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Paradigm Shifting and "Sustainable" Transportation

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
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23
I haven't finished reading it yet but a truly sustainable approach would be one that reduce the need for transportation in the first place.

that's my mantra -

access not transportation.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
There's an interesting debate on urbanphoto.net about the Japanese bullet trains. Some posters feel that 350 mph trains are great, allowing for people to, say, live in Philadelphia and work in New York. Others are less sanguine about this "trend." I tend to agree with the latter (and I think you.) Access not transportation. Of course, until I give up the pipe... :)
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
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23
feeling inspired by ablarc

Interesting story on that note -

People living in Philadelphia and working in New York.

There's a park&ride in Mt. Laurel, NJ which is 5 miles east of Philadelphia. Express bus to Manhattan. A monthly pass will cost you $290

better still, I used to have one of those grueling commutes because i refused to give up my apartment 4 blocks from the beach and 2 blocks from the train. So at 7:15 when i heard the train sounding its horn as it crossed the bridge just south of me i'd sprint out my door and catch the express train at 7:17


I'd get to Newark at about 8:05 where i'd hop on the PATH to the WTC. Just as my train arrived in Newark an Amtrak train would pull up on the opposite platform. It was a clocker from Philly that left 30th St. the same time my train left the Beach.


Anyway - by the time i came out of the ground downtown it was 8:45 and by the time I got to my building, up to 38, and to my desk it was 9:00.


I was one of those people but hey, at least i wasn't driving.
Not that i had the longest commute in the office but my coworkers from Brooklyn were always telling me that I should move there and save on my commute time. My response was, "it takes you over an hour to get here - you want me to move to brooklyn, double my rent, give up the beach, etc just to save a half-hour commute time?"

I saved the half hour by switching to the ferry but it cost me an extra $150 a month. Worth it while it lasted but when i sat down to do the math the whole proposition wasn't worth my while so I quit, went back to school, and waited tables in the meantime. It was much easier on my constitution.

When you're making such a large personal investment in transportation - public or private quite often the better paying job in the city isn't making up for it. Especially when you factor your time lost commuting.
 
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Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
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2,713
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24
Re: feeling inspired by ablarc

jresta said:
.........When you're making such a large personal investment in transportation - public or private quite often the better paying job in the city isn't making up for it. Especially when you factor your time lost commuting.
Which is what a lot of people don't seem to understand about the joys of "City Life".

If my damn rent is killing me and my time gets sucked up sitting in a public transit vehicle, does the amenity of a bus or train that adds 4 additional segments of transportation nightmare to any type of movement (2 on each side of my trip), really worth the hassle?

this is a large part of the reason why the auto holds sway. Personally, I can't imagine why anyone would voluntarily spend more than 45 minutes per day in a commute (anything more than 15-20 is annoying to me). I know there are reasons but most are of necessity and not choice.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
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4,473
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25
Re: feeling inspired by ablarc

jresta said:
Interesting story on that note -

People living in Philadelphia and working in New York.

There's a park&ride in Mt. Laurel, NJ which is 5 miles east of Philadelphia. Express bus to Manhattan. A monthly pass will cost you $290B]


Thats very odd, people living in philly and commuting to ny? That sounds crazy, but not as crazy as the people who commute in california. I've heard that some people get up at 3am to start there commute to reach LA by 9am. By the time they leave work at 5pm and they commute back home, its 8 or 9 pm.

That is really insane.
 

simulcra

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
Which is what a lot of people don't seem to understand about the joys of "City Life".

If my damn rent is killing me and my time gets sucked up sitting in a public transit vehicle, does the amenity of a bus or train that adds 4 additional segments of transportation nightmare to any type of movement (2 on each side of my trip), really worth the hassle?

this is a large part of the reason why the auto holds sway. Personally, I can't imagine why anyone would voluntarily spend more than 45 minutes per day in a commute (anything more than 15-20 is annoying to me). I know there are reasons but most are of necessity and not choice.
I don't think you've been in a real commute situation. Light Rail public transit in Dallas is a god-send for many because a 45 minute commute is incredibly enviable. 15-20 minutes is unheard of (hell, it takes longer for me to drive to school, speeding).

the auto holds sway either because people don't have a choice or because public transit isn't working in that location. DART (dallas's light rail) is amazingly successful because auto isn't working. Maybe 10 years ago, people would be gleefully riding their own cars, but at the rate of suburbanization, Plano, Richardson, etc. are no longer the fringes of Dallas but now are caught midway between massive commutes and reverse commutes. People would much rather take the speedy light rail (which is, to me, surprisingly faster than chicago's red line) and spend a 45 minute commute than opt for a two hour+ traffic nightmare.

