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Old January 4th, 2010, 10:23 PM   #1061
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It is exactly like what hans280 and Ternarydaemon have said: even with a relative large amount of explosives, you wouldn't cause too much damage and wouldn't kill more people than if the explosion had happened in a movie theater. Harassing rail passengers in search of weapons and explosives would not be effective to improve security in rail travel and passengers would start avoiding train travel as well. Otherwise, we'd better demand from movie theaters to have security screening facilities, so we can feel safer.

The vast majority of terrorist attacks against railroad have happened on the tracks (bridges, etc) and not on the trains themselves.

Suburbanist, it makes me sad to know that you actually hope that rail travel will be subject to the same security rules that airline passengers have to subject themselves in order to board a flight. I am all for safety and security, but only when it's really necessary. Unnecessary security measures only make people feel frightened rather than safe, sometimes even leading many people to become paranoid.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 11:30 PM   #1062
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Exaclty Slartibartfas. I'll talk a little about the situation in Europe.

Demand for night trains is falling fast, and with the annualy timetable adjustment (done in mid-December yearly) for 2010, a lot of night services have been axed. For instance, in Italy they cut more night trains past December, they are down to 34% of services offerred 10 years ago.
I am skeptical though if this was done due to a lack of customers. The ÖBB and the Italian railways for example are involved in some turf war currently. That seems to be the reason why the train between Vienna and Venice was axed for example, rather than low demand.

I think that night trains are a great way to travel, superior to any other mode for distances up to a bit above 1000 km where you don't have high speed connections.

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Night trains interfere excessively with freight operation that dominate most Western Europe railways. For a freight train, it is not big deal to be held for 2 or 3 hours, or to operate under "strange" schedules if that is what optimizes traffic. Same cannot be said for passenger traffic. Indeed, passenger traffic is very disruptive to freight traffic as peak-holiday car traffic (Christmas, summer weekends etc.) severely disrupts truck traffic in Western Europe.
Well, thats probably the reason why they are everything else than popular among train operators. So you can add this to above argument.

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Assuming night trains are not operating regular seat cars, they need to be very long and thus operate with extended platforms.
Why? But anyway, I can't see a problem here. The infrastructure obviously exists, otherwise, they could not have been run in the past and I seriously doubt that the railway stations experience capacity problems during the night.

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There is, also, a cultural change: shared compartments are not longer vastly tolerated as something civilized. ...
No? During my last trip I shared my cabin with a journalist and his wife. Very distinguished people and great conversation partners. If you are four people on a trip (in many cases not an unrealistic number) you can without paying a lot more have a cabin all for yourself btw. A couple can have a 2 person cabin as well, even though it costs somewhat more.

I agree with the rest of your post though.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 06:25 AM   #1063
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If a real high speed train on East corridor were existed, I wouldn't even consider plane or car.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 11:02 AM   #1064
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Excellent point, StreetView. Personally I suspect that Europe right now is in a temporary lull as far as night trains are concerned. A few weeks ago there was a big feature article in the Frencly magazine La Vie du Rail about sleeper trains in Russia. The article couldn't help sneering a bit (well, it was after all French... ) at railway solutions of a kind that are, in France, nowadays consideres as sooOOO "last century". (In all fairness the magazine did recognise that a huge nation like Russia may have to do things a bit differently...)

I think they were too hasty. The Russians are now planning to mix HS and night trains by introducing highspeed (well, almost...) sleeper services, starting by Moscow-Sochi in time for the 2014 winter olympics. The Chinese railways are far advanced in the same direction. IMHO the Europeans will, within the next 10-20 years move in that direction as well. The keys to this development will be (1) the development of the so-called Trans-European Networks; and (2) the opening of competition across borders from 2011. Because...

...for geographic reasons up to now no west European nation has had to contemplate, within its own borders, train traffic covering more than at most 1,000 km. With such distances the gung-ho French (and more recently Spanish) approach makes a lot of sence. In parody: "We need to optimise all such routes for speeds not significanly exceeding 3 hours. Anyone speaking of night trains are w**kers who are too timid or stingy to invest in proper highspeed trains". In a domstic French context this attitude makes perfect sense, but...

