Monday, February 2, 2009

Endgame?

Okay, here's a question for all you transit riders and eco people out there. What does the new, sustainable transportation world look like?

There are basically two camps developing in the green movement when it comes to transportation. There are those who believe that we can reform the automobile, keeping the advantages (and maybe development patterns) of the private car while getting rid of the negative environmental consequences. These are the folks producing and promoting hybrids, electric cards, fuel-cell vehicles, and other such developments. (I hesitate to include ethanol, because ethanol really isn't a green fuel. It burns cleaner, but actually produces more CO2, as it has a lower energy density.)
The other camp is folks who believe that we must essentially replace the private automobile on a day-to-day basis. They call themselves the Car Free Movement, and they advocate for transit infrastructure and development patterns that allow the near-complete abolition of the private car. (I say near, as most advocate for some form of car-sharing arrangements for emergencies or long-distance trips.)

Browne at the Bus Bench posted a bit of a rant about the "GREENWASHING" she saw at the LA Green Expo. In my personal opinion, this is what the electric car/hybrid/fuel cell folks are doing- trying to convince people that they can buy their way out of this crisis. The fact of the matter is that our current society is unsustainable. Getting out of it will not be accomplished by simply buying a Prius.

Go over and read up on the Car Free City people. They have a real vision for the future, and it is a beautiful one. Livable, mixed-use communities, with ample opportunities for local retailers, connected by frequent and convenient public transport, and (most importantly) NO CARS. At least, not for most people on most days. It's beautiful. If they built a car-free development anywhere near my town, I'd move in immediately. (hint hint, Riverside planning commission) Furthermore, I think that their vision for the future, one that emphasizes less consumption and a change in development patterns, is a more credible one. They paint a gorgeous picture, but they acknowledge that it will take a lot of work to get there.

Compare that with the future implied by the other camp, which is a future of electrically-powered suburban sprawl. I know which one I'd like.

2 comments:

  1. I love your site and will be including the link in new flyers I will be handing out.

    I mentioned your blog today at Riverside City Council meeting Feb 3, 2009 at 6:30 session either during public comments on Item 13A "Clean and Green Sustainable Riverside Action Plan update (All Wards)" see the backup to Item 13a here http://aquarius.riversideca.gov/clerkdb/DocView.aspx?id=94485&dbid=0
    on the City of Riverside website , and/or during my comments made on Agenda Item 14 Public Comments".

    I am not photogenic and am not a public speaker, but you can see what was said by clicking on PLAY VIDEO to the right of the 2/3/2009 6:30 Council meeting here http://65.49.32.146/ppportal/agenda/webcast.aspx If you don't trust that weird link you can reach the same link on the City of Riverside website, at the bottom of any Council Agenda posted at this link here http://www.riversideca.gov/city_clerk/agenda.asp

    Riverside's had no Green Transportation plan for public transit, unless you consider idea of giving bus passes to well paid City Employees, a transit plan. They also did some ticket/pass/discount deal with students at Riverside City College (RCC) but that makes more senses to me, as some would be struggling and would use the bus due to the difficulties and cost of parking. On the other hand City employees are provide free Government Parking spaces, I believe. And who will ride a bus or their bicycle if they have a free car parking space?

    I said if the City of Riverside wants City Employees (e.g. that don't require a car as part of their job going here or their) to use the bus they should take away the free parking spaces.

    This is the City of Riverside's Green website http://www.GreenRiverside.com with more background on the Mayors webpage here http://www.riversideca.gov/mayor

    During the Council meeting, I mentioned Riding in Riverside blog, provided a link and said you were a student at UCR that wrote a great and very detailed Transit blog. I noted YOU said the Greyhound and RTA should be co located at the current location OR at/near the Metrolink.

    I also showed the text of your blog to Riverside City Councilman Andy Melendrez (Ward 2) http://www.riversideca.gov/council/ward-2.asp for a brief moment and told him your conclusions, with which I agree.

    I posted one or more items about your blog on the Inland Empire Craigslist in the Politics Classified ads. This is one post http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/pol/997385031.html Please note the posts expire and are no longer accessible after 30 days, so if you want to see this post, click on the link and email a copy using Craigslist email feature as it will disappear on about 2/16 or a day or so after.

    I like the idea of CarFree, and at some time will post that idea as well on Craigslists politics forum. If there is space left, it would be nice to have such an area, perhaps out in La Sierra?

