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  •  Bush-voting states and automobiles (4.00)
    Please stop with the red state-blue state nonsense.  These patterns are not immutable and do not indicate cultures, only temporary political decisions based on the absence of informed choices.

    That said, the correlation between automobiles and libertarianism in Bush-majority states is spurious.  It's there but unrelated causally.

    Older cities have transit systems because the cities subsidized them or built them outright before the automobile use became widespread.  Bush-majority states, developing large cities later, have sprawling suburbs because of automobiles subsidized by govenment spending on roads and airports and the absence of government spending on transit and railroads.  Those decisions were set in a predominantly progressive era.  They were a bias towards new technology, the society of the future, towards affluence and luxury for all.  Progressives pushed for their development.  Progressive politicians tried to make their state a "Good roads state".

    Today, cities in Bush-majority states are seeking alternatives to more and more congestion.  There are numerous new transit projects for these cities that have been blocked by Congress and the Bush administration as "too costly".  Frankly, they were blocked because they would reduce or stabilize the demand for gasoline, motor oil, and asphalt.  Guess whose industry buddies that would hurt.

    In a lot of cities in Bush-majority states, bicycle trails and walking trails are being built as part of parks and recreation budgets.  Campus-style office parks have built trails as well.  The current movement is to connect these so as to permit people to use them for shopping trips and trips to work.  Some of the biggest boosters of these efforts are rock-rib big-bucks conservative Republicans who want the prestige of trails in their neighborhoods.

    The cities with the most developed transit systems are those that built them about a hundred years ago and have progressively upgraded them.  These were the biggest cities in a time of few automobiles.  Small city transit generally is the result of the marketing of electricity in the 1920s.  Electric companies would persuade the city leadership to sign on with them by using a free electric streetcar system to promote it.  The companies would use the excess electricity they generated to run the streetcars.  In the 1950s, to remove the streetcar rails from interfering with automobiles, cities asked these electric companies to convert to diesel buses.  In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the electric companies shed these operations, which were then generally picked up by the cities themselves.

    •  Many transit systems were (none)
      private companies at first.

      The first New York City subways were private businesses.

      Washington area's Metro was a consolidation of private bus companies.

      The Shirley Highway south out Washington, DC was once a super highway in the midst of nothing.

      Over time, more and more people moved out into the suburbs or needed to buy cars to get to suburban jobs.

      By the early 1970s, private transit systems were not viable without public subsidies.

      The preferred response has been to make the private companies public.

      In New York City, private bus companies in Queens that have long been subsidized were bought out fairly recently.

    •  The First Sprawl (none)
      Were streetcar suburbs. Most of Chicago's Elevated was built out into open prairies by land speculators. Now they are high density urban corridors. Same for LA and San Franciso. Suburban development followed the interurban lines.

      Yerkes was a scam artist. But he built the  Chicago Loop and a large part of the London Underground. Insull monopolized electric rail by his control of utilities. Southern Pacific Railroad controlled the Pacific Electric empire in California. They were the dot com bubble of their time. Most of the weaker rural serving lines went under in the Depression. The larger urban based trolley and interurban systems lasted into the early sixties.

      Postwar Sprawl has become a national myth. I liken it to Westward Expansion. There is some truth in it and there is some complete bullshit.    

      "Hey buddy, do you mind putting out that cigarette?"

      by ILDem on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 09:03:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  those first burbs (none)
        interesting that those first suburbs are generally all considered to be in-town nowadays, and urban by today's suburban standards.

        as white (or bacon?  can't remember) theorized, cities used to grow to be about an hour or so across, and the streetcars enabled an hour to be a larger distance.  (could also be why the urban-based systems lasted longer than the rural ones--they operated outside the one-hour rule.)

        but with today's sprawl, we've entered a new concept where there is no need to re-connect to the core and there is no "time limit" on size.  the organism no longer has the same limits on its growth, and for that reason I think it's a bit disingenuous to compare the early streetcar suburbs to today's sprawl.

        •  If the Road Grid (none)
          was infinitely expandable we wouldn't be complaining about sprawl and gridlock in our large metro areas. Pouring more concrete is increasingly not an option. Infill and urban reuse will help. So will building more dedicated mass transit.

          I think cities with infrastructure in place for  higher population loads like Cleveland will have increasing cost advantages against the sprawltowns needing serious transit investment.  

          "Hey buddy, do you mind putting out that cigarette?"

          by ILDem on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:37:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  definitely (none)
            it's why I have mixed emotions about my choice of neighborhood here in atlanta.  on the one hand it's well-suited for infill and larger population and even relatively well-connected to transit.  on the other hand the total disconnect of the infrastructure ringing this entire city may eventually make it nearly impossible for us to get in and out.  a 2 or 3-hour trip to the country could easily turn into 6, and could choke down the city as the major engine of growth.
    •  Um... (4.00)
      In the 1950s, to remove the streetcar rails from interfering with automobiles, cities asked these electric companies to convert to diesel buses.

      In 1940-41, GM bought the streetcar lines in Seattle because they told the city they could run them for cheaper. They were already run at a loss, just like the roads are. They ripped them up and replaced them with buses because that was their business, not because the city "asked" them to.

      http://higherfrequency.blogspot.com

      by Bensch on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:18:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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