Green and Accessible Public Transport

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nezumi
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Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by nezumi » Fri Aug 13, 2021 9:25 am

Since the topic took over the Stonehenge thread for a page or two it does seem like there's a lot of pent up suggestions and interest in the topic.

I am a car driver, I hate taking public transport (even taxis) and I am probably a good example of the person you need to persuade to give up my car - and I can tell you now, it ain't ever gonna happen! So, to persuade anybody to take public transport anywhere it would have to be improved on several levels. I don't know anything about London, but I hear it has good public transport. I doubt many Londoners know Teesside, but let me tell you it absolutely does not.

We used to have pretty decent public transport (by the standards of the day) but I actually think it's a chicken and egg situation. There seems to always have been a perception that getting your driving license is a rite of passage and that, unless you can drive, you're not a real adult. As a higher proportion of people learned to drive the costs of driving fell - supply rose to meet demand. At the same time there was a gradual lowering of demand for public transport. The area has never been well-served by trains, stations are extremely spaced out and inconvenient while fares are high and quality is rock bottom (Pacers!), As time has gone on, the taxi companies have all been swallowed up by one company, Stagecoach and Arriva have carved up the area then reduced services yearly. Obviously bus fares are sky high and to get anywhere you often need to take two or more buses. My commute to work would take 3 buses and 2 hours. It's 15 minutes by car. If I was commuting daily it genuinely would cost more in transport than the cost of my car (roughly £300 per month including loan, tax, petrol, insurance).

The only realistic public transport for this area would be buses (at the moment, obvs) and they were definitely at one time very good in terms of places serviced, running times and frequency and fares. Buses are ideal if a large proportion of your town's workers are working in the same places and the majority of them have a job at all, and that was the case back then, but it isn't now. Buses serve large centres of employment and retail because of economies of scale, full buses profit, empty ones don't, but people still need to move about even if they're the only person going to that destination from their starting point.

The rise of car ownership definitely strongly correlates with the decline in public transport but it's definitely more complicated than one causing the other directly and causes many more problems than only pollution or climate change. My fear is that if we simply switch wholesale to EVs then we'll solve one problem but exacerbate others like crammed roads and a lack of convenient transport.

The solutions will be complex and nuanced, which is why I started this thread. I love complicated and nuanced, me.
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Woodchopper
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Aug 13, 2021 11:09 am

nezumi wrote:
Fri Aug 13, 2021 9:25 am
Buses are ideal if a large proportion of your town's workers are working in the same places and the majority of them have a job at all, and that was the case back then, but it isn't now. Buses serve large centres of employment and retail because of economies of scale, full buses profit, empty ones don't, but people still need to move about even if they're the only person going to that destination from their starting point.
Yes, I agree.

Public transport is much more efficient than cars when the busses or trains are full. However, that only works when many people want to predictably travel on the same journeys at the same time. When the bus or train has empty seats the efficiency per passenger drops. If there are, say, only three people on a bus then the journey is far less efficient and more expensive per passenger kilometer than using a private car (to start with, fuel and maintenance costs are far higher). Frequent, convenient public transport is expensive.

Mass car ownership led to an important long-term change (I assume also in Cleveland) as people were able to live and work in much more spread out areas than they did in previous eras. The US is an extreme example, but in the UK people also moved out of high density housing in cities and into suburbs, small towns and villages. But those people still want to be able to commute into work or access services in local towns or cities.

One option is to heavily subsidize public transport. So just accept that, say, there will be lots of mostly empty busses outside peak hours or to places with lower population density. However, even then many of the services are likely to be qualitatively worse than a car journey. So long as people don't just want to travel in and out of the main bus or train station they are going to have to take several different journeys and wait in between them. People also have other concerns about public transport, such as personal safety and these days spreading disease.

Long-term, we may well see further changes to how we live and work. Possible increases in home working may further reduce the need for some people to commute into and out of work. For others, future heavy taxes on cars and lack of adequate public transport may also encourage people to move into higher density housing closer to where they work or access services.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by nezumi » Fri Aug 13, 2021 11:27 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Aug 13, 2021 11:09 am

Yes, I agree.

