Highway to Hell
June 23, 2021 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Electric Vehicles Won’t Save Us. "Cars, however they’re powered, are environmentally cataclysmic, break the tethers of community, and force an infrastructure of dependency that is as financially ruinous to our country as it is dangerous to us as people."
posted by Lyme Drop (125 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Self-driving electric vehicles won't solve traffic congestion problems either.

People just really hate being around other people, and so nobody opts for public transit.

To be fair, however, a worldwide pandemic showed how public transit can increase the spread if precaution isn't taken.

There's drawbacks to every solution.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:45 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Don't tell me this until after I've finally gotten an electric vehicle.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:52 AM on June 23 [10 favorites]


People just really hate being around other people, and so nobody opts for public transit.

GOOD public transit is so much more preferable to driving. No need to pay attention to the road. No need to remain sober. Perfectly safe when sleepy.

But it needs to be good. That means a train arriving within 5 minutes, a bus arriving within 10, max. Clean, well-lit. Reliable. Reaching all neighborhoods, rich and poor alike.

The more people use it, the more public support there is to fund it. It's a bootstrapping problem, and America has a fundamental problem with public support of just about anything.
posted by explosion at 12:01 PM on June 23 [147 favorites]


> People just really hate being around other people, and so nobody opts for public transit.


I gotta admit I feel seen on this one. The only positive thing that came out of the pandemic for me was that it "forced" me to get all the cold-weather gear I'd need to ride my bike to work and I commuted that way throughout an entire Toronto winter (three or four days where the weather was so bad my wife drove me to work aside). And my life and bank account improved *immeasurably*. I want to love public transit, and in the abstract I do*, but in the real world it's like a rolling tragedy of the commons full of people doing everything they can to signal their contempt for public services and/or their fellow citizens.

* and I have been in cities where it actually was a pleasure to take it, but none of them were in North America
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:04 PM on June 23 [24 favorites]


The idea that people hate public transit is extremely USA-centric. Your transit sucks. If driving smelled bad and was prone to physical violence you'd hate it too.

When transit is clean and safe it's amazing. You'll never get the support to create that if you believe the very concept of public transit is so awful.
posted by Dynex at 12:06 PM on June 23 [125 favorites]


Reliability and safety are definitely essential, but Americans also need to learn to think differently about public transit. Specifically, about how they behave. From my anecdotal experience in a few US cities (living and visiting) and a few Western European ones (just visiting), US public transit just seems to have a higher asshole quotient. And the asshole quotient seems to be a function of how entitled people feel to behave on public transit as though they were alone in cars. And this raises the baseline level of discomfort in public transit, which lowers ridership (among riders who have other options) and drives an asshole quotient arms race in which you have to be some degree of asshole to protect yourself from the other riders. And this probably derives from a very American assumption that if you're on public transit, you probably deserve to be treated like shit, but yeah. Fix the riders too.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 12:13 PM on June 23 [7 favorites]


American NIMBYism and good public transit are in direct conflict. Frequent transit only happens when there is adequate density, which is being fought in suburbs as well as central cities everywhere.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:19 PM on June 23 [9 favorites]


Electric cars might not save us -- but electric bikes could! Seriously -- I bet a relatively small chunk of any mass transit budget for a major city could be put towards giving everyone over 16 years old an electric bike and that coupled with adding bike lanes THAT ARE ACTUALLY SAFE FROM CARS would transform America.
posted by pjsky at 12:23 PM on June 23 [27 favorites]


I should be clear that I believe that a lot of the public transit rider misbehaviour issues are a direct result of insufficient funding; who can blame anyone for being cranky about being crammed into overcrowded trains and buses which are constantly late and break down a lot? It's a signal from the government to you that they don't consider you important enough to do their best to ensure your comfort and convenience, and people react accordingly.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:24 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


I don't know how we haven't meshed Uber Pool with an electric bus to make a zero emission point-to-point public transport networks in urban areas. No stops, no waiting in the rain, the bus pulls up to your door, you hop on, you hop off at destination with only a minor detour to pick up others and let them off along the way.

This is much easier still when it becomes a case of dropping everyone off at commuter rail for a similar timed train. Give a discount for a regular ride slot, send out the exact sized bus for the regulars.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:26 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


GOOD public transit is so much more preferable to driving. No need to pay attention to the road. No need to remain sober.

The fact that people think this is yet another reason I'll be staying away from public transit.
posted by pwnguin at 12:27 PM on June 23 [13 favorites]


I would go car free if driving to NoVA from Gaithersburg wasn't literally an hour (or more!) faster than just the metro legs of the journey.

I live very close to work (<5 miles) and my friends similarly live near work in NoVA.

But getting to them or to weekly 40K nights ain't happening without a car.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:29 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


This is letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Electric cars aren't going to save us, but they (usually) drastically cut carbon emissions and do in fact reduce, though not eliminate, the air pollution that is choking us all

Living in a city where people insist on driving even when there are perfectly reasonable transit options despite it being more frustrating and taking significantly longer despite the service cuts in recent years, I'll take what I can get.
posted by wierdo at 12:30 PM on June 23 [32 favorites]


Now if only drunk people would stay away from driving with the same vehemence. Or people on drugs. Or tired people. Or people using smartphones. Or anybody with poor impulse control (eg temper tantrum on the floor of a supermarket for being asked to wear a mask). Or bored, daydreaming people.
posted by fragmede at 12:31 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]


Electric cars aren't going to save us, but they (usually) drastically cut carbon emissions and do in fact reduce, though not eliminate, the air pollution that is choking us all

Electric cars have the same production and supply chain requirements as any other vehicle.
posted by No Robots at 12:33 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]


All of these conjectures assume that humanity can and will remain in its current density and growth spiral. Perhaps Malthus rather than Musk will provide a solution?
posted by jim in austin at 12:36 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]


I bet a relatively small chunk of any mass transit roads budget for a major city could be put towards giving everyone over 16 years old an electric bike

Fixed that for you.
posted by ambrosen at 12:36 PM on June 23 [21 favorites]


All of these conjectures assume that humanity can and will remain in its current density and growth spiral. Perhaps Malthus rather than Musk will provide a solution?

Ah, yes, the reactionary position that it is unwise to plan the future, because, well, whatever.
posted by No Robots at 12:39 PM on June 23 [14 favorites]


People love being around other people, but only if the environment is the right one. Clean, well lit, and comfortable public transport that worked well would work just fine.

When you're in a city like Munich, which has successfully limited the number of cars in many areas, and has good public transportation for others, but where you can still own a private car to use for other types of trips, you see how more cities ought to operate. Obviously it's not perfect, but the more cars in the city the worse the city is. Imagine Manhattan with 75% less cars, and how much more livable the city would be.

That said, one thing that doesn't get brought up enough is trucks. So much of the pollution and noise that ruins US cities is because of transport trucks, and I've yet to see plans to fix that.
posted by chaz at 12:40 PM on June 23 [14 favorites]


If we can't deal with asshole behavior on Air Flights I don't think dealing with it on Public Transport has much of a chance.

Or rather, no one wants to pay the increased costs that would take.
posted by aleph at 12:43 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


I don't know how we haven't meshed Uber Pool with an electric bus to make a zero emission point-to-point public transport networks in urban areas. No stops, no waiting in the rain, the bus pulls up to your door, you hop on, you hop off at destination with only a minor detour to pick up others and let them off along the way.

I see this idea floated from time to time and it reflects a real lack of practical understanding of transit. Point-to-point is the least efficient way of getting people around in buses, just as Uber itself is a staggeringly inefficient means of transporting people under most circumstances. Those "minor detours" and other stops, combined with the fact that a bus will have to come from somewhere to get you, means that you are going to be waiting. More than if you went to a stop on a fixed route. This concept may have some use in fairly low-density areas, but then you'll need to cover each of them with quite a few buses or it's just Access-A-Ride.

The problem with existing US transit in big cities is the same one libraries have--because it's perceived as being used by the lower classes, we're willing to have it double as storage for people we'd rather not take care of. It's even less suited to this task than libraries are.
posted by praemunire at 12:47 PM on June 23 [48 favorites]


American NIMBYism and good public transit are in direct conflict. Frequent transit only happens when there is adequate density, which is being fought in suburbs as well as central cities everywhere.

Atlanta is a perfect example of this, as well as how it intersects with America's racism. Certain neighborhoods have fought the metro from expanding on the fear that it will transport crime to their doorsteps. Because everyone knows burglars would prefer to use the metro as their getaway car....

I'll also add that the cities' I've lived in with the worst public transit were also the most segregated.
posted by coffeecat at 12:54 PM on June 23 [11 favorites]


There's a huge number of white Americans who will never take public transit for fear of being in the same space as a non-white person.
posted by octothorpe at 12:55 PM on June 23 [22 favorites]


The idea that people hate public transit is extremely USA-centric.

I mean, I've spent a lot of time in Japan and the transit there is very nice. I'd still rather have a car (if we're talking personal preference, not whats best for the world as a whole). Being in close proximity to other people is uncomfortable.

[And even in Japan, in rural areas you need a car. Maybe there's a country with good rural public transit, but I don't think I've been there]
posted by thefoxgod at 12:58 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


I don't know how we haven't meshed Uber Pool with an electric bus to make a zero emission point-to-point public transport networks in urban areas. No stops, no waiting in the rain, the bus pulls up to your door, you hop on, you hop off at destination with only a minor detour to pick up others and let them off along the way.


I mean we used to have that in the suburbs where I grew up, and the problem was that (even though it was a pretty dense suburb) you had to budget 2.5 hours for your 6 mile commute. That detour isn't all that minor when there's 11 of them.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:03 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]


Public transit does have it downsides. In the end, for all practical purposes, it is about running some mental math about the various risk odds and choosing the lesser of two evils.
posted by asra at 1:03 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


People just really hate being around other people, and so nobody opts for public transit.

One of the very big lessons the American public is going to learn in the next 20 years is that the Earth's physical systems don't care how you feel, or what is convenient for you. Not even a little bit.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:10 PM on June 23 [22 favorites]


Because everyone knows burglars would prefer to use the metro as their getaway car....
Uhhh...they do though, when the metro is available. An fairly common type of crime in cities like Chicago involves knocking someone down and stealing their purse/device/etc on the train platform and then jumping onto the train as it's departing (or the reverse, robbing someone ON the train right as it stops and then jumping off to flee). For a time my neighborhood had a rash of home invasions and they clustered tidily around the El stops.

None of this means that transit shouldn't exist, or that the people who oppose transit "because of crime" aren't using it as code for "because of POC" but the risks in US mass transit as it currently exists are not imaginary. I say this as someone who uses mass transit daily and has nothing but vehement support for its proliferation.

(I do occasionally wonder whether our new epidemic of carjackings will make the rich white people stop assuming that they're safe and protected in their cars, not like that filthy El...)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:13 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]


transport trucks, and I've yet to see plans to fix that.

Well, at least the West Coast is trying to fix that, although I'd expect the more retrograde parts of the country to literally commit suicide before pursuing a similar strategy.
posted by aramaic at 1:15 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


walkable non-car spaces are lovely and i damn well prefer them too. no objection there.

but as with the meat consumption study that blew up a few weeks ago, i worry that this sort of view feeds right into reactionary propaganda. "leftists are trying to take away your burgers AND your truck!"

maybe this is a derail, but there must be a way that urban planning experts (or public policy thinkers generally) can propose new ideas for society while defusing the ability of reactionaries to turn it into a parody. because in many countries these days, very much including the US, no ideas for bettering public life will get traction unless it comes with built-in anti-propaganda tools.
posted by wibari at 1:15 PM on June 23 [5 favorites]


GOOD public transit is so much more preferable to driving.

I know that I'm just a dumb American, but I have ridden world-renowned public transit in other countries, and I totally disagree with this. Yes, America's public transit is the absolute worst, and it's quite nice in many other places. But even there, it's not PREFERABLE to driving. If I'm driving, I leave from exactly where I want, arrive exactly where I want, do it on exactly the schedule I want, and bring as much stuff with me as I want. Public transit is a worse experience in every way except for how much attention I have to pay. I will take that tradeoff.
posted by primethyme at 1:15 PM on June 23 [10 favorites]


Dangit, I dropped my second link in editing: West Coast Electric Highway.
posted by aramaic at 1:17 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


No Robots: Ah, yes, the reactionary position that it is unwise to plan the future, because, well, whatever.

Plan all you want. The majority of humans are not wired to see beyond the end of their nose. We are constantly running into ditches, plunging over precipices and sinking into mires. It's called history. That the current situation may well be existential will probably not change us or the results one iota...
posted by jim in austin at 1:21 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


If I'm driving, I leave from exactly where I want, arrive exactly where I want, do it on exactly the schedule I want, and bring as much stuff with me as I want. Public transit is a worse experience in every way except for how much attention I have to pay.

Except in that you get to have a functional biosphere when you get to where you're going.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:22 PM on June 23 [15 favorites]


@primethyme, it really depends on where you live (though "carry as much stuff" is definitely easier in one's own car than on public transit if it's a lot of stuff). In a city, you may be delayed by traffic and/or construction and you may spend as much time looking for a place to park as getting there. Depending on where you're going it may be much faster to get where you want to go. But that isn't the case in any part of the US, including urban areas, that is a) spread out and b) has poor public transit options.

When in Chicago for professional meetings I always take the train to the airport from downtown and get there faster than if I took a cab or Uber like my often-horrified colleagues. And I'll look for public options elsewhere when traveling between an airport and a conference. They're usually available and may not be always faster, but are much more interesting. Plus cheaper which, for me, matters.
posted by zenzenobia at 1:26 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


"leftists are trying to take away your burgers AND your truck!"

I heard that leftists will only let us drink plant-based beer. It's terrifying.

back to FPP: Electric cars will reduce some pollution - which would vastly improve my life. I have asthma and live on a very busy road. Also, I'm terrified of how that pollution could be affecting my brain (we're < 3 metres from the road).

But they will do nothing for congestion and traffic fatalities. The only thing that will change those is a) limiting the use of private vehicles to reduce congestion and b) slow down all traffic to reduce fatalities. This should be done: you can set the speed limit at no more than 20 km/hour in the centre of a city (the effective speed is 15km/h anyways(, and if you don't like how slow that is, take the subway like the rest of us. Driving is a privilege, not a right - and your right to drive should not trump everyone else right to a safe life.
posted by jb at 1:27 PM on June 23 [5 favorites]


I mean, I've spent a lot of time in Japan and the transit there is very nice. I'd still rather have a car (if we're talking personal preference, not whats best for the world as a whole). Being in close proximity to other people is uncomfortable.

I haven't been to Japan, but I've been in Asian countries with good public transport and even though I don't love being close to other people, I'd still rather ride public transport than drive. Because I know driving a car is more dangerous, both in the abstract (higher accident rates), but also on a personal emotional/mental level from the need to maintain a certain level of alertness when I'm driving. And then if you lease or own, there's all the annoyances of constantly having to pay and maintain this literal machine with like gasoline, oil, check other fluid levels, tires, etc.

Basically for me, the anxiety of having to operate a machine that could kill me or someone else on a very, very bad day and the annoyances of having to maintain it exceeds having to stand in close proximity around other people. Even if it's a humid summer day and the other person smells.

Of course, different people have different calculations. Like I know public transport is more dangerous for women for example.
posted by FJT at 1:28 PM on June 23 [10 favorites]


I’ll just chime in to add my voice to the push for more NEV-friendly vehicle laws and lanes. I would dearly love to (and logistically could) drive a golf cart for 90%+ of my commuting needs, but the state laws won’t support that.

In AZ, a neighborhood electric vehicle, such as an electric golf cart, is not allowed to drive along roads that have speed limits of 40 mph or higher. This generally means that you can’t drive them beyond your own subdivision. The exception is those subdivisions in communities that are developed around golf-cart culture, i.e. Boomer retiree/country club towns like Sun City and Chandler Heights.

This means that for most people, you aren’t able to drive a golf cart even a few miles away to get groceries, go to the barber shop, visit your doctor, commute to work, etc. The only time I would really need to use my car — assuming the pandemic were over — is the occasional trip across the valley to have dinner and stay overnight at my friends’ house.

For me, an electric golf cart would address a few of the main concerns with an electric bike: canopy coverage, more cargo space, less physical exertion required (I have COPD), greater stability, greater visibility on the road, and the ability to be perceived by other motorists as a more “legit” occupant in my road lane, so that they can’t just scootch by in the same lane as me if they want to pass, which frankly scares the hell out of me when I’m on a bike.
posted by darkstar at 1:28 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Electric cars have the same production and supply chain requirements as any other vehicle.

Yes they do, and they still spew mounds of particulate pollution from their tires, but they also take advantage of the increasingly less carbon intensive electric grid instead of being committed to causing thousands of barrels of oil to be dug up and burned over their lifetime. Not perfect, but better than what we have now (unless they are crashed so badly they must be scrapped in the first year or two of service, anyway) to be sure.
posted by wierdo at 1:33 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]


If I'm driving, I leave from exactly where I want, arrive exactly where I want, do it on exactly the schedule I want, and bring as much stuff with me as I want.

I don't want to say that you're wrong to feel that way, but life's full of compromises.

I've done more driving in the past year than ever because public transportation frankly felt unsafe. But the drives aren't great. I drive 30 minutes to get downtown. It would take 45-50 by public transportation. It could take as little as 30 if public transit were faster and more reliable.

The big issue for me is how infrequent (and hence how crowded) the trains are. I do like being able to read rather than focus on the road. I'm arguing for trains as they could be, not as they currently are.

I often drive to see a friend who lives somewhere between 45 and 90 minutes away, depending on the traffic. Reliable trains with right-of-way could make that a guaranteed comfy 45 minutes, including the walk to the station. I'll take adhering to a schedule in exchange for gas money, parking costs, and the physical effort of driving.

There are still plenty of cases where a car's useful, I'll grant that. But think about it: the majority of the cars on the road hold up to 5 but have a single occupant, and the trunk's empty. We're collectively paying for a lot more than we need, and collectively suffering the consequences.
posted by explosion at 1:36 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]


I leave from exactly where I want, arrive exactly where I want, do it on exactly the schedule I want, and bring as much stuff with me as I want. Public transit is a worse experience in every way except for how much attention I have to pay.