personally, though there are times when I wish public transit in Chicago was better; one thing I do miss about Dallas's "public transit" (i use the term loosely since it's so sparse) is that it was very precisely on time (atleast the light rail). i could time my watch to its arrival, whereas in chicago i need to chance timing a lot more.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
jresta's commute

jresta, that sure was an epic commute. Thanks for sharing it with us.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
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2,713
Points
24
Solipsa said:
I don't think you've been in a real commute situation. .....
Nope, your right, I avoid a commute like a plague victum with no imune system :)

I have looked at it from a number of different angles.

1st, when I go out boozing. If I want to take the blue line in, I have to take a car to the nearest park and ride (15 minutes, $1.75 to park). Ride to the the Red line switch over (30 minutes, $2). Ride blue line south to stop on Division, 15 minutes & $0). Walk to Neo (10 minutes, $0). DRINK HAVE FUN DRINK MORE GO HOME. Reverse Trip above minus parking. I just spent over 2 hours commuting to a damn bar I will spend 3 hours at. I take a car, I have half the commute for the same price in gas Including the walk to and from the car.

2nd, when traveling state to state. I travel 2k a month in just getting to and from my work home to family home. Some out there would force me to hope I can time share a vehicle that often. I am putting on 24k a year and that is not even going to a store. No amtrak service north of Milwaukee. Am I suposed to take a bus?

3rd, life situation. I could live in the city of Chicago proper, but then it would add an hour to any trip out of town one way every weekend (as aposed to 20 minutes now). The money if any I could save on rent $750 vs a lot more in the burbs, would then go to a private school to prevent the Chi public schools from getting thier hands on my kid, nothing saved there. Add to that $60 to $80 a month for an equally cumbersome commute listed per the nightlife scenario listed above.

Factor in what my time is worth (even at minimum wage) and that is a huge waste of life.

Thanks but no thanks. Public transport is not a real answere to MANY of the problems it is purported to solve. It just changes the problems. It fits a small select demographic group of people.

The only remedy to sprawl needed is to take the subsidy for NEW/ADDITIONAL road building away. Money to be spent on infrastructure upkeep. No jobs lost because emphasis switches to refinish rather than laying new. Also, lots to refurbish. States to pay for own upkeep.

I know it is NOT going to happen though :)
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
jresta said:
I haven't finished reading it yet but a truly sustainable approach would be one that reduce the need for transportation in the first place.

that's my mantra -

access not transportation.
That sums up my lifestyle: we have one car and 4 computers. My husband and I are both pursuing degrees through online degree programs and I am very conscious of the fact that we have chosen to buy additional computers for access to online degrees rather than an additional car for access to a campus.

I am home a LOT. The internet, postal service, Fed Ex, etc -- that is my "access" to the world. For me, this is a higher quality of life than being out and about all the time. But people generally look at me cross-eyed and can't imagine living the way I do.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Re: Re: feeling inspired by ablarc

If i drove that commute rather than the train I could've added an hour each way to it. I also would've been looking at $8 each way in tolls plus $20 for parking per day. Not to mention the gas and wear and tear on my car.

The ferry was obviously the more sensible option. It was a 15 minute drive and a 35 minute commute. As you can see in the picture the ferry terminal was literally across the street from my office building. But that's the market answering the demand for transportation, Wall St. traders made the demand, i just couldn't afford what they could.

As for the joys of "city life" -

NY is an extreme situation. Trains extend from Manhattan as far as 100 miles out on Long Island and into Connecticut and some 70 miles into New Jersey. Chicago is similar. But when i lived in Bradley Beach I would've never thought to go to New York to go drinking. There were plenty of places closer to home.
That's not to say i didn't go to clubs there but it wasn't often and when i did i made a day out of it.

My commute now on the worst of days is 30 minutes but rarely longer than 20. Most days it's a 10 minute commute but as of late . . . snow and bike riding in work clothes don't mix.

My rent is the same as what i paid in the suburbs (actually, it's $5 cheaper per month) and my place here is brand new(compared to my 30 yr. old place in the burbs. But even when i commuted here from NJ my train ride was only 12 minutes with a 3 block walk on either end. The longest heavy rail ride anyone in Philly could possibly have is 28 minutes. The average commuter rail ride is about the same amount of time.

