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Old September 16th, 2010, 08:18 PM   #41
Apoc89
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No offense, but if buses manage to be both faster and more comfortable than trains in your country, and actually attract passengers away from them, then something has gone terribly wrong.
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Old September 16th, 2010, 08:43 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
@thun: you keep attacking me "you don't know this", "you don't know that", but there is a fundamental difference here: I don't see non-metropolitan rail transport as something that must exist, let alone a right. So when you write about cooperation as a mean to achieve better industry-wide results, I cry "cartel" and anti-competitive practices. EU, US, Canada, Australia all have agencies in charge of promoting competition and asserting that monopolies don't establish themselves and/or do not prevent economic dynamism and competition.
Name one single example, where cooperation in public transport (we might want to exclude air travel here, because it isn't really used by private persons for commuting - at least in Europe), where free competition has improved ridership and profits. I'm not aware of a single one, while almost all cases, where services were integrated leaded to substantial growths in ridership and finally profits. Just look at Switzerland, e. g..

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In regard of pricing, many air shuttles around the developed World (Roma-Milano, Washignton-New York, Los Angeles - San Francisco, Chicago - New York, London - Manchester) have a strong basis of commuter users, and there is fierce yield management on those routes. Just check it out: shorter routes have far more expensive prices on early morning and late afternoon, for obvious reasons - people travelling around these times are often less price-sensible than others, they are willing to pay far more instead of having to arrive late or the day before.
In most of these cases, the company is paying the flights to get their staff from one place to another, its not the private persons, I think. Can you name numbers of people doing such trips on a daily base?
Whereas we talk about public transport on short to medium distances, which people use to commute (no matter whether metropolitan or not), integrated networks massively increase the usability and attractiveness of such services.
By the way, if we take a more wide point of view: What do you think would happen if a train service is abandonned because "it doesn't pay out" in your model? People will use cars instead, so traffic on roads will increase. The government will have to invest in roads, but cannot close the railway because it has to provide the infrastructure for other users (a freight operator or an intercity service, maybe). Ergo, costs will rise massively, leading ultimately to higher taxes. And we didn't even take external costs (which will be paid by the government, ultimately) like the higher pollution. Do you as a liberitarian really want that?
So in the end, accepting losses in operating a public transport system can still be cheaper than letting the free markets ruling it.

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The fact is that a "theoretical maximum", if well calculated and studied, will consider factors like loss of ridership due to dissatisfaction generated by a different price policy itself (and, for sure, by the prices set themselves either...).
True, but it will also try to attract a certain share of daily users in order to reduce risk of sudden losses.

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A true private company is interested in maximizing profits, not increasing ridership.
See above. In most cases (especially in commuter services), higher ridership goes hand in hand with higher profits. As I said, especially in services which are used on a daily base, clients probably wouldn't accept schedules not being integrated and having to struggle with different fares (because it will make their costs of search rise) and being ripped by companies which are only thinking about short-term profits. Most would rather prefer using the car instead, although the train would still be cheaper. The homo oeconomicus is a rather theoretical construct.

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But most state-controlled transportation companies are concerned about maximizing ridership while breaking even.
Funny thing, if you accept it as a public service, it doesn't even has to. If we consider external costs, it doesn't have to as well because it effects less costs elsewhere (the construction of roads or the savings in the health sector because less people come to hospitals because of road accidents or because of air pollution to name a few). It will most probably still pay off for the state in the end.

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However, in many cases the cost curve of transportation systems is so high that it doesn't intersect the demand curve at any point, meaning that there is no possible fare that will merely match costs and revenue. In economic analysis, we call those markets impossibles, and projects expected to have such curves unfeasible.
Which would mean that no private operator would be interested in engaging in it. Finally, it comes down to the question if that could be acceptable. The American example shows that in that case, the state founded Amtrak because it was the opinion that intercity trains were needed. American cities now have to undertake massive investments in new public transport services which they closed 50 years ago because the car is causing even more problems (and, finally, costs). I'm sure that would be the case elsewhere, too.
So yes, the market might be impossible. But ironically, it is still needed somehow, if only because any other alternative would create even more costs.

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Then it all comes backs to the same discussion: why not let the government provide the WAYS (runways, highways, tracks) while private companies decided what/when/at what price to run over them? It works for air and road transport, should work for rail.
We will see how that is going to work out on intercity train services in the very near future as the EU is opening that market. I'm certain that that will not mean the death of integrated intercity services of the former state railways. Yes, it might be more expensive, but it offers a higher utility, too. Private operators will probably be limited to low-cost services with bad service or very few corridors where the connected cities themselves create enough ridership to make profits. They almost certainly won't be an option for anyone who needs to change trains at some point. And these are the vast majority of passengers almost everywhere.

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To have a more free and competitive market in transport, we will need to accept coordination will be lost.
Not necessarily. I'm not against free markets at all. They can work, even in public transport. But one should think of them not like you, but rather more like a market for investment goods or public tenders. One entity is offering a contract (it doesn't make a difference if its a private company searching new suppliers, the military buying new equipment or a city looking for someone to run a bus line) and defines the content. And everyone is free to apply - still being able to influence its profit by cutting costs. Thats basically how regional train services in Germany are run nowadays, and its working good. you can hae both, capitalistic competition by private companies and a integrated service. I never heard of a railway operator who would have prefered to go out of the integrated fares and schedules scheme because it would have offered higher profits. Again, we're talking about trains used by most passengers on a daily base.

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So it should happen if forced and imposed timetables and schedules were abolished in name of capitalistic competition.
Your opinion, and thats fine. But it certainly isn't the only (and in the opinion of most not the best) option.

We didn't even talk about the problems individual traffic is causing for most countries in terms of congestion, air and noise pollution, lost productivity and finally less quality of life. If every single large city and somehow dense populated in the developed world is doing massive investments in public transpor in order to fight against these problems, how it comes that none of these is following the way you claim to be the golden path? Even the Americans don't do so. Apparently, no-one where it matters is the opinion that it would be able to provide sustainable mobility and offer positive outcomes where it matters.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:27 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
@thun: you keep attacking me "you don't know this", "you don't know that", but there is a fundamental difference here: I don't see non-metropolitan rail transport as something that must exist, let alone a right. So when you write about cooperation as a mean to achieve better industry-wide results, I cry "cartel" and anti-competitive practices.
What do you think of the Elevator cartel in the building you work in? (Asuming for the moment you do work...)
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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:59 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by strandeed View Post
the more choices the consumer has... the fairer the system will be

I honestly have no idea how anyone can argue against this.
Agreed. People are aruging that if a system proves to be too popular it will be a threat to a less popular alternative.

Better do away with the potentially popular "threat" consumers may be inclined to use for a variety of reasons.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:13 PM   #45
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What do you think of the Elevator cartel in the building you work in? (Asuming for the moment you do work...)
The 4 elevators on my building, two on SE and two on NW wing, are just essential components of the 11-story + 2-floor basement building. We can't move around without them.

It is not a proper comparison. Those elevatores are paid as part of the expenseves of running a 13-story building.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:54 PM   #46
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Only a few people in this thread are arguing against introducing long-distanced buses. Most either think they're a good thing and/or that they won't have any significant effect on train ridership or fares.

I personally hate taking buses for long distances, but since I believe in choice of transportation I support this. I think many of the passengers it will attract will be the kind who otherwise wouldn't take public transport for long distances.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 03:38 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
The 4 elevators on my building, two on SE and two on NW wing, are just essential components of the 11-story + 2-floor basement building. We can't move around without them.

It is not a proper comparison. Those elevatores are paid as part of the expenseves of running a 13-story building.
Yes, and I would call the public transport system in Switzerland an essential component of the country. The expenses involved are part of the expenses of running a country of (soon) 8 million inhabitants....
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Old September 17th, 2010, 05:08 PM   #48
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Yes, and I would call the public transport system in Switzerland an essential component of the country. The expenses involved are part of the expenses of running a country of (soon) 8 million inhabitants....

Then it comes to ideology. Free market is like Democracy: sometimes it bring unexpected and unintended consequences, but you just accept them in the name of higher values and more important standing points. If a country is to lose convenience of PT and get more congested, so be it: it is the price to push a less state-regulated paradigm in society and transport should be private and, preferrably, individual.

It is wrong IMO to decide otherwise like it would be wrong for a majority in any given country to pass a law saying, for instance, that people shorter than 1.50m would be barred from public service or higher education, for instance.

Promoting private, individual and self-propelled transportation is a corolary of defending our individualistic, consume-centered and democratic society. Not the most important factor, not even among the 10 most important, but nonetheless a valid cause.

In communist countries, Father State provides you with trains and other "socialist" forms of transport. In the free World, the government build roads for people drive their cars.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 05:14 PM   #49
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Your vision is not democracy, but anarchy, something that usually ends with disasters.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 05:25 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Then it comes to ideology.
Indeed. The car is socialist. The train is capitalist.

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Free market is like Democracy: sometimes it bring unexpected and unintended consequences, but you just accept them in the name of higher values and more important standing points. If a country is to lose convenience of PT and get more congested, so be it: it is the price to push a less state-regulated paradigm in society and transport should be private and, preferrably, individual.
What you basically are saying it is ok to make a country less convenient in one way if it becomes more attractive in some other way. I'd like to point out to you however that right now Switzerland is considered one of the most attractive places to live. And the good public transport system is part of that.
It appears that you seem to assume that your preferences are universal. They however aren't.
A building with elevators that you always have to stand in queue for is less attractive than a building with good functioning elevators, even if it comes at the expense of some floorspace...
It's the same with countries. Countries with good infrastructure attract more investors, and higher quality migrants. For that reason it makes sense that the state also invest in infrastructure. And once the infrastructure is put in, it makes sense to extract as much value from it.
Just like it makes sense that if you put in elevators in a building you make sure that they run efficiently. You are saying you want the elevators in the building to only run at times when there is a certain minimum demand, arguing that after all, there are still stairs...


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In communist countries, Father State provides you with trains and other "socialist" forms of transport. In the free World, the government build roads for people drive their cars.
In the free world private companies build railways. Lots of railways. Freeways are a socialist invention.

