Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Moving Minds - Conservatives and Public Transportation

In 2009 the book, "Moving Minds - Conservatives and Public Transportation" by Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind, was published by the Free Congress Foundation and Reconnecting America Center for Transit-Oriented America. The authors made the point that the only transportation mode currently allowing passenger transportation anytime is the auto. It is the auto mode that is the competitive mode for public transit and higher speed rail (HrSR) and high speed rail (HSR).

They made the point that transit competitive trips are what the public seeks in order to switch from the auto mode to transit. Transit competitive trips are trips performed by a service level that induces persons to leave the auto mode. Where transit competitive trips are delivered to the public, the public uses the transit competitive service. And, they emphasize the need to electrify urban transit systems.

Likewise, it can be supposed that HrSR and HSR services must provide service levels that will be competitive trips in cost, time, frequency and comfort to induce change to HrSR and HSR and from autos. And, the freight railroad system in order to support higher speed passenger rail (HSR) must be electrified.

The 1986 "Pennsylvania High Speed Rail Feasibility Study - Market Demand" prepared for the Pennsylvania High Speed Intercity Rail Passenger Commission based its assumptions upon the cost of auto ownership being 12 cents a mile. If that 12 cents a mile had held to inflation, the cost of car ownership today would be 26 cents a mile. The American Automobile Association now computes the cost of ownership at about 75 cents a mile. In 1986, the study made  assumptions as to service levels basing their assumptions upon HSR speeds. The study estimated 6.2 to 7.1 million passengers per year Pittsburgh to Harrisburg to Philadelphia.

The annual report by Amtrak for fiscal year 2011 at page 39 indicates that 1.3 million passengers used the Keystone Corridor East, Harrisburg to Philadelphia. That is, of course, is the slower  "higher speed rail service" (HrSR).

There are pragmatic conservatives and there are ideological conservatives.

Pragmatic conservatives understand that public investment in the auto mode has so skewed the transportation market to the highway mode that there are no options for high quality transit systems or any transit at all for too much of the country. And, for longer distance transportation decades of public policy let alone urban transportation  a transportation system totally dependent upon oil has been created. The dependence upon oil for transportation contributes substantially to trade deficits. Dependence upon foreign oil creates unavoidable military commitments and adventurism.

A pragmatic conservative can recognize that electrified transit, HrSR and HSR would lessen transportation costs for household incomes. If all three electrified transportation services were broadly available there would be more household income available for other consumption.

A pragmatic conservative recognizes that an electrified non-oil based transportation would create freight cost savings benefiting all shippers and ultimately consumers.

A pragmatic conservative recognizes that an electrified transportation system will lessen the trade deficit, lessen competition among nations for oil thus lessening the intensity and need for military for military adventurism.

An ideological conservative worries whether or not an abortion provider might use transit, HrSR or HSR.

An ideological conservative worries whether or not a person can conceal carry a handgun on transit, HrSR or HSR.

An ideological conservative is upset that an electrified transportation system will lessen CO2 emissions likely lessening global warming.

An ideological conservative will be concerned that the Ten Commandments be displayed in transit, HrSR and HSR stops, stations and vehicles.

Whether an electrified transportation system might be built in the USA will depend upon pragmatic conservatives and others.

Could generalized conservative truculence lead to destructive paralysis and stalemate?

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