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Mass Transit Facts

The following is a summary: Los Angeles began operation of a light rail line between Los Angeles and Long Beach. The line is 22 miles long with 22 stops and takes about an hour to make the run. "The same ride by car can be somewhat quicker or much, much longer, depending on traffic." It cost $877 million. Don Pickrell, economist with the Transportation System Center, the research division of the Department of Transport, wrote in a report "cheaper, quicker and more urgent need was to make automobile travel less attractive by reducing affordable parking and moving toward some system of tolls at rush hour." [Since driving is discouraged during rush hour by time constraints, tolls should be used at non-peak hours to discourage driving]

--Seth Mydans, "Rail Line Makes Debut In the Land of Freeways," New York Times, July 16, 1990.


When the car [a light rail vehicle -- train -- on Boston's mass transit system called the "T"] is being braked, the motors become generators, pouring current back into the system. "It saves about 18 percent of the power requirement," Morse says.

--John White, "Driving the Ultimate Electric Car," Boston Golobe, December 25, 1988.


One cannot interpret the overwhelming dominance of the automobile in the United States as indicative of any innate preference of Americans for cars... When Public policy allows a real choice between the auto and mass transit, a far higher percentage of the population travels by mass transit.

-- John Pucher, Urban Travel as the Outcome of Public Policy, APA Journal, Autumn 1988. Pucher is an associate professor in the dept. of urban planning at Rutgers U.


And I add the thought that our near-abandonment of decent rail service is a symbol of our decline as a nation.

--John Chancellor, October 19, 1987.


Transit conserves valuable land. Moving 10,000 riders a day by heavy rail requires 0.5 acres of right of way; by bus 1.5 acres of roadway; by automobile, 9.5 acres.

--Railway Age, May 1985.


The waste in this country is appalling. Since the firs auto crash in 1903 over 2,500,000 people have died on our highways. Since the founding of Amtrak [in 1971] over 795,000 have died in auto crashes, at a cost of $560 billion; and since that time 42 people have died on Amtrak accidents.

All forms of transportation are subsidized. In 1987 alone highway construction got $16.9 billion from non-user sources. This is more subsidy than Amtrak got in 17 years.

The French government is building high-speed lines throughout France. The Spanish government will spend $18 billion on rail improvements between now and 2000. Germany, Sweden, Italy and Switzerland are building better, faster rail lines. Must the US fall so far behind?

--Samuel Stokes, Jr., "Asleep At The Wheel", EcoDemocracy, Spring 1990.


The comparative total cost for light rail transit systems v. autos favors laying tracks: $14 million per mile for the popular Portland, OR. system; $8 million per mile for San Diego's; up to $80 million per mile for subway systems the like Washington and Atlanta. Meanwhile, a freeway in Manhattan is expected to cost $q billion per mile.

--Jan Lundberg, "National Paving Moratorium," EcoDemocracy, Spring 1990.


Commuting in L.A. takes 50% longer than 1 year ago. 79% drive alone. Results of State of the Commute Report, survey by non-profit Commuter Transportation Services & So. Cal Ass'n of Governments. Some companies getting serious about carpooling incentives, flextime (including 4-day workweek), and experimenting with telecommuting. 46 miles of new rail and subway network to be in service by 1994.

--Wall Street Journal, 5/25/90


Per capita gas use in US cities is 4.5 times greater than that of European cities. Within the US, transit oriented cities like New York use 40% less gas/capita than auto-oriented cities like Houston. Travel by Amtrak in 1987 was 1.9 times more energy-efficient than travel by air (2527 Btu's/passgr mile vs. 4753 Btu's/pssgr. mile). Shipment of freight by rail is 4 times more energy-efficient than shipment by truck (443 Btu's/ton-mile vs. 1898 Btu's/ton-mile).

--27 NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL, LABOR AND STATE TRANSIT GROUPS UNVEIL ALTERNATIVE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION POLICY, contact Harriet Parcells: Campaign for New Transportation Priorities.


This needed restoration of transit funding will bring economic benefits and jobs. Every $100 million spent on transit capital projects or transit operations generates $300 million increase in business revenues and supports 8,000-9,000 jobs (American Public Transit Association).

--Blueprint for the Environment. [This publication may have something to do with the National Clean Air Coalition and published in 1989 --DC]


When the car [a light rail vehicle -- train -- on Boston's mass transit system called the "T"] is being braked, the motors become generators, pouring current back into the system. "It saves about 18 percent of the power requirement," Morse says.

--John White, "Driving the Ultimate Electric Car," Boston Golobe, December 25, 1988.


Effective immediately, bicycles will be permitted inside all Santa Clara County Transit buses when passenger loads permit.... The Board of Supervisors has ordered staff to install racks on the buses on all lines with heavy passenger loads....

The staff had been opposed to the bike racks in part because the racks need to be removed from the buses as the buses go through the washing system. But a newly designed rack is considerably easier to remove....

The policy to permit up to two bikes during commute hours and up to four bikes at all other times on board the light rail vehicles remains in effect....

--Ellen Fletcher, "Bikes Now Welcome on All Buses," The Spinning Crank, Dec/Jan 90/91. Santa Clara Valley Bicycle Association, POB 831, Cupertino, CA 95015-0831.


Rail Bond Projects Move Ahead

Progress continued on the California Rail Initiative (Proposition 116) car project last month. [On the] cars, manufactured by UTDC at its Thunder Bay, Ontario plant,... a pair of bicycle racks are stationed adjacent to one of the doors.

Capitol Has Early Peak, May Drops

Amtrak's new Capitols, after scoring 48,000 riders in March and 38,000 in April and likely exceeding 50% revenue cost ratios in both months, are on a severe downturn powered by higher fares. The May ridership figure is estimated by crews to be about 22,000 and June counts to date are less than 100 per train, which augurs poorly for the route being able to match its financial performance with previous lower fares.

--Moving People, May June 1992. Modern Transit Society, POB 981, Sacramento, CA 95812.


State 403(b) Rail Service:
Federal Amtrak legislation allows under Section 403(b) for a state or states to apply to Amtrak to establish rail service within their state(s) if they agree to pay at least 45% of the first year operating costs and 65% in the years there after. [But you can get your highways for only 20% of the capital costs!!]...

Landing fees [at airports}are low, generally less than 2-3% of operating costs....

A January 1991 public opinion poll on national energy strategies found that 75% of Americans believe that the recent Gulf crisis demonstrates "it makes more sense to reduce our demand for oil... than to increase our oil supply."...

Seventy Percent feel that the U.S. must take the lead in fighting global warming....

Mobile sources are responsible for 25-30% of U.S. CO2 emissions. Automobile air conditioners account for about one-fourth of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions....

In 1990, U.S. spent $62 billion for oil imports, accounting for 60% of the foreign trade deficit...

--Intercity Passenger Transportation, Campaign for New Transportation Priorities

 


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Last updated: 7 April 1999