club hopping or planning day trips. If I had lived there another year I likely would have sold the car and gone native. I loved the Straß and the Fußgangerzone. I often traveled to distant cities on the train and I once took the fariy from the Netherlands to England. It's easy in Europe, but I don't see it catching on in the Midwest until we are stacked like cordwood out here.
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
I love public transit but.........

I imagine Mrs. Runner and I will always have a (singular) small car.

Which reminds me I saw a H1 driving through town last night, a quick check determined that the dork paid $75K for the thing.

My primary experience with transit was riding Boston's MBTA while growing up. If I remember correctly, the Red and Green lines. Also, in Portland (our next home) on TriMet. Travel has also included trips on the NYC and DC transit systems.
 
Messages
16
Points
1
It highly restricts life-style choices

Access to high-quality public transit means

MOVING TO A HUGE, OVERPRICED AND GENERALLY OVERCROWDED CITY :)

Paying obscene prices for housing

Now, don't get me wrong... there's nothing inherently wrong with the "City" lifestyle, but it doesn't fit raising children very well UNLESS you're very wealthy and can afford to send your kids to private schools. There's no way in h3ll I would send my children to public schools in core DC, Philly, Atlanta, LA, etc. Those places are warzones. The reasons so many people are slaved to their cars and suburbia is they don't want to deal with the mess that most central cities have evolved into. Its not for everyone. But mass transit is great if you're young, and single, or young and have no kids, or if you're DINKs and love the city.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
I have often used mass trans...but it has to be convenient. In grade school I would occasionally take the Greyhound in the afternoons to get home to the farm: the bus station was 1.5 blocks from school, and home was less than one half mile from the highway. Visiting grandparents in town, the city bus stop was one half block from their home, and a straight shot into town (before malls). My internship was downtown Atlanta: the bus was the only option. The stop was about one quater mile from the apartment, and again a straight shot to work.

Things are usually not that convenient. If I were seeking to live in an urban area today, I would demand walking distance to a transit stop.
 

japrovo

Member
Messages
103
Points
6
Re: It highly restricts life-style choices

Another Non Sequitur said:
Access to high-quality public transit means

MOVING TO A HUGE, OVERPRICED AND GENERALLY OVERCROWDED CITY :)

Paying obscene prices for housing

Now, don't get me wrong... there's nothing inherently wrong with the "City" lifestyle, but it doesn't fit raising children very well UNLESS you're very wealthy and can afford to send your kids to private schools. There's no way in h3ll I would send my children to public schools in core DC, Philly, Atlanta, LA, etc. Those places are warzones. The reasons so many people are slaved to their cars and suburbia is they don't want to deal with the mess that most central cities have evolved into. Its not for everyone. But mass transit is great if you're young, and single, or young and have no kids, or if you're DINKs and love the city.
This post makes me sad. I think you've got cause and effect backwards---which came first auto dependent suburbs or the huge, overpriced, and expensive cities you fear? I'd just as soon not raise my daughter in any of the cities you mentioned, but at the same time I'd also not want our family chained to the car in the suburbs of those cities either. I walk ten minutes to work and can pop home and see my family whenever the opportunity arises. It does involve tradeoffs that are not for everyone and may not be what we want later, but what's wrong with commuter rail, which in DC's suburbs and elsewhere should be able broaden your travel options? We all know about the Portland region's transit system and notwithstanding some recent travails the city's school system is much more solid than most---including some of the suburban jurisdictions around here. I'm not saying copy the Portland region even if you could---every place is different and has to find its own fate.---cities and suburbs together.
 

bocian

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
The T in Boston is great, but they do desperately need the Ring Line. By the way, any views on the new Silver Line? Many local folks were offended that it was not fair that a poorer neighborhood (Roxbury) only got a "busway," while wealthy Cambridge folks etc. got the Red Line and the subway.. Ha, at least everyone will get to drive in the new tunnel downtown, right? Oh, if I had it my way, I would at least bring the "A" line back to life. Connect Watertown with Brighton and Allston, the trolley tracks are still popping up and can be seen all along the old A tram route...
And one last thing, Boston will NEVER be a world-class city without 24/hours transit system. Last train leaving Alewife at 12:16 AM...? Give people a chance to DO anything wherever they do it before they have to rush to get into in an overcrowded last train... Well, you still can't beat the monthly pass' price - you know of any cheaper subway or bus passes in the city of Boston size anywhere (and the so=called "honour-systems" don't count!)??
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Re: It highly restricts life-style choices

Another Non Sequitur said:
Access to high-quality public transit means

MOVING TO A HUGE, OVERPRICED AND GENERALLY OVERCROWDED CITY :)

Paying obscene prices for housing

There's no way in h3ll I would send my children to public schools in core DC, Philly, Atlanta, LA, etc. Those places are warzones.
an expensive housing warzone.

