Friday, March 13, 2009

A recent converstion

Rob_Dawg
we don't bite but I've been known to say bad things about Portland. You gonna use any stimpak to expand MAX?

otishertz
dawg are you anti max?

StewPDX
Rob: It would be a decent use of the money I believe. Not that I'm pro-stim.

StewPDX
But I don't know the answer to your question. I read national and foreign news, wife reads the local. We both accuse the other of knowing nothing on a regular basis.

Rob_Dawg
I am very much antiMAX not for what it is but for how it is portrayed

StewPDX
How it is portrayed?

SomeArmchairEconomist
i know a guy who owned a game store in portland...he had to close it because the construction took so long he lost too many customers

SomeArmchairEconomist
its portrayed as a folly by a city that's a bit too granola for its own good

Rob_Dawg
MAX is not as successful as is claimed in either congestion , urban sprawl or cost.

SomeArmchairEconomist
(incidentally I hear great things about portland and wouldn't mind living there)

StewPDX
I rode it for a solid 2+ years, and thought it was great. Always on time, clean, well managed.

otishertz
the trains in town are the best thing going. i use them all the time

StewPDX
I only wish it went more places. The good news is they do expand it, regulary. Seattle needs lightrail like ours in the worst possible way.

Rob_Dawg
would you use them if you paid anywhere near what they cost to run?

StewPDX
Rob: I'm not sure. What would a ride be? $5?

otishertz
just gotta watch out for the crazy disaffected types

SomeArmchairEconomist
would you use the roads if that were the case?

SomeArmchairEconomist
freeways?

StewPDX
SAE: If that question is directed at me I don't understand it?

SomeArmchairEconomist
sorry stew, that was a riposte to dawg...i disagree with that argument against money losing transit

Rob_Dawg
A little under $4 yes but for every ride, no passes, no Fareless Square

StewPDX
Rob: At $4/ride I would use it for long trips but not short, which is how I usually use it. At $5+ I'd bitch hard if I did, and might now.

StewPDX
er, might not.

SomeArmchairEconomist
if it went more places and you didnt need a car...seems like it could be a good deal

Rob_Dawg
Here's the MAX 2007 data in pdf form:
http://204.68.195.57/ntdprogram/pubs/top_profiles/2007/agency_profiles/0008.pdf

StewPDX
long trips = my usual on max (I was not clear).

SomeArmchairEconomist
$0.40/mile...cheaper than a cab!

otishertz
the trains should be subsidized. it is a better mode of transportation for the environment and your spirit. people smile at eachother, help others, get up for old ad mommies, comment, READ.

Rob_Dawg
MAX fares cover 23% of operating costs

SomeArmchairEconomist
that's a pretty hefty subsidy

Rob_Dawg
how much would the cab ride cost if the company got free cabs and fares were 25% of operating costs?

otishertz
you can take your bike on the trains (and buses) going uphill and roll down

RayOnTheFarm
nice writeup about AIG at econbrowser

StewPDX
I gladly pay tax dollars to subsidize that. The majority of people I see on mass transit can use the help with the fare costs - I don't feel used.

Rob_Dawg
otis, what makes you think light rail is energy efficient?

otishertz
i see well dressed people on the streetcar. it is packed during rush hour

otishertz
l8r ray

Rob_Dawg
otis, look at the pdf. The average streetcar carries 28 people. 20% of capacity about the same as an auto.

SomeArmchairEconomist
not seeing where you get that number

otishertz
what makes me think it is energy efficient is me looking at a car, figuring it has 160 horsepower, is filled with plastic and oil, weighs two tons, and took a lot of energy to make. then i look at the people on the trollies and see they only have one or two bags. all that car to carry one person and their bag seems like a lot

SomeArmchairEconomist
a lot of energy goes into construction of the system

otishertz
true, but the tracks remain for long periods of time

otishertz
generations

Rob_Dawg
divide passenger miles by vehicle miles to get occupancy.

SomeArmchairEconomist
ah

SomeArmchairEconomist
it really takes 28 times as much energy to move the train than a car?

SomeArmchairEconomist
i guess the question is, does it weigh 28 times as much as a car

Rob_Dawg
Light Rail and POVs use about the same amount of energy per passenger mile. I know that seems hard to believe but true.

