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Old July 22nd, 2008, 05:17 AM   #681
hkskyline
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In Decade of Unlimited Rides, MetroCard Has Transformed How the City Travels
16 July 2008
The New York Times

The unlimited-ride MetroCard turned 10 this month, a milestone for a thin piece of plastic that has helped usher in a boom in mass transit ridership.

When it was first introduced in the early 1990s, the MetroCard was little more than a substitute token made of plastic. It was not until free MetroCard transfers between subways and buses were instituted in 1997 and the unlimited-ride cards were introduced on July 4, 1998, that the passes fully realized their power to transform the transit system.

Today, many downtown office workers think nothing of hopping on the subway at Wall Street and zipping up to Union Square for lunch. Workers in Midtown might ride a couple of stops to Macy's to get some shopping done during a break. And the number of people using mass transit on weekends has soared as well, as New Yorkers have embraced the subway and bus as a way to get around during their free time, not just for commuting.

''I think it's absolutely changed travel habits in the New York region, and it's been a boon for the economy as well,'' said Andrew Albert, who represents transit riders on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

''Where once you might have used it more sparingly because you had a finite number of trips, you're more likely to take a trip during your lunch break, go shopping perhaps or go to dinner somewhere,'' he said.

It did not take long for the unlimited-ride cards to catch on.

In the first month they were available, the unlimited cards accounted for 18 percent of all subway and bus trips, said Lawrence R. Hirsch, who heads the office that forecasts and tracks ridership and fare revenues for New York City Transit. By the end of 1998 the unlimited cards were being used for about a quarter of all trips. By 2003 they accounted for about half. They remain at that level today. Most of those who use unlimited cards buy 7-day or 30-day passes; a smaller number buy 1-day or 14-day passes.

At the same time, ridership has swelled. Last year, the average weekday subway and bus ridership was 7.4 million, up from 5.3 million in 1996, an increase of 40 percent. Average weekend ridership, which includes both Saturday and Sunday, rose to 7.7 million last year, from 4.6 million in 1996, an increase of almost 70 percent.

Other factors have fed the increase, including the growth in the city's economy, the drop in crime and an overall improvement of transit service thanks to billions of dollars of investment in new trains and buses, track and signal equipment and renovated stations. But the unlimited-ride MetroCard has been a major factor in changing how riders use the system.

''We have the highest ridership since April 1950 and there's a reason for it, and the reason is unlimited-ride passes,'' said Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit rider advocacy group that helped push for the unlimited cards.

At the Union Square subway station, Noeva Wong, 54, a lifelong New Yorker who lives in Manhattan, said she regularly buys a 30-day MetroCard. ''I go many more places because the cost of getting around the city is prohibitive if you don't have an unlimited card,'' she said.

Patrick Dougher, 44, who lives in Brooklyn and teaches art at a Manhattan high school, said he uses his weekly card for much more than commuting and does not think twice about jumping on a bus or train. ''I do find I use taxis much, much less,'' he said.

While the unlimited-ride cards are used for roughly half of all rides on buses and subway trains, because the people who use them tend to take more rides than other straphangers, it turns out that considerably fewer than half of all riders have an unlimited-ride card.

In a survey by the transportation authority last year, about 700 riders were asked how they paid for their most recent transit trip. About 23 percent said they had used an unlimited-ride MetroCard. In contrast, 56 percent said they used a pay-per-ride MetroCard, either with or without the volume bonus. Six percent said they had used a single-ride ticket, and 15 percent said they had paid with coins on the bus.

Mr. Hirsch said recent figures showed that people who use the 30-day pass take an average of about 70 rides a month on subways and buses. But many of those rides occur during what transit officials refer to as linked trips, such as when a subway rider transfers to a bus to complete a journey.

A truer picture, Mr. Hirsch said, is given by a further analysis that shows that, on average, holders of the 30-day pass make 56 linked trips a month. With the cost of a 30-day pass at $81, that results in an average fare of $1.45.

Holders of 7-day cards, which cost $25, make 16 linked trips a week, for an average fare of $1.56.

In contrast, a person who buys a bonus pay-per-ride MetroCard has an average fare of $1.74.

The base fare of $2 is paid by people who buy single-ride tickets, who put less than $7 on a pay-per-ride MetroCards or who pay cash on the bus.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 05:44 PM   #682
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Back In The Day

Way back when, at a time when railroad was king here in the States, people were angry because railroad robbers barons dictated how they spend their monies. They controlled the national transit systems and made millions. Then when electricty was perfected and all that oil was still being pumped out of the ground, cars appeared. The shift went from rails to roads. It has happened so completely now that it just might be impossible to reverse the trend. When a new prseident is sworn in here, whomever it may be, he will have inherited that largest deficit in the history of the nation. A 70% dependance on imported oil and a country of discontent people looking for a way out of their plight. It's been proven time and time again that mass-transit, if managed properly and given full funding, will save billions over th long haul. We need fresh blood to discover it and act on it. The auto industry found out too late, and now, we will need rail expansions that the government isn't ready to deal with. Shameful
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Old July 25th, 2008, 09:55 PM   #683
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Originally Posted by hegneypl View Post
It's been proven time and time again that mass-transit, if managed properly and given full funding, will save billions over the long haul.
Please provide data to back up this statement. Every mass transit system that I'm aware of continues to require gov't subsidies to exist. Any proven savings for commuters is disputable. Not that I'm against mass-transit but I'd certainly like to see some facts to back it up.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 10:08 PM   #684
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Wow, when I went back and read what I wrote, I must have been dreaming. What I meant was that cities, such as New York, would have the system they had planned for from back in the 1920's, if they had given monies earmarked for the system. They made plans, sis surveys and decided on how much funding would be awarded. In nearly every opportunity to complete, say, the 2nd Ave Subway, the money was given to some other project. The east side of Manhattan had needed that line to be completed since 1940 when the 2nd Ave El came down. Another exampe is Cincinnatti. The began building a subway in the 1920's and they ran out of money. How can they run out of the money the had dedicated to a project that was said to be vital for the proper financial and physical management of the city. Such a system would have helped to feed the cities retailers. But every time they came close to starting up the project again, the money went elsewhere. Almost criminal.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 06:26 PM   #685
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I was just in NYC last week and can anyone tell me why the subway stations are so incredibly hot? Is it just because it's summer? Is it poor air circulation? Is it heat from the subway engines? Most of the time it was warmer outside in the sun then it was standing on the platform waiting for the train to come along.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 04:08 AM   #686
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The air-conditioning on the trains means that the hot air is pumped into the unair-conditioned tunnels and stations.

However, I don't think all routes have air-conditioning, it depends how modern the rolling stock using the station were.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 04:45 AM   #687
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All of the rolling stock in the NYC subway have air conditioning.

As for the heat issue, well that's one I'd like to know, however I have heard that the MTA uses the passing trains to circulate their air instead of running their ventilation system at 100%
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Old July 27th, 2008, 06:19 AM   #688
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Hmmm... I can understand that it would probably be massively expensive to try to alleviate the heat problem in the subway stations, but there must be something that can be done. It looked like many of the passengers waiting for the trains were going to pass out from the heat. It must be horrible for businessmen in suits; they must sweat right through their dress shirts during the commute.
On the bright side, the subway system in NYC is wonderfully extensive and very frequent! At least, coming from a Torontonian's perspective.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 08:12 AM   #689
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hegneypl
It's been proven time and time again that mass-transit, if managed properly and given full funding, will save billions over the long haul.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Msradell View Post
Please provide data to back up this statement. Every mass transit system that I'm aware of continues to require gov't subsidies to exist. Any proven savings for commuters is disputable. Not that I'm against mass-transit but I'd certainly like to see some facts to back it up.
Msradell, you probably think of US public transit systems. Low-density suburban sprawl makes it nearly impossible to provide good coverage and service while paying for operating expenses by fares. But if you look outside US (Europe and Asia and probably Latin America) - there are plenty of mass transit systems that completely cover operating expenses by fares and some are even profitable.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #690
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I can't think of any other system than Hong Kong's. What specific systems break even / do turn a profit according to your data?
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Old July 27th, 2008, 03:03 PM   #691
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Quote:
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Msradell, you probably think of US public transit systems. Low-density suburban sprawl makes it nearly impossible to provide good coverage and service while paying for operating expenses by fares. But if you look outside US (Europe and Asia and probably Latin America) - there are plenty of mass transit systems that completely cover operating expenses by fares and some are even profitable.
Well, New York City has extremely high population density and its system is not profitable. Please provide true numbers regarding the expenses vs. income for any of the systems you cite as being profitable.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 05:42 PM   #692
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Well, New York City has extremely high population density and its system is not profitable. Please provide true numbers regarding the expenses vs. income for any of the systems you cite as being profitable.
Without the subway the high population density wouldn't be possible. Lower population density means fewer tax-payers.

I don't have precise figures. But believe me, probably all mass-transit systems are profitable macro-economically. The subsidies for mass transit operators pay off for cities and countries.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 08:11 PM   #693
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I don't have precise figures. But believe me, probably all mass-transit systems are profitable macro-economically. The subsidies for mass transit operators pay off for cities and countries.
I don't know what you consider macro economics but every American City that has a subway or other mass transit system heavily subsidizes it at a much higher rate per user than they do their highway system.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 09:59 PM   #694
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Originally Posted by ramvid01 View Post
All of the rolling stock in the NYC subway have air conditioning.

As for the heat issue, well that's one I'd like to know, however I have heard that the MTA uses the passing trains to circulate their air instead of running their ventilation system at 100%
It temporarily "ventilates" i.e. passes a load of hot air and replaces it with a new load of hot air, but does not air-condition.

Believe me, this kind of "air-conditioning" is absolutely useless. They claim that's what ventilates the London Underground, but really does not cool down anyone whatsoever, and LU has stronger draughts than the NY Subway!
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Old July 27th, 2008, 10:08 PM   #695
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I don't know what you consider macro economics but every American City that has a subway or other mass transit system heavily subsidizes it at a much higher rate per user than they do their highway system.
You honestly think New York would exist and be New Rome without the subway?
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Old July 28th, 2008, 01:24 AM   #696
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Quote:
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I don't know what you consider macro economics but every American City that has a subway or other mass transit system heavily subsidizes it at a much higher rate per user than they do their highway system.
So you really think large cities would be better off if they spent all the money that was sunk into underground metro systems on freeways instead? Not a chance.

I suggest having a read of this book to truly understand the destructiveness of the automobile and how it has masses of hidden subsidies. Mass transit is FAR FAR FAR more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable than the car addiction.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 03:38 AM   #697
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Mass transit is FAR FAR FAR more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable than the car addiction.
I completely agree with environmentally, somewhat agree with socially but do not agree with the economically. The auto industry generates many times more jobs than mass-transit does or ever could both for the initial production of the vehicles and for their maintenance and support. Mass-transit on the other hand generates very few jobs for operation or vehicle production. Its major economic impact is for construction of new lines which is only short term employment.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 03:49 AM   #698
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Compare the workforce for operating and maintaining mass transit systems with that for maintaining highways.

I read somewhere that NYC's subway has a bigger security team than many city's ENTIRE POLICE FORCE. I totally disagree with your above statement, I think public transport can generate a hell of a lot of jobs. Buses and trains also require maintenance, you need bus and train drivers... the list goes on and on and on and on.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 04:53 AM   #699
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Quote:
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The auto industry generates many times more jobs than mass-transit does or ever could both for the initial production of the vehicles and for their maintenance and support.
I would highly doubt this. The American auto industry is on life support. Besides, who builds a transportation system for the sole purpose of giving people jobs? The economic benefits of any transportation system come by being able to move people and goods efficiently, not by creating jobs during the construction process. A mass transit system is more cost-effective at moving large amounts of people into and out of areas of concentrated job activity (i.e., your average CBD) than a network of highways.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 06:16 AM   #700
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Msradell, you probably think of US public transit systems. Low-density suburban sprawl makes it nearly impossible to provide good coverage and service while paying for operating expenses by fares. But if you look outside US (Europe and Asia and probably Latin America) - there are plenty of mass transit systems that completely cover operating expenses by fares and some are even profitable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Msradell
Well, New York City has extremely high population density and its system is not profitable. Please provide true numbers regarding the expenses vs. income for any of the systems you cite as being profitable.
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I can't think of any other system than Hong Kong's. What specific systems break even / do turn a profit according to your data?
Msradell, even if NYC denisty were the highest in the USA (not sure that it is, but it may as well be), it is quite average by world standards for a city of this size. Yet, IMO it indeed has sufficient density for a mass transit system to be able at least to break even. However, NYC subway is outdated and it has not well maintained.

I have been reading this forum and SSP for more than three years. This topic has come up on both forums. I have not saved any numbers, and do not have time to do research for you (I would love to see it if somebody did it, and even not mind seeing a new thread on this). Off the top of my head - Tokyo is profitable, Moscow breaks even (St. Petersburg probably as well due to similar design, economics and operating conditions), Seoul at least breaks even, Toronto recovers about 80%. London, despite being quite expensive is not recovering expenses well (50% or so). Generally speaking, Asian, Latin American and former Soviet Union subways recover expenses well, while US and western Europe do worse (50% or better). More heavily used systems recover expenses better. A lot goes into this, but the main factor is - is a city car-oriented (CBD/downtown + endless suburbia) or it is a mass transit oriented city?
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