This is really only true in suburban areas, which were designed around private car transportation.

In cities (using the global definition, not the US one), you are less likely to:

- own a garage/have a private parking space next to your residence
- use overbuilt roads and freeways, instead you'll run into heavy traffic (composed of people doing exactly what you are doing) which can double or triple your transportation time
- park in a lot right next to your destination
- park for free instead of both paying to park and be forced to move your vehicle after a preset amount of time

Also, driving is great when you are young. When you get older, your reflexes get worse and your vision (especially at night) deteriorates.
posted by meowzilla at 1:37 PM on June 23 [29 favorites]


If driving smelled bad and was prone to physical violence you'd hate it too.

It does and it is - for anyone who isn't in a car. (In fact, pretty much any physical violence I'd expect to face on transit is much safer than what I risk every time I walk or bike somewhere.)

darkstar - there are enclosed or semi-enclosed electric trikes like the DryCycle, Organic Transit ELF, and PEBL that are legally bicycles. I expect a lot more development in this realm in the near future, too.
posted by sibilatorix at 1:38 PM on June 23 [21 favorites]


On transit: I used to really, really prefer transit. At that time I lived a 10 minute walk from a subway stop and then a 10 minute walk from a 10 minute ride to a subway stop, and had no kids. So we didn't own a car, which also reduced our consumption of consumer goods because everything we bought had to pass the bar of "is this worth hauling home/paying for a cab" and the answer was frequently no.

Taking the kids home from daycare at 6:15 on a bus though, due to an hour+ commute each way? It was a public service that we got a car at that point. Daycare wasn't close enough to home or work, work wasn't close enough, the hours of care and work didn't function well together...etc.

Loosing the car's grasp is about way more than whether there's a seat on the train. It's about where things are.

Anyways, given all that I more or less agree with the article which is that you have to redesign the entire thing. Which is kind of exhausting but there it is.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:03 PM on June 23


On the topic of ebikes:
Ebikes help people use their bike consistently
Ebikes help people with disabilities, people with errands and people who need to take short trips

I'm not biased, I have an ebike. The missus has one too (and she loves it more than I love mine honestly). If my supermarket had bike racks I'd 110% be using it for grocery runs (once I figure out a solution to the bike racks, I will be). I don't think its unreasonable to want point-to-point transport, it just silly to use a whole car for it most of the time. Plus, it's reasonable to combine bikes and public transport.
posted by The Power Nap at 2:06 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]


Germany and New York State have broadly similar levels of car ownership/despite germany being denser population wise than NYS and NYS being wealthier on average.

And Germany has the lowest rate of car ownership amongst the major EU states. It all scales with population density, which also means "better transit" isnt as easy an answer as it sounds.

By all means make auto driving in cities more expensive and less pleasant, and use that to fund better transit, but I think the impact will be pretty marginal.
posted by JPD at 2:08 PM on June 23


In UK planning, we usually assume that about 80% of the 2050 housing stock has already been built. In the US, probably less, but still a lot I would think.

That means that whatever your views on urbanism, the role of the suburbs, whatever, we need strategies for making that vast capital stock work for us in the best possible way.

It's one thing to think of restoring pedestrian access to places that were built for them and the reconfigured to suit cars, quite another to deal with a suburb of Las Vegas that looks like it was laid out by a space filling maze algorithm. Those places will remain car centric as long as they exist.

Personally, while I have a car, I live in one of London's dense suburbs and have only ever used the train and walking to get to work. To an American it probably doesn't even look like a suburb. Great for me, doesn't do anything for the many people who don't.

What is it we're meant to offer people who live in towns which were designed around cars? "new urbanism says, 'suck it'"?.

It all scales with population density, which also means "better transit" isnt as easy an answer as it sounds.

Not linearly though. Below a certain threshold, the feasibility of frequently running public transport isn't there, so as soon as you reach that zone the necessity for cars shoots up but then it doesn't get much higher either as you get even sparser. Settlement patterns also matter for that reason. A country with lots of dense towns separated by very rural areas (France basically) can have the same density as a country with lots of medium density suburbs but it is a lot easier to run a transportation network in the former. (n.b. not saying that France has this, cars are close to a necessity in large parts of the country)
posted by atrazine at 2:15 PM on June 23 [5 favorites]


Wow, there is a lot of commentary here directly related to my research. I am happy to elaborate on anything, but I'd like to add a few notes.
-Electric vehicles still have a long-tailpipe problem in that they can offset pollution to elsewhere in the system. They are definitely more fuel-efficient and therefore can provide big benefits, but they're still cars, still affect air quality through tire friction, etc.
-Electric vehicles are quite often pitched as a couple solution with automated vehicles, and I have a lot more reservations about AVs now than I did five years ago. The government in the US has really let the OEMs and technology groups drive the conversation around AVs rather than setting smart safety requirements, and while I think AVs could solve some safety problems, the way they're being tested now have some big gaps (especially in relation to peds and bikes, and especially peds of color).
-We tend to think of motor vehicles as something of a free travel mode without considering all the ways our society has essentially subsidized this mode (free parking, the emphasis on reducing delay in TIA practices rather than considering multimodal impacts, etc.). Transit could be a lot better, but one problem that several of you hinted at is that transit (specifically rail) hasn't been adequately mapped and routed to actually meet demand. Transit won't magically remove vehicle trips from nearby highways if the service isn't good, and if you're only installing them to make highways more efficient, you aren't really providing good service and generating demand.
-All of this is sort of floating around what is probably the biggest problem in the US, which is that we have a transportation system that is not well-matched to land use. Our land use practices have been driven by our uniquely American social values (that prioritize individualism over collectivism, generally), our racist history (e.g., redlining), and our technological advancements. This cluster of factors has led to suburbanization as technology allows people to live further from where they work, and that contributed directly to both safety problems and a lack of walkable/bikeable facilities.
-Safe Systems concepts derived from the Dutch Sustainable Safety approach and Swedish Vision Zero are starting to take route here, but we aren't going to reap a lot of benefits from those (or from electric vehicles) until we address this mismatch between land development and transportation, and that's going to require us to confront a lot of things deeply enmeshed in American culture.
posted by TheKaijuCommuter at 2:21 PM on June 23 [37 favorites]


I just recently moved out of an apartment that was located right next to a great set of bus stops, which made for a short hop onto the LA metro lines. The neighborhood was pretty walkable too -- I didn't need to drive to get grocery, drugstore, hardware, entertainment, and I've never had it easier when it came to going out to eat. I'm going to miss that walk score. And yet...

I still needed a car.

Social connection in LA is never conveniently confined to your neighborhood or along transit routes.

Transit routes were still slower and less convenient for cross neighorhood connection.

And maybe most of all, like a lot of other public services/spaces (libraries, parks, sidewalks), that's where the homelessness and mental health crisis shows up. I have shared buses and traincars with no small number of people who were clearly suffering from *something* and had to have a public shouty dialogue about it that often included verbalized threats whose direction was *usually* blessedly unclear but occasionally uncomfortably close.

I still relied on transit for certain outings it supported well, for times when my car wasn't running well, for times when I was up for the adventure. But there were times when I thought "I'm not ready to deal with shouty randos" and I know people for whom that was all the time.

I suppose this is all a way of saying that lots of problems are interconnected here. The more the commons are strained, the more that mental health is ignored (or, worse, polluted by propaganda actors), the more expensive housing of any kind is, perhaps the more that's likely to spill over and result in a degraded transit experience (and lower ridership).

(Dramatic cuts in service in 2019 didn't help.)
posted by wildblueyonder at 2:22 PM on June 23 [11 favorites]


yeah - one of the reasons why I thought Germany was a better comp than France is that you have relative large areas of reasonably high density, surrounded by low density as opposed to smaller areas with higher density surrounded by even lower density. Naturally Germany should have a very high rate of attachment to non car usage.


But like if I'm reading the data right a very similar % of commuters in Munich and NYC use their personal vehicles for commuting - low 20% or so.
posted by JPD at 2:22 PM on June 23


I usually take the bus to work but last summer I decided to start biking because there were enough people not wearing masks that I wanted to avoid the bus and that became my default mode of commuting. It takes about the same time either way but if I ride my bike then it means I'm getting physical activity in at the same time and I save $6. Also, that $6 transit fee means it's cheaper for me to drive to work than it is to take the bus which is all kinds of wrong.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:39 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


I feel like every time a topic about public transport comes up the fact that a huge portion of the US is built to be actively hostile to it is glossed over. Given how fraught housing in the US is already people have fairly little choice in terms of how they get to live wrt ease of public transport. I don't really know how you deal with the millions of people who live in places designed to make public transport not work without using electric vehicles as harm reduction.
posted by Ferreous at 2:47 PM on June 23 [20 favorites]


Perfectly happy to vote for every single public transit improvement that comes down the pike, even if it increases my taxes.

