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The cost of the future - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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The cost of the future [Aug. 6th, 2010|10:01 am]
Zoethe
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When gas topped $4 a gallon, I said that it was a good thing in that people were finally taking alternate transportation setiously.

OMG some people yelled, you hate the poor!!!

No one whp regularly reads my journal would even posit that. And here I sit at the Rapid Station with convincing proof of my poinf:

When gas was over $4/gallon, I had to park far back in the back lot for the stafion. Now? Parking place right up front.

In Cleveland and other cities, the solution to falling tax revenue is, among other things, cutting back on public transit. And why not? The powers that be don't ride the bus, and the upsurge in ridership disappeared once gas prices dropped.

I don't want it to be true of the American public that we only make individual sacrifices when our pocketbooks are jeopardized, but the fact is that we live in a culture that values personal convenience over societal good. Hell, I'm guilty of it myself: if I have an early morning court docket with tge judge I know to be lightning fast, I will often drive in and take advantage of the one hour of free parking available that is actually meant for lunchtime and so available early in the morning. It's a smaller time commitment, and I am back to work much faster.

If gas were at $4.60, I probably wouldn't do it.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: darksumomo
2010-08-06 02:18 pm (UTC)
"a culture that values personal convenience over societal good."

Welcome to the theme of my very first lecture in Environmental Science every semester. I may be a biology professor, but that course is as much about people's values and how those values influence the decisions people make using scientific information as it is about the science itself.

As far as cutting public transit, I don't know what the politicians think here in metro Detroit, but the people have spoken in favor of it. The renewal of the property tax assessment to keep SMART, the suburban bus system, running, passed on Tuesday with 78% of the vote. That was the highest percentage of any property tax measure in the county where I live.

Also, the local powers that be are behind a light rail project up Woodward Avenue in Detroit. That would be a big help in mobility around here.
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2010-08-06 02:28 pm (UTC)
I am SO excited about the possibility of the light rail project. I live in Royal Oak and I would go downtown far, far more often if I could drive down to 8 Mile, park, and take the light rail downtown. (I think seven stops in 3.5 miles is excessive, however.)
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[User Picture]From: darksumomo
2010-08-06 02:59 pm (UTC)
"I live in Royal Oak"

Hi, neighbor! So do I.

As for the seven stops in 3.5 miles, that's not any more excessive than the El in downtown Chicago. It also stops every quarter mile.
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2010-08-06 03:08 pm (UTC)
I think when you're scrambling for funding, starting out simple with the ability to add on later might be better, but I Am Not An Urban Planner.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2010-08-06 03:59 pm (UTC)
I have family in Royal Oak.
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2010-08-06 04:03 pm (UTC)
If you ever visit you should come say hi, then. :)
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2010-08-06 04:04 pm (UTC)
will do :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:01 pm (UTC)
That's awesome to hear. Cleveland has seen nothing but cuts. Entire bus routes have been dropped.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-06 02:39 pm (UTC)
You don't bill through expenses like mileage and parking to your clients?

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:02 pm (UTC)
Not for bankruptcy cases, no.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-06 06:10 pm (UTC)
It didn't occur to me (don't know why) that you might be appearing in a BK case.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 06:56 pm (UTC)
It'd the bulk of what I do.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-06 07:02 pm (UTC)
I think I knew that. Don't know why it didn't compute. Must be a brain fart.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: ibsulon
2010-08-07 08:38 am (UTC)
Even so, the half hour you save is a half hour you can devote to either attracting or performing new work, which is worth much more than $4.60...

And thus the problem. I've been in Istanbul and taking public transit exclusively for the first time in my life. I am constantly amazed at how much longer it takes to get things of substance done, and a day can be devoted to just a few errands. And that's the problem - as long as someone's time is worth more than the cost, they will justify thebadded expense. The trick, then, is to make the times roughly equal...
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2010-08-06 02:41 pm (UTC)
I'm a bus rider and buses have been cut because due to the budget cuts, less money was allocated for Centro (the bus folks) it doesn't make any SENSE! Fewer cars on the road = less wear and tear on the highways, less highway repair = more money to be donated to the bus folks so MORE people will ride the bus and there will be fewer people on the highway...as for ME, because I don't drive I am forced to either find a ride to somewhere I want to go at night, or stay home because there's nothing after 8.

Sorry. Didn't mean to rant on your lj.
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[User Picture]From: jer_
2010-08-06 03:20 pm (UTC)
The problem is, in many cities, bus use doesn't equate to decreased car wear; the people with cars never transition to bussing, added bussing just means those without cars have a more convenient mode of travel…because this is America, and they'll pry our steering wheels out of our cold, dead hands with a lever made of high priced petrol and exorbitant taxation.

Increasing the availability of mass transit won't decrease car usage by a measurable amount. The only ways to do that are via legislation or market forces…make it illegal or expensive!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:12 pm (UTC)
Exactly why high gas prices worked.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, and in places like London they do it with their congestion tax - if you drive into the city, you are charged a fee. During rush hour that fee is much higher. Astronomical parking costs are another effective way of keeping people out of their cars.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2010-08-06 07:51 pm (UTC)
They have that in NYC too, I believe. Not sure it is helping, much, though. (Plus they have high parking costs there, too.)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 07:58 pm (UTC)
They didn't have a fee for driving into the city the last time I was there a couple years ago, but that might have changed.

NYC, like London, has an excellent public transit system and a ton of traffic (though in London it would be a tonne). I guess the only response is, imagine how bad it would be otherwise!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:05 pm (UTC)
Rant away. Unfortunately, highway money is federal money, so getting money for highway repairs is "new" money coming into the area. Therefore that argument doesn't sway the short-sighted.
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[User Picture]From: tdanaher
2010-08-06 02:59 pm (UTC)
When gas was over $4/gallon, I had to park far back in the back lot for the stafion. Now? Parking place right up front.

It would be interesting to find out whether there's a strong possibility that, with unemployment the way it is, people are simply staying home rather than taking either cars or mass transit. I know, plural of anecdote is not etc., but in the housing development my parents live in, they and their many friends tend to stay put in the development and mostly have stuff delivered to them that they would have gone out for in years past. Netflix brings movies which means no heading out to the local theater, food delivery services like Freshdirect bring groceries so no driving to the early-bird special at the Cracker Barrel or picking up bananas at Walmart, webcamming through Skype is an okay way of seeing the grandkids instead of driving a thousand miles to them, and the neighbors provide parties and other social activities, so why buy even cheap gas when the reasons for burning it aren't as compelling as they used to be?
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[User Picture]From: tylik
2010-08-06 03:06 pm (UTC)
So I've usually been something of an ecofreak, but gods, web shopping has allowed me to mostly avoid the mall! I walk and bike almost everywhere. Over the past ten months my roommate and I have put 1,100 miles on the car - and that includes a road trip from Cleveland to Rochester NY and back. (Otherwise, about once a month we go to Whole Foods and load up on staples, and maybe go to the hardware store. The co-op and the CSA are human powered trips.)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:09 pm (UTC)
That's great. I do put a lot of mileage on the car because of my job, but we have remained a one-car family and worked around the occasional inconvenience of that. When we have a second car available, we inevitably use it.
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[User Picture]From: tylik
2010-08-06 04:16 pm (UTC)
I'm in a good situation for it, living a mile from the lab, having decided not to buy out here, not having much of what most people would call a life.

The one car thing is a discipline in itself. When I lived in a suburb of Microsoft, I pushed for the one car thing for quite a while. It really should have worked - I mostly biked to work, so I only needed a car for backup, and we did most of the martial arts stuff together anyway. But it requires some cooperation and between my ex being pathologically unable to keep commitments, and his being reckless with the car that I bought and did maintenance on, and he put the majority of the miles on... bleh. I bought a little jeep which got driven about once a week but was mine.

But as I've said elsewhere, ex. Some problems have straightforward solutions.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:21 pm (UTC)
When I first suggested it, Ferrett was horrified at the idea. Then the old Ford broke down and I quietly didn't get it fixed. After 6 months I pointed out that we were doing fine with only one car, and we gave the second to my sister because they were carless.
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[User Picture]From: finding_helena
2010-08-06 08:43 pm (UTC)
I'd like to be a one-car family, but both cars are kind of old. They're still functioning, but it seems kind of senseless to get rid of one because we'd get nothing for it, the other one isn't getting any newer either, and we can't seem to reach an agreement on which one we'd get rid of. But if one breaks down, we will consider not replacing it. Public transit here is decent enough and A. rides his bike sometimes, so we might be able to work it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 09:49 pm (UTC)
We occasionally have to engage in workarounds, or leave extra early for an appointment to drop the other off, but for the most part it is very invisible in our lives.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:07 pm (UTC)
A cogent argument, but not, I believe, applicable in this case. The area served by this rapid stop has survived reasonably well. I'm sure that some drop-off is due to unemployment, but I noticed a precipitous change right after gas prices dropped and just didn't get around to writing about it then.
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[User Picture]From: lawchicky
2010-08-06 03:24 pm (UTC)
I have no problem with alternate transportation. I actually quite like using the trains and subways, but even living an hour outside of NYC, it's not available for most of my commutes. I'll be miserable if gas goes back over $4 a gallon!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm not saying that it wouldn't hurt like hell, believe me. I wish there was a better way.
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2010-08-06 03:53 pm (UTC)
We live outside Boston and have a terrific network of transportation, but it is time consuming and doesn't always meet individual needs. My sons both went to school in Boston, but had to start two hours before classes to make the connections that would get them to class on time. Then they needed another two hours for the trip home. Four hours of commuting a day, in addition to class and study and sleep and (if lucky) some personal time was unacceptable, except in an emergency (Mom's car in for repairs!).

I work as a nanny and MUST use my car, as transportation is in and out of the city, not town to town.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:17 pm (UTC)
And I have to drive regularly to clients. I do understand. But we aren't doing much to solve the problems inherent in the system.
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2010-08-06 06:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, my son had to go in to Boston on the commuter rail (limited schedule, basically one train per hour), take rapid transit three or four stops across the city, then a trolley outbound several stops on the other side of the city. His younger brother bought a folding bicycle, rode the train Most of the way, then pedaled across several neighborhoods.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 06:55 pm (UTC)
That's how it was when I lived in Portland, Oregon. Even though my college was further east from me, my choice was to either ride one bus all the way west to downtown and another bus all the east to home or school, or to ride three different buses, catching on intermediate north/south transfer. Downtown took longer - unless I missed the intermediate bus. Mostly, it depended on the weather whether I rode the two hour version or the 60-90 minute version.
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[User Picture]From: thanoslug
2010-08-06 04:19 pm (UTC)
Not everyone has access to any kind of public transportation and attempts to force people out of their cars by increasing taxes on gas or trying to force people into short range electric vehicles hurts people that do not live in high density urban areas.

If people have access to public transport and want to use it and it can support itself then great, I'm all for it. I am not in favor of subsidies for public transportation though - I'll subsidize your bus or light rail or whatever when you subsidize my oil changes and tire rotations and general maintenance.

This is still a free country and those who want to keep driving their cars even if there is perfectly good public transportation they could use then they should be free to keep driving their car with no penalty or stigma attached to them.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 04:22 pm (UTC)
Blah blah blah off a cliff. About what I expect.
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[User Picture]From: interactiveleaf
2010-08-06 10:30 pm (UTC)
Your gasoline and road costs are already being heavily subsidized.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2010-08-06 04:21 pm (UTC)
In Cleveland and other cities, the solution to falling tax revenue is, among other things, cutting back on public transit. And why not? The powers that be don't ride the bus, and the upsurge in ridership disappeared once gas prices dropped.

They're doing that here too. Fares went up, a quarter of the bus or train routes were cut, and they started charging for people using the carpool.

Destroying your infrastructure seems completely insane (and a waste of previously spent money). I'd rather pay more taxes.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2010-08-06 06:45 pm (UTC)
They're trying to increase ridership here. Figuring out what routes should be changed (since the demographics and the job sites changed -- there are areas of the city that have jobs but no public transportation, and vice versa, because the industries changed). Figuring out that people like to ride bikes to work but the hills are too high to go back home. So bike racks on the bus so you can at least ride part way. (The hills are REALLY bad. REALLY really bad.) Letting school kids on for free because then they get more subsides because of increased ridership (they would have walked or rode with a parent instead). And oddly enough? Changing their name. Rebranding is a cheap way to increase ridership, apparently. That one is still under consideration.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 06:58 pm (UTC)
Those are all great ideas. The buses here all have bike racks, too. But they are not getting much support from the city.
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[User Picture]From: cynic51
2010-08-06 11:22 pm (UTC)
From a strictly financial viewpoint, it doesn't make sense for me to take the train downtown. Why? Because for the cost of two one-way passes, I can drive downtown and pay for parking. If my wife goes with me, I can drive downtown and pay for the expensive parking for the cost of four one-way passes. Gas would have to be pretty expensive for me to take the train under this viewpoint. Actually, given my proximity to downtown and my fairly high mpg, it would still be cheaper than the train at $4.50/gal. Throw in the higher quota of morons and assholes on the train (plus the lack of a/c), it's a pretty easy no brainer.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-06 11:45 pm (UTC)
Train has AC. And where are you parking that is cheaper than $5? An all-day pass is $5.00, single ride is $2.25.

While it doesn't make sense for you and Holly to go down there once in a while, for commuters, monthly passes are much cheaper than monthly parking downtown.
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[User Picture]From: cynic51
2010-08-06 11:48 pm (UTC)
There are any number of parking spots in the evening that are less than $5, if you're willing to walk a few blocks. Can't speak for daytime, although I assume that's not the case then.

You're absolutely right about the monthly passes, of course, but my point was more that it doesn't reward the casual riders at all.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 03:27 am (UTC)
That is mostly true.
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[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2010-08-07 12:08 am (UTC)
I agree. I love public transportation, but unless people use it, it won't get the investment it needs to thrive. I wish my city would tax the hell out of gas and use it to build light rail.
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2010-08-08 08:23 pm (UTC)
While gas was really high, I switched to riding my bike or jogging/walking to any place within 3 miles of home. I jogged to the gym, biked to grocery and drug stores, and biked to meet up with nearby friends. But then the weather started to get colder. and well...gas wasn't so expensive. And when winter had passed and the weather warmed again, I didn't resume biking everywhere I could. I'm a little disappointed in myself.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-08 08:38 pm (UTC)
Exactly. I've been the same way.
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