I think that's the first planning oxymoron i've heard. I live in Central Philadelphia about a mile south of City Hall. There are no bars on my windows and certainly no sandbags at my front door.

As far as access to high quality transit - how about an overpriced suburban locale that boasts great schools and walking distance to a train (Speedline) that runs 24/7?

http://www.realtor.com/FindHome/HomeListing.asp?snum=43&frm=byzip&st=&typ=1&typ=2&typ=3&typ=4&typ=5&typ=6&poe=realtor&mnbed=0&mnbath=0&mnprice=0&mxprice=99999999&js=off&pgnum=5&fid=so&mnsqft=&mls=xmls&zp=08033&sid=010C12AC1CF4C&snumxlid=1023185721&lnksrc=00002

. . . because millionaires are always lining up to live in warzones

http://www.realtor.com/FindHome/HomeListing.asp?snum=96&frm=byzip&st=&typ=1&typ=2&typ=3&typ=4&typ=5&typ=6&poe=realtor&mnbed=0&mnbath=0&mnprice=0&mxprice=99999999&pgnum=10&fid=so&mnsqft=&mls=xmls&zp=19106&sid=010C19277795C&lnksrc=00049
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Keep in mind, though, that people buying houses like these have enough money to effectively insulate themselves from the city's ills. I highly doubt that the buyer of this townhouse will 1. have school age children; 2. send them to Philadelphia public schools if they do.

Not that I think an overpriveleged suburban childhood being ferried around from one "activity" to another (with not a moment of spare unstructured time exists) is that great either for the kids, but lets not lose sight of reality.

(And, I agree with your choice more than the "Give me guns and five acres" folks, but....)
 

Wm.J.Lufred

Member
Messages
14
Points
1
Actually, I think the places you call "war zones" are often excellent places to raise children. I happen to be raising 2 boys in DC. THree days a week me and my 3 year old son get on the bus together to go to school and work respectively. I have a good 1/2 hour to read books to him without worrying about traffic etc. On days I don't take him to school I generally ride my bike, and am even considering getting a child seat so that I can ride along Rock Creek (one of the best urban bike trails) to take him to school next year.
I hear what you're saying about public schools, and unfortunately we have to consider sending our boys to private school when the time comes, but not because the school in our neighborhood is a war zone.
We would never move to the suburbs of DC. All the people we know who live in the suburbs make so little use of the best things in DC-- free museums, green spaces, special programs.
Housing is expensive if you want to be in a decent neighborhood, but I think the price is made up for in quality of life.
It's funny to me that people who call urban areas war zones, don't tend to spend a whole lot of time there. In fact I think it's that very attitude--probably spurred by too much local news and second rate movies--that puts our best cities in jeopardy. Most of the poor air quality , traffic etc. associated with urban areas--at least in DC I would say--comes from people driving in from the suburbs. People by the way who take a lot from the city without ever having to contribute to it's maintenance or wellbeing--ie the difficulties with our school system.
It's just kind of sad that people live with such fear and dread of places that they have so little understanding of, and that really are great places to live--and could be better if we didn't have to contend with all the sprawl that has grown up around us, and all that goes with that, including really bad Virginia drivers.I think I need to be insulated more from these people than from my city.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
I know a guy who lives in a suburb of Chicago but sends his children to CPD activites. His suburb is almost nilly white, so he sends his kids to Chicago for activities because he knows his kids will come in contact with people of many different races and backgrounds in Chicago, and he believes that that experience is invaluable.

As far as schools go, I've heard enough stories (many first hand) about what goes on in those giant suburban holding tanks to take a different perspective on them.

As far as the question of "good" and "bad" schools, I'm Catholic, and I went to a Catholic high school. My home town of 160k didn't have any private college prep school but my high school was small (800 students), did reasonably well on college entrance exams, and was private, so it became the defacto college-prep school in town. At any rate, colleges generally rely on two numbers when deciding to take a student, the entrance exam score and the class rank. They don't care at all about GPA, just class rank.

I had a respectable GPA, but not for a school that turned out many Berkley, Stanford, Air Force Academy, UIUC Engineering, and Notre Dame (just naming schools from my graduating class) attendees. So my class rank (around 80%) was way below the threshold for most decent programs and I was immediently excluded. It was even slightly below the threshold for UIC Engineering, but my ACT score gave me enough buoyancy to get in.

These parents all vie for the best school for their kids, but the above is an example of why that's not always a good thing. If the kid is bright he'll be sure to find some good teachers as mentors and can excel at any school, especially with strong support from home. And I think the suburban holding tanks are going to be every bit as bad as an "inner city" school in terms of how the children treat each other, but the kid will have to deal with all of the other problems of being in suburbia as well.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
jordanb said:

These parents all vie for the best school for their kids, but the above is an example of why that's not always a good thing. If the kid is bright he'll be sure to find some good teachers as mentors and can excel at any school, especially with strong support from home. And I think the suburban holding tanks are going to be every bit as bad as an "inner city" school in terms of how the children treat each other, but the kid will have to deal with all of the other problems of being in suburbia as well.
I can't speak for every city but here the Providence school system really is bad. Its not just a perception, or racism, or bias (although decades of white flight created it). Most schools perform very poorly and violence is a problem. The school department talks big but has no money to really change things. The good kids can't learn when the teacher has to spend most of their time on discipline. Major cities will never fully rebound and attract the middle class without decent schools. The ills of the suburbs don't overide the need for a decent education.
 

Wm.J.Lufred

Member
Messages
14
Points
1
The T in Boston is great, but they do desperately need the Ring Line. By the way, any views on the new Silver Line? Many local folks were offended that it was not fair that a poorer neighborhood (Roxbury) only got a "busway," while wealthy Cambridge folks etc. got the Red Line and the subway..
In DC it's actually interesting because Georgetown (arguably the most upscale of communities in the city) fought very hard to keep Metro out of the neighborhood.
But like many other cities less convenient lines are routed through less desirable neighborhoods while the premier line (why is it always the red line?) runs through more affluent neighborhoods.
I guess Georgetown just didn't want the kind of people that needed to ride the Metro in their midst.
DC also needs to build a better commuter line and a rail system that extends to bothe Dulles and BWI airports--that is cionvenent.
Interestingly, after living in DC for about 10 years I still can't give people driving directions because I don't know which streets are one way. Bicycles don't always have to obey those rules
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
BKM said:
Keep in mind, though, that people buying houses like these have enough money to effectively insulate themselves from the city's ills. I highly doubt that the buyer of this townhouse will 1. have school age children; 2. send them to Philadelphia public schools if they do.

Not that I think an overpriveleged suburban childhood being ferried around from one "activity" to another (with not a moment of spare unstructured time exists) is that great either for the kids, but lets not lose sight of reality.

(And, I agree with your choice more than the "Give me guns and five acres" folks, but....)
Yeah, i see what your saying but that just happened to be the most expensive house in one of the most expensive neighborhoods. I was holding it up as an example. Joe Millionaire doesn't cross the street to the crackhouse selling for $15k. Properties run from the millions to $100k and everywhere in between. Houses in my neighborhood probably average around $150k with the upper end being around $220k and the lower end being about $60k. Regardless, it's unfair to characterize entire cities as warzones - and in case no one has been paying attention - all those school shootings have been happening in the bible belt, not in the big cities.

My first point there was that plenty of middle class people live in this city and plenty of them send their kids to public school. I know they're not the best. Everyone is aware of that and a lot of people take advantage of the good neighborhood public schools and send their kids to one of the Catholic High schools.

If you're living in one of the best school districts in the suburbs (and paying the mortgage and property taxes to go with it) it's cheaper to buy a house in the city for $200k, pay lower property taxes, and send your kids to private school. To say nothing of the money you would save by realigning your car situation.

My second point was that plenty of suburban places with good schools and good transit access exist.

http://www.septa.org/parking_project/fullmap.html

http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/Rail_Map_04_2003.pdf

http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/lirr/html/lirrmap.htm

http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mnr/html/mnrmap.htm

and on and on
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
I love public transit but.........

...we need a lot more of it.

But I guess that would mean less CSD and more 12+ du/acre... Shudder... it's like... un-American.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Here's a letter I just sent to our wonderful transit agency after a run in i had last weekend. A little background - our commuter rail system braches out in 13 different directions. All the lines coming into Center City converge either in North Philly or in West Philly at 30th St. Station. For example, all trains coming in from the south or west would pass through 30th St., then Suburban Station, then Market East, then Temple U., then North Philly. Trains coming from the north would pass through the same stations in the opposite order. Like all other cities in the country with a commuter rail network the system was disjointed and trains terminated at either Suburban or Market East. Ed Bacon saw to it that a tunnel was built connecting the two stations. This is an all electric system and the overhead catenary between Suburban Station and 30th St. is 80 years old. This portion of track is being shutdown on the weekends for 8 months (2 months left to go)while crews are working. The agency is also in the process of restoring Suburban Station to it's original art deco design.



"I started my trip 2 blocks from home at the Ellsworth-Federal Station. I was heading up to Suburban with my bike. I planned on taking the R6 up to East Falls and riding back along the River. I wasn't sure what time the train came and wasn't really concerned. I was just out for a ride. No train, no big deal.

I arrived at the station at 7:23. 2 minutes before the train was scheduled to leave. I picked up my bike and hurried down the stairs and headed to the appropriate track location only to find the path blocked by a construction barrier. I assumed the train must be boarding from an adjusted location. I surveyed both sides of the platform and saw plenty of trains parked but none with any passengers or crew. Just then the R6 goes whizzing by. No big deal. I can still go for a bike ride, I'll just have to pick a different route.

As I went back up to the concourse a gentleman in an orange safety vest, jeans, work boots, and holding a two-way radio (who happened to be in the vicinity on my way down) was giving someone directions. He looked to me like someone involved either with the station work or perhaps the catenary work. I mentioned to him that, "For future reference you might want to put up a sign or something letting people know that they have to board on the other side of the construction for the R6."

He replied tersely: "That's what I'm standing here for."

Slightly confused, I said, "I didn't know why you were standing there."

He counters, "Well next time don't act like you know where you're going."

I shrugged it off as just another SEPTA moment (sad in its own right) but then as I was walking away he muttered under his breath "pssh, 'for future reference'".

I turned around and said, "listen, if you're there to direct people and you see people running for a train that's about to leave all you have to do is tell them where it is."

he said, "I've got four trains leaving."

I asked, "four trains leaving in two minutes?"
(with no crew or passengers)

he ends the exchange with, "sorry I didn't see the big neon sign!"

So the obvious question is, If you need customer service work done why do you have this guy doing it?

The next question is, If you need customer service work done why have those employees outfitted like track workers?

As if it weren't bad enough that weekend service is completely disrupted (when other agencies in the area managed to keep service at 20 minute intervals during longer and more complex projects), and then made worse by the fact that instead of bridging the gap by offering free vouchers for the el (introducing suburban riders to a wonderful asset) you are using confusing shuttle buses, which is made worse again by the fact that you overlapped two major projects that make Suburban Station even more of a maze than it already is - then you try to ameliorate the situation with surly employees.

I'm quite familiar with the SEPTA system. I use it daily. I work in capital programs at the DVRPC (where you get your federal funds from) so I'm about as up-to-date as a rider can be about the system and what's going on with SEPTA. All in all it's not a very difficult system to figure out (although, your signage and graphics could use some updating.) So when you make things temporarily confusing and you need to walk people through you should do it with someone who understands the meaning of customer service rather than someone who argues with your riders over a simple suggestion.

I've always defended SEPTA despite the horror stories i've heard because I can appreciate it for what it is. Lately that's become a lot harder to do. I don't live that far from my work. It's not necessary for me to spend $70 every month. Don't make the inconvenience of your service any worse.

James Resta
Transportation Planner
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
111 South Independence Mall East
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2515
215.xxx.2940 phone
215.xxx.9125 fax
http://www.dvrpc.org
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
jresta:

How long have you been with DVRPC? I applied for a job there last year but, alas, they just didn't want me.

I read somewhere that the Gov. said that he wouldn't give anymore funds to public transportation this year (something we really neeed out here) b/c of some beef he has with SEPTA. Do you know what any of that's about?
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
biscuit said:
jresta:

How long have you been with DVRPC? I applied for a job there last year but, alas, they just didn't want me.

I read somewhere that the Gov. said that he wouldn't give anymore funds to public transportation this year (something we really neeed out here) b/c of some beef he has with SEPTA. Do you know what any of that's about?
The best part about that is they don't even send a reply. Not even some canned "thank you for your comments".