Until that public transit really does reliably reach me and the places I need to go, I'm gonna need a car. If it's between something that burns more gas or less, I'm gonna buy the thing that burns less. Last time it was a hybrid. Next time it'll be electric.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:48 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]


The solution is better public transport and more densely-built cities (up instead of out), but who's making a buck off that? Ultimately the problem is too many people, and too many of those people having too much.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:53 PM on June 23


We're going to have to make people internalize the actual cost of gas, and that's going to be incredibly painful and most likely disproportionately affect the poorer people who've moved to inner-ring suburbs in the last 20 years. Hopefully we can work out ways to cushion that blow; actual functioning transit to and from work for these folks would go a long way. But climate catastrophe is going to be devastating to poor people, too, though perhaps most so to a different geographical subset. Step one is congestion pricing in every major city.
posted by praemunire at 3:00 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]


(I'm one of those weirdos who finds long bus trips especially, assuming no real threat to safety, quite soothing. Especially at night. It's like we're carrying our own little civilization with us.)
posted by praemunire at 3:03 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]


Electric cars are better than IC ones. This is a change most people are willing to make.

Anything that tries to get people to give up their cars, is going to be an uphill battle.

Adequate mass transit would be better, but in America, everywhere but dense urban areas, is a non-starter for most people. It simply isn't frequent enough or has the needed coverage.

To get it to work would require convincing people who live in the suburbs to move to a dense urban center and out of their homes. That is not going to happen. Even if it did, it would cause a massive gentrification in all the dense urban areas.

I hope we can do it, but I don't think it will happen.
posted by cuscutis at 3:09 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


I recently came across a YouTube channel, Not Just Bikes, which produces videos about urban development. The video about "stroads" is worth a watch. Basically this is a worst-of-all-worlds development pattern. It's downright hostile to anyone not in a car, but it sucks for cars too. Wide, straight corridors promise speedy motoring, but there are tons of driveways, cross streets, and turning lanes that slow things down. When road traffic dipped at the start of the pandemic, crashes on stroads went up - the congestion and consequent lower speeds are one of the only reasons these poorly designed things don't kill more drivers.

The stroad problem is a sort of vicious cycle, too. Sprawl-style development creates areas that can only be reached by car, but then the car-dependency reflects back onto the builders - now that the only way to move through and be in a place is in a car, everything needs more parking and roads need to be even bigger, which makes it even harder to do without a car. This is not my own observation, but the citation is eluding me at the moment, but basically when you start to see this pattern, you realize that automobiles create or exacerbate all the problems they are meant to solve.

I think at the very least, we could change how we design the built environment in the USA without mandating that everyone give up their cars. Have dedicated roads designed for high speed and throughput for cars and trucks on long distance trips, and traffic-calmed streets designed to be safely shared by people in cars, on bikes, or on foot. Increasing density instead offers a virtuous cycle - more density means fewer trips need to be made in a car. It also means that towns and cities can get more value from their land, and it reduces the cost of providing utilities to people and businesses, since so much of the cost of providing water, sewers, electricity, etc, is in the length of the pipes, wires, and so on.
posted by rustcrumb at 3:28 PM on June 23 [7 favorites]


Perhaps Malthus rather than Musk will provide a solution?

I’m no Elon Musk booster, but Malthus has been wrong for over 200 years. Musk has only been an asshole for 50.
posted by nickmark at 3:45 PM on June 23 [18 favorites]


What is it we're meant to offer people who live in towns which were designed around cars? "new urbanism says, 'suck it'"?.

No, but we need to redesign those cities. With every new development, we rationalize the road systems and increase density to support better public transit.

Car-designed living already marginalizes everyone who cannot drive: people who cannot afford a car, people who are visually impaired or have a disability that means that they cannot drive - which will include just about all of us, if we live long enough, and children too young to drive. All of these people already live in towns designed for cars and just live with it: either they spend hours on transit or can't get to work (like many low-income people), they are dependent on others (like children), or isolated in their homes (many disabled and elderly people).

Rural and suburban public transit is a human rights issue. In Canada, we just lost bus service to a vast majority of the country with the closing of Greyhound. Lack of bus service isolates people in small communities; it's also dangerous in that it leads to an increase in hitch-hiking. In 2006, one of the recommendations from symposium on the Highway of Tears in BC was that there should be a shuttle bus so that people - especially Indigenous women - had a safer way to travel.
posted by jb at 3:51 PM on June 23 [12 favorites]


I'd take public transportation every day if ot didn't double or triple my commute... And work is 90% on a straight line from home. Sigh.
posted by Jacen at 4:20 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


In much of the western US, transit is still a dog and pony show.

Some routes in my city — like those that service the university — are jam-packed during peak hours. It never bothered me before the pandemic; an over-capacity bus/train was likely to be full of people who knew how to behave in a crowded environment.

The few people using other routes are the ones who absolutely have no choice, and some of them are more than happy to scream hate speech, pick fights, and/or harass any woman who dares to board alone.

Stops also tend to be exposed to the sun, pollution, heavy roadway noise; if you don’t want to be a hostage to someone else’s cigarette smoke or sales pitch, there’s nowhere upwind to go. Most trips within downtown are faster on foot; most trips out of downtown require multiple transfers with long waits between, or long walks in pedestrian-hostile areas. And it all turns into a pumpkin at sundown.

Sure, it’s nice not to have to worry about driving. It’s less nice to worry if the creep will follow me off the bus, or if I’ll miss the last bus home, or if the poor homeless guy can hear the train operators passive-aggressively complaining behind his back about how bad he smells.

Transit works best in real cities where it’s actually easier than driving. Unless and until I live in one, I’m admittedly grateful for my electric car.
posted by armeowda at 4:31 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


I can no longer drive, and I have recently reached a point where that has been true (as an adult) longer than I drove. I have lived in suburbs, and rural areas, and also cities with good public transit. As someone who has experience both as a pedestrian and a driver, I will say of the refrain "public transit does not go where I need to go" that if you are living without the ready assumption that you can drive, your definition of where you need to go and where you can go would be different.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:35 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]


I propose everyone who objects to more reasonable public transport gets to use the hyperloop instead.

But without a sled.

The libertarians will be fine, they're accustomed to their gums flapping in a vacuum.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:55 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


darkstar - there are enclosed or semi-enclosed electric trikes like the DryCycle, Organic Transit ELF, and PEBL that are legally bicycles. I expect a lot more development in this realm in the near future, too.


I've been looking at electric trikes with canopies. There are some interesting options in the $4-5k range. (PEBL costs $10k and it's relatively new, so you're not going to find affordable used ones available. Likewise, UK-based DryCycle looks nicer, but has a projected retail price of 15k British pounds.)

You could buy a brand new electric golf cart with a 30-40 mile range and much more stability and broader parts base for $8-10k. And here in Arizona -- the retiree capital of the US Southwest - you can easily find a minimally used one for under half that.

I'm just tired of being jerked around by vaporware promises of micro-cars like ELIO. I remember wanting a Lean Machine when they were first showcased way back in -- checks notes -- holy cats, 1982! We've been teased with this crap for way, way, way too long.
posted by darkstar at 5:00 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]


Nothing is going to save us. except maybe the children.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:05 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's consensus at all that people "hate being around other people." Being part of a communion of transitgoers is one of the parts I love most about my commute! I hated that aloof feeling of separateness I had when I briefly drove to work. The things I wish would improve about my local transit system are many-- unpredictable service, poor communication, etc-- but other riders really wouldn't crack the top ten. (And a lot of folks try to make this sort of thing about introverts vs. extraverts, but fwiw I am pretty introverted in tendency.)
posted by dusty potato at 5:10 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]


disproportionately affect the poorer people who've moved to inner-ring suburbs in the last 20 years

Fortunately, inner ring suburbs are typically denser and better connected than newer developments, so are more amenable to transit with only relatively minor modification. If we were willing to spend more than a tiny sliver of our overall transportation budget on transit, we could drastically improve frequency and coverage. We could also stop running lines that don't get used and haven't despite being around for decades so that we could focus on areas where transit does get used, but that is a more fraught issue since it reduces access to some areas.

That last bit is actually a big issue in Miami. A ton of the operating budget goes to running infrequent and barely used service all over the county including areas where there is essentially no walkability so that commissioners can say that it exists and nobody has to take shit about cutting service. Getting rid of it isn't fair to the few who use it, but it would in many cases be cheaper to buy people taxi rides. Meanwhile, the commuter rail keeps getting frequencies cut, promises about rail expansion keep getting broken, and the state spends a quarter billion dollars on a new bridge for cars only that we don't really need when we desperately need a train to Miami Beach, among many other routes. Oh, and yet another goddamned road out in the Everglades rather than a fucking train because despite making the right mouth noises sometimes when it comes down to it all we know how to do is build more roads even though we have proven time and again that no amount of road building will eliminate the gridlock that plagues us.
posted by wierdo at 6:34 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


There appear to be 2 arguments/points being made. One is that cars are bad for the environment, even electric ones. This is true, although it's also true that electric cars are better than gas cars in this regard [especially combined with improving power generation, transmission, and storage].

The second argument some people are making is that public transit is better for the individual in their own life, which is not at all universal. Even with great public transit, many will choose cars.

If you want people to give up cars, you are asking many of them to sacrifice their immediate quality of life for the greater good. That's not _necessarily wrong_, but I think it's important to acknowledge that because it means it's a very difficult task. You may think people should absolutely make that trade, but reality is you have to convince at minimum enough people to change the laws to force people.