<snip>

One option is to heavily subsidize public transport. So just accept that, say, there will be lots of mostly empty busses outside peak hours or to places with lower population density. However, even then many of the services are likely to be qualitatively worse than a car journey. So long as people don't just want to travel in and out of the main bus or train station they are going to have to take several different journeys and wait in between them. People also have other concerns about public transport, such as personal safety and these days spreading disease.

Long-term, we may well see further changes to how we live and work. Possible increases in home working may further reduce the need for some people to commute into and out of work. For others, future heavy taxes on cars and lack of adequate public transport may also encourage people to move into higher density housing closer to where they work or access services.
Subsidizing public transport (or even nationalising it) is definitely inevitable, for the forseeable future at least, however, its use is going to decline further given that so many fewer people commute anywhere near as often as they did; I am absolutely certain office work is going to be routinely work from home in the future, the worst deal I've heard of so far is being asked to go to the office for one week in five. That will lead to even more spreading out of people, although hopefully that won't mean out into the countryside but perhaps reviving smaller towns and run-down cities. That would make public transport on the scale of buses more useful on many of the traditional routes, main roads out of town centres for leisure activities. If the local town centre becomes a great place for leisure and nobody is using much office space anymore we might even see a rash of office buildings going down making way for shiny new apartments (with non-flammable cladding obviously).

Most places need smaller scale services more frequently than they're getting now. I'd hazard a guess that an uber-style system using hybrid or electric mini-buses would be the way to go.

I'd also strongly argue for turning over rail in the Teesside area for more freight and improving the network to take artics off the roads. Here, at least, we need to accept that rail gets you basically nowhere, sadly.
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by headshot » Fri Aug 13, 2021 11:58 am

I'd like to see local networks centrally managed to enable connections between trains, trams and buses to work properly. The number of times I've missed connections because they don't match up.

In Germany they have things like "Natchttreffen", where all of public transport arrives in a central area so that people can swap buses etc. I witness it in Weimar where literally 10 buses turned up at once, there was as flurry of activity, then they all left at the same time 10 minutes later. It works superbly.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by IvanV » Fri Aug 13, 2021 11:59 am

The British local public transport sector is a bit of a curate's egg, by either definition, according your opinion. In the best case, it is good in parts. And the particular ways in which large parts of it are less good is unfortunately unhelpful for its rejuvenation.

Local buses. The Transport Act 19something deregulated local buses outside London and Northern Ireland, and local councils could tender for non-profitable services in addition to that. It has been clearly shown by comparative studies that the effect of this on unsubsidised services is that they charge higher fares, and this has reduced demand in comparison to the planned bus systems that remained in some places. And most councils - though not all - aim to minimise the cost of the supplementary tendered services by letting the provider charge what fares they like for them. So the local bus sector has moved to a lower demand/higher fare equilibrium/ This tends to minimise the cost of provision of a basic service, but fails to seek a social optimum of higher bus use, that might require additional public support, as tends to happen on the continent. Then came austerity and large council budget cuts of the last decade or so, and most councils have had to find large savings in their transport budget, and so cut back on the size of the networks, service frequencies, late/early timings that they previously supported. And now we have the pandemic and bus usage has crashed to a much greater extent than car usage.

Legislative changes now give greater ability to local councils to plan their bus networks and run them in the cause of social optimisation rather than minimisation of financial support. But there are a number of impediments to trying to get back to how things were 40 years ago:
-People's travel habits
-People's decisions where to live and work
-Shortage of council income to support such services in comparison to the past
-The large reduction in bus ticket income from the pandemic, which is likely to take time to come back, if it ever does

Local railway services, (by which I include other local transport services with a substantial fixed infrastructure: trams, guided busways, etc). The construction and operation of the railway network in this country unfortunately costs a lot more than in other countries. This greatly reduces what level of public transport service the country can afford to buy. We try to make it more affordable for government by having high fares relative to our continental peers - and despite those high fares some local commuter networks are very heavily used. The features of the UK's legal system, construction sector, and operational practices that make it so sodding expensive in this country (and before someone makes the usual retort, "land prices", that is only a small part of it) are multiple, complicated, hard to locate, and deeply ingrained. We need a period of deep introspection, a strong and explicit rejection of that British vice "not invented here", which unfortunately has become even more entrenched in the present zeitgeist, to find a way to do these things in a more affordable way.