I'm going on two years here. I did a 6 month gig in Chester but it was making me consider a swan dive off of the Commodore Barry so when this position was advertised I jumped at that instead. Before that I was in Camden which was frustrating in its own way but not nearly as bleak and depressing as Chester.
I'm getting awfully used to these offices with a view of the river.

They were actually just hiring two planners in the regional planning department. I don't know if you checked that out or not. I think they might be closed now. Do you live in the area?

I don't think there's anyone who lives in SEPTA's service area that doesn't have a problem with them. Rendell tried one of these fancy Sun-Tsu moves with the budget but shot himself in the foot because the Republicans passed it. It had ZERO funding for transit. Oops!

Now PA just got a $900 million windfall from the feds and they're divvying up the pie but it doesn't look like transit is going to see much of it.

To SEPTA's credit their state funding is about 10 years behind inflation. That doesn't excuse bus seats soaked with urine, buses that disappear from the schedule, drivers who park in the bus lane and don't get ticketed/towed, and people who devour a bucket of chicken wings and toss the bones on the floor under the watchful eye of a transit cop.

I actually just found out that several people (all transit advocates) have tried to fill vacancies on the citizen's advisory board but were all rejected by the mayor's office.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Fox Lake is about an hour from my house, and the closest point at which I can catch a train into Chicago. You would think Metra would attempt to accomodate people like me by, perhaps, providing adequate parking. No. Hey, if you want people to use transit, make it possible for them. Sorry, just had to rant a bit.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Metra spends a very sigificant amount of its capital budget building parking, 11.5 million dollars a year, in fact. They're building parking spaces as quickly as they can.

Quite frankly, I think people need to move closer to the station.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
jordanb said:
Quite frankly, I think people need to move closer to the station.
That's a nice thought, but really not practical. I am glad to hear they are building more parking.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Actually the crux of the Metropolis 2020 plan was to get greater density near metra stations to allow just that. It looks like that plan is DOA though because the suburban mayors are too worried about protecting their little fiefdoms.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
jresta said:
I'm getting awfully used to these offices with a view of the river

They were actually just hiring two planners in the regional planning department. I don't know if you checked that out or not. I think they might be closed now. Do you live in the area?
Must be nice having an office view of the river. I have a wonderview of a parking lot, a parkway on-ramp and the county jail...scenic.

I believe that I applied for one of the regional planning positions. I can't believe it took so long to fill the vacancies. Wait, yes I can if DRVRPC is anything like our RPC. As for where I'm at... I am currently employed and living it up in Pittsburgh.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
biscuit said:
Must be nice having an office view of the river. I have a wonderview of a parking lot, a parkway on-ramp and the county jail...scenic.

I believe that I applied for one of the regional planning positions. I can't believe it took so long to fill the vacancies. Wait, yes I can if DRVRPC is anything like our RPC. As for where I'm at... I am currently employed and living it up in Pittsburgh.
Those jobs just opened up a few weeks ago. We have about 120 people here so, even though our turn-over is low we still have a openings a few times a year.

We've also been having a lot of retirements lately so as everyone moves up the ladder to fill the retirement vacancies the positions wind up opening at the entry level, so we keep filling the same positions over and over.

Well, there is a fairly tight network of planners here so finding a job isn't difficult if you're looking to move to Philly.

Good luck.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
Thanks. I started at this job only three months ago and a majority of the people who work here are at, near or beyond retirement age so my chances of moving up the ladder fairly quickly are pretty good. However,it's good to know I've got a contact should I ever decide to try living in Philly.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
I love public transit... MetroNorth Hudson Line... 45 minutes to Grand Central Station!!.....(New York) I live 2 miles from the train.

I spent a week "commuting" to NYC for the APA National Convention a few years back...was fun. Better than driving....that's for sure.

although...don't like the bus... takes 1.5 hours to get from home to White Plains.. but is cheaper than driving and parking...thank goodness I car pool and get dropped of at work!!!
 

njm

Cyburbian
Messages
323
Points
11
Resurrecting an ancient thread...

What was said about middle-size cities is so very true. I'm a member of the Rochester area bus service's customer advisory committee. The number of people who complain about having to go into the city to make a 'lateral' movement within the suburbs is staggering. Unfortunately the ridership just isn't there--the line I ride to work (from the city out to one of the 'burbs) barely has enough riders to justify it in my opinion. But I won't say that lest I lose it and am forced to drive. I just wonder what it will take (within reason, of course) to get more people within the suburbs to see it as a viable option?
 
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