The Public Transport Revolution – Why does it never Arrive?

auckland-train.jpg

Since the oil spike in the early seventies, enthusiasts for public transport have predicted that high prices for petrol would trigger a public transport revolution as people finally broke their “addiction” to the motor car and changed their travel mode to buses and trains.

Since then, price bubbles have increased public transport use, and lowered car miles traveled. But these changes have proved to be short-lived. More drive more.

Yet standard theory says that people respond to prices. Surely people should respond to increased petrol prices by changing their mode of travel.  But why hasn’t it happened in the past? More importantly, will it magically happen in the future?

The answer is that most drivers do respond to increased oil prices but they have many choices as to how to respond..  You may switch to public transport provided it takes you where you want to go at a reasonable price. The problem is that part of the “reasonable price” includes the price of the increased time it takes to get to the final destination. Also, surveys reveal that when people climb into their car at the end of the day they feel they have actually arrived at “home.” Bus and train travel significantly defers their arrival in their own private space.

So, given time, people change their behaviour in many ways, so as to maintain the comfort, convenience, and overall efficiency of the car. For example:

  1. They may decide to buy a smaller or more fuel-efficient car.
  2. They may relocate either their home or their job to reduce travel costs and times – provided the land market is flexible.
  3. If the local land-market is inflexible they may move to another town, or another country.
  4. They may modify all their travel behaviour by better trip planning, commuter car-pooling (with prioritized parking) and general ride and task sharing.
  5. They may choose to telecommute, car-pool, park-share, and ride-share.

Fuel costs are only a small component of total motoring costs. Cars today are lasting longer, are more reliable, are cheaper to run, and are kept in use longer. When oil was cheaper total costs of motoring were higher. That’s one reason why we are driving more.

Sudden spikes in petrol prices do affect the transportation modal split, but these spikes carry less significance than media reports would suggest, and tend to be of much shorter duration than the advocates of transportation revolution predict. People know how they want to live and they value their personal mobility.

This is not a trivial issue because councils – and the Auckland Council for example – are demanding that Government funds massive investments in public transport because of the current oil spike, the upward blip in public transport use, and of course “Peak Oil.”

The Peak Oil pessimists seem to believe no alternative to the petrol driven car exists. They also seem to ignore the increasing evidence of vast oil and gas reserves being discovered from everywhere the eastern Mediterranean to the shores off Brazil and the American Great Plains.

A host of emerging technologies will more than compensate for any increase in the price of oil-based fuels – even for vehicles that continue to run on fossil fuels. Think of the hybrid car topping up the batteries from solar panels in the roof. Robot cars and electronically convoyed trucks hugely increase lane capacity. There are so many it would need another column to list them. The pessimists complain that it will take far too long to ring such changes in the vehicle fleet. In the next breath they talk about reshaping the urban-form, mainly by the densification of our major cities. Short of another Luftwaffe arriving on the scene, such urban renewal is hardly likely to happen overnight. Technology churns faster than cities. Try buying a Gestetner, a Telex machine, a slide rule, or a film for your camera.

Urban economist, Anthony Downs, writing in “Still Stuck in Traffic?” reminds us:

"....trying to decrease traffic congestion by raising residential densities is like trying to improve the position of a painting hung too high on the living room wall by jacking up the ceiling instead of moving the painting.”

Yet the Auckland Council, like their counterparts throughout the affluent world, seems determined to raise the ceilings – with no regard for costs.

One of the arguments used against building more roads – and especially against more motorways – is that as soon as they are built they become congested again because of “induced demand.” Such “induced demand” is surely the natural expression of suppressed demand. It seems unlikely that motorists will mindlessly drive between different destinations for no other reason than they can.

However, let us accept for a moment that “induced demand” is real, and suggests that improving the road network is a fruitless exercise. Advocates of expensive rail networks claim they will reduce congestion on the roads and improve the lot of private vehicle users as a consequence.

But surely, if the construction of an expensive rail network does reduce congestion on the roads then induced demand will rapidly restore the status quo. Maybe the theory is sound after all. It would explain why no retrofitted rail networks have anywhere resulted in reduced congestion.

This is the time to invest in an enhanced roading network while making incremental investments in flexible public transport. Roads can be shared by buses, trucks, vans, cars, taxis, shuttle-buses, motor-cycles and cyclists – unless compulsive regulators say they are for buses only. Railway lines can be used only by trains and if we build them in the wrong place they soon run empty. The Romans built roads and we still use them.

In a techno-novel published in 1992, Michael Crichton pauses in his narrative to explain what an email is. That’s not long ago.

