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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Light Rail vs Personal Rail

I do not understand the vendetta that right-wingers have against mass transit. As a case in point, Minnesota state senator Michelle Bachman has ignorantly complained about the "honors system" of the Minneapolis Light Rail Transit system. On a radio show, she claimed that only 15% of the commuters actually end up paying for tickets, and therefore we need to get rid of the whole system . As Fred Willard would say, I Don't Think So!:
Why doesn't Metro Transit use turnstiles to ensure that LRT riders are paying their fares?
Metro Transit utilizes a barrier-free fare-collection system which is used by the majority of light-rail systems in North America. The average fare evasion rate for this type of system is 2%, which far lower than the cost to maintain and operate turnstiles. Of course, Transit Police do randomly request that passengers provide proof of fare payment. Passengers who do not provide valid proof end up paying a $180 fine including court costs.
Personally I have seen big, burly Minneapolis transit cops write out tickets a couple of times to non-payers. Ka-Ching. Clueless politicians like Bachman evidently don't get out too much. If she did, she would realize the honors system can work in various ways; for example the London train and bus system allows you to pay via credit card once on board.

Atrios points to an editorial on the future of Los Angeles mass transit here. Commenters on Atrios's blog mentioned that General Motors effectively destroyed LA's early streetcar system by politically positioning GM buses as an alternative -- via this theory. The roads necessary for buses eventually lead to the endemic LA car culture of today.

Another contender, Personal Rail Transport, has some of the makings of an analogous bait-and-switch tactic to LRT. Professor Ed Anderson of the U. of Minnesota has pushed this idea (basically personal pods on elevated rails) for a long time, even going so far as hawking his system Taxi 2000 at the State Fair last year. But in actuality, the politicians use the PRT as a canard to muddy the waters of effective mass transit solutions:
PRT critics on www.cprt.org have accused the concept of being an excuse for right-wing Republican policymakers such as Olson and the pro-highway Senator Michelle Bachman to vote for automobile infrastructure, while supporting PRT as an alternative to mass transit. The claims of conspiracy theorists resemble the actual events that brought an end to the nation’s streetcar system in the 1930s.
In what way does Bachman differ from a thug?
With a pack of notorious mobsters, GM helped purchase and scrap the street railways serving Minneapolis-St. Paul.

10 Comments:

Professor Anonymous PRT Liberal said...

PRT supporters come from across the political spectrum. See: Who's in whose pocket?

Activists against PRT use distortion, don't acknowledge their mistakes when caught. See: See How They Distort

11:13 AM  
Professor Anonymous Ken said...

do not understand the vendetta that right-wingers have against mass transit

Right-wingers like Michele Bachmann like to scare people. They like to make people think that transit will force peopleout of their cars into trains with "strangers".

The PRT people use the same bogus scare tactics.

Learn more about Michele Bachmann here:

http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/

9:33 AM  
Professor Anonymous PRT Liberal said...

Ken said...

Right-wingers like Michele Bachmann like to scare people. They like to make people think that transit will force peopleout of their cars into trains with "strangers".

The PRT people use the same bogus scare tactics.

Learn more about Michele Bachmann here:

http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/


Which came first: The chicken, or the widespread & generally accepted public perception that public transit is unpleasant and sometimes dangerous? Although Michele Bachmann sounds like an altogether unpleasant right wing wacko, I don't think it is fair to blame her for that perception.

For the record, the reason you won't (usually) ride PRT with strangers is NOT because they are strangers. It's because PRT service is on-demand: when you remove timetables from the mix, the odds are extreeeeemely low that a stranger will need to travel from the same point A as you, to the same point B as you, at precisely the same time.

4:21 PM  
Professor Anonymous Ken said...

From an Op Ed in the April 3rd 2005 Saint Cloud Times:

"They are not strangers as the PRT fearmongers call them but neighbors, friends, tourists, Twins and Vikings fans... fellow citizens."

6:36 PM  
Professor Anonymous PRT Liberal said...

Hold on-- who said Stranger means Bad? That's your hangup.

The Citizens aren't all joined at the hip. They're not all going to the same place at exactly the same time. That's why 95% of them are driving cars. Someday I hope 20-30% and more are riding PRT--and people who don't know each other can even PRT-pool. If they want. They'll have that choice.

Toodles.

8:43 PM  
Professor Anonymous Ken said...

"who said Stranger means Bad? That's your hangup.

Every kid learns this "hangup" when their parents and teachers tell them not to accept rides with strangers.

When Councilman Dean Zimmermann testified for Mark Olson's PRT bill (HF1174) in the Minnesota House Local Government Committee March 9th 2005, he said "With PRT you don't have to ride with strangers."

This is the audio link:
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/audio/ls84/locpol03092005.asx


I've heard this anti-transit "stranger" canard from lots of PRT proponents (the pro-highway transit foes use it too). Here's a piece of PRT literature with the comment:

http://www.roadkillbill.com/PRTflyer.jpg

6:14 AM  
Professor Anonymous PRT Liberal said...

"With PRT you don't have to ride with strangers."... I've heard this anti-transit "stranger" canard from lots of PRT proponents

I already noted that there is already a widespread & generally accepted public perception that public transit is unpleasant and sometimes dangerous. You can't blame PRT for that. We're pointing out they are less likely to feel insecure with PRT.

I already noted that the 'private ride' feature is first an operational reality, the perception of personal security is a sidenote. And they are likely not riding transit now, so we're not fearmongering or "scaring them into PRT."

9:45 AM  
Professor Anonymous Ken said...

...The previous post is a good example of why arguing with PRT proponents is so frustrating...

It''s like a bunch of kids arguing about which kid''s dad can beat up the other kids' dads... except one of the kids is an orphan. He''s both pathetic and irritating. His dad is always bigger and stronger because his dad exists only in his imagination. But you''re stuck listening to him because nobody has the heart to tell him the truth.

But don't take my word for it...

Transit for Livable Communities:

Interest in PRT has increased following its display at the 2003 State Fair and proposals to build systems in Duluth and Minneapolis. During the 2004 Legislative session, State Rep. Mark Olson (R) of Big Lake sponsored a bill to provide $10 million in state general obligation bonding to help construct a test track facility, and a variety of bills were filed to permit local bonding and exempt construction from sales taxes. TLC is studying the idea of PRT, but because the proposed technology has never been built anywhere in the world, there is no real engineering data to create reliable estimates of costs and benefits. Due to these concerns and the scarcity of public funding for established transit, the TLC board passed a resolution in April opposing state funding for PRT at this time. View the resolution here:

http://www.tlcminnesota.org/Events/2004/Legislature/No%20public%20funding%20for%20PRT.pdf

Thanks Mobjectivist for allowing the space for his debate.

More on PRT:

http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2005/05/lrt-and-prt-again.html

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7:45 PM  

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