...what of, for example, emerging TEN corridors like Paris-Munich-Vienna-Budapest? Are they to be used only for point-to-point traffic between, say, Vienna and Stuttgart or Munich and Strassburg? Longer than that and you'll be above the 3-hours limit where trains start losing their competitiveness vis-a-vis planes. My very firm guess is that Europe will see the re-introduction of sleeper trains - but this time sleeper trains racing at 300 km/h through the night (OK, only 250 km/h in Germany...).

There needs not be a huge passenger demand: the infrastructure will be in place already, so the marginal cost of a few HS sleeper trains will be managable. Moreover, the changing geographic structure of Europe (more and more people living in fewer and fewer middle- to large-sized citieis) pulls in the same direction. And, perhaps most importantly, the night trains will have gained on on the (plane) competition by having become much more comfortable than their predecessors. One achilles heel of such trains in the past was that the sleeper waggons were often hinged and unhinged unto different train sets all through the night with the result that the passengers got less than a good night's sleep. That's not going to happen with HS sleeper trains rushing through Europe on dedicated tracks.
Right now, we already have a good amount of dedicated HSR track lying across Europe. As far as I know, that isn't really being used during the night.
We also still have night trains riding around on old track, that's being shared with cargo trains. If we moved those night trains onto the HSR tracks right now, there would of course be some things to be solved with the signalling systems and so, but after that we'd have already made life much easier for both the night and the cargo trains. They wouldn't even have to be HS night trains to make a difference.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 12:11 PM   #1065
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E
Demand for night trains is falling fast, and with the annualy timetable adjustment (done in mid-December yearly) for 2010, a lot of night services have been axed. For instance, in Italy they cut more night trains past December, they are down to 34% of services offerred 10 years ago.
Night trains are dissapearing in some areas, but are holding up remarkable well in some others. Citynightline expended quite significantly in the Netherlands for example. The demise of night trains to Italy has little to do with demand and a lot with Trenitalia. The now axed night train from Switzerland to Rome for example was very popular. However rules in Italy make running trains more expensive than it should be, so that unsubsidised international services often suffer from an impossible business case. To me it appears that some national railway companies want to actively kill the market so that no private company steps in and competes with them. (In countries like France and Italy the railways are still all about running trains, and not about transporting people...)


Quote:
Night trains interfere excessively with freight operation that dominate most Western Europe railways. For a freight train, it is not big deal to be held for 2 or 3 hours, or to operate under "strange" schedules if that is what optimizes traffic.
Freight is relatively marginal on most of European railways, and freight trains run to an exact schedule too. Night trains have the advantage of much lower trainpath prices at night.

Quote:
Assuming night trains are not operating regular seat cars, they need to be very long and thus operate with extended platforms.
All major stations in Europe can accomodate 400m long trains. That is sufficient for 16 cars.

My newyears resolution for this year is to never travel by plane anymore. The full body scanner now introduced at the airports is the limit. I doubt I'll be able to control my temper when travelling by plane anymore. I find it a pity that a lot of night trains have disappeared in Italy and France, but these are not the countries with the best run railways, so this is not where to look if you want to know the future. There are still night trains from Switzerland (where I live) to places in Germany, to Denmark and The Netherlands, To the Balkan and to Eastern Europe. I do miss the night train to Barcelona though.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 12:26 PM   #1066
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Everybody is closing eyes for the (lack of) security in high-speed travel. I hope we don't have to see the first coordinated high-speed trains suicide bombing with 2000 or more deaths before Europe beefs up, harshly, security in long-distance train travel, even if it means creating dedicated stations with airport-like sterile areas that do not share platforms with more risky, but less terror-attractive, commuter/regional rail.
Train travel is very safe. Terrorism is very rare, although Carlos tried to bomb a TGV (with very unimpressive results). Since the security regime now in place for air travel actually does very little in adding any real security why would we have to emulate it for train travel?


