Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Slow speed transportation
Buses are outcompeting trains in France. People rather go slower if it's cheaper. So much for high speed rail.
When I was a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s I assumed travel would keep getting faster and faster. Then the gas crisis hit and speed limits dropped to 55 mph. Over time speed limits crept up again, but they had been pushed back. It became clear to me that faster transportation was not a given.
Then we thought we were all going to fly at supersonic speeds. Economics and a fiery explosion put an end to that.
Regular air travel, for a lot less money, is fast enough. Of course, air travel is a tough business to make money in. The price of fuel has a huge influence on the price of a ticket. That alone could make a big dent in flying. I'm not saying it'll die any time soon, but expect the flying business to contract. Of course, there are people like me who won't fly because of the TSA.
Car travel can be a lot cheaper, especially if the car has more than one person in it.
Buses seem to be where the growth is. This past winter I got to ride on the Ft. Myers trolley bus system, one of the fastest growing systems in the country. Generally, I'm not a fan of public transportation, but the Ft. Myers system was convenient, well run, and cheap. I'm told it gets a bit overwhelmed during tourist season, but that's because everyone uses it.
There are plenty of people who have given up on personal cars. Compute the money that could be saved and for those who can fill their needs with a bicycle it makes sense. If your area also has a decent bus service you are golden.
High fuel prices and stagnant wages are pushing people towards slower, not faster travel. We are going from “the best” to “good enough.”
Personally, I'm really happy traveling just a few miles an hour on a sailboat.