The one certainty is that the internet/computer world will have the same impact on transport as it has already had on communications. Transport deals with bits while communication deals with bytes.

The end result will be a similar blurring of the line between public and private transport that has already happened between public and private communication. The outcomes are beyond our imagination.

We should get used to it, and realise that making cities more expensive and harder to get around in does not make them more liveable.

Owen McShane is Director of the Centre for Resource Management Studies, New Zealand.

Photo by Mark Derricutt



















Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

altandörrar

Sorry, but this would never work in the US. Not in a million-billion years. Singapore isn't anything like the US. I wish the elites would stop looking at European and Asian models for the US. They just don't work here. altandörrar

Motor transport

Thanks for shearing this type of motor car transport revolution.

Opinions

It only makes sense that people would eventually change their lifestyle and living habits to align with the economic changes taking place. However it can seem to take time, as in this example, and some of the reasons for this which you noted I had not thought of before now. We are in dire need of better transport and energy solutions without a doubt, but it just goes to show that there's more to the issue than first meets the eye. A good analysis and an interesting read all the way through. I will be looking out for more of your posts and comments to see what else you have to say that will get my thoughts going. I'll forward the link for this post to my friends who write for this ultrasound technician salary site, because it's something I think they'll be interested in reading also.

At some point we will

At some point we will probably see a big wave of auto donations as people change from petrol fueled cars to electric cars. In the future people will either have an electric car or choose public transport. There is no other way around.

Transport

People respond to prices but companies like BP will do anything so that we wont change our "oil" habits. I enjoyed reading it. I will search for more information about this topic...I admire time and effort you put in your blog, I will forward the link to my friends at container transportation cis, because it is obviously one great place where I can find lot of useful info.

Tosh

Another piece of unfounded opinion from NZ's favourite guilt-afflicted Planning guru....hehe

The reality:
Auckland's PT patronage continues to climb:
http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/04/26/spectacular-march-pt-patronage/

The NZ government continues to want to put massive amounts of borrowed cash into roads, when vehicle use is static or falling:
http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/04/28/the-next-gps-out-of-touch-with-rea...

So... what constitutes good infrastructure investment?

Tim Robinson
Architect & Urban Designer, Auckland, NZ

Transit needs density we no longer have

Transit is slow to catch on because most people live in communities designed to preclude its use. You can't run street cars -- or even a viable bus system -- into the suburbs with half-acre plots because the density isn't there. This isn't rocket science. It's barely transit science. It's just common sense.

On the other hand, I look at those neighborhoods and I see future crack dens and meth labs, because gas prices will eventually hit and stay in a painful range, and people -- maybe not of this generation -- will start to see the folly of living where they can't walk to anything. I love driving too, but it makes NO sense that I have to rely on my car for everything. Why not choice?

Recipe for an American renaissance: Eat in diners. Ride trains. Shop on Main Street. Put a porch on your house. Live in a walkable community.

jim karlock

You miss the fact that there is along term cap on the price of gasoline set by the refining cost of converting natural gas and coal into gasoline.

Last December 24th, the New York Times reported that diesel made from natural gas is much cheaper than from crude oil.

thanks
JK

Intellectual Dishonesty

Although this is not new (in-fact it is one of the most dominant themes of the writers here) the intellectual dishonesty of this article has reached new heights.

I find it hilarious that the author, in one instance, quotes Anthony Downs and then in the next thought (although that is generous) he says that "induced demand" does not exist. It was Anthony Downs that really helped form, and prove, that idea, yet the author either intentionally omits or doesn't know that important fact (his appeal to ethos is pathetic).

I think the most apparent gaffe of this article is this quote here:
"However, let us accept for a moment that “induced demand” is real, and suggests that improving the road network is a fruitless exercise. Advocates of expensive rail networks claim they will reduce congestion on the roads and improve the lot of private vehicle users as a consequence."

What the author fails to understand is that investments in rail creates the freedom of choice. For too long the US Government (and other Govs) has favored auto-oriented transportation investments that have resulted in the systematic denial of America's the freedom of choice. Investment in rail is an investment of freedom; the freedom to choose between a private and public transportation and the subsequent land uses that accompany that particular mode.

jim karlock

Investment in rail is an investment of freedom; the freedom to choose between a private and public transportation and the subsequent land uses that accompany that particular mode.
JK: Money spent on roads come from road users.

When is money for rail going to come from rail users?

And I mean 100% like roads.

Thanks
JK

The Gasoline Tax: Not a User fee

Boosh!