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It is a complete stupidity to allow, as in Italy, Germany and The Netherlands, someone without a ticket, without even an ID, to approach a HSR platform and BOARD the train. They don't even need to be suicidal: it would be enough to hop on at Milano Centrale, leave a time-delayed bomb in a bathroom, leave the trains and create wavock.
Why would requiring an ID and ticket make travel safer? Are you assuming terrorists don't have photo ID or don't know how to buy a ticket?
Leave a time delayed bomb in a toilet and the result is a train car with a toilet sized hole in the side, and an emergency application of the brakes. if someone would happen to be on the toilet he would be toast.

Remember the bombs in Madrid. From the point of view of the terrorists this was actually a dismal failure...

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Sooner or later HSR will be subject to some restrictions like airplanes, such as carrying liquids etc. I hope this day come sooner rather than later.
I hope it never does come to this. Over the holidays I travelled to my parents. To get there I need to cross two national borders. I just walked to the station, bought a ticket with cash, hopped on the train and got of after 8 hours (trip including 3 changes and a short strol between two stations in Paris) at my destination. All without having to show any form of ID whatsoever.
That is how travel in a free society should be.

I doubt that we will ever see airline style security on trains. The security theatre at airports does not exist to stop terrorism. It can't be effective, so is not expected to be effective nor is it designed to be effective. It exists becuase it is possible, and because "something must be done". Doing the same thing in a railway environment is impossible, so it will not be done.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 02:58 PM   #1067
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I doubt that we will ever see airline style security on trains. The security theatre at airports does not exist to stop terrorism. It can't be effective, so is not expected to be effective nor is it designed to be effective. It exists becuase it is possible, and because "something must be done". Doing the same thing in a railway environment is impossible, so it will not be done.

Unfortunately, it will be done. As with most things we here in the US do it will be done, but only after someone blows up a train. We put in traffic lights at bad intersections AFTER enough people get killed, we mandate gates at all raillroad grade crossings AFTER enough people get killed, we decide it's a bad idea to allow small knives on airplanes AFTER 9/11 and we'll undoubtedly put ineffective yet politically popular security measures into place for railroad stations.....but only AFTER enough people get killed.

We here in the US are very good at letting the horse get out of the barn and then later patting ourselves on the back when we figure out how to close the door.

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Old January 5th, 2010, 06:26 PM   #1068
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Unfortunately, it will be done. As with most things we here in the US do it will be done, but only after someone blows up a train. We put in traffic lights at bad intersections AFTER enough people get killed, we mandate gates at all raillroad grade crossings AFTER enough people get killed, we decide it's a bad idea to allow small knives on airplanes AFTER 9/11 and we'll undoubtedly put ineffective yet politically popular security measures into place for railroad stations.....but only AFTER enough people get killed.
"after enough people get killed". That's why it won't happen. It's not easy to kill lots of people on a train, in fact it is extremely hard. (Killing lots of people on planes is extremely hard to btw. On trains its near impossible)
The worst accident with a high speed train was the ICE accident in Eschede. And even in this accident the vast majority of the passengers survived. This accident was caused by a combination of factors that would be impossible to replicate intentionally. TGV's have derailed at 300kph without even anyone on board needing hospitalization afterwards. Really causing intentional havoc on a train is next to impossible. A high casualty terrorist attack on a high speed train will not happen.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 06:59 PM   #1069
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Train travel is, as of today, the most safe form of long distance transport, period. Plane is very safe too, but less safe. Cars are the worst form of transportation when it comes to safety.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 07:32 PM   #1070
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Cars are the worst form of transportation when it comes to safety.
Good point. This is precisely why I'm pretty depressed at the thought of the new "security measures" that are going to come into force because of the infamous "underwear bomber": even WITHOUT these measures I could travel happily between the US and France every week, facing less threat from nasty terrorists than the threat I face from the rush hour traffic in Paris. This is, I have been told, an actuarial fact. OK...