Electric cars are better than IC ones. This is a change most people are willing to make.

Exactly --- getting people to swap a gas car for electric is not particularly hard. Especially as electric vehicles have improved, for most car owners this is not difficult (people who routinely drive very long distances are still probably not served by enough charging infrastructure, but this is a very small number of people).

But getting people to shift from a personal vehicle to transit, even "good" transit, is a fundamental lifestyle change.

[And to be clear: I'm a huge supporter of public transit, even though I prefer not to use it myself. It's clearly a good thing and necessary for many people. That doesn't mean everyone wants to use it. ]

I'm also not super hopeful it can be a change made for most of the world. I'm only really familiar with the US and Japan, but in the latter despite having a generally well regarded transit system, that is extremely good in places like Tokyo, much of the country is very reliant on cars (I spend half my time there in an area where everyone drives, unless they're going on a long journey to another prefecture in which case they drive to the train station). Having awesome public transit in large cities should clearly be a goal in the US, for example. That seems like the obvious first step and one that is easily achievable in a practical (not political) sense. Worrying about how to serve rural areas seems like step 25 in the plan.
posted by thefoxgod at 7:15 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


I'm just tired of being jerked around by vaporware promises of micro-cars like ELIO.

It seems like the Arcimoto is actually shipping, so it's up there with the Pulse as wierd vehicles that were actually sold.

Even Elon Musk has stopped short of saying EVs solve everything (there's also rockets and cryptocurrency). EVs are going to be a tiny part of any realistic solution, but throwing out all existing infrastructure and starting over is an even smaller part. Wherever we go from here, we're starting from where we are now.
posted by netowl at 7:37 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


The article as written spends most of its words on a very different set of points; not the pollution associated with EVs, but the self-reinforcing pattern of urban sprawl and it's many, many consequences.

I was going to try to summarize it but I'd just be copy-pasting most of it.

1) "It would be generous to say that this pattern is environmentally cataclysmic. As sprawl stretches out, it clears rural land and forests, and replaces them with heat absorbing asphalt and impervious surfaces that lead to water pollution through runoff, and delivers air pollution through more cars on the road. It increases risks of flooding and natural disaster as local environmental defenses are stripped away."

2) "Building a world around cars presents many and varied dangers to people. Often cited, but maddeningly still pervasive, cars are exceptionally dangerous pieces of machinery. .... Certainly, no one will be happy if they’re struck by a more sustainable car."

3) "If cars aren’t endangering us through head on collisions or reckless driving, they’re doing so more gradually via routine, but equally devastating consequences. Rates of obesity, diabetes, lung disease (from pollution), heart disease and other afflictions ... Public Health notes, “Sprawl significantly predicts chronic medical conditions and health-related quality of life.”"

4) "A corollary to the deterioration of our physical health is that of our mental health, which emanates from a fragmented social realm. While midcentury roads severed marginalized communities (who still struggle with the effects today), newly constructed car-dependent development builds in isolation as a feature. When one cannot walk anywhere with intent or for leisure, spontaneous interactions are reduced to near zero."

5) "Those who cannot drive, or those who cannot afford the expense of owning a car, effectively become second-class citizens in car-dependent places (key word, dependent)."

6) "Finally, car dependency destroys the financial security of a place. Just as every further acre of car-dependent development taxes the environment, every acre of low-density, mono-use sprawl strains the finances of municipalities. This is because the tax revenue generated from this type of development doesn’t come close to offsetting the expenses of maintaining it. For example, utility lines shared by 10 people across 100 acres cost far more, net-net, than 100 people on 10 acres. As the imbalance of tax revenue to maintenance expenses grows, the harder it becomes for municipalities to keep up with their bills.

Historically, municipalities have dealt with this imbalance by building more roads, more subdivision communities, and more big box stores, in the hope that these new investments will pay off the old investments (of the very same kind) that failed to generate sufficient revenue. This is the definition of insanity. It’s also a Ponzi scheme. If prevailing development patterns don’t change, we could see many places in the not so distant future fail to uphold their obligations to their residents (clean water, power, education, public safety, etc.) or be forced into bankruptcy."

End quotes.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 7:39 PM on June 23 [8 favorites]


American NIMBYism and good public transit are in direct conflict. Frequent transit only happens when there is adequate density

No, we choose not to fund it when we think there's not enough density that we can get away with it. We could choose to fund public transit to rural areas, we choose not to.

Similarly: we could choose to replace our shitty bus fleet with a nice bus fleet. For example, there are places where the Express buses are the one with comfy seats, a bathroom, and only two seats next to each other the whole way, which disallow standing. People loved those. But they had very few of them and they cost more.
posted by corb at 7:55 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


No, as even many of us ardent transit fans have stated upthread, most potential riders aren't interested in mass transit - even if it were free - when it adds time or other inconvenience to their trips.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:01 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


When in Chicago for professional meetings I always take the train to the airport from downtown and get there faster

That's the crux of the problem though. If I happen to need to go between the central loop and the airport, then yeah it makes sense. The amount of sense rapidly declines the farther you are from the blue line and the farther from peak hours you're traveling, and weather also plays a nontrivial role.
posted by wotsac at 8:06 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Where I live has decent public transit - for some areas. But for me, it would take over two hours to get to work, and the same back. Driving takes a little over 20 minutes.
posted by azpenguin at 8:09 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


It's worth keeping in mind that, on Project Drawdown's ranked list of climate solutions, nothing about transportation is all that close to the top. That doesn't make it not important, but if you could Thanos-like snap your fingers and make all the cars disappear, that wouldn't save us.
posted by Foosnark at 8:13 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


Yes, America's public transit is the absolute worst, and it's quite nice in many other places. But even there, it's not PREFERABLE to driving.

I think it's worth digging into this not on the individual level (which meowzilla did: driving is preferable when an enormous array of extremely subsidized conveniences exist to cater to the every whims of drivers while transit is scarce or non-existent) or even the environmental level, but from the standpoint of urbanism: the environments that make driving preferable, frankly, suck. Name one urban environment in the world that caters heavily to drivers where that design has created good places where people like to be.

Cities like New York City, Tokyo, London, Singapore, Berlin, Amsterdam, these cities physically exist because of public transit. It's just geometry: Manhattan, clogged with cars as it is, could not exist but for the millions of people who ride the subway and bus every day; there simply isn't space for everyone in these places to store and operate their own 2-ton metal box on a daily basis, and if everyone tried to do so, they would collapse. The design of all these cities only exists because, whatever people might prefer individually, millions ride transit. These cities also only function because through subways, bus lanes, train/tram tracks, car-free spaces, and so on, they've carved out space for transit, allocating limited precious space to the forms of transportation that are most space efficient.

Land use is transportation and transportation is land use. And I lied when I said I wasn't going to talk about environmentalism, because greenfield sprawl that replaces natural areas with ones where everyone heats/cools a large single family home, irrigates a large outdoor space, and drives miles for every single trip is an environmental catastrophe. And yet because of terrible land use policies and NIMBYism (which beyond a long legacy of racism and classism, often are the result of "but where will they park/but they'll cause traffic"), and since we kind of sort of on a good day decided that wholesale demolition of neighborhoods full of people of color was bad, this kind of car-dependent sprawl is the only thing you can build, while "hey, what if it was legal to build some taller buildings in, um, Manhattan?" gets you literally shouted down by a roomful of white retirees. If you're chiming in here to say that there's no practical way for you to do anything else but drive, that's surely not a moral failure on your part; it's a systemic failure that we've actively chosen to put you in that situation, one with enormous repercussions for everyone.

I'm not denying that it's not preferable to get around having your needs wildly catered to as a driver, to never encounter significant traffic or a lack of free and convenient parking (by which I mean "the whole area is choked with horrific traffic and the only parking is expensive and far from where you want to go," not the usual American definition built around Level of Service planning of "That was terrible! There was some traffic and I couldn't park right in front"). Of course that's preferable. But it's absolutely a choice to design environments to try to provide that, and the traffic violence, pollution, parking craters and terrible land use, and other devastating effects of that produce places that are awful unless you're actively driving in them. And it's a choice to build environments that way instead of catering to people who aren't in cars. It's not simply about what kind of transport mode people might prefer in the abstract; it's about what kind of built environment should exist.

Driving is also directly killing on the order of 40,000 people in the US a year, not even counting the impacts on those maimed, impacted by air pollution, and so on, so there's also a bit of a "preferable for whomst?" thing going on here.

It's worth keeping in mind that, on Project Drawdown's ranked list of climate solutions, nothing about transportation is all that close to the top. That doesn't make it not important, but if you could Thanos-like snap your fingers and make all the cars disappear, that wouldn't save us.

It wouldn't save us, no, but transportation is the largest sector for GHG emissions in the US (29% of all emissions), and it's one of the places where we all individually can't continue to do what we're doing. There's very little I can do to decarbonize the electrical grid short of supporting politicians and policies that will make that happen, nor can I influence industrial processes, but transportation is one place where widespread individual change is pretty directly involved in emissions reductions. That's usually been addressed with "people will transition to EVs" arguments, and the point of the FPP is that's not good enough.
posted by zachlipton at 8:33 PM on June 23 [27 favorites]


It's mentioned in the article as part of micro-mobility solutions, but I never see mopeds or motor scooters used much in the US. On paper they should fit in the US: personalized transportation, cheaper than a car, easier to find parking for, and more fuel efficient. Yes, they aren't good for the winter, but that only locks them out of the Midwest and Northeast. I'm a little surprised that they haven't become trendy by now (a Vespa is in the latest Pixar film).

In some parts of Europe and Asia, they are super popular, even in cities with good public transportation.
posted by FJT at 10:49 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Eh, to answer my own comment: it's a safety issue. Roads in the US are also generally less safe than Europe, so I assume mopeds and motor scooters would also have higher accident rates here than in Europe.
posted by FJT at 11:08 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


No, we choose not to fund it when we think there's not enough density that we can get away with it. We could choose to fund public transit to rural areas, we choose not to.

Of course it is the case that anything which is not physically impossible can be funded. It is also the case that for a given level of available resources committed per person, we can provide much better services in denser areas and that for areas of sufficient sparseness it may well be better for people to just drive cars than to commit vast resources to running bus services which will be either infrequent or mostly empty.

There is nowhere on earth where low density places do not have worse public transport than dense ones.

It's worth keeping in mind that, on Project Drawdown's ranked list of climate solutions, nothing about transportation is all that close to the top. That doesn't make it not important, but if you could Thanos-like snap your fingers and make all the cars disappear, that wouldn't save us.

True, but look at the top ranked solutions (Scenario 2, 1.5C by 2100 because I'm an optimist):

-Onshore wind
-Utility PV
-Reduced food waste
-Plant rich diets
-Health & education
-Tropical forest restoration
-Improved clean cookstoves
-Distributed PV
-Refrigerants

There is already huge momentum behind the wind and PV ones. People in the wealthy world are already reducing their meat intake and politically there is a big question mark as to how you would get people to do more than they are doing voluntarily without losing public support.

Two of those items don't directly apply to the US (tropical forests and cookstoves).

Refrigerants is split into better management (and US already has relatively good refrigerant management) and next generation refrigerants which are uncertain.

So I don't disagree that Drawdown is useful for sizing solutions but worth noting that individual countries will have different options which are relevant to them and will have different gaps between current policy and target.

Electrifying transport has to be seen in that context as well.
posted by atrazine at 2:26 AM on June 24


Let's call it: the car is an evolutionary dead end. It clogs roads with traffic and is badly (and often unsafely) piloted by someone whose decisions about maximising traffic flow are less important than "getting there fastest" -- which exacerbates the safety problem. So, already-busy roads get clogged when a crash happens, something that's accepted as the 'environment in which we drive' when it could be 'a co-operative effort by you to progress safely so that other vehicles also progress safely to their destinations'.

Some problems are social problems that you can't solve with technology. But upgrading cruise control to radar-enabled cruise control and onward to a a vehicle-to-vehicle mesh network that gives each car a sense of the other vehicles nearby, that's some technical steps that will help freeways manage their own flow, enforce zip-merging and use electric or fossil fuels efficiently. Except now the technology does have a social problem of the automobile being a person's autonomy and independence -- where the mesh network needs compliant and collaborative vehicles who will act predictably for the rest of the mesh. That's up against not installing, not upgrading, freedom-to-tinker and right-to-repair viewpoints opposing the need to prove you meet the regulations for your vehicle. Plus you've out-grouped the 'bad drivers' as at fault for vehicle death and car accidents -- whereby of course I'm not a bad driver -- and those that take less care while driving will use these driver aids to care even less.

If we fail to get small steps toward collaborative autonomous vehicles, people will build individualistic autonomous vehicle. They're an economic failure waiting to happen. Whose insurance carries the liability for a vehicle moving autonomously when its autonomous systems fail and kill one or more humans? As an owner, you'd be a chump to take on that risk for nothing you directed to happen apart for setting a destination and activating a system. As the car company, you'd want to sell a product and be done with it -- but it's your systems directing the vehicle and your software making decisions that can alter lives. And there's a metric of bugs-per-line-of-code that guides the likelihood of software failure (with a matching bias/failure modes of machine learning components) that you want to spread out using an economy of scale. Many independent vehicles aren't really reducing the count of decisions made by the autonomous vehicle's systems, so few vehicles spreading that cost to many bums-on-seats is where the economy of scale is found, say as a bus, train or plane does. And thus autonomous vehicle recreate mass public transport or can't be insured.

Electric vehicles move the pollution elsewhere in the chain -- which feels like an argument between Windows and Linux on Total Cost of Operation terms. Late-nineties internet had flamewars about computer platforms and the appeal of Microsoft's sales teams and lawyers was that overall you'd spend more on free-at-point-of use Linux platforms than exorbitant-proprietary-licensing-costs Windows ecosystem. For both fossil and electric fuelled vehicles you have to pay something into the thermodynamic entropy wherein the local density of fossil fuel doesn't have the economy of scale of making and transferring electrical power to the EV. Minimising the entropy is shorthand for the optimum state of the system that gets you to where you need to go -- and I'll be realistic that it's a very hard thing to optimise.

Which is to say that the car is a dead end, we should build out a trunk-branch-leaf autonomous bus network powered by electricity carried over an efficient power transmission grid.
posted by k3ninho at 4:33 AM on June 24 [3 favorites]


I think an equally viable solution would be to decrease the amount of travel people need to do. Let people work from home when their jobs allow it. Continue to cover telehealth. Stream concerts and events live. Host clubs online. So much of our travel isn't necessary at all, and rather than looking for ways to make it more efficient, maybe we should just... get rid of some of it? People may prefer in-person but, as we've said, the planet doesn't care what you prefer. And we've already had a test run for how to make it work.
posted by brook horse at 8:27 AM on June 24 [7 favorites]


Good luck with "imprison yourself in your house forever to save the Earth" as a political platform tho
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:10 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]


And we've already had a test run for how to make it work.

Why don't we wait until the long-term data on mental illness and suicides come in before we decide we "made it work."
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:11 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


I never see mopeds or motor scooters used much in the US.

The complaint I've heard is, they're too feeble (and/or unsafe) to take on the freeway. And as darkstar pointed out, the smaller electric vehicles (aka golf carts) aren't allowed on major roads either.
posted by Rash at 9:15 AM on June 24


Many states have made it so there's no real point in getting a motor scooter because fuck poor people. Where I grew up, anything under 50cc required no registration or a license to operate, you just had to be a certain age. Where I live now, anything with two wheels and a motor is a full blown motorcycle, with all the same requirements except the motorcycle endorsement on a driver's license.

If there had ever been a rash of crashes or third party deaths/injuries as a result of the more lax requirements, I'd understand, but there wasn't. It's just about giving cops another reason to stop and hassle minorities and poor people and keep them from moving about inexpensively.
posted by wierdo at 9:31 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


You usually have to get a motorcycle license to ride most motor scooters, so people just ride motorcycles.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:32 AM on June 24


I should note that the city I live in doesn't really give a shit about people riding scooters. They're not at all unusual. But God help you if you take one out in the suburbs. Welcome to hassle town. The cops immediately assume anyone riding one is up to no good.
posted by wierdo at 9:39 AM on June 24




For the most part, driving isn't better than public transit--if you control for the direct and indirect subsidies. If gas was $20 a gallon, road surfaces were barely maintained, if at all, there were no rest stops on interstate highways so you had to go by the side of the road and hope not to get murdered or perved on (hell! if there was no interstate highway system at all), if your car didn't have reliable air conditioning, if bridges were in even worse shape than they already are and tolls were three times as high, if cops/firemen/EMT had to be paid individually when you were in or caused an accident, if cars were expensive enough that lower-middle-class families had to work out sharing agreements with their neighbors...basically, right now we are comparing a system where difficulties are smoothed over by ridiculous investments to one that has been perpetually starved.

Sure, most of the time I'd probably prefer riding in a magic box that could zoom me in peaceful privacy from point A to point B to taking a bus trip. The magic box doesn't exist, though.

At some point, we're going to have to accept that the market is not somehow going to magically solve this problem so that none of us--none of us educated, affluent, white people, at least--have to do things we don't want to do and which appear to us to reflect a decreased quality of life. Because otherwise our civilization will be gone in probably less than a century. Saying "well, good luck selling that!" as if it were a meaningful response to attempts to fix the problem is basically saying you're okay with the species committing suicide.
posted by praemunire at 10:06 AM on June 24 [5 favorites]


If there had ever been a rash of crashes or third party deaths/injuries as a result of the more lax requirements, I'd understand, but there wasn't

I mean, we just had a lovely senior citizen actress murdered by some POS hit-and-run scooter driver, but...?
posted by praemunire at 10:08 AM on June 24


What is the author selling at the "intersection of Real Estate Development & Urban Planning"? (besides clickbait of course)
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 10:33 AM on June 24


For me to get a bus within 4 miles of my house, I have to call the bus company the day before and request that it come to the extended point of a specific schedule. So I have to plan ahead for the car to break down, right. And they don't take calls on the weekend or evenings. You call and leave a message with no confidence that your message was received and that the bus will actually be there. The buses are reasonably clean, about half the drivers are helpful and courteous.