Gasoline taxes aren’t “user fees” in any meaningful sense of the term – The amount of money a particular driver pays in gasoline taxes bears little relationship to his or her use of roads funded by gas taxes.

· State gas taxes are often not “extra” fees – Most states exempt gasoline from the state sales tax, diverting much of the money that would have gone into a state’s general fund to roads.

· Federal gas taxes have typically not been devoted exclusively to highways – Since its 1934 inception, Congress only temporarily dedicated gas tax revenues fully to highways during the brief 17-year period beginning in 1956. This was at the start of construction for the Interstate highway network, a project completed in the 1990s.

· Highways don’t pay for themselves -- Since 1947, the amount of money spent on highways, roads and streets has exceeded the amount raised through gasoline taxes and other so-called “user fees” by $600 billion (2005 dollars), representing a massive transfer of general government funds to highways.

· Highways “pay for themselves” less today than ever. Currently, highway “user fees” pay only about half the cost of building and maintaining the nation’s network of highways, roads and streets.

· These figures fail to include the many costs imposed by highway construction on non-users of the system, including damage to the environment and public health and encouragement of sprawling forms of development that impose major costs on the environment and government finances.

http://www.uspirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/transportation/transp...

usprig is just more greenie garbage

J Hoff : Gasoline taxes aren’t “user fees” in any meaningful sense of the term – The amount of money a particular driver pays in gasoline taxes bears little relationship to his or her use of roads funded by gas taxes.
JK: Huh?? Drivers use gas in direct proportion to their miles driven. And cars do little road damage - most road damage is caused by buses and trucks. (You need to lay off of the Sierra Club weekly reader - it is not a primary source.)

J Hoff : State gas taxes are often not “extra” fees – Most states exempt gasoline from the state sales tax, diverting much of the money that would have gone into a state’s general fund to roads.
JK: So what? The gas tax still goes to roads - they are a user fee!

J Hoff : Federal gas taxes have typically not been devoted exclusively to highways – Since its 1934 inception, Congress only temporarily dedicated gas tax revenues fully to highways during the brief 17-year period beginning in 1956. This was at the start of construction for the Interstate highway network, a project completed in the 1990s.
JK: Yeah, they are stealing road user fees to give to wasteful, slow, inefficient mass transit.

J Hoff : Highways don’t pay for themselves -- Since 1947, the amount of money spent on highways, roads and streets has exceeded the amount raised through gasoline taxes and other so-called “user fees” by $600 billion (2005 dollars), representing a massive transfer of general government funds to highways.
JK: That is simply wrong. It is a lie spread by the transit lobby and the green twits. For instance:
1. The U.S. Department of Transportation, publication, “Federal Subsidies to Passenger Transportation” says that road users pay more than they cost at the federal level.

2. This comprehensive study by a transit expert concluded that, considering all levels of government, nationally, road users pay far more than they cost by about $17 BILLION or 9.6%. See: http://www.portlandfacts.com/roadspaidbyusers.html

Compare this to transit users being subsidized at about 80%.

Please quit spreading greenie/transit propaganda.

J Hoff : These figures fail to include the many costs imposed by highway construction on non-users of the system,
JK: Care to name a NON user of highways?

Perhaps people who walk to the store to buy goods transported over the highway system?

Perhaps transit dependent people whose bus got from the factory to their city over a highway.

Perhaps transit dependent people whose transit vehicle uses a highway.

J Hoff : including damage to the environment and
JK: As if buses don’t damage the environment too. Since buses use MORE energy per passenger-mile, they use more of that evil imported oil, they are slower and, BTW, just guessing that you got suckered by Al Gore’s climate fraud, you should know that buses emit MORE CO2 per passenger-mile than modern new cars, since they use more energy per passenger-mile.

J Hoff : public health and
JK: See environment above.

J Hoff : encouragement of sprawling forms of development that impose major costs on the environment and government
JK: Are you kidding!! Are you trying to tell us that totally paved over areas, built of concrete and steel is more “green” than houses built of renewable, sustainable WOOD, surrounded by ½ acre of grass, trees and streams? What have you been smoking?

Not to mention that dense areas are more polluted than low density areas.

BTW, farms spew far more chemicals on the land than the average ½ acre home owner.

As to, uspirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/transportation/transp... Please start using quality sources, not greenie garbage. And don’t waste our time by cut & pasting from garbage sites.

BTW2, If you have a problem with PortlandFacts.com, please cite a specific problem or error. If you had bothered to actually look at it you would find that most claims have direct links to government or highly credible sources.