Social attitudes. In many continental countries, public transport is what every one uses, be it buses or trains, just as bicycles are what everyone rides. But we have these social attitudes in a large part of society that choices such as buses and bicycles are for losers. Even those of us who overcome that and use them often feel we have to apologise for turning up on a bicycle or on a bus.

I've been working on these issues for the last 20-30 years, (though not only on these), and feel I have been banging my head against a brick wall and now feel even further from any ability to solve them. It is kind of good that GBR will be responsible for procuring train services, and can therefore take efficiency more in the round, as BR used to, to try and deliver construction contracts more efficiently. But that doesn't mean it will definitely happen. London Underground already has that ability, and if anything its inability to construct infrastructure at a sensible cost is even further from reality. (The cancelled Metropolitan Line Extension is a case study in that. They couldn't build a 3 mile 55mph line on a pre-existing track alignment for £357m.) Part of this is wanting everything new to be the best, instead of proportionate, though recently there seems to have been an understanding that such hubris is unaffordable.

OK, bit of a rant. TLDR: it is very difficult to make underused local public transport play a proper part even in a densely populated country, where a large and growing proportion of the country population considers it beneath them, and those who do buy into it have got themselves so far off the ground in designing, building and operating it in a proportionate way that we have made it unaffordable to do what our neighbours do.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by lpm » Fri Aug 13, 2021 12:15 pm

Park & Ride needs to be a part of it. Banning cars from chunks of every town and city speeds up buses and makes cycling more attractive. But it tends to be seen as a way to reduce congestion rather than a fundamental component of changing cities.

Should also have Park & Bike - arrive, jump on a bike for the last couple of miles on separated cycle lanes.
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by WFJ » Fri Aug 13, 2021 2:41 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Aug 13, 2021 12:15 pm
Park & Ride needs to be a part of it. Banning cars from chunks of every town and city speeds up buses and makes cycling more attractive. But it tends to be seen as a way to reduce congestion rather than a fundamental component of changing cities.

Should also have Park & Bike - arrive, jump on a bike for the last couple of miles on separated cycle lanes.
This.

It also makes inter-town/city rail transport directly into the centre of the town/city more attractive for commuters than driving to an out of town park and ride and catching a bus into the centre.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by IvanV » Fri Aug 13, 2021 3:26 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Aug 13, 2021 12:15 pm
Park & Ride needs to be a part of it. Banning cars from chunks of every town and city speeds up buses and makes cycling more attractive. But it tends to be seen as a way to reduce congestion rather than a fundamental component of changing cities.

Should also have Park & Bike - arrive, jump on a bike for the last couple of miles on separated cycle lanes.
I kind of suspect most cities where park and ride would work have already got one. Or do you have a class of cities in mind that currently generally don't do this and could? You do need the right kind of city - big enough to have demand for it, small enough it isn't too far in the bus from the car park, compact enough there's enough people wanting to go to similar destinations that a bus can easily serve.

I realise part of what you are saying is that more cities should be more aggressive about discouraging private traffic in more extensive parts of their centre, pushing people into the P&Rs. The usual impediment against this the people who live there are often difficult to persuade it is sufficiently in their interest in sufficient number, and in a democracy it is hard to go against them. Oxford is already better than most. But when recently it tried to extend the area of the city where restrictions, it was forced to reverse it by local interests. They still have major ambitions in that direction, but now know they will have to be much more careful about it, and provide adequate mitigations for residents/businesses that can suffer by it.

Oxford now has a "Park & Pedal" scheme, is expanding it, and maybe some other places too, and maybe it will get more popular. But Oxford and Cambridge are rather special cases for the number of people willing to use bicycles in them. I'm a bit of guerilla park-n-pedaller, where there are congested towns I don't want to drive into, tha have no formal arrangemens for it. But I think that is pretty unusual behaviour atmo. But Oxford and Cambridge are unusual in the acceptability of cycling in those cities, in Britain. I think many other places need a long attitude change period before they would be able to make a success of it.

There is a terrible chicken and egg situation. People don't want the authorities to make changes that makes their current mode choice less convenient, for the purpose of encourage them to cycle, because they currently don't see cycling as an acceptable option. It's hard to persuade people the changes you are making will make it sufficiently attractive to cycle, even if it is true. And then we are so bad at cycling facilities in this country. Cycle Facility of the Month unfortunately ceased to update after Feb 2019, but the back catalogue is still hilarious. My favourite though it's a different kind of joke, not bad cycle facility design. I have seen precisely the same thing in a different location.

