Friday, August 31, 2018

Public Transportation


Buses are probably the best choice for mass transit, but cities aren't designed around mass transit very often. With small and medium sized cities, buses should work well. A number of issues contribute to low ridership rates, along with the above mentioned issue.

In many urban areas, bus stops are unsafe. The walk to a bus stop may be unsafe. At the bus stops there may be panhandlers, aggressive panhandlers, or people who just shouldn't be there in the first place. This is bad because this is public transportation. People accessing this transportation shouldn't be obstructed. Lighted stops are one possible minor solution.

Handicapped individuals should have every right to public transportation, maybe even free. Rather than trying to accommodate these individuals on regular buses, they should probably have access to a dial a ride system. This way, they can go straight from point A to point B. When regular buses are retrofitted, they lose passenger space and the schedules get thrown off. The resulting larger buses aren't nimble. Some people can't get to the stops, or have trouble getting to them in the first place. 

Scheduling is another issue. A lot of the stops aren't covered. If people are waiting out in the elements for unnecessary, extended periods of time, it lowers ridership levels. Also people get in trouble for being late to places.

Some places issue passes with magnetic strips. It doesn't make much sense to sell a 1 year pass that has a strip that wears out in a month, and there are usually no exchanges or refunds on the passes.

How well a given area can utilize mass transit varies. Newer communities should take this into serious consideration. Addressing some of the above issues would improve ridership, cut down on traffic and fuel costs, and perhaps justify some additional investments in new routes and stop improvements.

My other blog: The Harris Blog

Monday, August 27, 2018

Planned Cities

Here's a good design for a city. Buses run on all the main streets, which are all numbered or lettered. There isn't any need for a transit center. The need for separate school buses would be minimized. Some areas usually aren't serviced by school buses. Here, these students wouldn't need to drive or get rides from their parents, thereby reducing traffic. All of the main streets go through without obstruction. No one way streets. This would be located several miles from an interstate(s). A highway would run around zone C.

Someone could get from any point in the city to any other point with a maximum of one bus transfer and a total maximum walk of about one half mile. The average walk in this instance would be about a quarter mile total.

Within the central area, zone A, there wouldn't be any private autos. Everything else: bikes, motorcycles, rideshares, commercial vehicles, etc. There would be parking areas at the perimeter of zone A at all main streets. Big box stores would be placed in zone C.

Ideally, the buses would be free, perhaps paid for through sales taxes or commercial property taxes. They could be subsidized through commercial property taxes because employers wouldn't need to pay workers as much. This would improve ridership and improve ride times. There would be less traffic in all zones, which would also improve ride times. Shelters at the stops would be ideal.

Affordable housing would be a key feature. Liberal residential zoning would facilitate things like micro lofts with minimal square footage requirements. Minimum square footage requirements for single family residences would be about 500 square feet, maybe 900 for duplexes. There could be provisions for tiny house villages, and excessive, cost prohibitive building codes would be discouraged.

A place like this has a low HUT index, or housing + utilities + transportation costs. It is designed around people, as opposed to individual self-interests.

A design like this is completely practical. Nowadays there are rideshares, delivery services and better communications. Stress would be lowered because there's less traffic and it is easy to navigate. Here, someone wouldn't really need a car. If she/he had one, they wouldn't need to drive as much, thereby saving on fuel and service costs. There's another thing that's gone way up. Repairs are expensive, and it is difficult for someone to work on their own vehicle. Where a household might have two cars, here they might only want one.

It would be nothing for a few tech companies to get together with a couple of healthcare companies, perhaps, and banks and develop something like this in someplace like Iowa, Alabama or Missouri, where they could use some development. This would take some of the pressure off an over-developed place like Silicon Valley. Tech companies have a lot of money, they could send their employees out to the Rockies to play, if that was an issue.

My other blog: The Harris Wblog

Alternative Transportation I

People need safe and practical alternatives to cars for transportation. Anymore, if you're walking or riding on a bike or motorcycle in an urban area, you're on your own. It is way more dangerous than it was 20 years or so ago. People are driving around while they're messing with their phones, and they're not watching where they're going, they're just watching out for other cars and large objects.

There's all of these people with expensive bikes. They don't ride them to work very often, and they're not on the buses.

It should be mandatory that drivers ed schools devote a considerable amount of time toward teaching drivers to watch out for people that aren't in other cars, and how to interact with them. State drivers tests could cover bike and pedestrian laws so people know their rights.

Most cities are currently designed around the automobile, and the newer ones weren't always planned the best way when it comes to this. The auto industry once made up a very large part of our manufacturing and economic base. It isn't that way so much anymore. The combined market caps for the two largest domestic auto manufacturers are currently about 90 billion. To put this in perspective, just one of the largest computer/software companies is currently pushing the trillion dollar mark.

Another thing that has changed is domestic cars aren't always made here, and there isn't as much labor involved in their production. When someone buys a car now, it is often an import. Then, they're spending on gas and insurance. What's better, car insurance or health insurance? Motorcycle insurance is cheap, and they don't use much gas.

Two things have had a major impact on consumer spending patterns over the last century. The cost of automobiles when adjusted for inflation has risen dramatically, and so has the cost of houses. These are two of the biggest things most people will spend their money on. Given a situation where a couple, for instance, has the option of paying rent and owning two cars, or buying a house, it is probably best for them and the economy if they go with the second option.

If the couple buys the house, their wealth goes up. Houses are made here, although they aren't exportable. The materials are exportable. Also, a lot of the companies that make the materials are based here, and a lot of them are made here.

Another relevant issue is where our buses come from. There are domestic bus manufacturers which are located here and build them with domestic chassis. Maybe it should be policy that cities buy these rather than imports.

Finally, there's all the people who are currently working low paying service jobs, working part time or underemployed. Many of these people can't afford to buy a car, insure it and pay for repairs. They need other transportation options.

My other blog: The Harris Wblog