SomeArmchairEconomist
(assuming they reach the same speed)

otishertz
28 people per train has to be like 20 less cars per train

SomeArmchairEconomist
haha you think people carpool

otishertz
well, if they are equal then i am for more trains

SomeArmchairEconomist
yeah, if you have more trains then you should get more riders, no? biggest argument against transit is always it doesn't go where you want

otishertz
we must change the car world

SomeArmchairEconomist
LA is really screwed on transit...no body rides it because it sucks, and it sucks because nobody rides it and they're in their cars, causing traffic that makes transit suck!

Napolean
Public transit in southern california is a roving insane asylum

Napolean
that is why so few use it

SomeArmchairEconomist
haha

otishertz
between trains and buses you can get nearly anywhere you need to be. i can get to my office on three different routes within an two block area. that means with triptracker on blackberry i more orless have a ride waiting all the time

otishertz
i could always drive, but why?

Napolean
plus it rarely goes anywhere near where you want it to.

otishertz
its not as if the train money spent is less useful than money spent on stadiums and such BS

SomeArmchairEconomist
i feel ya otishertz...i usually take the bus everyday

Rob_Dawg
TEDB 27 http://cta.ornl.gov/data/download27.shtml for anyone interested in modal energy intensities.

StewPDX
Don't get me started on the f*king stadiums.

Rob_Dawg
LA has a higher transit share than Portland

SomeArmchairEconomist
thanks dawg

otishertz
when snowmageddon 2008 happened i had alternate routes when certain roads closed down
i did not want to be driving in that
hell, my truck was snowed in

Rob_Dawg
Oh and LA the land of sprawl is denser and getting denser while Portland is not.

Rob_Dawg
Oh, and light rail uses the same amount of energy per passenger mile while travelling at half the speed of POVs

SomeArmchairEconomist
someone doens't care much for light rail

SomeArmchairEconomist
how do buses rate?

otishertz
shouldn't commercial be closer to financial

Rob_Dawg
Buses are a smarter idea than LR. Lower buy in cost, more flexible, serves a necessary social function. Still expensive but so aren't cops and clean water.

SomeArmchairEconomist
are there casual carpools in LA?

Rob_Dawg
Casual? I don't know. I wouldn't do it.

otishertz
what are the costs of drunk drivers, car accidents. sprawl. how many resources are diverted to pay for car insurance, car repairs, gas, fees. what of the loss of freedom you accept when stopped in a vehicle by police, depreciation. what about all that asphault on the ground, bridge maintenace, traffic enforcement. i just do not see trains as being more expensive when you consider all the...

otishertz
...support apparatus the car world requires.

SomeArmchairEconomist
trains also have the advantage of shifting the pollution
assuming they're not diesel electric that is

Rob_Dawg
Otis, now you are entering rougher waters. Externalities are slippery critters. A POV centric transport network has positive externalities as well as the negative. Care to wait for a transit ambulance? Thing is POVs more than pay for themselves while we can't even get transit users to pay half the operating costs.

SomeArmchairEconomist
gas taxes pay for all of the road maintenance?

SomeArmchairEconomist
they need to start doing some maintaining!

Rob_Dawg
If you have to shift pollution then that is a profoundly anti-urban characteristic and a hit to claims of sustainablity.
Okay another huge multi hundred megabyte web location. This time the HM and HF series from the FHWA
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2007/index.cfm

SomeArmchairEconomist
holy data overload batman

SomeArmchairEconomist
how much does the IRS let you deduct for car mileage? something around $0.48?

Rob_Dawg
Hey, you guys beginning to get a suspicion that I've got my facts all lined up and I've heard all these questions and claims before?

SomeArmchairEconomist
no i just figured you googled really quickly

otishertz
well since no one has a personal train i think the comparison, while illuminating, is not a direct one. trains are a community wide thing and the cost of a train is the cost to the community while the cost of a coar is one born by individuals. so, you have to consider the cost to the communities of the car world. also, i wuld hope that ambulances could find room on the roads that are already...

otishertz
...there.

Rob_Dawg
2008 IRS 50.5¢ per mile

SomeArmchairEconomist
according to the MAX thing you sent their operating cost is like $0.40/ppm

SomeArmchairEconomist
er, dont need to "pers" in there but you get the idea

SomeArmchairEconomist
instead of 1, make it like 3 of 5 lanes

otishertz
highway usage statistics frighten me. i'm standing down.

SomeArmchairEconomist
I have not yet begun to fight!

Rob_Dawg
MAX lies. The real cost is closer to 70¢ but that's graduate forensic transit accounting. The IRS assumes at 50.5¢ per vehicle mile so that's 32¢/pass mi

SomeArmchairEconomist
why is the ppm less than pvm?
other than more passengers

SomeArmchairEconomist
does everyone get 1.7 passengers?

otishertz
i bet it was the one about all your stocks are belong to us

SomeArmchairEconomist
haha

StewPDX
"ALL YOUR STOCKS ARE BELONG TO U.S." posted 10.01.08 - 5:13 PM. That help?