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Re: Green and Accessible Mass Transport

Post by Millennie Al » Sat Aug 14, 2021 1:30 am

There must be quite a few households across the country which consist of two adults and some children where the adults need to get to two different places of work and the children need to get to a third - their school. Restricting travel to only walking, cycling, and mass transport therefore restricts the household in some way. It may mean that the adults have to be less flexible in where they work, it may mean the children must go to a less desired school, or even that the adults can no longer live together.

The great increase in car usage has meant that such households have become accustomed to the flexibility it provides. And society has also benefited. Some people choose jobs which are more suited to their talents as they can get to far more places in a reasonable time.

Shopping has slightly different characteristics. Big retail parks mean that it is practical to use mass transit to get there, since you have lots of people making the same journey. However, mass transit handles luggage very poorly. There's a huge difference between unloading several bags of shopping from your car compared to walking several hundred metres from a bus stop carrying it all or wheeling some sort of trolley. And buses are quite poor at handling a high proportion of passengers who all have lots of luggage. Some of this can be mitigated by not going to shops - ordering online so the goods can share a vehicle with goods being delivered to many other nearby addresses (the goods equivalent to mass transport).

Fundamentally, using mass transport rather than personal transport is a form of being poorer, so it's a very hard sell. This seems to be currently evaded by many people by thinking that they personally do not need to impair their lifestyle - only other people do.
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Re: Green and Accessible Mass Transport

Post by Allo V Psycho » Sat Aug 14, 2021 5:33 pm

Millennie Al wrote:
Sat Aug 14, 2021 1:30 am
There must be quite a few households across the country which consist of two adults and some children where the adults need to get to two different places of work and the children need to get to a third - their school. Restricting travel to only walking, cycling, and mass transport therefore restricts the household in some way. It may mean that the adults have to be less flexible in where they work, it may mean the children must go to a less desired school, or even that the adults can no longer live together.
Sorry, Al, are you seriously suggesting this is a possibility?

I've been in exactly the situation in the first sentence above, where I worked in one city, in the only employer that could pay me a living wage, and spouse worked similarly (on nights) in a city in the opposite direction, and we lived in a dormitory village in between which was the only place we could afford a mortgage. We chose the village because the kids could then walk to primary school, and get the school bus to the local county town for secondary school (about which there was therefore no choice, desirable or not). Even as it was, we could only just pay the mortgage, while I worked all day and looked after the kids at night, and spouse worked all night and looked after the kids during the non-school day.

High city house prices mean essential workers have to live outside the city and travel. In many places getting any job at all is great good fortune: there is no 'flexibility'. And 'not living together' is difficult when there are young kids, but in any case means two sets of housing costs, which is just not possible.

Of course there was no bus transport to the dormitory village from either city. Two (beat up second hand) cars was the only solution.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Sciolus » Sat Aug 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Let's spell out an obvious problem with the financial setup. Cars have very high capital and fixed costs, but low marginal costs. Public transport has zero capital costs but very high marginal costs. This means that the sensible approach, of using public transport for routine journeys such as commuting and keeping a car for less frequent harder journeys, is strongly financially disincentivised. If you're keeping a car for occasional journeys, it makes sense to use it for all journeys. It would take very substantial redistribution to change this.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Sciolus » Sat Aug 14, 2021 8:22 pm

Some anecdotage. Until I was around 50, including as a child, I had no regular access to a car. If I wanted to go somewhere, my options were one or two town centres that were accessible by public transport, or places within walking or cycling distance, or cadge a lift off someone, or not go. Very often, the only option was not go.

When I eventually got a car a few years ago, it was a revelation. There were all of places I could go, and all sorts of activities I could attend, that were simply closed to me before. The effect of mobility on ones personal and social life is enormous.

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Re: Green and Accessible Mass Transport

Post by Millennie Al » Sun Aug 15, 2021 1:33 am

Allo V Psycho wrote:
Sat Aug 14, 2021 5:33 pm
Millennie Al wrote:
Sat Aug 14, 2021 1:30 am
There must be quite a few households across the country which consist of two adults and some children where the adults need to get to two different places of work and the children need to get to a third - their school. Restricting travel to only walking, cycling, and mass transport therefore restricts the household in some way. It may mean that the adults have to be less flexible in where they work, it may mean the children must go to a less desired school, or even that the adults can no longer live together.
Sorry, Al, are you seriously suggesting this is a possibility?
I was more thinking of it as an inevitable consequence of restricting personal transport.
I've been in exactly the situation in the first sentence above,...
Of course there was no bus transport to the dormitory village from either city. Two (beat up second hand) cars was the only solution.
And what would have been the consequence of a green policy which added enough tax to personal transport that made your cars too expensive to work like that? Or some other non-tax green policy which limited the total miles you were allowed drive in a year to less than required for your jobs?
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Millennie Al » Sun Aug 15, 2021 1:40 am

When considering mass transport using buses, I thought people might like to know their fuel consumption (which, obviously, dictates their minimum emissions). From https://www.london.gov.uk/questions/2015/2556 we find that for TfL hybrid double-deck buses it is:


Vehicle Euro Engine MPG
ADL 400H V 8.58
NRM V 10.60
Volvo B5LH Hybrid V 9.02
ADL 400H VI 7.99
NRM VI 10.84
Volvo B5H VI 7.70

This gives some idea of how many passengers must be carried to prevent a bus being worse than the passengers driving their own cars. Obviously even more passengers are required if the alternative allows them to ride-share, but public sentiment and regulations make that difficult.
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by nezumi » Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:10 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 1:40 am
Vehicle Euro Engine MPG
ADL 400H V 8.58
NRM V 10.60
Volvo B5LH Hybrid V 9.02
ADL 400H VI 7.99
NRM VI 10.84
Volvo B5H VI 7.70

This gives some idea of how many passengers must be carried to prevent a bus being worse than the passengers driving their own cars. Obviously even more passengers are required if the alternative allows them to ride-share, but public sentiment and regulations make that difficult.
I am actually quite impressed by that, I've seen cars with worse MPG! (which should obviously be banned, there is NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER to drive a hummer.

I'd like to see more regulation of the type of vehicle people are able to buy before EVs become the only thing you can have. Too many Chelsea tractors nobbing about. Do these youngish women own a farm? No? No landrover for you Mrs. I do hope banning internal combustionn engines will lead to more people driving sensible vehicles!
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by bagpuss » Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:50 pm

nezumi wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:10 am
I'd like to see more regulation of the type of vehicle people are able to buy before EVs become the only thing you can have. Too many Chelsea tractors nobbing about. Do these youngish women own a farm? No? No landrover for you Mrs. I do hope banning internal combustionn engines will lead to more people driving sensible vehicles!
You need to be a bit careful about that one. One consequence of much more stringent requirements in terms of child car seats compared with when I were a lass (ie, nothing whatsoever) is that the size of car needed to fit more than 2 kids in the back has massively increased. There are actually not many cars where you can get 3 car seats across the back so a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't want them are forced to get humungous cars to get those seats in. And I'm not just thinking about people with 3 or more kids of their own - quite often parents will be ferrying around friends of their own kids, so if they have 2 primary-aged kids, they might well need to go for a car that can take 3 to enable lift-sharing, play dates, etc. Only having 1 child, we've never had to worry about that* but I do know plenty of people who've got mahoosive cars, just to squeeze their 3 kids in (or 2 plus friend) with accompanying car seats.



*And now it's even less of an issue as the bagkitten and all her friends are now too big to need (or even fit in) child car seats and I can happily ferry 3 of them in my little Fiat 500, as one can go in the front, too.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by bagpuss » Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:14 pm

I actually quite like public transport but I rarely use it. It wouldn't take me a huge amount more time to get to work (if/when I ever have to go back) by train/tube than by car, and frankly I'd far rather sit on the train/tube and read than stress in traffic jams, especially with ever-increasing HS2 works on my route to work. But until now, it wasn't viable for me to use the train/tube except on odd occasions, as even if everything was on time, I wouldn't have been able to get back in time to collect the bagkitten from the childminder. I am, however, considering switching to doing that (cost dependent - I need to find out how much it would cost) if/when I go back to the office as the bagkitten will now be walking herself home from school, with Mr Bagpuss in the house when she arrives.


For me, and I'm sure for many others, it's the journey time that makes driving so much more appealing than public transport. Even with the moving traffic jam that is the A413 and the barely-moving traffic jam that is Uxbridge, it's still quicker for me to drive than to go by train/tube, even though that's a pretty easy journey too (one train, one tube, less than 20 mins total walking time at the ends). There's just no way that buses can compete with cars, even if you can do the trip on a single bus, because they have to keep stopping, and also rarely go by the most direct route.

So public transport is never going to be a good option for those who are time poor, even if you factor in the ability to get other things done (work, studying, online shopping, etc) while you're on the train/bus/whatever.

Any approach that aims to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport is going to have to take this into account. lpm's point about making park & ride more of a necessity by making some areas impossible to get to by car is one way of approaching this. If I couldn't drive into Uxbridge but had to park outside and bus in, then that would likely tip the balance in favour of not using my car at all and going train/tube. It would tip the time balance between car and public transport by making the car option slower and the public transport option quicker. For many journeys, it still wouldn't be enough to make public transport quicker but it's a start.
Sciolus wrote:
Sat Aug 14, 2021 8:16 pm
Let's spell out an obvious problem with the financial setup. Cars have very high capital and fixed costs, but low marginal costs. Public transport has zero capital costs but very high marginal costs. This means that the sensible approach, of using public transport for routine journeys such as commuting and keeping a car for less frequent harder journeys, is strongly financially disincentivised. If you're keeping a car for occasional journeys, it makes sense to use it for all journeys. It would take very substantial redistribution to change this.
A very good point. The obvious solution already exists in a lot of cities - many Londoners use public transport most of the time but use a car club or other car hire when they want to go on a longer journey out of the city to somewhere without good public transport links, or if they want to take a lot of luggage. I'm not sure whether these would work as well in more rural areas, though, because I suspect the balance between car and public transport would be very different. It's not unreasonable to think that more than half of the people using such a scheme might want a car on any given weekend, not just for weekend breaks but for ferrying kids, going out for day trips or even just doing some shopping. And that would make the financials less viable and also require a much larger fleet of vehicles. And that's before you start factoring in logistics like where are the cars kept and how do people get to them.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:30 pm

Where I live there's a 40€ monthly pass, which removes the marginal-cost thing. For the price of one tank of petrol I can go anywhere within about 90 minutes of Lisbon on any mode of transport (ferry, bus, metro, suburban rail, tram (including the fancy old tourist ones), plus a discount on those stupid scooter things).

So if I've got to go into Lisbon a few times, and also do a couple of social trips that month, it's already cheaper to buy the pass. And at that point, I can go everywhere for free the rest of the time too. It takes over an hour to get to/from work on the bus, compared with 35 minutes in the morning and about 50 in the evening (because of traffic), and on days when I need to pop into a couple of marshes for fieldwork the bus is pretty useless.

But I am considering doing my regular commute to the office by bus, and buying myself a couple of hours of reading/thinking time (plus the ability to go for a couple of beers after work with friends).

TFL already has a daily cap, so the technology clearly exists to have weekly and monthly caps too - we want to incentivise more people to use public transport more often. Knowing that it will be capped after some threshold is even easier than having to plan a month in advance, especially given irregular hours and partial-homeworking and stuff these days.
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by dyqik » Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:49 pm

For me, it's cheaper to use public transit to commute, and roughly the same time. This is because work pays $260 a month towards the cost of public transit, and lets me pay most of the $80 remainder pre-tax, and charges $200 a month (again pre-tax) to park at my work. That cost buys a pass for the commuter rail for zones between my town and Boston, and for the whole subway and bus system. But doesn't buy the tickets for my town operated bus to the station.

However, I'm limited to 1 time to travel in the morning and 1 time in the evening where the travel time is approximately the same. Only one of times is actually the same door to door travel time - leaving at 6:55, and arriving at work at 8:10, and leaving work at 4:20 and getting home at 5:35. And there's only 3 times each way a day that are possible at all, due to the need to take a commuter shuttle from my town to the station, as there's no available parking at the station, unless I take a 6:20am stopping train that takes twice as long. This parking issue, which is made worse by the town with station refusing permission for more parking to be built, is the critical thing that limits access to public transit.

Unfortunately, I have to have meetings with the West Coast at 5-6pm at least once a week, which are impossible to do from public transit - there's no phone signal for 15 minutes in the middle of the journey.

I'm also not sure how green the commuter rail is, as the trains are pulled by massive diesel engines that are poorly maintained and belch black smoke.

Oh, and the trains are often heavily delayed due to freight trains on the line, as the freight company (PanAm) owns the lines the commuter rail runs on beyond my town.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by IvanV » Mon Aug 16, 2021 4:46 pm

bagpuss wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:50 pm
You need to be a bit careful about that one. One consequence of much more stringent requirements in terms of child car seats compared with when I were a lass (ie, nothing whatsoever) is that the size of car needed to fit more than 2 kids in the back has massively increased. There are actually not many cars where you can get 3 car seats across the back so a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't want them are forced to get humungous cars to get those seats in. And I'm not just thinking about people with 3 or more kids of their own - quite often parents will be ferrying around friends of their own kids, so if they have 2 primary-aged kids, they might well need to go for a car that can take 3 to enable lift-sharing, play dates, etc. Only having 1 child, we've never had to worry about that* but I do know plenty of people who've got mahoosive cars, just to squeeze their 3 kids in (or 2 plus friend) with accompanying car seats.
We do have to be careful indeed.

When it comes to buying cars, rational considerations are of secondary concern to many people, as we agreed quite recently. So although there are quite a few models of cars with the typical fuel consumption of a medium-sized saloon, that do in fact carries 3 kids under 12 in their car seats on the rear bench, plus their pushchairs, your shopping and other clobber, to such people these vehicles are entirely mythical, badly misunderstood, or completely unacceptable on very technical but utterly decisive grounds.

My particualr spacious-but-cheap-and-economical car also comes in a version where that extensive luggage space behind the 3-equal-seats rear bench allows 2 additional kids in car seats to be accommodated with additional fold-up seats, though it does not leave much luggage space when you have the 2 extra seats occupied. So even the fecund, friendly, and repartnered with multiple sets of children to be accommodated, have relatively modest options available, though you might need a luggage trailer if you are all going on holiday together.

The modern equivalent of my car starts at about £20k new, and second hand is extensively available. Fuel consumption is typical of medium sized saloons. Space occupied on the road typical of medium sized saloon. Shape is more boxy than fashionable medium sized saloons, to get that large internal volume. Several manufacturers make similar cars. These are all from respectable European brands, not some dubious piece of tin from Turkmenistan.

But it is not the car many people want. It does not satisfy the non-rational grounds they do not wish to own up to. So they pretend it is beyond any possibility of ever being an option. They are quite unaware of it as ever being a plausible car they might possibly be expected to own.

When I was a kid, it was not uncommon for there up to be 9 people squeezed into my dad's Mk1 1.3l Cortina, hordes of screaming kids out for a jolly. I remember him getting it over Hardknott Pass at such a level of occupation, with considerable difficulty. Such economies are sadly no longer available. But there remain relatively economical methods well short of the mahoosive "people carriers" and tractor-sized objects.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Millennie Al » Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:50 am

bagpuss wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:14 pm
For me, and I'm sure for many others, it's the journey time that makes driving so much more appealing than public transport. Even with the moving traffic jam that is the A413 and the barely-moving traffic jam that is Uxbridge, it's still quicker for me to drive than to go by train/tube, even though that's a pretty easy journey too (one train, one tube, less than 20 mins total walking time at the ends). There's just no way that buses can compete with cars, even if you can do the trip on a single bus, because they have to keep stopping, and also rarely go by the most direct route.
Have you considered a motorbike? At 125cc it should have considerably better fuel consumption (e.g. https://www.fuelly.com/motorcycle/suzuki/vanvan_rv125 ) while also making the journey faster as you can get through traffic better.
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by Martin_B » Tue Aug 17, 2021 4:43 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:50 am
bagpuss wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:14 pm
For me, and I'm sure for many others, it's the journey time that makes driving so much more appealing than public transport. Even with the moving traffic jam that is the A413 and the barely-moving traffic jam that is Uxbridge, it's still quicker for me to drive than to go by train/tube, even though that's a pretty easy journey too (one train, one tube, less than 20 mins total walking time at the ends). There's just no way that buses can compete with cars, even if you can do the trip on a single bus, because they have to keep stopping, and also rarely go by the most direct route.
Have you considered a motorbike? At 125cc it should have considerably better fuel consumption (e.g. https://www.fuelly.com/motorcycle/suzuki/vanvan_rv125 ) while also making the journey faster as you can get through traffic better.
On the down side: far less safe, less protection from the elements, still not able to read (which was something bagpuss mentioning doing on the train/tube). But if you get a bike bagpuss, get a leather jacket with "Hells Bagpuss" on the back!
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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by IvanV » Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:53 am

bagpuss wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:14 pm
There's just no way that buses can compete with cars, even if you can do the trip on a single bus, because they have to keep stopping, and also rarely go by the most direct route.
No, they don't have to do that. And in middle-income countries where lots of people use buses, because there aren't many trains or they are very slow, and car ownership is still relatively low, much better bus services are available. Places like Chile, for example, have far better bus services than are available in this country.

Just as trains can have slow, medium and fast services, so can buses. And if you have the demand, then it is worth it. And the fast services can be proper fast services - like the London-Oxford bus you might know, which is a rare example of that working in this country. (And some of the services around Oxford are also unusually good - I have friends in Abingdon, and they benefit from a very good express bus services to Oxford.)

But there isn't the demand on Aylesbury-Oxford, to take an unpleasant experience that may be familiar to you, to have a proper regular express bus that literally runs nonstop from Oxford to Aylesbury with only a handful of well-chosen stops at each end; as well as an intermediate grade one that has some small number of additional stops in Haddenham, Thame and Wheatley, plus a slow one that reproduces what the current "express" does. And in a place like Chile, these things would run every 20 mins because there would be demand for it.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by dyqik » Tue Aug 17, 2021 4:30 pm

IvanV wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:53 am
bagpuss wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:14 pm
There's just no way that buses can compete with cars, even if you can do the trip on a single bus, because they have to keep stopping, and also rarely go by the most direct route.
No, they don't have to do that. And in middle-income countries where lots of people use buses, because there aren't many trains or they are very slow, and car ownership is still relatively low, much better bus services are available. Places like Chile, for example, have far better bus services than are available in this country.

Just as trains can have slow, medium and fast services, so can buses. And if you have the demand, then it is worth it. And the fast services can be proper fast services - like the London-Oxford bus you might know, which is a rare example of that working in this country. (And some of the services around Oxford are also unusually good - I have friends in Abingdon, and they benefit from a very good express bus services to Oxford.)

But there isn't the demand on Aylesbury-Oxford, to take an unpleasant experience that may be familiar to you, to have a proper regular express bus that literally runs nonstop from Oxford to Aylesbury with only a handful of well-chosen stops at each end; as well as an intermediate grade one that has some small number of additional stops in Haddenham, Thame and Wheatley, plus a slow one that reproduces what the current "express" does. And in a place like Chile, these things would run every 20 mins because there would be demand for it.
Plus compared to cars you save time and money on parking at one or both ends of the journey. That's important for journeys into city centers, or even from them.

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Re: Green and Accessible Public Transport

Post by dyqik » Tue Aug 17, 2021 4:32 pm

Martin_B wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 4:43 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:50 am
bagpuss wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 3:14 pm
For me, and I'm sure for many others, it's the journey time that makes driving so much more appealing than public transport. Even with the moving traffic jam that is the A413 and the barely-moving traffic jam that is Uxbridge, it's still quicker for me to drive than to go by train/tube, even though that's a pretty easy journey too (one train, one tube, less than 20 mins total walking time at the ends). There's just no way that buses can compete with cars, even if you can do the trip on a single bus, because they have to keep stopping, and also rarely go by the most direct route.
Have you considered a motorbike? At 125cc it should have considerably better fuel consumption (e.g. https://www.fuelly.com/motorcycle/suzuki/vanvan_rv125 ) while also making the journey faster as you can get through traffic better.
On the down side: far less safe, less protection from the elements, still not able to read (which was something bagpuss mentioning doing on the train/tube). But if you get a bike bagpuss, get a leather jacket with "Hells Bagpuss" on the back!
I'm not a biker, but I think electric motorbikes are also now getting to the point that they are sensible for most journey lengths that you'd reasonably consider by motorbike in the first place. And it's much more viable to park one in a front garden to charge it at night, even without a driveway.

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