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Old July 19th, 2010, 06:04 PM   #1821
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The Central Corridor light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St Paul is set to begin heavy construction in August. This is going to be a really big deal for the Twin Cities.

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Old July 19th, 2010, 06:21 PM   #1822
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I think in any country Children are dependant on their parents for transportation. My mum used to drive me to my friends houses and after school clubs etc.

Now I'm 20, don't drive yet (oops) But I just use the train etc
In Estonia children that are younger than 10 or so are usually driven everywhere by their parents. But from that on, it's up to children themselves to go where they want. I've got my things done with PT since I was 8 and it hasn't been a problem for me. I don't need my mum to be a personal taxi driver 24/7.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #1823
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What I FIERCELY oppose is the use of annual budgets to finance systems that have operational fare box recovery below 100%. Ticket collection should pay for the vehicles (not for the tracks) and all personnel involved
PT has a positive externality. That justifies subsidizing operation too.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 06:32 PM   #1824
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I think in any country Children are dependant on their parents for transportation. My mum used to drive me to my friends houses and after school clubs etc.

Now I'm 20, don't drive yet (oops) But I just use the train etc
In Switzerland children usually walk to school, even to kindergarten, although they will usually go in groups, so the older kids can look after the younger. All kids in a village go to the same school. Kids are expected to be able to use public transport by themselves from the age of 11 or so. Around where I live (outer suburb of the capital) about a third of the families doesn't even have a car...
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Old July 19th, 2010, 06:45 PM   #1825
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The Central Corridor light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St Paul is set to begin heavy construction in August. This is going to be a really big deal for the Twin Cities.
Are there any significant unsolved disputes about ROW acquisition? I hear something about tougher laws of exercise of power of eminent domain up there, but never got informed on that.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 06:49 PM   #1826
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Are there any significant unsolved disputes about ROW acquisition? I hear something about tougher laws of exercise of power of eminent domain up there, but never got informed on that.
No, the whole thing is ready to go. The line is being built along existing streets on public land. There was a dispute with the University of Minnesota but that has been resolved.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 07:36 PM   #1827
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In Switzerland children usually walk to school, even to kindergarten, although they will usually go in groups, so the older kids can look after the younger. All kids in a village go to the same school. Kids are expected to be able to use public transport by themselves from the age of 11 or so. Around where I live (outer suburb of the capital) about a third of the families doesn't even have a car...
I think in England parents worry a lot more about their children's safety and will drive their children everywhere until they are about 16-17, then they just drive themselves
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Old July 20th, 2010, 12:14 AM   #1828
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When billions federal dollars are spent on building highways, this does not count as a "subsidy?" How about the tens of billions on air traffic controls?
And oil drilling subsidies? The entire transportation economy is structured the wrong way. That's why if no large amount of investment is spent on rail, they will be viewed as money suckers for as long as the lack of commitment from the politicians keeps up. Railroads in the days of steam were profitable because back then, it was the only form of mechanized and reliable transportation, so the private companies had an effective monopoly. As you are well aware, there was a large investment on freeways and the Interstate system in the 1950s under President Einsenhower, but nothing has changed since then. To this day, cars continue to drain taxpayer's wallets and billions of gallons of gas are wasted in gridlock traffic.

Scientifically, rail is inherently more efficient. Cars are inherently more convenient, but not when there is a traffic jam. When you use a car 2-3% of the energy is spent moving you - that's the linear mass fraction in the kinetic energy. Trains have about 5-6 % of their weight in passengers, LRT even more (about 10%). Airplanes have yet more, but their efficiency is decreased due to parasitic drag at fast speeds. Bicycles are the slowest, but energetically the most efficient, with a mass fraction of 75% or greater. Not to mention that you can fit 8 bicycles in the space of one parked car. The maneuverability and freedom of movement of a bicycle exceeds that of a car.

There is no question that an economy structured around PT and bicycles should be more sustainable than that of one centered around cars. We just need an Eisenhower-sized investment on rail and bicycles, and subsidies to highways and oil must cease.

And how about our gas dollars going to Iran, where they finance Iraqi IEDs that kill so many US troops?
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Old July 20th, 2010, 02:59 AM   #1829
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In almost all of suburban North America, Australia, etc, children grow up knowing nothing but being chauffeured around by car by their parents. But their parents cannot always drive on demand, which makes the lives of those youth restricted by their parents' ability to drive whenever they can. This affects their mentality towards day to day life when they grow older. By contrast, children in Europe, Asia, and denser cities know they can take the bus or train to anywhere they want, and grow up with a more independent mind, which takes them further when they grow older. This is yet another externality, perhaps little studied, caused by the availability of transportation.

Do we want an entire generation who grew up restricted by their parents' willingness to drive, running our governments, businesses, hospitals, military, schools, etc?
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Old July 20th, 2010, 10:33 AM   #1830
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By contrast, children in Europe, Asia, and denser cities know they can take the bus or train to anywhere they want, and grow up with a more independent mind, which takes them further when they grow older.
Yep, from about 12 onwards I went everywhere by train or bus and it was easy. Mum didn't have a car anyway.

I'd hate to live somewhere that required a car, much as I enjoy driving. I've been to america, getting from Taco Bell to Pizza Hut across one intersection is hard enough for pedestrians, let alone actually going anywhere. I'm puzzled at how an entire country appears to have lost the use of their legs. Definitely not like that anywhere in europe.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 11:22 AM   #1831
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Lot of misconceptions here... European cities are not an opposed category of living arrangements where everyone, not even the majority, live in "dense neighborhoods". Many, many families in Europe have exactly the same concerns of American parents: crime, drugs, "loverboys", bad influences etc., and haul their kids around. UK and Spain have a larger share of parents driving kids to school.

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When billions federal dollars are spent on building highways, this does not count as a "subsidy?" How about the tens of billions on air traffic controls?
If you read my post, you could notice I said I have nothing against investment in TRACKS and STATIONS and TRAIN TRAFFIC CONTROL! What I will always oppose is the setup of unprofitable, or at lest able-to-break-even, vehicle operations, e.g., train services. I want to see rail transport for passengers completely segregated in terms of ROW, ways (tracks) and control infrastructure ownership and vehicle operation.

So, we will have true modal competition, when not a single penny flows to train operators, while tracks would be kept open for business of whomever has money and will to run certified trains it buys/leases over them, like in air or road transport.

If a route can't generate money, drop the trains altogether, but keep the track functional and opened. I'm also opposed to "schedule coordination" because it kills competition. It would be like government forcing Delta and United to set their flights so passengers from Delta can connect smoothly with United flights. I'd like to see a bunch of rail operators competitors (running trains on the same tracks owned by a third-party, probably a public entity) doing exactly the opposite: outpricing competitors, making efforts to steal market share, serving only routes they want without any government interference and so.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 11:47 AM   #1832
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It's not all about the wellfare about entrepreneurs, public transport is about customer service. I'm ready to pay 15% more if I don't have to wait an hour to catch another train. That's why I'd love to try out the Swiss coordinated schedule.

Heck, even private bus companies in Estonia that receive no subsidies use profits earned on more busy lines to run the less used lines.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 12:21 PM   #1833
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If you read my post, you could notice I said I have nothing against investment in TRACKS and STATIONS and TRAIN TRAFFIC CONTROL! What I will always oppose is the setup of unprofitable, or at lest able-to-break-even, vehicle operations, e.g., train services.
The point I and others make (and which you seem to systematically ignore) is that PT services have positive externatlities. If you require services to break even on ticket revenu alone the result will be that a suboptimal amount of PT services will be provided.

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I'm also opposed to "schedule coordination" because it kills competition.
Schedule coordination increases the value of the product. You are against companies co-operating to provide more value?

The Swiss railways co-ordinate their schedules precisely because they want to steal away market share from the competition. The competition here being the car...
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Old July 20th, 2010, 01:47 PM   #1834
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The Swiss railways co-ordinate their schedules precisely because they want to steal away market share from the competition. The competition here being the car...
Competition is a multi-layer issue, like other markets. Fast-food compete against themselves and against other restaurants, cook-at-home-meals and so. Airlines compete (fiercely) against one another and also, in case of short-haul flights, with other modes of transport.

Coordinating schedule should amount to rail cartel. If your schedules are coordinated, you are putting entry barriers and preventing non-cooperative, cut-throat competition, the kind that makes capitalism great, brings innovations, induces change and puts company against company instead of companies united against costumers.

In Swiss, Netherlands and other countries with overbooked paths for their railways, the possibility of TRUE competition (two companies offering different services between two points) is almost non-existent because governments will not build additional railway capacity just to free up space so other companies can run their own trains out of the framework of national schedules. So it IS preventing competition.

Imagine if governments decided they wouldn't expand airports, decided that people should fly on continental-wide coordinated schedules, prices were fixed and connections were kept at a minimum in the name of "reducing fuel use". That is communism, at airlines operated as such until the 70's in US, a bit later in Europe.

So segregation of track ownership and vehicle operator is a sine-qua-non condition for TRUE competition of rail operators against one another. Again, home people just disdain competition, but I label them as communists in pursue of the grail of "master transport planning".
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Old July 20th, 2010, 01:51 PM   #1835
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Communism is good thing.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 02:21 PM   #1836
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Competition is a multi-layer issue, like other markets. Fast-food compete against themselves and against other restaurants, cook-at-home-meals and so. Airlines compete (fiercely) against one another and also, in case of short-haul flights, with other modes of transport.

Coordinating schedule should amount to rail cartel. If your schedules are coordinated, you are putting entry barriers and preventing non-cooperative, cut-throat competition, the kind that makes capitalism great, brings innovations, induces change and puts company against company instead of companies united against costumers.

In Swiss, Netherlands and other countries with overbooked paths for their railways, the possibility of TRUE competition (two companies offering different services between two points) is almost non-existent because governments will not build additional railway capacity just to free up space so other companies can run their own trains out of the framework of national schedules. So it IS preventing competition.

Imagine if governments decided they wouldn't expand airports, decided that people should fly on continental-wide coordinated schedules, prices were fixed and connections were kept at a minimum in the name of "reducing fuel use". That is communism, at airlines operated as such until the 70's in US, a bit later in Europe.

So segregation of track ownership and vehicle operator is a sine-qua-non condition for TRUE competition of rail operators against one another. Again, home people just disdain competition, but I label them as communists in pursue of the grail of "master transport planning".
Complete flaw in your logic is that with airline operator and/or other consumer products they can compete on the same level while train operators can only drive one train in any given time slot therefore competition is meaningless. I also mentioned this before but connectivity will also be severely severed due to rivalry between operators disabling the system as a whole.
It's more like utility companies.
To my knowledge you cannot select a utility company within the same region therefore the government regulates pricing.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 02:53 PM   #1837
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Complete flaw in your logic is that with airline operator and/or other consumer products they can compete on the same level while train operators can only drive one train in any given time slot
So do buses and cars, and so do airplanes. Airplanes are constraint (severely) by runway capacity, exactly like trains. There is just so much traffic per hour/day/year a runway equipped with xyz control + ILS + ground radar + whatever can handle. Terminals can be crowded with people, but tarmac space, fingers and so cannot.

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I also mentioned this before but connectivity will also be severely severed due to rivalry between operators disabling the system as a whole.
Free rail markets, particularly in US, which dubs itself as the land of free enterprise for a reason, is more important than "systemic coordination". Do airlines coordinate their schedules? Nope. There are overserved and underserved areas, there are places that badly needs but can't attract airlines, but overall the result if far better than worse of the days of "regulated" interstate flying.

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To my knowledge you cannot select a utility company within the same region therefore the government regulates pricing.
Sure you can! For instance, you can separate (like many countries do) electricity transmission (wires + transformers) from electricity generation, enabling people to buy energy from different sources at will. Same should apply for rail. I want to see an as much uncoordinated as possible system, allowing new companies to come, set up service and fell off the market, new entrants leasing (not buying, let alone custom-designing) trains and putting them on roads etc. I want to see the most non-hourly schedule possible. I want to see free markets working in US rail!
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Old July 20th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #1838
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So segregation of track ownership and vehicle operator is a sine-qua-non condition for TRUE competition of rail operators against one another.
If we would allow your kind of "true competition" in this market the result will be a lot less trains, and a lot less people using it. You can have that in the long distance market, but not in the regional or local market.

For someone travelling from London to New York the picture is vastly different than from someone travelling from Zürich to Bern. If you travel long distance you shop around, and you are willing to move your schedule a bit to save money. I have no problem shopping around when buying tickets for long distance rail travel (however I usually end up travelling trhough Germany, as coordinated schedules makes trip times shorter).
Not so with local train travel. The train I want to take from Zürich to Bern is the first one that leaves after I arrive at the station. If I can't do that because I have a ticket from the wrong company I might reconsider using the train all together. In this hypothetical case all train companies lose.
In Switzerland the average train ride lasts 20 minutes. Requiring passengers to research in advance which train is the cheapest, and to commit to a schedule when they don't now yet how much time they'll be at work, shopping or talking to friends in the pub will make you lose a lot of passengers.
The fact the the whole PT system in Switzerland is integrated increases it's value to its users enormously. It also increases it's value to society. (the positive externality you keep systematically ignoring, which I find odd from someone who wants to give the impression to know a few things about economics).

The complete integration of public transport in the greater Zürich area led to a more than doubling of PT usage in 20 years. Car traffic however has been more or less constant over that period. In the alternative (your) scenario) car traffic would have more than doubled which would either have led to:
a) government having to spend vastly more on road expansion than it now spends on PT or
b) Zürich becoming a far more less attractive place to live.

Zürich consistently scores high in quality of life survey. Wages are high, taxes are low, and the population has a lot to say in the running of the place. Public transport is integrated because the population voted to make it so.
You can call that "communism", but that tells more about you than about communism...

I am in favor of using the market to create the needed incentives to lower costs and improve products, but when it comes to local public transport it's better for the government to draw up a network and timetable, and tender out lines to operators on a lowest bidder basis. In the case of my example. Zürich, the system is integrated, but there are 50 different companies involved in the actual running of trains, trams and buses. This is a system that works.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 02:59 PM   #1839
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Do airlines coordinate their schedules?
Probably more than you are willing to admit. Airlines cooperate quite a bit. Think about all the codesharing going on. Do you think airline A would codeshare on airline B's flight if airline B deliberately made it's flights inconvenient for customers of other flights of airline A.
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Old July 30th, 2010, 01:06 PM   #1840
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More news about Amtrak:

CAF gets his first long distance contract in USA for 298 USD mill.

(In spanish)

http://www.cincodias.com/articulo/em...iemp_8/cdsemp/

It,s about a contract for new coaches: 25 sleeping cars; 25 restaurant cars; 55 baggage cars; 25 sleeping/baggage cars. They will be assigned to CAF plant in USA (Elmira, NY).
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