(I find it btw strange that you, pretending to be a champion of liberty, seem to have no problem with living in a country where you have to accept being fingerprinted in order to enter...)
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Old September 17th, 2010, 09:29 PM   #51
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I find it even stranger that he doesn't contribute his concept to other infrastructure subforums here. After all, he claims that its an universal concept. It should be applied for ferries, urban transport and roads (road pricing according to demand, etc.), too.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 01:53 AM   #52
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I find it even stranger that he doesn't contribute his concept to other infrastructure subforums here. After all, he claims that its an universal concept. It should be applied for ferries, urban transport and roads (road pricing according to demand, etc.), too.
To be fair, his idea is that vehicle operations and infrastructure should be seperated, which already applies to cars and air travel. And he doesn't hang out much in the urban transport section, but I think he's mentioned that his ideas would apply there.

I'm not against that concept on a basic level, although I do disagree with many of the ideas and agendas Suburbanist attaches to it. I believe that a healthy and free country runs on several different modes of transport, and any mode that can effectively and efficiently move people around and for which there is demand should be provided.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 02:11 AM   #53
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I'm afraid you didn't get the irony there.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 03:25 AM   #54
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In communist countries, Father State provides you with trains and other "socialist" forms of transport. In the free World, the government build roads for people drive their cars.
I didn't know West Gemany, France, UK, Italy, etc. were socialist countries.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 12:09 PM   #55
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I didn't know West Gemany, France, UK, Italy, etc. were socialist countries.
They have some socialist inclinations, public subsidized vehicle operation for PT being one of them (and among the worst IMO together with overly regulated development rules for new subdivisions/buildings).
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Old September 18th, 2010, 05:49 PM   #56
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They have some socialist inclinations,
Pretty much every country does, including the USA. And that's a good thing. Every country is a blend of different systems, because they realise that no one system is 100% perfect. 100% communist or socialist states would never work, and a 100% capitalist one would be just as much of a disaster.

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If a country is to lose convenience of PT and get more congested, so be it:
Please don't ever go into politics. Running a country means making sure your people can have a good life, the will of your people is respected and the rights of minorities guaranteed. It's NOT about blindly following an ideology.

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Promoting private, individual and self-propelled transportation is a corolary of defending our individualistic, consume-centered and democratic society.
No it isn't. Why exactly does transportation need to be 'individual' and 'self-propelled' for it to fit into your very strange idea of what a democratic and free society entails?

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In communist countries, Father State provides you with trains and other "socialist" forms of transport. In the free World, the government build roads for people drive their cars.
No, in the free world alternatives are provided so that people can make their choices.

Have you ever heard of the color 'grey'? It's one of many colors that exist other than black and white.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 08:19 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Then it comes to ideology.
Definitely true. But what you fail to realize, is that your "free market" is
an ideology too, not an universal truth. That ideology has good and
bad points, like any other one, and applying it blindly without judgment
and ponderation of the consequences can only lead to disasters.

Also, you fail to realize that we are 5 billion people on this planet... Today
less than 10% of them are able to live the lifestyle that you are promoting.
But emerging countries represent more than 3 billion people now, who will
also aspire to a better living. Our planet will never be able to sustain the
resources needed and the damage caused by such a lifestyle by 3 billion
people... Even if our energy efficiency and waste production is being
enhanced by a factor 10 (which is very unlikely) it will still not be sustainable.
If we are to survive, we must get better organized, and that implies a
more "socialistic" way of life than what you are advocating. Or may be
you suggest that you have the right to live this resource-expensive
lifestyle but your human brothers in India or China don't ?

Last edited by MarcVD; September 18th, 2010 at 08:29 PM.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 09:28 PM   #58
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Also, you fail to realize that we are 5 billion people on this planet...
7 billions, actually.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 12:14 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
Also, you fail to realize that we are 5 billion people on this planet... Today
less than 10% of them are able to live the lifestyle that you are promoting.
But emerging countries represent more than 3 billion people now, who will
also aspire to a better living. Our planet will never be able to sustain the
resources needed and the damage caused by such a lifestyle by 3 billion
people... Even if our energy efficiency and waste production is being
enhanced by a factor 10 (which is very unlikely) it will still not be sustainable.
If we are to survive, we must get better organized, and that implies a
more "socialistic" way of life than what you are advocating. Or may be
you suggest that you have the right to live this resource-expensive
lifestyle but your human brothers in India or China don't ?
Technology will enhance everyone's life, not simpler and poorer lifestyles. 50 years ago, when computers were mastodonic machines occupying 400m² specially refrigerated and controlled rooms, nobody would ever imagine computer systems becoming as ubiquitous as they have.

So they will sort out a way to grab cheaper/cleaner energy and an ultimately provide easy transport for many people. Space (not energy or metals) will be the problem.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 01:18 AM   #60
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the train is the technology you are looking for.

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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
So they will sort out a way to grab cheaper/cleaner energy and ultimately provide easy transport for many people.
We already have that technology: electric trains powered from renewable sources.
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