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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 5:31 PM
kodak black kodak black is offline
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Originally Posted by Doady View Post
Yeah, cities like Detroit haven't done enough accommodate private automobiles, and that is the reason it and other Snowbelt/Rustbelt cites have declined compared to Sunbelt cities. Not enough cars, not enough parking lots, not enough highways, too much transit, that is what has killed downtowns across North America. And it is not over yet. There are still places like San Francisco and Manhattan which continue to make that grave mistake of ignoring auto users and favouring transit users. Places like downtown Toronto and Montreal too that continue to lack adequate infrastructure for automobiles. They are just moving in the wrong direction, forcing people to move to the suburbs so they can use a car and avoid transit to save money on transportation costs. As property values continue to tank in these places and the amount of people using transit continues to rise, their future is looking bleak, and there is not much time is left to prevent complete disaster.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 7:37 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Link that supports your opinion
Average cost to drive a car $11,000 per year
Minimum cost to drive a car $2790 per year (doing the bare minimum)
Average costs for public transit using monthly passes
NYC $1452 per year
LA $1200 per year
Dallas $1080 per year
Indy $706 per year

Off hand, it appears public transit wins easily, even when compared to bare minimum driving expenses. But the public transit data points only include monthly fares. Those monthly fares have a varying amount of farebox recovery ratios, maybe your city is included here

I'm more familiar with DART located in Dallas. The farebox recovery ratio is 14%. Not the highest, but also not the lowest. Subsidies coming from other taxes, either local, state, or federal, make up the difference.
If $1080 per year provides 14% of the cost to provide the service; $7,714 per year is needed to provide the service; therefore an additional $6,634 per year on average comes from taxes.
So in Dallas, the average rider pays $7,714 for public transit, and anywhere from $2,790 to $11,000 per year on driving. Again, there will be some who pay less, and some who will pay more because individual income will determine how new your car is and how much sales taxes you pay.

Of course, we have yet to add the highway costs to maintain and build our highways to the equation. But amongst the costs for driving was the taxes on fuel. Fuel and other highway taxes on average pay 34% of their costs nationally
So, whatever the highway taxes collects, double that amount comes from other taxes.
A different link looks at it a different way, a per capital expenditure from general funds vs highway funds.
Nationally, the average is $560 per year per capita additional tax above and beyond highway taxes. And there are multiple of ways and data points on highway construction and maintenance costs. I have no idea which is the more accurate way to look at it, mainly because it varies so much per state.
Never-the-less, an additional $560 subsidy tacked onto $2790 to $11,000 cost of car ownership is minuscule in comparison to the public transit subsidy on top of the costs of fares.

So the cost of driving and the cost of highways and the cost of public transit is extremely difficult to lock down to specifics. Depending upon where you live and how new your car is, driving can be cheaper or more expensive than taking public transit.
But the important point I wish to make is that those just using the cost of individual fares for public transit is doing a great disservice to the debate. And likewise, those just using the cost of buying and maintaining cars for driving is also doing a great disservice to the debate. Because in both cases, public subsidies are required to build and maintain over and beyond their user taxes, fees, and fares. And I would like to add, in most small cities and towns across America, regular scheduled public transit does not exist.

And I will try once again to repeat the main point of my earlier response, make riding public transit a better experience than riding in your own automobile if you really want to compete with automobiles across the country. As long as the seats are uncomfortable, as long as the vehicles are dirty, as long as the headways are too long, as long as the amount of service is so poor, public transit can not compete.
I agree with your last point, but here's a worked example for my case:

CTA has a 50% farebox recovery requirement (not sure if that's still in place with COVID-19). Also, transit passes can be bought pretax, which helps. The subsidy most often left out is "free" parking. My employer charges $125/month for commuter parking at a campus garage. This is also pretax, but more expensive than a transit pass and only lets you park in one place. (If I owned a car, I'd have to pay $200+/month to garage it somewhere near home, plus insurance, plus the cost of the car...). Yes, it's possible to circle around and find free parking at some distance from campus but there goes the convenience argument.
And here the air that I breathe isn't dead.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 7:52 PM
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Doady Doady is offline
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Originally Posted by goat314 View Post
St. Louis actually has one of the more successful LRT systems for a metro it's size. It has higher rail ridership than similar sized cities Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland as recent as 2019.
The point is, even though its rail ridership is higher than Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the overall ridership of St. Louis is much lower than Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Despite their low rail ridership, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are among the transit leaders in the US, St. Louis is not.

Originally Posted by goat314 View Post
The low ridership per mile is more to do with it going through literally rural areas in the Metro East (Illinois) to get to Scott Air Force Base. The system has expanded several times since its inception in 1993. Ridership has gone down ever since service cuts happened during the 08 recession and have never recovered. There were also concerns over some high profile crimes that happened on and near the city.
Ridership declined by almost half since 2008, that's crazy. I think you can see for yourself, the amount of service is more important than the amount of rail.

Originally Posted by goat314 View Post
With all that said, you still haven't provided any evidence that someone riding busses is a prerequisite to train ridership.
What high ridership rail system in the US or Canada is not complemented by a high ridership bus system? New York, San Francisco, DC, Portland, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, they all have large bus networks and high bus ridership. A network is multiple lines interconnecting, not a few rail lines in isolation. What evidence is really needed for that?

You guys make baseless claims about an "anti-bus" culture, and I have already discussed examples which counter that: Seattle, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Baltimore.

Also, many people that don't have to ride transit aka "choice riders" do prefer rail over busses. It's just a reality in many US metros. Also, St. Louis has higher bus ridership than light rail.
Even if "choice riders" prefer rail over buses, chances are they will have to take buses to and from a rail station, unless they are lucky enough to both live and work next to a rail station.

If you look at the highest ridership systems, the common link between them is high bus ridership, not high rail ridership. You can also see Dallas' rail ridership actually declined in 2019 after a major increase in bus service. It's just hard to see the correlation between more rail and increased ridership.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 8:08 PM
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Doady Doady is offline
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Transit might be more expensive for someone with a large family. Like 4 people travelling together, a car might be more economical. But overall affordability is probably not the main problem for transit.

If anything, I think transit fares in USA are too low. Like $706 per year for monthly pass, I don't see how agencies can provide an adequate level of service and sustain themselves with such low fares. $1.75 per ride? It should be like $2.50. With $10.5M fare revenue and $111M operating budget, $2.50 fares would mean 5% service increase instantly right there.

Service cuts because of lower fares, which leads to ridership loss and even lower fare revenue, which leads to even more service cuts, it's a constant cycle. I think agencies dig their own hole when they keep fares low over such a long period of time, and Indianapolis has a deep hole to climb out of.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 8:41 PM
Tcmetro Tcmetro is offline
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A lot of US bus ridership is by low income people who would ride less if fares were raised. LACMTA does occasional surveys of their riders and a majority of their riders are making under $20,000 per year.

I think we see the higher fares in cities that are wealthier like Seattle or New York. Cities with low fares like LA, Houston, and New Orleans generally have low-income rider bases.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 10:08 PM
jmecklenborg jmecklenborg is offline
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Originally Posted by Doady View Post
If you look at the highest ridership systems, the common link between them is high bus ridership, not high rail ridership. You can also see Dallas' rail ridership actually declined in 2019 after a major increase in bus service. It's just hard to see the correlation between more rail and increased ridership.

True subways, be they heavy or light rail, through relatively dense and walkable areas will always attract big ridership. For example, the Wilshire subway in Los Angeles will be huge. The soon-to-open Link light rail extension to Seattle's Northgate will have two "real" subway stations in the middle of a dense, established neighborhood. The ridership is going to be huge.

By contrast, systems like DART and St. Louis meander on repurposed freight ROW's, meaning relatively slow operation and neighborhood stations that are blocks from traditional business districts.

To a large extent, the post-1980s light rail networks in the United States built supplementary transit lines, not the fully grade separated lines under major arterials that transform the logic of a city.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 10:54 PM
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electricron electricron is offline
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Here are a few images to reinforce my idea of making public transit better than private vehicles. Believe it or not in this first image taken before and during WWI, that dirt road had mostly horse pulled carriages and riders on horseback on it, just a few Model Ts were around. Speed on the dirt road maybe 20-25 mpg, speed of the interurban around 60 mph.

Main Street Dallas

Advertisement for interurban

Black and white images do not do them justice, here is a color photo pf the parlor car
and the motor car

Those seats are well padded, the service provided was superior to other modes of transport at that time. They were competitive.

Automobiles got far better, they did not. Hence they are museum pieces now.

And by the way, the dirt road in that first image was the old Bankhead Highway before becoming the old US 80 between Dallas and Fort Worth, which is now a 4,5, and 6 lane avenue with commercial properties most of the way, and you can reach speeds far higher than 25-30 mph.

Last edited by electricron; Jan 23, 2021 at 5:35 AM.
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