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knoxster77

Public Transportation

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Ooh, I'll take a stab at this one. I am very happy with the fact that Nashville has started work on its rail system. Memphis, where I live, has a plan too. I really see this as one of the best avenues (no pun intended) to take in order to foster new development and provide a quality of life for citizens. We're becoming a much more diverse area everyday. People will choose to take public transit if it is offered. Our biggest problem is that we've built, or rebuilt if you will, our lifestyles and our cities to accommodate the automobile. This is a trend that will take a few generations to reverse but if we are to keep growing and be successful we need to have the basic elements of a productive city in place and Rail is one of them.

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Memphian, I am with you. We have built our transportation lifestyle (especially here in the South) to support a car community. Our cities are sprawled and surrounded by large strip malls with vast parking lots. Most people would dare not even consider riding the bus, and many Americans, again especially in the South, prefer to live in the suburbs and commute to work. The Cato institute is partially right on the fact that, under our current living and traveling habits, gov't subsidies towards other forms of public transportation does not produce the types of return in the form of public usage and/or revenue as it should. But, that is because we have built our cities and lifestyles around big interstates the idea that cars are more convenient.

Of course, the view point that diversifying public transportation is not cost effective is somewhat short sighted. First, our roads are subsidies by gov't. When was the last time you paid a toll to use our outstanding public roads in Tenn.? Second, In countries and cities, where cars are optional, people may pay higher taxes to cover the cost of good public transportation, but the cost can be offset by the fact people do not have to make car payments (Mine alone cost me over $500 each month) or pay car insurance. Third, cities with good public transportation can encourage people to move back into the city to take advantage of superior transportation; therefore, curving urban sprawl. City centers become more vibrant and more business can justify opening up in downtowns and the immediate areas around the city center. Fourth, not having to fill up your tank twice a week. Fifth, quality of life can improve in varies ways: without the dependency of cars, people tend to walk more or ride bikes, city traffic congestion can drop (although not always the case, take Boston for example), Stress levels have dropped. There have been studies (and I am to lazy to look for and cite them) that show that daily commuters have more stress due to long waits in rush hour than people who could walk or ride work. Indirectly, if you take into count how stress from driving twice a day in traffic and the lack of exercise from the convenience of driving everywhere can affect one's health, you might find a correlation between higher medical bills and urban societies that are car dependent. Factor in the possibility of less pollution and public funds to repair, update and expand roads then gov'ts can justify cost for alternative forms of public transportation.

But it will take a large public effort and several years to help retrain a society that has grown accustomed to driving long and short distances for their basic everyday needs. Unfortunately, I think it will take a few expensive endeavors to get the ball rolling.

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Memphian, I am with you. We have built our transportation lifestyle (especially here in the South) to support a car community. Our cities are sprawled and surrounded by large strip malls with vast parking lots. Most people would dare not even consider riding the bus, and many Americans, again especially in the South, prefer to live in the suburbs and commute to work. The Cato institute is partially right on the fact that, under our current living and traveling habits, gov't subsidies towards other forms of public transportation does not produce the types of return in the form of public usage and/or revenue as it should. But, that is because we have built our cities and lifestyles around big interstates the idea that cars are more convenient.

Of course, the view point that diversifying public transportation is not cost effective is somewhat short sighted. First, our roads are subsidies by gov't. When was the last time you paid a toll to use our outstanding public roads in Tenn.? Second, In countries and cities, where cars are optional, people may pay higher taxes to cover the cost of good public transportation, but the cost can be offset by the fact people do not have to make car payments (Mine alone cost me over $500 each month) or pay car insurance. Third, cities with good public transportation can encourage people to move back into the city to take advantage of superior transportation; therefore, curving urban sprawl. City centers become more vibrant and more business can justify opening up in downtowns and the immediate areas around the city center. Fourth, not having to fill up your tank twice a week. Fifth, quality of life can improve in varies ways: without the dependency of cars, people tend to walk more or ride bikes, city traffic congestion can drop (although not always the case, take Boston for example), Stress levels have dropped. There have been studies (and I am to lazy to look for and cite them) that show that daily commuters have more stress due to long waits in rush hour than people who could walk or ride work. Indirectly, if you take into count how stress from driving twice a day in traffic and the lack of exercise from the convenience of driving everywhere can affect one's health, you might find a correlation between higher medical bills and urban societies that are car dependent. Factor in the possibility of less pollution and public funds to repair, update and expand roads then gov'ts can justify cost for alternative forms of public transportation.

But it will take a large public effort and several years to help retrain a society that has grown accustomed to driving long and short distances for their basic everyday needs. Unfortunately, I think it will take a few expensive endeavors to get the ball rolling.

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Of course, the view point that diversifying public transportation is not cost effective is somewhat short sighted. First, our roads are subsidies by gov't. When was the last time you paid a toll to use our outstanding public roads in Tenn.?

I think that this is the key point in why public transportation has suffered when compared to using the automobile. The massive government subsidy, aka gasoline and road use taxes, makes travelling by car more attractive. We have had relatively cheap fuel up to now, and these taxes have been accepted by the public. Every time we get on the highway we don't pay a cent to get on. If we had to pay to get on the highway, just as we have to pay to get any public transportation system, a lot less people would drive and a lot more people would use public transit.

Probably, the only way to level the transportation playing field would be to remove all the gasoline and road use taxes, and replace them with tolls. Only then would people truly realize the true cost of operating an automobile, because they would have to pay directly out of their pocket every time they used the roads. Of course, I doubt very seriously that this will ever happen.

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I'm glad someone has finally brought up the issue of Public Transportation. I'm new to this forum, but have been watching it as of late. The issue of Public Transportation problems can be traced back to the '50s when the major Auto makers pushed the bus system on goverments as a more efficient system. This system was touted as more efficient than then traditional modes, ie. rail service, though they major auto players knew this wasn't the case. It was a successful ploy to change the current system of transit to promote the automobile society we are now living with.

Imagine what Nashville would be like had the rail system of the past been maintained and extended. Nashville is setup to be a city that would work wonderfully with light rail. Our major thoroughfares (all pikes) radiate outward from the city center. Unfortunately, I don't think the rail service to Lebanon/ Mt. Juliet will be successful for a variety of reasons. I'm a believer in the light rail/ urban model. Why extend rail service to a community that has by choice moved to the newest suburbs that prefer the automobile. Why not provide service to the lower income neighborhoods in town where ridership will happen (Charlotte/ Gallatin/ Nolensville Pikes)? Light rail could be easily accommodated in these areas to downtown and would provide the greatest service.

Sorry if I've gone on too long or if I've gotten off topic. I can go on and on about what has previously been said about the automobile and how it surprisingly doesn't provide as much 'freedom' of choice when you're on an interstate/ thoroughfare stuck in traffic with no other options.

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I think you made a very good point, cdub. Why don't they build the rail system first to people who may not be able to afford cars in the near future? It doesn't make sense.

Welcome to the forum, by the way.

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Well, it's kind of a catch 22 I think because the entire reason people don't tend to ride mass transit (at least not right away) is because it's always been underfunded, especially in places like Nashville, and developments are not in any way built with mass transit in mind, so nobody is used to riding transit. They are used to driving their cars. Mass transit is one of those things in my opinion that just needs to be thrown in there, and eventually people will catch on. This day in age I don't know of any other way to do it. Just because people don't prefer it right away doesn't mean it isn't the best option overall for the city, the individual, the environment etc. I'm sure obese people prefer, and are used to, eating chips and ho-hos...but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be trying to eat more salad and rice n beans.

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