Rob_Dawg
the average POV has 1.58 passengers. [ewwww, the blood, the gore, the horror!]

otishertz
hee he

SomeArmchairEconomist
honestly, im really surprised by that number
means that no more than 50% of cars have 1 person in them, no?

otishertz
i knew the one, stew.

Rob_Dawg
everyone is always surprised at tht number just like discovering buses average 11 passengers and transit does not save energy.

SomeArmchairEconomist
ok, so if 50% of cars have 1 passenger, then the other 50% should qualify for HOV
and at least half the lanes should be HOV

SomeArmchairEconomist
buses averaging 11 doesn't surprise me
except of course the bus i ride which is constantly packed

Rob_Dawg
HOV are peak load leveling devices. During peak periods the occupancy goes down.

SomeArmchairEconomist
ahhh ok now we're getting somewhere then

Rob_Dawg
imagine ten buses, 9 with 1 passenger, 1 with 40. 80% of the people will swear the buses are packed.

SomeArmchairEconomist
good ol stats

whats the major cost in running buses, the bus or the driver?

ie if you run smaller buses for lighter lines, and bigger buses for more traveled lines, does it work out?

Rob_Dawg
I used to think corellation was causation then I took a statistics course and now I know better. Did the course help? I can never be sure.

SomeArmchairEconomist
someone reads xkcd

Rob_Dawg
The bus is probably 80%. You can verify that by looking at hourly salaries to hourly operating costs

SomeArmchairEconomist
what if instead of asking "whats more efficient" we instead ask "what option will reduce congestion, commute times, and increase urban air quality"

Rob_Dawg
Economies of scale dictate fleet makeup. If you are big enough a system then yes. Smaller agencies one model saves lot costs.
You don't want to know that answer. It isn't pretty. More roads but we lack the will for that presently.

9 comments:

sm_landlord said...

Am I the FIRST to ask if that was an IRC chat or an blog thread or?

My problem with buses is the traffic congestion that they cause. If a street has buses running on it, the right lane loses a lot of its carrying capacity due to frequent stops and restarts randomizing traffic, painful turns, blocked traffic during stops, gridlocked intersections with buses trapped in them, etc.

If you want to run buses on a street, you really need to add turnouts at every bus stop as a minimum. The busway in San Fernando Valley seems to be working out OK, except for the excess traffic accidents and high costs.

Rob Dawg said...

SM,
This was a CR live link last night. I lost a bit more that was as interesting. I've just finished updating the links.

Chris said...

Thanks. I've been waiting for this.

Bill in NC said...

Run the buses on natural gas instead of diesel like DC does to improve urban air quality.

Rob Dawg said...

NatGas is only slightly better because of fewer particulates. Otherwise the same to slightly worse.

Teri said...

I lived in PDX for awhile. Nice city but it's failed to understand economic realities.
That might be the reason why there are so few successful, vibrant, employment in hi-tech. If Intel were to close those fabs in Hillsboro, you can stick a fork into PDX.
Too bad the fanatic green folks don't understand that you have to eat and pay the bills in order to enjoy life and do good for the environment.

Rob Dawg said...

My impression as well. The birkenstockers of Portland need to get their hands dirty.

TGGP said...

Mike Munger has a good podcast on the old privatized bus system in Santiago Chile vs the new public one.

Peripheral Visionary said...

Buses overall reduce congestion, as they potentially remove a LOT of cars; with a well-designed bus line where it's routinely carrying 20+ passengers, that's taking 10 or more cars off the road. Starts/stops are a problem, but the solution is to use a turnout; for most streets in DC, they just eliminate streetside parking in front of the stop, and that's plenty of room for the bus.

The real problem with the buses in DC is too many stops. Stops every block or even every half block, which means that during rush hour the accursed bus is stopping. every. single. block. That makes it glacially slow, which is why people take the subway when they can. The solutions is fewer stops; one every two blocks, max. For a bus route to work well, you need few stops so the bus can keep moving.

Ideal is a commuter line which goes from a very small number of stops into the downtown. I used to ride one that stopped exactly once between where I got on (within walking distance of my home) and downtown where I worked. It was nearly as fast as a car commute but without the headache of having to drive. I'm fine with keeping a regular schedule, so for me it was ideal.