...it doesn't follow from the fact that road traffic in Paris is very dangerous that I want to volunteer to an additional risk each time I fly. But it does follow that I cannot accept the argument that any governmental measure that reduces the risk I face is - therefore and for that reason - perfectly justified. Otherwise, what's next? Reduce the speed limit on roads to 20 km/h? That would also reduce risk. My point is, safety is not absolute. It can be purchased too dearly.

As for trains, well, I agree that bombs can be detonated on trains. But, so what? They can also be detonated in shopping malls, in cinemas, in schools... Ultra-security minded people like the Israelis have people outside malls, cinemas and schools as well as outside train stations to look into every handbag and every parcel. They fear suicide bombings in any confined space. Should we do likewise? I'd accept security controls in Union Station if - and only if - there are (like in Israel) also security controls to get into Macey's and restaurant Del Monico. Otherwise security around railways would be little more than a thinly disguised plot to harass railway passengers.

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Old January 8th, 2010, 07:29 AM   #1071
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Some CityNightLine services from The Netherlands were actually cut with the new timetable. Moreover, the only reason by which the company can stay afloat are generous conditions offered by DeustchBan to allow CNL trains to run over their tracks at night.

SNCB already increased traffic fees on the 10-fold scale, so did Trenitalia. I don't know what about SNCF and Renfe.

I don't see why Trenitalia would me "mismanaging" their services. From a company that used to cost Italian taxpayers more than € 2 bln. in deficits, annualy, in the late 90's it is now on the vicinity of break-even point (€ 140 mln. deficit in 2008 only), even considering the early revenue stages of its high-speed services.

Some people are complaining that Trenitalia is not collaborating with foreign train operators anymore, which is true to some extent. They decided to charge market-rates for all international station and track services, including theirs. Moreover, now they are not publishing foreing "hostile" services on their website, nor selling tickets from operators that are not associated with Trenitalia (and they are no longer obliged to do so).

So, there are some DB trains running from Bologna to Munchen that doesn't appear on Trenitalia website, and people cannot buy tickets in Trenitalia vending machines or ticket counters because DB and OBB refuse to pay the fees for general operators (they could rent floor space at stations and put their own ticket machines if they wanted though).

For me, it is called competition. If both KLM and American Airlines were flying from Amsterdam-Schiphol to Chicago-O'Hare, and they don't have a code-share, alliance or any other agreement, why in this capitalist earth should I expect to be able to buy American Airlines' tickets at KLM counters?

Unfortunately, there is some complain in Italy that Trenitalia would be "boicotting" DB and ÖBB, when they are still doing what is required: announcing trains at the stations, informing them on departure/arrival boards etc. People just don't understand that it is to give money away for a competitive rail opeartor to promote actively competitors' services.

As US don't have a HSR system yet, they could draw from this experience to promote truly competitive systems, in which track and station ownership are completely separated from rolling stock ownership and train operations. So, you can have multpile carriers fighting for passengers, and the result would be lower fares - exaclty as it happened when air transport was deregulated in the late 70's.

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Train travel is, as of today, the most safe form of long distance transport, period. Plane is very safe too, but less safe
According to the DTER studies, average fatality rates per billion-passenger-km for 1997-2007 in North America + Europe + Australia are:
AIR - 0.08
RAIL (from trams to HSR) - 0.64
CAR - 9.84

However, despite the widely known greater risk of car travelling, people can somehow accept it and dealt with it, especially when it is known that driving has never been safer than nowadays. On the other side, the public has very different perceptions on whether a number of deaths were caused by mishaps or crashes or by an act of terror.

Finally, tragedy size matters: 2.000 people killed throughout US in 1.500 car crashes/hits: a number, a statistic. 300 people killed in an air crash: public outrage, demand for accountability, NTSB arriving on the scene etc.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 01:35 PM   #1072
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SNCB already increased traffic fees on the 10-fold scale, so did Trenitalia. I don't know what about SNCF and Renfe.
In case of the NMBS/SNCB the problem was not really the rates, but a requirement of the trade unions that trains be staffed with NMBS staff while in Belgium... That's what drove the last CNL train out of Belgium.