    The ideal life would be one without cars. I also lived without a car for one year in the SF Bay area and commuted variously -- walking to a Private Commute bus' combination of a local bus to a regional bus to a ferry to a SF Muni bus then walking a couple blocks; and combination of a local bus to a regional bus to to BART and walking a couple blocks. This was travel from NAPA, CA to SF, CA.

    I also used done lots more types of transit combinations from locations I lived in Woodside, Redwood City, San Jose, El Granada, and neighborhoods in SF to get to my work location in SF. These have include use of the Train, Greyhound, Bart, Muni, Walking, bicycling . . .

    I used public transit in other locations around the US and the world, including Greyhound, Double Decker buses in Cambridge, subways in New York, bus, Bart, Airport Bus in Oakland, Bus Train combinations in NY and NJ, and more I cannot recall at this moment.

    That said, I feel you know much more than I ever will about public transit.

    I personally don't know anyone who owns a hybrid car, or at least I cannot recall anyone that does.

    The question is, can alternative fuels make sense on Greyhound?

    What is the next evolution of Greyhound bus travel?

    What can we do to change Americas poor perception of Greyhound bus travel, at least in the Inland Empire area?

    What can we do to see that democracy works in Riverside, so that the special interests of 50 JOHN/JANE DOES to force Greyhound out of Riverside, don't win and the citizens represented by the 83,000 Greyhound passenger trips get to keep Greyhound in downtown Riverside colocated with RTA, either at the current location, or if money miraculously appears, and a location and plan can be developed for Greyhound and RTA to be at or near the Metrolink. This issue is hampered somewhat due to 91 freeway expansion planned in that area, they say.

    Good job.

    You will clearly be going far in whatever field you decide to go into.

    Visit and post on http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/pol/


    Also would you want to speak to a group that meets weekly to discuss Riverside issues? I think you would be an interesting speaker to have due to your knowledge of transit in the City of Riverside and in Riverside County.

    If you could come, I would try to get County Supervisor Bob Buster to come as well, as he is interested in transit. And perhaps someone from Riverside City Council, if they would come.

    I also mentioned your blog, as I consider it important to helping resolve the issue of Greyhound and Public transit in Riverside, in a this post on Craigslist http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/pol/1019764639.html It is a quickly toss together list of groups, issues, online sources of information. I will updating this document over the next week or so as it is currently in skeleton form.

    twodogkd@yahoo.com

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  2. Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence. It looks like some folks are taking note of this blog, and I'm happy to hear it.

    My computer doesn't much like the City's video player (I use Linux), so I'll see the video some other time, but I appreciate that you're bringing up these issues with the Council.

    Yup, RCC students (as well as UCR and La Sierra U students) get free bus passes. It's a great program, but it's also a pilot program. Hopefully it'll outlive the current expiry date of August.

    As far as the evolution of bus travel goes, I'm not certain. I'm a big fan of passenger rail, myself, but I know that's a long ways off, as our current system has neither the rail capacity nor the equipment needed to completely supplant Greyhound. I can see a medium-term solution in biofuel/hybrid/fuel cell buses, but IMHO the long term is either in electrified rail or buses. Hopefully, with the decline of the private automobile, intercity passenger traffic will reach the point where serious investments in rail will start making a lot of sense again.

    If you know what to do about Americans' perception of public transport, let me know. Especially in the SoCal area. I believe this is the single largest obstacle to an effective transport system in this country. RTA runs an amazingly clean, well-lit and comfortable fleet, and yet people have a perception of "the bus" as dirty, smelly and full of crazies, so they won't ride.

    I think the whole issue about co-locating Greyhound, RTA and Metrolink is a load of crap. They had enough space for a brand new park at Mission Inn and Vine three years ago, and yet there's no space for a bus station there? Tear out North Park, put in a parking lot, and put a bus station right in front of the Metrolink. Problem solved. And, if they really want, they can build a pretty flower garden where the RTA terminal is. I'm sure it'll look nice from the Fox Theatre.

    As far as doing some public speaking, I'd be honoured, in principle. I have an insanely busy schedule this quarter, and we'd have to work out some timings, but if you're really interested in what I've got to say, I'd be happy to say it. Please be aware that I have no formal training or qualifications in transit planning or anything like that. I'm a political science student who's spent too long on the bus.

    Hope to hear from you.
    ridinginriverside@gmail.com

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