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The Right Track: Light Rails Ahead of Autos — Carectomy - Removing Cars from People

The Right Track: Light Rails Ahead of Autos

by Joshua Liberles on May 2, 2008

APTA_LightRails The Right Track: Light Rails Ahead of Autos
Commuters and curmudgeons have been slinging mud at public transit, saying it’s inefficient, outdated, unattractive, and a leech on municipal budgets. A report by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, “Evaluating Transit Criticism,” refutes these and a litany of other outlandish claims (i.e. “transit doesn’t reduce traffic congestion” and “harms poor people”) with hard-and-fast statistics. The study makes a stellar case for investing in rail systems for every major city.

The report is a comprehensive, data-rich argument in favor of public rails that’s definitely worth a gander. But, for now, we’ll save you the dry data and deliver the juicy bits (after the jump):

  • The report found that cities with no major rail system, like Los Angeles, suffer far more congestion than cities with widely used, efficient rail transit (like New York and Chicago). “Rail transit significantly reduces congestion,” said the Institute. Seems like a no-brainer to us.
  • Rail transit operating costs also tend to be lower than for buses.
  • In congested urban areas, rail systems actually get commuters to their destination faster than an automobile (bus or car). There’s no sitting in traffic, or being stuck behind the wheel, breathing fumes.
  • Many highway projects run over-budget and aren’t completed on time. By contrast, most rail construction is completed by its projected deadline and within its original budget.

Anti-rail naysayers claim that commuters “love their cars” too much to give up driving. However, the study says, rail systems don’t require people to relinquish driving altogether. Rather, access to a rail system enables commuters to skip traffic and take the train, instead, reducing car travel, overall. The report cites evidence that “many motorists would willingly shift a portion of their travel to transit, provided that it is convenient, comfortable, affordable and prestigious. In most cases a 5-20% mode shift on major corridors is sufficient to justify rail investments.” I, for one, would rather kick back on a train (which entails reading, people-watching, rocking out with headphones, sleeping, or sipping coffee, or any combination therein) than sit in sluggish traffic, screaming inwardly, with weary nerves and patience, worrying over whether I’ll make it to work on time.

For proof that taking public transit creates less stress than driving, check out this study by the APTA.

Photos via flickr by mirkogarufi and the dancing kids.

Related posts:

  1. Livingstone Makes London Rails His Domain
  2. Car Parking Free Light Rail Stations
  3. Obama Plans to Fight Sprawl, Support Peds As President
  4. America Ends its Affair With Autos
  5. China’s Fuel Efficiency One Step Ahead

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Terra February 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Amazing idea, but it says the tank is “capable of holding enough water for a family’s daily use”. It looks like it’s only a gallon, though. I doubt that’s enough for a medium or large-sized family in a hot climate, really.

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2 Josh February 22, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Actually the [i]internal[/i] tank is much bigger than that. The external tank (perhaps that’s what your commenting on?), mounted by the handlebars, contains the purified water. That’s only a couple of gallons. So, once you arrive at the destination, if you want more purified water, you engage the clutch and pedal some more through the system.

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3 ronwagn February 24, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Great idea, hope it helps.

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4 Farhad Abdolian February 26, 2008 at 2:25 pm

I really don’t get the logic here, first of all, you talk about 20 galons/day for a family, which means about 72 liters, the tank in the back of the bike does not look more than a 30-35 liter to me, am I wrong?

Also, they talk about a filter in this video, but where does the filter come from? Do they need to purchase filters like the ones we use in our extremely expensive water judge filters? Because if this is the case, then for those people who live on $1/day, this can be an impossible cost and they end up just using the bike for transportation.

Please correct me if I am wrong?

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5 Grant February 26, 2008 at 2:40 pm

My thoughts exactly Farhad. Furthermore, can the plastic casing be opened easily for servicing if the pump gets blocked, or even if the chain falls off? It looks nice, but sometimes aesthetic design can get in the way of a product’s practicality. I hope I’m wrong though, because it’s a great idea.

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6 Thomas March 1, 2008 at 2:55 am

You know, its funny how such an idea gets shot down by people so quickly..

whats with people anyway?? its an idea to help the world and they immediately start finding all the negatives…

heres an idea.. work with the designers to come up with a better design or shut up and let them do their part in the grand scheme of things.

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7 Djarada March 1, 2008 at 11:32 pm

I would suggest that the tank at the rear of the tricycle be fitted out with two collapsable 20 litre Pods(Portable On Demand Storage),so as the original water from one Pod,that has already been filtered,would under suction, return to the second Pod.
By the way it shouldn´t be taken for granted that the water being transported would necesarily be contaminated.
This technology could also be used to create Hydrogen, or?? :’(

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8 Edward March 4, 2008 at 10:41 am

Djarada, there isn’t enough power available from the human body to produce a useful quantity of hydrogen. But the idea of using equal sized collapsible pods with water flowing from one to the other, thereby taking up the same space, is ingenious. This, Thomas, is exactly why it is important to be critical – it makes people think that extra bit harder and as a result the best solutions to the criticisms are realised.

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9 Telford March 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Having worked in some 3rd World countries on humanitariam relief, I’d agree with Djarada. You’ll often find a community well from which everyone draws their water. Not necessarily contaminated, but still must be transported. If you used two equal size rear mounted pods for cycling water, you would effectively cut capacity in half. Rather, I’d suggest the rear container be as large as possible (consider what a bike can carry and a human can move) and the filtration if required can happen on arrival as the tranmission can be disengaged to only power the pump and filtration. Filtered output could be distributed to containers on site.

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10 Telford March 10, 2008 at 5:20 pm

I’d also mold the top of the rear deck to add a cargo shelf to enhance carrying capacity of hard goods and increase flexibility.

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11 Robin June 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm

A great start of an idea. Allowing the tires to be flat proof with the solid foam type would be of long term practical. Walmart used to sell them. A exra trailer option to tow max water and add some kind of a pressure tank so you could hook it up to a plumbing and give running water direct from the unit with no extra carying of the filled jugs could make showers even possible.

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