Distances in the US are typically greater than in many places well-served by public transport. as long as cars and gas are relatively cheap, I don''t see it changing. To say nothing of Big Oil's campaigns against reasonable energy policy.
posted by theora55 at 10:52 AM on June 24


Saying "well, good luck selling that!" as if it were a meaningful response to attempts to fix the problem is basically saying you're okay with the species committing suicide.

If the market isn't going to solve it then the governments need to solve it and guess what? It still needs to get sold! To the voting public.

If the sole solution to environmental catastrophe is global totalitarianism then, fine I guess? Start training your shock troops. But if that isn't your bag, then you're gonna need to bring people on board with your solutions. Because in democratic republics that is how things work.

People CAN be brought on board with unpleasant adjustments via various carrots and sticks, but one thing the pandemic has taught us is that "not dying" isn't a sufficient carrot and "dying" isn't a sufficient stick, so we better try something else. It has also taught us that one thing people definitely don't want to do is ever think about the pandemic again, so I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that "let's just live like it's pandemic everyday" is going to be wildly unpopular on a number of axes. But a more surgical approach can accomplish a lot if we're not too stubborn to accept the good in lieu of the perfect.

we are tho
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:01 AM on June 24 [5 favorites]


Implementing change is a known function. Start with the adoption curve.
posted by No Robots at 11:11 AM on June 24


Cool to see “let’s make some things online” get interpreted as “lock yourself in your house and never leave.” The “test run” comment was about how to make the technology/logistics work. Obviously people’s mental health will be worse if they’re not allowed any in-person contact at all, as was essentially the case for the pandemic. But asking people to reduce travel (using the online systems we’ve put in place) is just as viable as asking people to switch to public transportation.

This hasn’t really been discussed but relying on public transportation actively worsens a lot of people’s mental health. People with mental/developmental disorders have much greater difficulty accessing public transportation and this leads to increased isolation. Any kind of travel becomes difficult when simply existing is taking up all of your energy. Reducing the amount of unnecessary travel would make the world a much more accessible place. There would obviously still need to be some in-person things. But if we are being asked not to use cars just because we “prefer” it to public transportation, we should equally be willing to ask that we not make something in-person just because we “prefer” it to online. Some people will need cars, and some people/some events will need to be in-person, for logistics, mental health, or other reasons. But there’s a lot of stuff that’s only in-person because a manager prefers it or insurance doesn’t want to cover telehealth.

To be clear, I’m a big fan of public transportation and want to fund it anywhere possible. But I’m autistic and cannot use it without having a breakdown. Switching to public transportation would mean that I functionally AM imprisoning myself in my house for everything except absolutely essential travel. This was my life for many years, in fact. Pandemic isolation has absolutely fucking NOTHING on what life was like as a housebound person in years past. I was much less isolated in 2020 than I was in my previous housebound years. Keeping things online when they don’t need to be in-person would significantly reduce my driving and increase accessibility for people who don’t have cars but struggle with public transportation.
posted by brook horse at 11:50 AM on June 24 [8 favorites]


The pandemic isn’t really a good metaphor though? Because it would be fine to live in a neighborhood and hang out with your favorite locals as much as you want, which should be way less agonizing than actual lockdown solitude.
posted by clew at 11:50 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


Also like lots of people are already clamoring for this. Many people WANT to work from home. They WANT to keep accessing healthcare via telehealth. They WANT to attend events all across the country from the comfort of their home. They WANT to have more time to socialize with their families and other people they actually care about rather than driving to work or doctor’s appointments.

We could keep that and reduce the amount of driving people do without even getting into anything inconvenient (and telling people to deal with it anyway for the planet). But we’re shutting all that down. People are being made to come back into the office. Insurance is no longer covering telehealth. People WANT to travel less and aren’t being allowed to because it’s less profitable (or companies think it is).
posted by brook horse at 12:00 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]


Sorry, yes I suppose I got irrationally angry, because if I ever have to watch another "live" concert on my fucking laptop I will blow up the moon.

But I suppose it all comes down to what one thinks of messaging and whether persuasion has a role in any of this. When your message can be read as "so actually, 2020 was a great model for everything moving forward, let's have more of it" people are in fact going to react like I did. And of course on MeFi we're preaching to a choir within a choir within a choir and perhaps nobody feels like "messaging" is a thing in this context, I dunno. All I do know is it's going to be a long time before I can hear "the pandemic was a test run for ..." without throwing a mug at the wall.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:09 PM on June 24 [4 favorites]


I mean, I’m not going to stop saying the pandemic was a test run for a more accessible life for disabled people. We have been told for ages that our needs can’t be accommodated, except oops, when abled people needed it too, suddenly all things are possible! (Just for clarity: this bitterness is not directly at you, I’m just extra pissed today because we aren’t allowed to teach classes online next semester and we can be 50% hybrid only if there’s a “justifiable” reason “not including convenience or health reasons.”)

2020 as a whole wasn’t a great model for everything going forward, but what we did with a lot of the tech could be. Listening to a concert from your laptop sucks, I get it. But it sucks more to never be able to go to any concerts because they’re not accessible to you. So maybe let’s take some of the advances we made in 2020 in the service of housebound abled people and carry them forward for disabled people too. The downstream effect will be people who don’t “need” it but find it more convenient will also drive less. Have a concert in person but also stream it and then the diehards will show up and the people who are willing to take the trade offs to do less driving can do that. And the people who didn’t have the option to drive or take the bus can access it.

But like also feel free to throw a mug at the wall because I get not wanting to do anything like that again. You’re welcome to feel like that, I just feel extremely disheartened that all these accessible options are going away.
posted by brook horse at 2:53 PM on June 24 [4 favorites]


A better phrasing would probably have been “we already have the tech and infrastructure for it.”
posted by brook horse at 2:59 PM on June 24


When your message can be read as "so actually, 2020 was a great model for everything moving forward, let's have more of it" people are in fact going to react like I did

Luckily it cannot be read that way, because the proposal was "some" not all.

Let people work from home when their jobs allow it. Continue to cover telehealth. Stream concerts and events live. Host clubs online. So much of our travel isn't necessary at all, and rather than looking for ways to make it more efficient, maybe we should just... get rid of some of it?
posted by tiny frying pan at 3:27 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]


I fully concede that today is a super not-doing-great day over here and I brought my own trauma to that comment. Please consider it retracted.

It does make one stop and think about all of the unfathomable ways a severely traumatized global population is going to impact...everything...going forward. Hopefully most people will be able to read internet comments that are actually innocuous and well-intentioned without being filled suddenly with an overwhelming sense of REMAIN INDOORS suffocation and panic and a desire to claw out the window screens of their third-floor apartments so as to escape before it is too late, too late again. (Did I mention I'm not doing great.)

And I did not realize the speed at/extent to which all of the remote supports are apparently being stripped away. I am in a fortunate bubble, I guess, where discussions of opening offices and cancelling livestreams and refusing telehealth are not currently taking place, or if they are, tend to consist of vague references to 2022. My various feeds remain filled with streamed events and zoom clubs and virtual booktours and very little in the way of in-person. But I should not have assumed that was widespread.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:30 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]


I get the rawness, and I definitely could have worded it in a more nuanced way that wouldn't imply everyone should stay home forever. For context, I just started working at a mental health clinic and they told me every insurance plan except for one is no longer covering telehealth. For therapy. The health discipline with probably the most evidence for telehealth (in many, though not all cases) being equivalent to in-person. And this is a clinic that takes a lot of different types of insurance. So... yeah. I'm also pretty raw, but for different reasons, and I sympathize.
posted by brook horse at 6:50 PM on June 24


Thankfully, the infrastructure that has enabled remote work, learning, etc, at a larger scale than previously is now already in place at a lot of organizations, so it's less a matter of "please spend a bunch of money, time, and effort making this possible" and more "please allow these things we've already paid for to be used."

In the case of work specifically, it's pretty clear that there is a much greater acceptance of remote work in many roles than there was previously. What remains to be seen on that front is whether or not we see a reversion to the status quo ante or not. I suspect that will depend largely on a large enough fraction of employees being willing to refuse 100% onsite work, and that may or may not last.
posted by wierdo at 6:57 PM on June 24


Plan all you want. The majority of humans are not wired to see beyond the end of their nose. We are constantly running into ditches, plunging over precipices and sinking into mires. It's called history. That the current situation may well be existential will probably not change us or the results one iota...

So much fallacy and bias packed into one pithy little remark.

To me this is actually indicates some real key issues involved with this whole discussion. The point one other commenter made about the need to "sell" effective solutions to the public is salient here as well, it gets down to how do we break people out of their comfort zone/filter bubbles, before catastrophic environmental collapse accomplishes that for us?

Considering the quoted top comment, it's frankly discouraging to me because one would hope that a person who is somewhat active on this site wouldn't be quite so invested in their own facile heuristics.

Maybe it represents the "uncanny valley" of techbro culture -- this 'skeptical', 'rational', or 'realistic' perspective based mainly on what is actually a dysfunctional and shallowly mechanistic view of the world. A form of bias I often see confirmed on Twitter, Reddit, and yes here as well.
posted by viborg at 9:40 PM on June 24


Non-driver, non-American. My expectation is that driving cars in the 21st century will be like riding horses in the 20th century - something for the enthusiast, but not an integral part of daily life.