Only one metro area has 21 million people, and only two others have more than 9 million. Transit in smaller cities is relatively quick even when compared to auto travel - when it exists.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
Points
23
Re: Re: feeling inspired by ablarc

Rumpy Tunanator said:
Thats very odd, people living in philly and commuting to ny? That sounds crazy, but not as crazy as the people who commute in california. I've heard that some people get up at 3am to start there commute to reach LA by 9am. By the time they leave work at 5pm and they commute back home, its 8 or 9 pm.

That is really insane.
When do they sleep?

I guess it's really not that odd when you think about it because the two city halls are only 100 miles apart and the distance between Northeast Philly and Staten Island is less than 80 miles.

The two cities have a fairly large overlap zone - especially in terms of media. That, and New York is a job magnet that keeps a lot of things from landing in Philly - especially when it comes to financial services and advertising. I think a lot of people in that industry commute for a while trying to climb the ladder a bit because they can't get in on the ground floor here.

But if you only have to go to work 4 days a week and your company is paying for your monthly pass on Amtrak, why not?

Manhattan is just such an enormous employment center that it's pull stretches into more than just Philly -
-Allentown, PA http://www.transbridgebus.com/sched_ny.htm

This one is really interesting - some of the comments about about people moving back to city in particular
http://www.poconocommuter.com/commuter/part_1.html
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Re: Re: Re: feeling inspired by ablarc

jresta said:
If i drove that commute rather than the train I could've added an hour each way to it. I also would've been looking at $8 each way in tolls plus $20 for parking per day. Not to mention the gas and wear and tear on my car.

My rent is the same as what i paid in the suburbs (actually, it's $5 cheaper per month) and my place here is brand new(compared to my 30 yr. old place in the burbs.
This is something my sister and I have discussed a fair amount. She lives in Atlanta and, at one point, she and her husband chose to live 3 miles from her husband's office. The rent was higher but the commuting costs lower and he got to be home in time to see their daughter every night. He had co-workers who sometimes did not see their kids all week if they were working late because of having a long commute out to the suburbs.

I once lived in a 50 year old duplex that was making me ill. We chose to move to a newly-built apartment complex. The rent was substantially higher but it had a gym on the premises, which allowed my husband to give up his gym membership, and... I do not remember the rest of the costs we compared. But the quantifiable costs brought the two numbers fairly close together. And then there was the cost of being sick all the time, which we could not completely predict or quantify but which clearly came with both financial costs and quality of life costs. I had an epiphany that this was costing us a lot, in ways we could not begin to measure, and it was worth the higher rent even though I probably would *never* be able to quantify, compare, and contrast this element in terms of dollars. I discussed it with my sister, who is a contracting officer by profession, and she said "that is called 'an unknown unknown' ". I made the decision to move to the pricey apartment fully confident that buying quality of life was a whole lot cheaper than buying sickness.

I also discovered when I moved from an 800 sq. ft. trailer to a 1284 sq. ft. house that the electric bill was very similar. The trailer was so poorly insulated that it cost a lot of run the air conditioner or heater, and it didn't really keep the place at a comfortable temperature. We also ate out a lot because the kitchen was nearly unusable. I think a lot of people never really look that closely at what they are spending -- and what it is really buying them.
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
Messages
916
Points
21
But ma Escalade looks so cool...

I think this paper, and transportation planners in general, underestimate what I would call the "vanity factor" in steering people to more sustainable modes of transport. I spent 9.5 years at the NJ DOT, and I'd go to the national TRB meetings where they would present these papers. I had plenty of time to read through the abstracts in the catalog. Not once do I recall reading one that evidenced a hold the private auto has on our culture. It is used as a vehicle of expressing wealth, taste, sexual desireability, power, familial status...the list goes on. Its not just something that can be argued in economic units. Sure you could save money by not having a car and taking the bus, but will you be so stylin'? Didn't some snobby, famous lady say "If you're taking the bus at 40, something gone seriously wrong."

Now what the transit agencies need to do is present transit as a way of making oneself socially desireable and hip. The car companies have known this for years. Its about time for transit to exploit it.

But in this part of the country, NJ, it seems they can't make the trains big enough, at least on the northeast corridor. They keep adding trains and more cars to the trains, but still many trains leaving Penn Station are standing room only. The system is considered at capacity. That is until the double-decker cars arrive, in 2004, I believe.
 
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