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I don't see why Trenitalia would me "mismanaging" their services. From a company that used to cost Italian taxpayers more than € 2 bln. in deficits, annualy, in the late 90's it is now on the vicinity of break-even point (€ 140 mln. deficit in 2008 only), even considering the early revenue stages of its high-speed services.
Many railwaycompanies in Europe are profitable when one considers (as all do) subsidies as revenue...
What I saw in Italy last time I was there (half a year ago) was a network that only carried a small fraction of the traffic it theoretically could.

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Some people are complaining that Trenitalia is not collaborating with foreign train operators anymore, which is true to some extent. They decided to charge market-rates for all international station and track services, including theirs
They also decided to make it next to impossible to get foreign rolling stock certified in Italy, and insisted that foreign companies follow the same outdates practices they use (like two man engine crews).

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So, there are some DB trains running from Bologna to Munchen that doesn't appear on Trenitalia website, and people cannot buy tickets in Trenitalia vending machines or ticket counters because DB and OBB refuse to pay the fees for general operators (they could rent floor space at stations and put their own ticket machines if they wanted though).
Actually it is DB and OeBB together with FNM, which is an Italian company. We wil see how these trains fare. OeBB is also running buses to Italy, as these are more reliable than trains...


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For me, it is called competition. If both KLM and American Airlines were flying from Amsterdam-Schiphol to Chicago-O'Hare, and they don't have a code-share, alliance or any other agreement, why in this capitalist earth should I expect to be able to buy American Airlines' tickets at KLM counters?
What if KLM managed to convince the Dutch governement to only allow Airbuses to land in Schiphol. What would you think of that?
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Old January 14th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #1073
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What if KLM managed to convince the Dutch governement to only allow Airbuses to land in Schiphol. What would you think of that?
That would be a problem, uncompetitive. Subsidizes are not revenue, for sure. As for certifying rolling stock, same rule should apply to foreing and national carriers. Even better, we should have an European unified set of rules.

As for FNM, Trenitalia is usually at odds with it (FNM's major shareholder is Lombardia region government), but they publish its schedule.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 04:55 PM   #1074
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That would be a problem, uncompetitive. Subsidizes are not revenue, for sure. As for certifying rolling stock, same rule should apply to foreing and national carriers. Even better, we should have an European unified set of rules.
We're far from there however, that is the problem. And another problem is that in some countries (France is another, but Belgium is problematic here too) different rules are still applied to foreign and national carriers. Not officially ofcourse, but in practice, yes.
And the requirement of two man locomotive crews in Italy must go.

Subsidies however can be revenue. If a governement "buys" a service from a train operator, that is just revenue from the point of view of the operator. It is up to the governement agency to make sure they get value for money.

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As for FNM, Trenitalia is usually at odds with it (FNM's major shareholder is Lombardia region government), but they publish its schedule.
Even SBB publishes Trenitalia's schedule... That's just a matter of data exchange.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:25 PM   #1075
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Ok, now I got your point about subzidiaton. I'd not oppose on competition fairness ground governments putting rail services for tender and paying someone part of the costs, IF and ONLY IF those rail operators whose services government buy are treated equally by infrastructure operators (in Italy, for instance, the RFI; in The Netherlands, Pro-Rail etc).

Then, if a given route is overcrowded, and government wanted to contract some services using part of it, subsides would have to increase, indirectly.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:36 PM   #1076
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Ok, now I got your point about subzidiaton. I'd not oppose on competition fairness ground governments putting rail services for tender and paying someone part of the costs, IF and ONLY IF those rail operators whose services government buy are treated equally by infrastructure operators (in Italy, for instance, the RFI; in The Netherlands, Pro-Rail etc).
The justification for subsidization is that rail service has a positive externality. When a service cannot be offered profitably without compensation for this extermality society as a whole can be better of if it gets subsidized. But only to the sum of what the externatlity is worth.
in Zürich public transport removes about half the cars from the street. That's a big boon to the city, and justifies subsidizing the public transport system.

Generally the model for the future seems to be for intercityrail to be run on a commercial basis (SBB seems to do just fine here without direct subsidies) and regional/urban services to be contracted out by tender.

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Then, if a given route is overcrowded, and government wanted to contract some services using part of it, subsides would have to increase, indirectly.
Not necessarily. If a route is overcrowded it is popular, and a popular route can make money. It's the "undercrowded" routes that usually need subsidies.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #1077
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Fortunately for the Americans there is far higher public outcry (Tea Party movement for instance) against excessive public subsidiation of entilements (like the € 30/month passes one could buy in Milano, Italy, and use all the way around city PT).

Moreover, Europeans countries (jncluding the one I live and the one of which I'm a national) disgracefully extorts and "skim" private drivers to fund transit systems, and I just don't like the idea of people using private transportation paying for public transportation - even if half of a city uses it.

I know Zürich transit works fine from the time I visited the city, I just didn't like to be ripped off by hefty parking fees in garages near the main shopping avenue. I was there spendning my money, boosting the city economy and they charged me so expensively (it was something like CHF 28 for 7 hours).

The same pattern repeats all over Europe, while US is far more car-welcoming: every decent business and shopping district in a place different than Manhatan, Downtown SF or the Chicago Loop will have easy car access and parking facilities.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 10:12 PM   #1078
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Interestingly Americans seem to find only subsidies for PT terrible, but don't have that much at all against subsidies for car infrastructure.

Cars need immense amounts of space (moving ones are only a minor share, the huge space consumption comes with the parked ones), that is highly incompatible with a compact walkable city, also with the demands for a liveable centre with density but without insane dimensions of car traffic. If you want to go into the very centre by car, you either have a good reason to do so (then its worth it), or you don't, then you get their by PT or by parking your car somewhere outside of the centre and transferring to PT, there are enough possibilities to do so.

It seems you simply refuse to acknowledge that there is a basic contradiction between the visions of what a Eureopean city centre should feature (walkability, density, lively streets, bearable dimensions of traffic, mixed use,...) and "easy car access and parking facilities" also in the very centre with hardly any limitations. You know, what you seem to want has a name: "the car friendly city". That nightmare vision of a city that is perfect for cars, and hell for the people has been also popular in Europe during the 60's. Luckily one realized that it is better suited for the dustbin of history however and started the wave of pedestrianization of city centres instead. Something was bitterly fought by proponents of "the car friendly" city who drew all sorts of doomsday scenarios in order to prevent it but ultimately failed here in Europe.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 05:26 AM   #1079
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I'm not really sure if most Americans cry out against subsidies for transi. BTW, the Tea Party movement represents a small minority of Americans who don't know jack shit about what they protesting.

Last edited by LtBk; January 15th, 2010 at 05:34 AM.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 08:37 AM   #1080
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I know Zürich transit works fine from the time I visited the city, I just didn't like to be ripped off by hefty parking fees in garages near the main shopping avenue. I was there spendning my money, boosting the city economy and they charged me so expensively (it was something like CHF 28 for 7 hours).

The same pattern repeats all over Europe, while US is far more car-welcoming: every decent business and shopping district in a place different than Manhatan, Downtown SF or the Chicago Loop will have easy car access and parking facilities.
You're not being ripped off when Parking in Zürich. You're paying for a service that costs quite a bit of money to provide. Parking at out of town shopping centres is usually still free, or when not, quite cheap. If you really must take your car in to a city where providing car infrastructure is not trivial, and quite expensive, then you should be prepared to pay for it.

In the US business are often forced by planners to provide a minimum amount of parking space. Often more than the business owener itself thinks is needed. This "free" parking may be free to the customer, but it does impose a cost on the businesses involved.
In Zürich a business in the bahnhofstrasse would not be able to offer free parking and stay in business. It's as simple as that.
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