As a non-driver, my housing choices were limited to those with good public transport options, which included walking. Which means that there are all the incidental meetings and socialising with neighbours. No decent footpaths - not living there.

One of my favourite four letter words, "Taxi". I used taxis to do morning school drop-offs when I had more schools to deliver children to. I happily spend $50 a week on taxis - that is still much less than a car would cost. The most significant cost of owning a car is the DEPRECIATING value, so my taxi costs are still much less than that.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 2:17 AM on June 26


I find it hard to believe that everyone would prefer to ride a car everywhere when two common US vacations are "go some place with a cool walking culture" and "hunker down in a pretty natural area."
posted by tofu_crouton at 12:47 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


I was speculating that an ADA case could be made for maintaining remote working, teaching, studenting, etc. Based on no intelligence, but even limited to people who have discovered they learn/work better remotely/alone, it really makes/made sense.
posted by rhizome at 3:32 PM on June 26


"go some place with a cool walking culture" and "hunker down in a pretty natural area."

"things to do on your road trip"

in the US driving culture is so ubiquitous that we fail to notice it except in places that operate in contrast to it like NYC (where the streets are still choked with traffic, even if most residents don't drive).
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:30 PM on June 26


In large swaths of the US driving is unfortunately a basic necessity. Well, I guess you could ride a horse instead, but the point remains. Density is low so the number of people in a given area is small, but in total there are a fairly large number of people in the US living far away from any services, even though in many cases there are other people fairly close by.

A lot of the time there used to be a grocery store and a hardware store and whatever else in these small communities, but no longer. In some cases that's because Walmart, but sometimes it's been that way since 1940.
posted by wierdo at 7:20 PM on June 26


As a non-driver, my housing choices were limited to those with good public transport options, which included walking. Which means that there are all the incidental meetings and socialising with neighbours. No decent footpaths - not living there.

That's great if you can afford it and can get to work without a car but walkable neighborhoods are generally expensive and retail and blue collar jobs aren't usually very easy to get to via transport. At least in the US, not having a car is to live a fairly privileged life for a lot of people.
posted by octothorpe at 9:07 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of people in the US who don't have cars because they can't afford them (AAA's estimate is that car ownership costs the average American $9,282/year, and that doesn't include parking costs). On top of that are those who don't drive because of disabilities, legal or immigration-related reasons, being children, and so on. I don't have good data on this, but the stories of retail and fast food workers commuting by Uber at a cost of a significant portion of their pay point to just an astonishingly broken transportation system in this country.

Cars also cost all of us a lot whether or not we own them. Driving is heavily subsidized. And some of that subsidy shows up in unexpected places: if the law requires a certain number of minimum parking spaces to build an apartment building, that can increase the cost to build apartments by tens of thousands of dollars per unit
posted by zachlipton at 9:54 PM on June 27 [7 favorites]


I realize that cars are expensive but for a lot of Americans who can only afford to live in inner-ring suburbs or dead little mill towns, they're a necessity.
posted by octothorpe at 6:34 AM on June 28


octothorpe: that is completely true.

Now imagine what life is like for people in inner-ring suburbs or dead little mill towns who can't afford a car, who never had the chance to learn to drive (often because their parents couldn't afford a car), or who cannot drive (and in many cases, can never drive) due to age or disability. They absolutely live in those places where a car is a necessity, and that necessity makes their lives much, much worse.

Sometimes, like the man who walked 21 miles a day on his work commute, charity means someone gives them a car. But a free car would do nothing for my visually impaired friend who would love to move back to her small hometown - where her mother, children and grandchildren all live - but can't, because she couldn't get groceries or anything. In my own family, out of four adults, only one can drive -- and two have disabilities which mean they couldn't legally drive even if they knew how.

Even if one could learn how to drive as an adult, what vehicle would you practice on? When you take driving lessons as a teen, you have an hour a week in the instructor's car, but it's expected that you'll be using another car (usually your parents') to practice in. It's extremely hard to learn how to drive without that practice - and I know would-be adult drivers who have failed to pass their tests due to lack of practice.

When people talk about the necessity of rural and suburban public transit, we're not saying that because we're urban elites who just think everyone should live like us. We're saying it because we know people who are either already living in those places and suffering, or we know people who would like to live in those places but have been forced to live elsewhere to get the basic necessities of life.

Disabled people should have the right to live in cheaper, more open places too -- and people who live in remote areas should have the right to age in place. Children and teens should be able to get to places like a public library or a skatepark, or that weird ravine where they like to smoke up (well, only the teens for that one) without having to be ferried around -- and the low-wage workers who are the staff of all the stores and restaurants and drive-throughs in the area should be able to get to and from work.

And, as I linked to up thread, affordable public transit can be a matter of life or death, particularly for Indigenous women and girls. My dad lives in a small town in a region similar to the Highway of Tears - he's much safer as a white man who is able to pay for the shuttle to get out of his small town. Even so, as a non-driver (never learned, no opportunity to learn now), he's really limited in where he can go - and very aware of how the lack of transit puts many people in his community at risk.
posted by jb at 8:17 AM on June 28 [8 favorites]


tl;dr : public transit is an equity/social justice issue. While there may be some high-income people who choose not to drive, most probably could drive if they wanted to. The people who don't have a choice are much more likely to be low-income and/or disabled.

And because I want to add substance to what has been largely personal observation, here's the results from a Gallup poll of Americans:

Looking at the last column - the percentage of people who drive "Few times a month/Rarely/Never":
City vs Suburb vs Town/Rural
19% - City residents
10% - Suburban residents
17% (!) - Town/Rural residents

Income
27% - Less than $36,000/year
12% - $36,000 to < $90,000
6% - $90,000 or more per year

Education
9% - College graduate
19% - Not college graduate
So, looking at who does not drive regularly: they include almost 1/5 of Town/rural residents, almost 1/3 of low-income people, and 2x the proportion of people without a degree than those with a degree. Race isn't included in that table, but given how it correlates with income and education, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a much larger proportion of people of colour than white people who rarely or never drive.
posted by jb at 8:34 AM on June 28 [9 favorites]


But dense public transit isn't workable in rural areas, in the sense of having multiple daily routes that can be used for commuting. You might get a bus running from central area to the next town over on a sparse schedule, but public transit depends on density. If kids want to get to the skate park in a rural areal, they are going to have to bike. Things like paratransit may help some people, but that's just displacing the environmental burden of the car to the paratransit, it's still one person driving one person around in a personal vehicle. And even that is going to depend on the larger polity being willing to subsidize, since very few rural areas will have the budget to provide personal car service to every person who cannot drive due to disability. Which means you are still counting on the dense areas since that is where most of the money is.
posted by tavella at 9:48 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


The solutions for rural/less densely populated areas have to be different from urban transit. But we can also look to other countries and to other times for ideas. I have ridden a rural bus in Britain in an area which is just as densely (or not densely) populated as large parts of southern Ontario - it only ran 1 time per hour, but it was very reliable and it meant that I could get to the main town and back (about a 45-60min drive) every day. Historically, we have had rural taxis (like your paratransit) and intertown buses and trains.

We will have to be willing to subsidize them - and by "we", I mean everyone in a given country. It shouldn't be the responsibility for only rural people to pay for their transit, any more than cities should bear the full burden of homelessness (especially as they are often destinations for vulnerable people from smaller centres).
posted by jb at 10:18 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


"Small-town Americans frequently chortle about the suckers in the big cities where prices are out of sight, holding up the rustic way of life as not only spiritually superior but also more sensible financially. Then, when it comes to those aspects of rural existence made more expensive by the lack of crowds, small-towners demand subsidies." – Gregg Easterbrook

While I'd love to share jb's optimism, I'll happily help fund a massive network of rural transit only when people in those sparse areas are actually willing to send funding to help with the massive level of homelessness that has coalesced in my densely populated city.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:44 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah, solidarity, PhineasGage! I don’t know how either but we can see a direction that makes almost anyone better off.
posted by clew at 11:52 AM on June 28


> I find it hard to believe that everyone would prefer to ride a car everywhere when two common US vacations are "go some place with a cool walking culture" and "hunker down in a pretty natural area."

I personally know people here in Toronto who came back from European vacations raving about the street culture, the piazzas, the sidewalk patios, etc., but rail against bike lanes, the removal of street parking, or any other attempt to curtail the stranglehold car culture holds over the city.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:48 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


So what I am hearing is that rich people won't ride the bus because it is full of poor people but actually there are no poor people on the bus because living near buses is expensive?
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:45 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]




94% of rich people in America just drive. It's 1/3 of poor people who don't drive regularly, whether they have access to transit or not.
posted by jb at 7:15 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Actually it's more like rich people won't ride the bus because it's full of poor people, but they LOVE rail, which has no poor people on it because living near rail is expensive (p. 36).

So basically CalTrain vs BART memes?
posted by pwnguin at 10:25 PM on June 30


No, I don't see rich people on either CalTrain or BART -- they take hired cars, in the USA. But in Japan, the rich ride both subway and bullet train, because there, they're good enough.
posted by Rash at 8:33 AM on July 1


« Older Primož Roglič and the Power of Second Chances   |   Conan's Irish goodbye Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments