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I tried to find right place to post this thread but SSC don't have exact forum that focus on USA countywide only some parts of USA. Anyway, I am not sure if you guys are aware of this... I just found out the exact reason why USA don't have good mass transit system like Europe and Asia countries...

Here you go...

The automobile did not end up dominating American transportation by chance -- or by public choice. There was a plan by automakers to buy up and destroy mass transit companies. General Motors led the way.

In the 1920s, many American cities and towns were connected by a network of electric railroads and interurban trolleys. Within cities, electric street railways, trolleys, and elevated trains moved large numbers of people easily and cheaply.

But between 1920 and 1955, General Motors bought up more than 100 electric mass transit systems in 45 cities, allowed them to deteriorate, and then replaced them with rubber-tired, diesel-powered buses. Buses are more expensive, less efficient, and much dirtier than electric/rail systems -- and of course automobiles are even less efficient than buses.

In 1949, General Motors was convicted of criminally conspiring to replace electric mass transit with GM-manufactured diesel buses. The court fined GM $5,000 and forced H.C. Crossman, the GM executive responsible for carrying out GM's policy, to pay exactly $1.

Cities where GM managed to eliminate electric/rail systems and replace them with buses and private cars included New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles. Before GM converted the city to buses and private automobiles, Los Angeles was served by the largest electric/rail mass transit system in the United States.

The systematic sabotage of the U.S. electric/rail mass transit systems by automobile corporations points to a serious problem: the ability of "private" corporations to effect sweeping changes in public life and culture, without public accountability or even debate.

More information on http://articles.mercola.com/sites/a...upt-for-Destroying-Public-Transportation.aspx
 

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That's one of a multitude of reasons. Other factors include suburbanization, the creation of highways and later on the interstate system, decentralization of employment and shopping centers, etc.
 

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That makes sense. It would have never happened if it weren't for GM. They just wanted to make money by selling their cars and buses to use on highways and ignore the mass transit systems.

Imagine what the mass transit system would be like today if it was untouched?
 

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Also deeply involved were the rubber (tire) companies. In LA, a lot of the current freeways run on former trolley/train tracks that were bought up and converted to roads.
 

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I can’t speak to the conspiracy theory that implicates tire and automobile companies in the suburbanization of America.

The main reason is that we are a much larger country than any European country and therefore more spread out. Availability of land has been the foundation of rural and suburban America. The affordability of automobile also unleashed an unprecedented culture of mobility that served as a catalyst for suburbanization of America.

Part of the reason is also cultural. Americans love their freedom, and being able to explore and expand is what made us who we are today. Our freedom to move from one place to another unconstrained shall not be abridged!
 

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The main reason is that we are a much larger country than any European country and therefore more spread out.
Actually, most large American cities are just as dense as European ones, and areas like Southern California, Chicagoland and the Boston-Washington corridor are very similar in density to European urban corridors. Canada is even more spread out than the US, and public transit is quite strong here, so the spread out argument is simply worthless.

Our freedom to move from one place to another unconstrained shall not be abridged!
By not having access to public transit, the movement of millions of Americans without private vehicles is, unfortunately, "abridged".
 

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Actually, most large American cities are just as dense as European ones, and areas like Southern California, Chicagoland and the Boston-Washington corridor are very similar in density to European urban corridors. Canada is even more spread out than the US, and public transit is quite strong here, so the spread out argument is simply worthless.

I agree with your assessment of the major cities you mentioned. Indeed, throw in San Francisco and Philadelphia into the list. All these cities have mass transit systems that are utilized fully. But beyond the major cities, are there other areas that are as densely populated as those European cities?

In the Bay Area, while SF is the cultural anchor, the job producing engine is Silicon Valley, and SV proper is spread out from the upper Palo Alto area through South San Jose on to Milpitas. If you add the extended SV areas, you get a much larger landmass, with commuters into SV coming from as far away as Tracy and Livermore and North Bay areas. One can make the same argument about the so-called Silicon Alley area in Austin, Texas. Indeed, the whole research triangle area in North Carolina is as spread out as Silicon Valley. Even within the Washington-Boston corridor that you mentioned, the high-tech industries in that area is as spread out as Silicon Valley.

Urban planners in Silicon Valley have experimented with placing light-rail lines along corridors that have large numbers of employers. While the system sees a fair (not high) ridership in the morning and closing hours, the light-rail routes in SV run nearly empty at other times. What does a worker who lives in Gilroy do when he/she has to commute to Sunnyvale and there is no direct route to work by public transportation?

I made 3 points in my argument that are interconnected. Without our landmass, it would not be possible for a young couple starting a family to purchase a home in one of those expensive mass-transit corridors you mentioned. So they move into the suburb where housing is affordable (that’s the availability of land argument). If the young couple cannot find work within their skill sets in suburbia, they end up commuting to where they work before they moved to suburbia. It’s the affordability of cars that made commuting possible.

I don’t know where you live or your financial ability, but if you’re a couple trying to buy (or rent for that matter) a home in Silicon Valley or San Francisco, you will understand my argument about availability of land in the suburbs.

The last sentence about our freedom to move unconstrained was more like sarcasm.
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The automobile and the end of WWII is why we don't have mass transit like Europe and Asia. All those GI's buying homes in new suburbs had to use the car to get there.... and the Eisenhower Interstate system. Simple as that. That is the reason.
 

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For several decades Americans have preferred the convenience of owning a car...and only recently has that been frowned upon. But having lived both with a car and without a car (depending upon London mass transit) I have to say that I MUCH prefer the convenience of owning a car. It may not be a popular opinion, but depending on subways and buses SUCKS.
 

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I guess it just depends on what you define as 'convenient'. I would commit suicide if I had to drive everyday in Chicago...and Chicago isn't even the worst city to drive in.
I'm not talking about sitting in rush hour traffic...I avoid that at all costs (commute against traffic, schedule things at off times, etc.). I'm talking about running an errand that takes 10 minutes in the car as opposed to 45 minutes on public transit. I don't really have the extra time to spend walking and riding the train when I can drive it in 1/4 of that time.

I think it's a valid reason why Americans aren't as dependent on mass transit...we like convenience. We are spoiled by it, and it's very hard to adjust to inconvenience.
 

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I'm talking about running an errand that takes 10 minutes in the car as opposed to 45 minutes on public transit.
That really depends on what city you live in, how good the transit is, and what type of errand you are running. If you are running a large grocery trip, in a city with a not-so-great bus system...then yes, I'd drive. If I was going to the post office to pick up a package, in Chicago, I would just hop on the train.

I guess it also depends on how you value time. I have no qualms about taking a 45 minute transit trip, I just plan ahead. I'm used to it, I do it all the time when I need to to the lakefront, or downtown, or to the commuter rail station, or to Target...

I don't want to bad mouth Atlanta, but I really don't think it's the poster child for decent American transit.
We are spoiled by it, and it's very hard to adjust to inconvenience.
Like I said, it depends on how you define convenient. I don't find driving convenient in most circumstances. But you are right, it's hard for people to adjust to inconvenience. I guess I just always was inconvenienced, so there really was no need for me to adjust. As far as I could remember I would always ride my bike, walk, take the bus and commuter rail everywhere. When I got my license, sure I drove everywhere...but once I went to college in the city and realized how convenient transit could be, I never really had any desire to drive anywhere.

Dunno, I'm definitely misplaced...not the typical American.
 

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Like I said though, it's all politics. Transit in the US is built in a way to be cheap, not to be efficient or convenient. For example, the Denver light rail, or even the L in Chicago, build down the middle of a highway to save costs on ROW acquisition. How in the hell does a rail line in the middle of a highway make it convenient? How does it connect neighborhoods in a thoughtful way? How does a rail line using abandoned industrial rail ROW make it useful? I know it cheap to get this ROW, but traveling through desolate areas of the city because it's cheaper just makes no sense. If we don't plan transit systems to serve people, and connect neighborhoods, then of course it will be inconvenient for mostly everybody, and will fail.

The planning process takes forever as well. How long was the Seattle Link on the books? It's finally almost finished just now...and that's only the southern part of it! There are just too many regulations on transit building. The entire process, from environmental impact statements to alternative analysis studies, it's just too costly and time consuming...which is why we get rail down the median of a freeway. I'm not saying these are bad things, but they do add to the problem.

We need to clean up the politics, number 1, and number 2 we need to just send all NIMBYs to a desert island to duke it out with each other. I don't understand how it's in the American mindset that it's "ok" to add another highway lane, or build another arterial road behind your house...but as soon as the transit word is spoken it's a total blight to the community and nobody wants it. (in all honesty) We need to stop having public hearings with the community and have planners do their job as they were intended to do, without interference with politics and NIMBYs, because both just get in the way of the greater good.

Suburbanization, destruction of transit infrastructure, decentralization, etc, that you all have mentioned are only half the picture. We need a fundamental change in our politics and the way we approach transit at a policy level. This impacts pretty much everything else, and until we get proper funding, until we get a better planning process without all the political BS, etc, transit will never be accepted like it is in Europe and Asia.
 

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That really depends on what city you live in, how good the transit is, and what type of errand you are running. If you are running a large grocery trip, in a city with a not-so-great bus system...then yes, I'd drive. If I was going to the post office to pick up a package, in Chicago, I would just hop on the train.

I guess it also depends on how you value time. I have no qualms about taking a 45 minute transit trip, I just plan ahead. I'm used to it, I do it all the time when I need to to the lakefront, or downtown, or to the commuter rail station, or to Target...

I don't want to bad mouth Atlanta, but I really don't think it's the poster child for decent American transit.

Like I said, it depends on how you define convenient. I don't find driving convenient in most circumstances. But you are right, it's hard for people to adjust to inconvenience. I guess I just always was inconvenienced, so there really was no need for me to adjust. As far as I could remember I would always ride my bike, walk, take the bus and commuter rail everywhere. When I got my license, sure I drove everywhere...but once I went to college in the city and realized how convenient transit could be, I never really had any desire to drive anywhere.

Dunno, I'm definitely misplaced...not the typical American.
I have a rail station 4 blocks from my house in Atlanta...so I would say that makes it pretty convenient. I've also lived in London, and had the great inconvenience of depending on the Tube for everything. I don't want to bad mouth Chicago, but it doesn't in any way compare to London transit.

I'm not advocating cars nor am I anti-transit...I'm all for the huge improvements currently being made in Atlanta. I'm just being honest...I think a lot of people "talk the talk" about transit, then they don't live up to their talk.
 

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I think that a middle-ground is the optimal situation. If transit use made up a more substantial percentage of people commuting to and from work or school in the morning and afternoon we would be better off. If many of life's necessities were within a short, pleasant walk from one's home, we would be better off. We could still have our cars, but we wouldn't have to use them to get anywhere, at anytime.
 

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I think that a middle-ground is the optimal situation. If transit use made up a more substantial percentage of people commuting to and from work or school in the morning and afternoon we would be better off. If many of life's necessities were within a short, pleasant walk from one's home, we would be better off. We could still have our cars, but we wouldn't have to use them to get anywhere, at anytime.
Yes, a combination of transit works best...when I lived in London I longed to be able to drive in certain situations. The Tube was fine sometimes, but other times I would almost rather just stay in than have to schlep to the station in the damp cold and go to the trouble of riding/walking to my destination.
 
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