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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.

-Sixbears

13 comments:

  1. Many folks just don't have the money to get there fast anymore!

    I'd use a bike if I didn't live in Houston where it seems that cars have declared open season no bicycles!

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  2. That should read "on bicycles", not "no bicycles!"

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    1. Aren't typos interesting?

      I've driven in Houston and it's no place for a bike. Dangerous.

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  3. Life in the slow lane, it's wonderful...

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  4. Being forever the conspiracy theorist, I believe that some folks WANT less mobility for the masses.

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    1. I would not be surprised if some do.

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  5. Few years back I decided I wanted to ride my bicycle to work...'bout five miles. So I did...then an old man in a truck sideswiped me. Broke my arm, bad head wound, cuts and scrapes and my bike was a twisted mess. Then it rained, total mess. I drive. Darn proud of my carbon footprint.

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    1. Ouch!

      I'd give up on it too. So much for bike lanes.

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  6. Back when I was younger and had a job, everyone was complaining about the price of gasoline. I told them that it was actually cheaper if you compared it to your income. In other words, compare the price of gasoline to your income as a percentage. Back when it was under thirty cents a gallon, I was only making eighty cents an hour.

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    1. People take for granted how much energy is in a gallon of gasoline. It's huge.

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  7. We live in a town that has cheap buses for old people us, we just drove to the beach and got home fast, my hubs knows way to get past the terrible urban crawl from Portland to Vancouver Washington, when we want to go to Seattle we take Amtrak for little money from a card we have from the city of Seattle they do a great job of transportation for the older folks, the Orca card is cheap and one can go by lightrail, train, buses and trolleys for one price..we don't use our car all that much, we walk all over or I hop on my bike and get my groceries and only get what we need in my backpack, gas is almost $3.49 a gallon here and soaring, we will take the train all over to seattle for our vacations, they have boats that go to Vancouver,bc and we take them and enjoy the ride for little money we get from my hubs union place! If I owned a boat we would live on it most of the year, but my hubs loves our home a stick in the ground home, me it is oky doky, but I love the sea!ciao!

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    1. I'd love to live full time on a boat, but it's not in the cards right now. You are lucky to have good public transportation. Lot's of places have nothing. I live in one such area.

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