Thanks
JK

Travel Demands Are Changing

It is true that consumers respond to rising fuel prices in many ways, of which shifts to transit typically representing only about 10% of reduced driving. However, various demographic and geographic trends ( aging population, rising fuel prices, increasing traffic congestion, increasing health and environmental concerns, and changing consumer housing location preferences) are all reducing growth in automobile travel demand and increasing demand for alternative modes including walking, cycling and public transit. As a result, public transit travel demand is growing and often limited by supply: many transit agencies are experiencing significant peak-period crowding which discourages further ridership growth. Transit ridership growth is much higher in communities that improve public transit service quality.

During the last century there may have been a justification to invest significant resources in roads and parking facilities to accommodate growing automobile travel demand. Meeting this century's travel demands will require investing in more diverse transportation facilities so consumers have real travel options: good walking and cycling conditions, and high quality public transit services. Only when those exist can consumers choose the combination of modes that best meet their needs.

Large investments in high quality public transit (rail and bus rapid transit, with supportive land use policies to create walkable, transit-oriented development) may not be justified by any SINGLE planning objective (congestion reductions, consumer savings, improved mobility for non-drivers, parking cost savings, or emission reductions, improving public fitness and health, etc.), but when all costs and benefits are considered they are often the most cost-effective transport improvement option overall.

For more information see:

APTA (2011), "Potential Impact of Gasoline Price Increases on U.S. Public Transportation Ridership, 2011 -2012," American Public Transportation Association (www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/APTA_Effect_of_G... ).

CTS (2009), "Understanding the Impacts of Transitways: Demographic and Behavioral Differences between Hiawatha Light-Rail and Other Transit Riders," Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota (www.cts.umn.edu/Publications/ResearchReports/pdfdownload.pl?id=1226 ).

Todd Litman (2011), "Transit Price Elasticities and Cross-Elasticities," Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org/tranelas.pdf ).

Todd Litman (2001), “Generated Traffic; Implications for Transport Planning,” ITE Journal, Vol. 71, No. 4, Institute of Transportation Engineers (www.ite.org), April, pp. 38-47; at www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf.

Todd Litman (2004), "Rail Transit In America: Comprehensive Evaluation of Benefits," (www.vtpi.org/railben.pdf ); summarized in “Impacts of Rail Transit on the Performance of a Transportation System,” Transportation Research Record 1930, Transportation Research Board, 2005 pp. 23-29.

Todd Litman (2006), "The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: Changing Trends And Their Implications For Transport Planning," Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org/future.pdf ); originally published as “Changing Travel Demand: Implications for Transport Planning,” ITE Journal, Vol. 76, No. 9, September, pp. 27-33.

NZTA (2010), "Public Transport Network Planning: A Guide To Best Practice In NZ Cities," Research Report 396, New Zealand Transport Agency (www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/396/docs/396.pdf ).

TRL (2004), "The Demand for Public Transit: A Practical Guide," Transportation Research Laboratory, Report TRL 593 (www.demandforpublictransport.co.uk ).

==========================================================
Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org), an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems.

jim karlock

Todd: Meeting this century's travel demands will require investing in more diverse transportation facilities so consumers have real travel options: good walking and cycling conditions, and high quality public transit services. Only when those exist can consumers choose the combination of modes that best meet their needs.
JK: Please be sure each new mode pays for itself, like highways did and still do.

Also shouldn't the new modes be somehow better than roads to be attractive to new users. For instance the aging population is not likely good candidates for more walking and biking.

And transit is usually slower and more expensive than driving, so why would people switch to something that costs more and is slower and less convenient?

Perhaps you don't know this: Transit has been losing market share to over 80 years! Even in Europe transit is losing market share.

Further the cost of gasoline has a long term upper limit, mostly independent of oil prices, a bit below today's level. This is because of the cost of refining gasoline from natural gas or from coal, which as of last December, as reported by the New York Times, was about $0.85 / gal cheaper for diesel from natural gas than from oil.

Thanks
JK
PortlandFacts.com
SustainableOregon.com

Each mode plays a role in an efficient transport system

I don’t think it is useful to simply compare automobile and transit average costs, because not everybody can drive, and because their cost profiles vary significantly depending on conditions.

In a typical community 20-30% of the population cannot drive due to age, disability, poverty or legal constraints, and some people who can drive should not. For example, traffic safety experts want to discourage driving by young people (between 16 and 25), people who have been drinking, and seniors who are losing their driving abilities, but this is only feasible if they have good alternatives. In addition, there are often people who would prefer to use alternatives if available, such as a lower-income worker who would commute by public transit if it were available, but is forced to own a car if it is not, and people who would walk or bicycle for more errands for enjoyment and fitness, but are forced to drive due to poor conditions (inadequate sidewalks and crosswalks, lack of bicycle paths, excessive traffic speeds, etc.). That use of alternative modes is much higher and automobile travel is lower in communities with good walking and cycling conditions, and high quality public transit service, indicates significant latent demand for these modes.

Consider this from a lifecycle perspective. A typical person will rely significantly on alternative modes when they are young (say 12-20 years of age), when old (say, over 75), during periods of poverty, after drinking, if they are ever physically disabled or impoverished, when their vehicle fails, and whenever they want to walk or bicycle for exercise and pleasure. Failing to account for these demands results in people driving when they shouldn’t, and forces motorists to chauffeur non-drivers.

Automobile and transit travel have opposite cost profiles. Automobile travel is relatively inexpensive in low-density areas, but expanding roads and parking facilities to accommodate additional urban-peak travel is very costly. In contrast, walking, cycling and public transit tends to be most efficient under urban-peak conditions – unit costs are lowest and cost recovery is highest in large, dense cities. It therefore makes sense to emphasize public transit on busy urban corridors.

Driving seems cheap because most costs are either fixed or external. Automobiles are costly to own, but more than two-thirds of the costs are fixed: depreciation, financing, insurance, registration fees and residential parking. Only about half or roadway costs are borne by user fees such as fuel taxes or road tolls, and most non-residential parking is subsidized. While it is true that governments spend billions of dollars annually to finance public transit, this is small compared with the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on vehicles, roads and parking facilities.

Nobody is suggesting that automobile travel will disappear, but at the margin (compared with current travel patterns) many people would prefer to drive less and rely more on alternatives, provided that they are convenient, comfortable and affordable. Current trends indicate that this latent demand will increase.

For more information:

Tony Dutzik, Benjamin Davis and Phineas Baxandall (2011), "Do Roads Pay for Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding," PIRG Education Fund (www.uspirg.org); at www.uspirg.org/news-releases/transportation-news/transportation-news/was....

Todd Litman (2006), "The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: Changing Trends And Their Implications For Transport Planning," Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org); at www.vtpi.org/future.pdf; originally published as “Changing Travel Demand: Implications for Transport Planning,” ITE Journal, Vol. 76, No. 9, (www.ite.org), September, pp. 27-33.

Martin Wachs (2003), "Improving Efficiency and Equity in Transportation Finance," Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, Brookings Institute (www.brookings.edu/es/urban).
=================================
Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org), an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems.

Only one mode plays a significant role in an efficient transport

Todd Litman: I don’t think it is useful to simply compare automobile and transit average costs, because not everybody can drive, and because their cost profiles vary significantly depending on conditions.
JK: It is extremely useful perspective information since many transit advocates claim trasnit saves money. It doesn’t!

Todd Litman: In a typical community 20-30% of the population cannot drive due to age, disability, poverty or legal constraints, and some people who can drive should not.
JK: Please quit including people too young to ride transit in a discussion of transit vs. driving - those 0-8 (or 9, or 10, or 12 ) year olds will not be permitted on transit by their parents - they will ONLY be in cars, probably accompanied by the parent. What is the % that cannot dive after this adjustment? Maybe 10%?? Of course we can get an idea from transit’s market share outsie of NYC/LAChicago/etc of around 2-5% of passenger-miles. Those are the real people transit serves, based on actual usage, not speculation.

Todd Litman: For example, traffic safety experts want to discourage driving by young people (between 16 and 25), people who have been drinking, and seniors who are losing their driving abilities, but this is only feasible if they have good alternatives.
JK: And the transit alternative costs 5-8 times what driving costs, so why should the average taxpayer subsidize drunks? As to seniours, please quit using them to promote transit - most can still drive when they are too feeble to walk to a transit stop. (Yeah, I know about para transit which is much more costly than ordinary transit and probably should be shut down in favor of subsidized taxi fare.)

Todd Litman: In addition, there are often people who would prefer to use alternatives if available, such as a lower-income worker who would commute by public transit if it were available, but is forced to own a car if it is not
JK: Of course most low income people are better off with a car because cars improve their employment opportunities and increase their income. portlandfacts.com/cars_improve_living.html

Todd Litman: That use of alternative modes is much higher and automobile travel is lower in communities with good walking and cycling conditions, and high quality public transit service, indicates significant latent demand for these modes.
JK: Why do you appear to consider fast, low cost, energy efficient automobiles somehow undesirable? Do you want people to waste more time in their daily travels? Do you think people should shop at local high cost stores instead of low cost big boxes? Why should people limit their job choices by using transit?

Todd Litman: Consider this from a lifecycle perspective. A typical person will rely significantly on alternative modes when they are young (say 12-20 years of age), when old (say, over 75), during periods of poverty, after drinking, if they are ever physically disabled or impoverished, when their vehicle fails, and whenever they want to walk or bicycle for exercise and pleasure. Failing to account for these demands results in people driving when they shouldn’t, and forces motorists to chauffeur non-drivers.
JK: Again, why should society subsidize 80% of these people’s travel expense?? We should ONLY subsidize the low income who cannot drive due to physical problems.

Todd Litman: Automobile and transit travel have opposite cost profiles. Automobile travel is relatively inexpensive in low-density areas, but expanding roads and parking facilities to accommodate additional urban-peak travel is very costly.
JK: Huh?? The real problem is that everything is expensive in high density areas. That is why they are mostly obsolete and on life support by government subsidies.

Todd Litman: In contrast, walking, cycling and public transit tends to be most efficient under urban-peak conditions – unit costs are lowest and cost recovery is highest in large, dense cities. It therefore makes sense to emphasize public transit on busy urban corridors.
JK: Only if the user is willing to pay the full cost. And remember that a transit system cannot operate ONLY those low cost lines - they have to serve wide areas, or become even less useful than they already are.

Todd Litman: Driving seems cheap because most costs are either fixed or external. Automobiles are costly to own, but more than two-thirds of the costs are fixed: depreciation, financing, insurance, registration fees and residential parking.
JK: Driving IS cheap compared to transit! Look at actual numbers. And be sure to inclue ALL transit costs for both modes. In other words for each automobile cost, be sure to include a similar transit cost. (Transit uses more oil per passenger-mile than autos, so it also pollutes more and emits more CO2 (only relevant if you believe Al Goers’s lies.))

Todd Litman: Only about half or roadway costs are borne by user fees such as fuel taxes or road tolls, and most non-residential parking is subsidized.
JK: Please quit repeating this lie. You know that when all revenues are properly accounted for that is not true. For instance road construction bonds to be paid from road user fees are really road user fees, not general fund as some greenie groups try to pawn off on us.

And don’t forget to account for the fact that a big chunk of the federal gas tax goes to transit.

For instince:
1. The U.S. Department of Transportation, publication, “Federal Subsidies to Passenger Transportation” says that road users pay more than they cost at the federal level. portlandfacts.com/roadsubsidy.htm

2. This comprehensive study by a transit expert concluded that, considering all levels of government, nationally, road users pay far more than they cost by about $17 BILLION or 9.6%. See: portlandfacts.com/roadspaidbyusers.html

Todd Litman: While it is true that governments spend billions of dollars annually to finance public transit, this is small compared with the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on vehicles, roads and parking facilities.
JK: Only if you ignore the result of that spending - the government expendeture per passenger-mile for transit is many times that for cars. (And YES road user fees are user fees, not government expenditure. If you want to claim otherwise, please also advocate for transit user fees that pay 100% of transit cost.) Why do you keep repeating these greenie/tranist lies??

Road user subsidies are around zero, depending on the source. Say it is a few cents per passenger-mile to give transit the benefit of the doubt.

Compare this to about 60 cents per passenger-mile to transit.

This difference is so large, that no amount of honest accounting can overcome the fact that transit is vastly more expansive than driving.

Transit is also slower.

Transit also uses more energy than new cars,

So what is the real need for transit, except for the low income handicapped?

Todd Litman: many people would prefer to drive less and rely more on alternatives, provided that they are convenient, comfortable and affordable. Current trends indicate that this latent demand will increase.
JK: Then let these people pay the real cost of transit. It appears to be close to a dollar a passenger-mile (portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html). Lets see if they really prefer to be care free if their transit fare goes by a factor of five to reflect their real cost.

Todd Litman: For more information:

Tony Dutzik, Benjamin Davis and Phineas Baxandall (2011), "Do Roads Pay for Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding," PIRG Education Fund (www.uspirg.org); at www.uspirg.org/news-releases/transportation-news/transportation-news/was....
JK: Do roads pay for themselves? - Yes, in spades - see:
portlandfacts.com/roadsubsidy.htm
ti.org/antiplanner/?p=2199
http://www.portlandfacts.com/roadspaidbyusers.html

And don’t miss how cars cleande up our cities: uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf

And how cars improve our standard of living: portlandfacts.com/cars_improve_living.html

Todd Litman: Todd Litman (2006), "The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: Changing Trends And Their Implications For Transport Planning," Victoria Transport Policy Institute
JK: For the, links to, mostly, government, information that the transit lobbly tries to hide see www.PortlandFacts.com

Thanks
JK

Great Point Mr. Litman

Another example of the author's intellectual dishonesty is that he tries to tie the costs and benefits to one objective.

"Large investments in high quality public transit may not be justified by any SINGLE planning objective, but when all costs and benefits are considered they are often the most cost-effective transport improvement option overall."

It is my opinion that investments in rail will not (regionally) alter congestion, but direct future growth to a non-auto-oriented built environment.

In Central Florida, the congestion is caused by a few factors:

1) A disconnected cul-de-sac street pattern. This forces drives onto the major roads because there are really no alternate routes either for regional or local travel.

2) There is no viable alternative to taking a car. Although the bi-partisan effort to get rail has been going on for years, far right-wing factions have tried to stop this.

3) Growth Management laws have favored greenfield development to infill development and therefore have encouraged development further from the city center.

The Sunrail project will not reduce congestion, but direct growth around this new mode of transportation altering where activity centers are and how Central Floridians get there.

I did find one study that reduced congestion in a college town by implementing parking and driving restrictions on campus and increasing bus service. This only worked because 30,000+ people where all going to the same place at a predictable time. Cities could achieve this phenomenon if workplace destinations were consolidated in the city center.

Cost of driving is lower than transit

Doing a few numbers show that in Portland Oregon, USA, our gas price would have to increase by a factor of about four (from $4 to $15/gal) to make driving as expensive as transit is now. (And that is with the user only paying 20-25% of the actual cost.)

BUT, transit also averages double the commute time for commuters, nationally and about 50% longer in the largest cities.

And transit makes you wait in the rail, snow, cold, heat and sometimes in high crime areas.

That is more insight on why transit will not make a comeback. It is more expensive, slower and less convenient.

Thanks
JK

Metrics

Care to show some evidence?

What factors, aside from gas cost (you know because no one pays for repairs, maintenance, insurance, loss of productivity due to congestion, costs of disposing the vehicle, etc) that led to your conclusion?

You also forgot to mention that investments in rail alter the built environment around the station as well as the access to the station and their destinations making the use of other modes like walking and biking practical. If you actually factor in all the quantitative elements and the substitutions rail offers, you will probably come to a different conclusion.

High Gas Prices won't make cars cos tmore than transit

J Hoff Care to show some evidence?
JK: Sure. This article is about transit, not rail, so lets primarily bus numbers:
1a) Operating cost of bus transit in ten biggest cities per FTA = $0.85/passenger-mile
1b) Operating cost of LRT transit in ten biggest cities per FTA = $0.$0.52/passenger-mile
for details see: http://www.portlandfacts.com/top10bus.html

2) AAA variable cost/mile of a car = 16.74 cents. Using 1.59 people/car gives 10.5 cents/passenger-mile. For details see http://www.portlandfacts.com/aaa_cost.html

3a) Compare to bus:
85 - 10.5 = 74.5 cents/passenger-mile difference. This is 46.9 cents/vehicle mile

The average USA car gets 23 mpg, so to spend 47 cents/mile at 23 mpg gas would have to INCREASE by 23 x $0.47 = $10.81/ gal over the reference gas price of $2.603 = $13.41/gal.

3b) Compare to LRT:
$0.52 - $0.105 = 41.5 cents.passenger-mile difference. This is 26.1 cents/vehicle mile

The average USA car gets 23 mpg, so to spend 26 cents/mile at 23 mpg gas would have INCREASE by 23 x $0.26 = $5.98/ gal over the reference gas price of $2.603 = $8.58/gal.

Note that this is an apples to apples comparison of operating costs only. To add in other costs greatly complicates the matter but mass transit with some, not all, capital costs is around $1/passenger-mile for bus and $1.38 for rail, based on the ten largest bus and rail systems in the USA, so other car costs would have to be astronomical to be that expensive.

If gas gets to $13.40/gal, transit system costs will also go up and their revenue will drop as their ridership goes way down because unemployment will be through the roof. So the cost equilibrium point will be above this figure.

In the long term there is an upper limit on the price of gasolene around $3-$4/gal set by the cost of making gasolene from natural gas or coal. The current problem is the lack of refinery.

J Hoff What factors, aside from gas cost (you know because no one pays for repairs, maintenance, insurance, loss of productivity due to congestion, costs of disposing the vehicle, etc) that led to your conclusion?
JK: Operating costs for both transit & cars include repairs, maintenance, insurance (and licensing for cars.)

It is interesting that you mention the cost of congestion, but not the cost of time wasted on transit which averages about double the commute time of driving a car. See http://www.portlandfacts.com/commutetime.html

You also left out the cost of subsidies to transit (road users pay MORE than their cost - see http://www.portlandfacts.com/roadspaidbyusers.html).

J Hoff You also forgot to mention that investments in rail alter the built environment around the station
JK: You have a strange definition of “investment”. Here in Portland TODs are a welfare expenditure - none got built until the city started shoveling money to the developers. See http://www.portlandfacts.com/transit/lightraildevelopment.htm (Don’t miss the links to videos of the local officials, planners and developers saying TODs do not make economic sense without tax abatements)

J Hoff If you actually factor in all the quantitative elements and the substitutions rail offers, you will probably come to a different conclusion.
JK: I doubt it. Transit has been losing market share for over 80 years. For good reason - it is slower than driving, costs more than driving, is less convenient than driving and doesn’t even save energy. There is a reason people are not choosing transit! Not even in Europe. See http://www.portlandfacts.com/transit/eurotranistshareloss.htm

And why do you appear to think altering the build environment is a good thing? Why not just let people live how and where they to the extent that they will pay their own way?

Thanks
JK

www.portlandfacts.com

The website you reference is just some anti-rail PR machine. The study I referenced was the Florida PIRG Education Fund, a very reputable non-partisan research group.

J Hoff : The website you

J Hoff : The website you reference is just some anti-rail PR machine.
JK: Have you found any specific errors with that web site? Please name them or quit bad mouthing a quality site that presents mostly government data that shows the transit industry lies.

J Hoff : The study I referenced was the Florida PIRG Education Fund, a very reputable non-partisan research group.
JK : “very reputable” !!!! Only among the uninformed that don’t bother to look at real data.

Thanks
JK

We need politicians with balls.

If good intracity and intercity mass transit existed then you wouldn't need to do 1,2,3,4, or 5!

Aside from those of you in NY or Chicago, most of us are doing without transit, or live in cities with very inefficient transit (i.e. it's not viable because there isn't enough of it to connect most people and places).

We need politicians who have the political balls to devote some funds to projects that will save us all money in the long run. What's the point of building new roads and then having to pave both those and the existing ones all the time?

The cost of road maintenance alone is a case for cities, states and the fed to put in place, reliable, common sense, safe, efficient mass transit.

Not owning a car is a good case for using mass transit for the average family (gas, maintenance, insurance costs upwards of $3-5,000/year for most people, per vehicle). Going to the countryside or need to use a truck? Rent one cheaply for a couple of days.

Cars make life better

If good intracity and intercity mass transit existed then you wouldn't need to do 1,2,3,4, or 5!

MAP: Aside from those of you in NY or Chicago, most of us are doing without transit, or live in cities with very inefficient transit (i.e. it's not viable because there isn't enough of it to connect most people and places).
JK: That’s because most people choose to NOT live in dense, expensive congested cities with lousy schools and high crime. Transit require high density to sort of work.

MAP: We need politicians who have the political balls to devote some funds to projects that will save us all money in the long run.
JK: Transit is much more expensive than driving. See above for a hint.

MAP: The cost of road maintenance alone is a case for cities, states and the fed to put in place, reliable, common sense, safe, efficient mass transit.
JK: You have to be kidding! Buses require those roads. Rails require maintenance too.

MAP: Not owning a car is a good case for using mass transit for the average family (gas, maintenance, insurance costs upwards of $3-5,000/year for most people, per vehicle).
JK: Most people consider that a good investment because it saves them time and allows them to get a better job and is more convenient.

A transit pass in Portland costs $968/yr, so the added $2,000 is not very much to pay for the freedom to travel when and where you want. You also don’t have to deal with drug dealers, crazies and other city vibrancy in your car.

The transit vs. car battle was fought 80 years ago. Transit lost.

MAP: Going to the countryside or need to use a truck? Rent one cheaply for a couple of days.
JK: Need to go shopping at the low cost, big box store - rent a car.
Need to go to the beach - rent a car!
Need to drop off the kids on the way to work and pickup the kids and some dinner on the way home - rent a car!

Or just give up on transit and get a car like the average American did almost a century ago!

Thanks
JK