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Old 8th September 2017, 08:11 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by Spindrift View Post
Whether or not demand for personal cars could have been less if public transportation was more prevalent is plausible.

Actually, it isn't. The automobile completely killed the interurbanWP.
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Old 8th September 2017, 09:34 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
Actually, it isn't. The automobile completely killed the interurbanWP.
Because the interurbans, which were private companies, couldn't compete with the massive government subsidies provided to the auto industry in the form of road construction. That's something that's made me sad for years. Especially now that governments are spending billions putting in new light rail systems to replace the ones they killed 60-70 years ago.

A better title for this thread might have been "What if private automobiles had never become so popular?"
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Old 11th September 2017, 06:50 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Without private cars, cities would be more compact, and suburbs, if any, would be more nucleated which is simply saying more compact. Intra- and interurban rail existed long before cars, exists now, and will continue to exist. I remember how pleasant it was to take the tram, yes, a tootling little trolley, from Delft to Scheviningen, through the trees sometimes. Remarkable how carefree life can be with no damn car to worry about.
It may have been pleasant to take but like as not it was less flexible (trams run on fixed schedules to limited destination), slower, and if you're moving something heavy, a lot less convenient.

This weekend Mrs Don and I climbed Snowdon and spent some time with relatives on Anglesey. A weekend like that would have been impossible without the convenience, speed and flexibility of personal transport.

Sure life can be lived without cars having been invented but travel would be much more of a pain if you live rurally.
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Old 11th September 2017, 07:35 AM   #44
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There's a great account of NY in the late 19th century. Basically, it was drowning in Horse-****. I suppose that would be fine fertilizer which would be necessary to grow all that hay. As noted by others, we'd all likely be a lot poorer and generally not go very far from home except on very special occasions. But we would have a much better mass transit system.

Side note, tetanus is harbored in *********, one of the reasons(along with vaccination) that we all don't have lock jaw is because horses are so uncommon.
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Old 11th September 2017, 11:44 AM   #45
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I notice the OP bemoaning the inefficiency of the private automobile vs. public transportation. I am not disputing that when we look at energy and other resources consumed by moving people in cars vs. moving them by buses and trains, that this is true.

However, when you look at it from the personal resources expended in getting from point a to point b, the opposite is true. In my experience, unless you are lucky enough that both your starting and ending points happen to be on the same line, and the scheduled stops match fairly closely with your personal schedule, going anywhere by public transportation is likely to take two to three times as long as making the same trip by car, and will likely cost as much or more money (even if you don't factor in tax funded subidies). If your journey requires you to transport more than you can carry (e.g, buying a week's worth of groceries), you're really screwed; you will need to make multiple trips.

The one case where I find public transportation to be useful is attending sporting events: The light rail in my area is cheaper than parking at the event, and you avoid the inevitable traffic jams at the parking lot. Even for this, I usually use a car for part of the journey.

Yes, when looking at the big picture, cars are a horrendously wasteful way to get around, but the freedom and convenience they offer to the individual means that they were almost certain to be invented and produced when the technology became available to do so, and that individuals are likely to continue using them as long as it is feasible for them to do so.

Last edited by CORed; 11th September 2017 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 11th September 2017, 03:36 PM   #46
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People seem to assume that a world that had NEVER HAD automobiles would look just like our present world, only more inconvenient. (Some also appear to think that horsed carriages would still exist if we didn't have cars; but those folks are mystics, and I can't attempt to reach their level.) Why should the light rail of a carless world be as limited as ours is? Can't you imagine a trolley-train with room for bicycles and handcarts, to make shopping convenient? (We could have them now, come to that.) Why could light rail not be used for freight, to stock the magazines of the city's core during off-peak passenger hours?

And why would cities and towns be all splattered-out and awkward to reach if we had no aimlessly wandering roads and no small motor vehicles to wander along them?

Cost? There you have me; I'm no economist, any more than I'm an engineer. But surely the resources now consumed by cars and highways could power rail travel more efficiently than Ford or GM or Toyota could ever do it -- if they even had the imagination to try. I'd like to see world where gasoline is a chemical curiosity.

I didn't mention that when the gf and I wanted to get back to Scheviningen, we walked (horrors! the hardship! the grievous toil!) a short distance from the old square in Delft to the train station. When we asked for a ticket, the nice lady pointed out the window at the trolley stop and explained to the poor foreigners how that worked. I don't recall that we even had to pay; nobody could be bothered, I guess.
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Old 11th September 2017, 04:37 PM   #47
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People would need to make much more frequent trips to the store; nobody's going to lug 8 bags of groceries from the bus stop home. And forget about buying ice cream in the summer; it will melt before you get home.

A lot of things can be handled by bicycle, particularly in urban and suburban areas. But in rural districts? Not a chance.

There would certainly be a lot more horses, with all the attendant headaches. The cities would be much denser (as they were before the automobile), which means more people on the streets, in the parks, in the museums and at the ballgames (which of course would be held downtown).

ETA: The aimlessly winding roads were originally horse and cart paths. They aren't aimless; they're aimed to avoid natural and man-made obstacles.
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Old 12th September 2017, 01:14 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
People seem to assume that a world that had NEVER HAD automobiles would look just like our present world, only more inconvenient. (Some also appear to think that horsed carriages would still exist if we didn't have cars; but those folks are mystics, and I can't attempt to reach their level.) Why should the light rail of a carless world be as limited as ours is? Can't you imagine a trolley-train with room for bicycles and handcarts, to make shopping convenient? (We could have them now, come to that.) Why could light rail not be used for freight, to stock the magazines of the city's core during off-peak passenger hours?
These are all solutions that work for urban areas and they work less well as you move away from the centre of population. The issue of transport whether it's individuals or goods is always going to be the "last mile" from whatever public transport solution you have to someone's front door. Before the motor car was invented, this was done through local streets so it seems that infrastructure would have to be there in any case. The only infrastructure you seem to be saving is for long distance travel.


Originally Posted by sackett View Post
And why would cities and towns be all splattered-out and awkward to reach if we had no aimlessly wandering roads and no small motor vehicles to wander along them?
Because that's the way they were already organised centuries before the idea of the motor car was even considered. In the UK market towns tend to be around 15 miles apart because that means that the maximum round trip is 15 miles. Villages are scattered much closer than that. Many cities are the result of urban spread absorbing individual villages.

We also still need a method of getting the results of farming to the towns so there'll need to be some kind of transport infrastructure from farm gate - typically local roads.

Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Cost? There you have me; I'm no economist, any more than I'm an engineer. But surely the resources now consumed by cars and highways could power rail travel more efficiently than Ford or GM or Toyota could ever do it -- if they even had the imagination to try. I'd like to see world where gasoline is a chemical curiosity.
edit to add this bit....

You do realise that for many countries, the trains are powered by diesel ?


Originally Posted by sackett View Post
I didn't mention that when the gf and I wanted to get back to Scheviningen, we walked (horrors! the hardship! the grievous toil!) a short distance from the old square in Delft to the train station. When we asked for a ticket, the nice lady pointed out the window at the trolley stop and explained to the poor foreigners how that worked. I don't recall that we even had to pay; nobody could be bothered, I guess.
Walking is all very well and good if the weather is nice, the distances are small, the walkers are fit and able and you're lightly encumbered.

OTOH the several mile walk in the dark in the middle of winter to my nearest railway station isn't something I'd want to do in my 70's with a dodgy knee and two large suitcases.
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Old 12th September 2017, 08:52 AM   #49
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Well, Don, if there were no cars and you deliberately chose to live off the local bus route (remember, I said I had nothing against large road vehicles), you might have a problem. Especially if you insist on a rustic front walk that won't accommodate an old-fashioned 4-wheel coaster wagon.

Since farms in a carless world would be big and consequently efficient, shipping huge crops and receiving large consignments of supplies and equipment, they'd be served by railroads as a matter of course. So you could, if you weren't a damned old crank about it, live on a farmstead, or rather a farm-manager's allotment. He'd be glad to rent to folks like you (a small sacrifice of arable in return for a steady income), and that rail connection would get you into the city when you really felt you had to go.

Unless you're located on a navigable river, and then you might opt for a boat ride. Lucky you.
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Old 12th September 2017, 09:30 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
And why would cities and towns be all splattered-out and awkward to reach if we had no aimlessly wandering roads and no small motor vehicles to wander along them?
Have you thought about Europe? It was largely developed and industrialized before the advent of cars. Look what happened as soon as the internal combustion engine was invented. Did Europeans say, "thanks, but we've already laid things out to be optimal without cars. We'll take the trains and buses, but we really don't need any POVs"?

Of course not. As soon as cars were possible, Europeans took their pre-car-optimized landscape and filled with cars. Cities designed for walking? Full of cars. Regions with every tier of mass transit? Also cars. Places where people get around by bicycle? People also get around by car.

It seems your imagination is powerful enough to imagine anything except the one thing that literally everybody else imagined, as soon as it became possible.
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Old 12th September 2017, 10:13 AM   #51
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I think the real answer is that everybody would drive a big truck. Wouldn't that be neat?
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Old 12th September 2017, 12:51 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I think the real answer is that everybody would drive a big truck. Wouldn't that be neat?
So, Texas is sackett's utopia?
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Old 12th September 2017, 01:20 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
So, Texas is sackett's utopia?
Oddly enough, I was concieved in Texas.

As to the popularity of cars: They started as rich blokes' toys, and acquired cache as such. Every boirgeois must aspire to one! Strive! want! acquire! When auto companies understood that, naturally they started cheapening the things, bringing them into the reach of more and more classes; really, the automobile was a work of marketing, not of engineering.

Still is.
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Old 12th September 2017, 02:18 PM   #54
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Sackett's "living memory" includes no cars? In 2017? Must have lived in a small, rural place.

Sackett doesn't know the Amish still use horsed carriages in 2017? (The Amish aren't Mystics, just nit-picky about how they use technology.)

Cars are convenient. Straight up easy, don't have to wait for the bus, figure out if it stops where I want it to and I don't have to worry about creepy guys following me off the bus for nefarious purposes. The car prevents that. And I get my ice cream home before it melts.....
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Old 12th September 2017, 03:31 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
The automobile is a mass transit system (an engineer had to point that out to me), and you could hardly design a worse one: wasteful, disruptive, dangerous, inefficient
That's your problem right there: judging one invention by the standards of another. Cars are not a mass transit system. Mass transit systems are methods of getting large numbers of people from one designated gathering/distribution point to another according to a schedule. Cars get small numbers of people from any point in the system to any other point in the system at any time. They do different jobs; neither does the other's job; so there's no single job that they both do and can be said to do it better or worse than the other.

A hypothetical replacement system for cars would need to be something that's meant for the same job, not a different job such as mass transit. So, how do you make it possible for people to get from any point in your new system to any other point in the system at any time, without people having small personal vehicles on-site? Trekporters?
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Old 12th September 2017, 05:12 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Try hyphenating...

horse-****
Try pig Latin: corsehrap.
Or Cockney rhyming slang: borsch wrap
Or machine language: 0011101010001000110100111110101000101
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Old 13th September 2017, 08:17 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Well, Don, if there were no cars and you deliberately chose to live off the local bus route (remember, I said I had nothing against large road vehicles), you might have a problem. Especially if you insist on a rustic front walk that won't accommodate an old-fashioned 4-wheel coaster wagon.
You'd still need the infrastructure to get the busses and even if you're on the bus route they're only every hour or two, and not at night and a skeleton service at weekends unless you're talking about having, say quarter-hourly services on all routes in which case that's a ****-load of busses.

Also busses are very, very slow. A journey that takes 15-20 minutes by car, takes at least an hour by bus. From Stoke Bishop in Bristol to Bristol Parkway station takes well over an hour and requires two changes of bus.

Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Since farms in a carless world would be big and consequently efficient, shipping huge crops and receiving large consignments of supplies and equipment, they'd be served by railroads as a matter of course. So you could, if you weren't a damned old crank about it, live on a farmstead, or rather a farm-manager's allotment. He'd be glad to rent to folks like you (a small sacrifice of arable in return for a steady income), and that rail connection would get you into the city when you really felt you had to go.
Sounds like you're replacing car infrastucture with far more difficult to build and far more intrusive rail infrastructure. Even when the UK rail system was at its most extensive (and BTW financially unsustainable even on poverty wages), many places were still miles from a railway line - much less a railway station (at which you need the infrastructure to load and so forth)

Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Unless you're located on a navigable river, and then you might opt for a boat ride. Lucky you.
As long as you have plenty of time. You seem intent on consigning us all to a life of inconvenient and slow travel.
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Old 13th September 2017, 08:23 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Oddly enough, I was concieved in Texas.

As to the popularity of cars: They started as rich blokes' toys, and acquired cache as such. Every boirgeois must aspire to one! Strive! want! acquire! When auto companies understood that, naturally they started cheapening the things, bringing them into the reach of more and more classes; really, the automobile was a work of marketing, not of engineering.

Still is.
People want convenience and to spend their time doing stuff, not spending all their time travelling there and back. They want to be able to move stuff around with a minimum of hassle. They want to be able to visit their friends and family regardless of where they live.

Last night Mrs Don and I took 2 guitars, an electric keyboard, a stand for same and a couple of bags of assorted gear 10 miles across country to a friend's for band practice. The journey took about 15 minutes. By bus (if busses operated on that route, they don't) it would have been at least three times that and we wouldn't have been able to carry the gear as easily.

We'd also have had to find a way back at 11-ish.
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Old 13th September 2017, 11:00 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
... As long as you have plenty of time. You seem intent on consigning us all to a life of inconvenient and slow travel.
Yeah, but on the plus side... pastoral.
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Old 13th September 2017, 11:07 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Because the interurbans, which were private companies, couldn't compete with the massive government subsidies provided to the auto industry in the form of road construction.
Auto manufacturers are private companies, too. How come they got the "subsidies" and not the Interurbans?

Is it possible that we have cars simply because people see real value in cars?

You know what's awesome? Flying across the country in an airplane.

You know what's double awesome? Renting a car when I land, and moving myself and my luggage within a fifty mile radius or more, at will, throughout my visit. No interurban, no bus line, no light rail, can compete with that.

On the other hand, I like Portland: There's a light rail line that runs from the airport, all the way through downtown, and out the other side into the suburbs beyond. I've visited on more than one occasion for concerts and plays, and booked a hotel on the line. For an overnight stay with a single light carry-on bag, it's not too much trouble to ride from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the event venue, and back again. And as long as I stay downtown, it's always only a few blocks to the nearest streetcar stop or light rail station.

But then, I travel light and can still walk up to 20 miles a day if I need.

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Old 13th September 2017, 11:56 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Auto manufacturers are private companies, too. How come they got the "subsidies" and not the Interurbans?
The auto manufacturers were able to lobby more effectively.

However, once the reliable, economically affordable car came into mass production the American public was hooked. People who had never been 10 miles from their home could routinely travel 20 miles away and return the same day. For most people the convenience of the personal automobile far outweighs any benefits of mass transportation.
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Old 13th September 2017, 12:14 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Auto manufacturers are private companies, too. How come they got the "subsidies" and not the Interurbans?
historically, its easier to sell an indirect subsidy to the public. Roads exist for the people to drive on not for the car makers to sell a product. Rail subsidies pretty much have to be direct to rail company.
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Old 13th September 2017, 12:20 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I think the real answer is that everybody would drive a big truck. Wouldn't that be neat?
I drove a new F-250 Platinum yesterday. It was neater than I thought it would be.
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Old 13th September 2017, 01:02 PM   #64
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My short sale of 10,000 Uber and Lyft stock shares would be looking pretty good right now.
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