From: Stephen Sprunk on
1100GS_rider wrote:
> Stephen Sprunk <stephen(a)> wrote:
>> Trucking a container from LA to NYC makes no sense when you could put
>> the container on a train from LA to New Jersey and then truck it the
>> last few miles into NYC.
> Yes it does, when the train delivery time cannot be relied on.

As many others on mtra have pointed out when I've made the same argument
in the past, that generally only applies to carload freight.
Containers, trailers, and unit trains are far more reliable because
they're much easier for the RRs to handle (and schedule). Given that
UPS uses rail for long-haul of "ground" packages, it can't be _that_
bad. It's not _fast_, but if you really care about speed, you'll ship
your freight via air--not trucks.

Yes, there are occasional problems, such as flooding wiping out a
bridge. Trucks have similar, if not worse, problems with weather, and
air has it even worse. The only truly catastrophic rail problem in
recent memory was the fiasco when UP took over SP's operations, but it
looks like the merger mania in the industry is over and they're quickly
building more capacity that will make problems like that easier to cope


Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
From: hancock4 on
On Nov 21, 7:54 pm, russo...(a) (Matthew Russotto)

> >That average speed door to door in rush hour traffic seems awfully
> >good.  Many places in the SEPTA service territory get congested at
> >rush hour, such as longer waits at major traffic lights.  Traffic near
> >office parks can get bad.
> I have experience, you have generalities.

What experience? You spoke solely of your own personal travel

> >So obviously SEPTA is not a good solution for you.  But SEPTA
> >obviously is a good solution for thousands of other people because
> >they choose to ride it every day.
> SEPTA is mostly the choice of last resort; people take it because they
> can't afford better.  If you can get a single-seat ride on a regional
> rail line, and live near it and work near it, it can be advantageous.

In the poorer sections of the city there are people who use the
transit division for that reason. But plenty of people within the
city and most of the people in the suburbs DO have a choice of driving
or SEPTA. They choose to use transit because it works better for

During the rush hour and during certain offpeak events, traffic in the
metro area is lousy. Stop and go, sit and wait. The trains, both
commuter and subway-elevated, fly past all that. Those trains are
filled with people for that reason.

SEPTA attracts passengers from not only middle class areas, but wealth
areas, too, as you should well know. Many of those people not only
have cars, but even dedicated parking spaces downtown. But the train
is faster.

The same applies to other metro areas as well.
From: hancock4 on
On Nov 21, 8:56 pm, jim <"sjedgingN0Sp"@m(a)mwt,net> wrote:

>         That 95% of taxpayers drive and use roads and therefore 95% of taxes
> should be used for road construction. And since 95% of taxes are not
> spent on roads it is your belief that tx money is being illegally
> diverted to other purposes.

Some of my property taxes are used to subsidize transit. But _more_
of my property taxes are used to subsidize the needs of highways. The
gas tax doesn't cover all the costs.

Yes, transit is subsidized, but it is a miniscule percentage of the
taxes we pay; and people who don't live in service territories pay
less or none.

Roads are subsidized, too, from general taxes, much more than people
From: Stephen Sprunk on
jim wrote:
> Stephen Sprunk wrote:
>> jim wrote:
>>> Stephen Sprunk wrote:
>>>> Luckily, the FHWA has collected all the figures and done all the math
>>>> for us, though it's such a gigantic pain that they don't do it every
>>>> year. 2004 figures:
>>>> 21% of total road spending in the US comes from property taxes and other
>>>> general funds, 11% from bonds, 6% from "other imposts", and 5% from
>>>> "miscellaneous receipts" (including interest). Only 57% comes from fuel
>>>> excise taxes and tolls, which is far lower than Big Oil and their
>>>> advocates such as the Reason Foundation will admit to.
>>> Well things are different today. Fuel consumption has been dropping for
>>> last 2 years and road construction costs have taken a sharp upturn in
>>> the same period.
>> If you have similarly detailed data from a more recent year, I'll be
>> happy to look at it, but for now that's the only comprehensive data on
>> the record I'm aware of.
>> Unless you have specific numbers for the increase in construction
>> expenditures and the decrease in fuel taxes, they're just vague "trends"
>> that aren't particularly informative.
> You might read a newspaper inform yourself of what is going on in
> Washington, Look at the budget. Congress has appropriated an additional
> 60 billion to shore up the Hiway trust fund in 2008-2009.

Congress allocated that money as corporate welfare to contractors in
hopes that they'd use it to create (or at least maintain) highway
construction jobs.

> That is the first time in 50 years the trust fund has failed to meet the
> cost of maintaining the federal hiway system,

Definitely false. There is no _federal_ highway system, and the federal
HTF has _never_ paid the full cost of maintaining the _state_ highway
systems. States have to chip in 10%, 20%, or more of the cost of
projects from their own tax revenues, plus projects have been routinely
denied or delayed several years until funds can be found. I've looked
at the last decade of TIPs for my area and have found _dozens_ of
highway projects that got no federal funding at all, in addition to the
many toll roads all over the country that are by law not eligible for
HTF money--despite their users still have to pay fuel excise taxes in
addition to tolls.

> 4 years ago it was running a surplus of 20 billion. And the reason the
> trust fund is broke? Is what I said:
> Fuel consumption has been dropping for last 2 years
> and road construction costs have taken a sharp
> upturn in the same period.

You're still making vague claims. Where are your statistics to support
them? I provided the stats that _I_ am using.


Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
From: Stephen Sprunk on
Brent wrote:
> On 2009-11-21, Stephen Sprunk <stephen(a)> wrote:

Please don't remove attribution lines unless you also remove the
_entire_ quote they apply to.

>>> Unless he likes to eat and prefers to not "farm", or live near
>>> farms... where they move farmed goods from the fields in... trucks.
>> Does it really make sense for us to be shipping produce several thousand
>> miles across the country--or even from other continents--when we can
>> grow the same crop a few dozen/hundred miles away?
> It does when you consider that big agri-business has paid the elected
> office holders considerable amounts of money to make sure the nearby
> family farms can't compete with their crops from chile.

A more general problem that applies to many facets of our economy.

> However at various times of the year the crop might not be available
> locally but the crop grown elsewhere might. Out of season it would be
> perfectally acceptable to pay the transportation costs to have it.

True, and I have no objection to them paying for the _full_ cost of
transporting their goods from further away. OTOH, if consumers see that
(for instance) strawberries cost more at certain times of year due to
higher transportation costs, they might choose to buy something else
that is in season locally.

>> Ask someone from NYC or a non-US major world city like London or Paris,
>> though, and you'll get an entirely different answer. Why would they
>> want to deal with the hassle of owning a car, driving in congested
>> traffic, trying to find (extremely expensive) parking, etc. when the
>> subway is faster, cheaper, and more convenient?
> However that transit is subsidized by lots of people who don't use it.
> That's how it becomes "cheap".

NYC's subway has the highest farebox recovery rate in the US, and
transit ridership there is extremely high, so there aren't many people
actually subsidizing it.

Some transit systems overseas (e.g. HK, IIRC) actually turn a profit.

> And even in cities like London a lot of people still drive because
> even with the crushing costs and congestion it's still works better
> for them.

If some people want to deal with that mess, they're welcome to it. I
was just disputing your claim that nobody would ever choose transit over
driving when obviously millions of people all over the world do so every

> In a big city I would live close enough to walk or bike most if not
> all year to avoid the hassles of driving and transit.

Presuming you can afford to pay the market cost of living that close to
where you work, more power to you. That isn't practical or even
possible for a large number of people.


Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking