Rasmussen: Americans Want More Federal Support for Transit

Rasmussen Reports, the polling firm that got the 2012 election completely wrong, asked 1,000 Americans last week how they feel about public transportation [PDF]. The takeaway they reported was this: “74% Rarely or Never Use Mass Transit.”

Photo: ##http://nellsdish.com/2010/06/11/photo-62-out-of-365-subway-platform-at-34th-street-the-brooklyn-boys/##Nell's Dish##

On the flip side, 6 percent said they used transit every day or nearly every day, and another 7 percent report using it at least once a week. That’s way lower than it should be, but still indicates greater transit use than the 5 percent mode share transit tops out at in the American Community Survey, which measures only commuting and asks only what mode people used most often in a given week.

Rasmussen didn’t ask whether people had access to transit. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 45 percent of U.S. households have no access to transit whatsoever. If the same proportion applies to Rasmussen respondents, that means nearly a third of people who have any access to transit use it at least once a week. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents live in suburbs and 30 percent in rural areas — places where transit access is spotty, at best.

But perhaps more than 55 percent of the Rasmussen respondents had access, since an impressive 37 percent of respondents said the availability of transit services was at least somewhat important in choosing where to live. (Seventeen percent said it was “very important.”) It’s encouraging to see that so many people are hip to the benefits of living near transit, though it’s confusing, then, that only 13 percent of them actually ride it with any regularity.

Best of all, fully 50 percent said the federal government should “do more to encourage use of mass transit services in the United States, including funding more public transportation projects.” Fourteen percent more weren’t sure. That means that even people who never ride transit — who might never even see transit in their communities — get that it’s important. They want their tax dollars supporting it.

That aligns with several other surveys gauging public support for transit. In 2010, a poll by Transportation for America and NRDC found that people thought 37 percent of federal transport dollars should go to transit — nearly double transit’s actual share. A Rockefeller Foundation poll in 2011 found that Americans’ top two infrastructure priorities were safer streets and more transportation options. The same year, 80 percent of Republicans in a Yale University study said public transit investment was a good way to avert global warming. And last year, an NRDC poll found that Americans across the political spectrum support new transit twice as much as new road projects.

Support for transit funding among Rasmussen respondents went down some if the system loses money (as almost all transit systems do), with 45 percent saying the government shouldn’t subsidize transit. Still, it’s impressive that 36 percent answered “yes” to a question worded in a way that seems specifically designed to turn off anyone who considers himself fiscally responsible.

Rasmussen also asked how safe people think transit is — another somewhat confusing question. First of all, I’d like to see the answers split between people who use transit and people who don’t. Second, for what it’s worth, I wonder if people are thinking about crime or derailments when they’re thinking about safety. Or maybe they’re just worried that they’ll get caught in the doors? In any case, 74 percent said “mass transit services” were at least “somewhat” safe and just 3 percent said they were “not safe at all.”

People had no particular idea whether transit is getting safer or less safe than 10 years ago. I have no particular answer to that either. It could depend on things like crime rates in individual cities, the routes people take now versus 10 years ago, and whether the transit agency has implemented best practices in signaling and automation and the like.

Another question asked: “If you have the choice, would you rather take public transportation or drive your own car to go somewhere?” The surprise isn’t that 76 percent said they’re rather drive. The surprise is that 19 percent flat-out wanted to take transit, and 5 percent were on the fence. So while only 6 percent of these people actually do take transit every day, this poll shows that with better options, perhaps, more would choose it.

Once you add in the real-life trade-offs associated with driving and transit, the numbers might climb. Maybe next time they’ll ask, “Would you rather be whisked, traffic-free, to your destination via or choke on fumes in traffic jams, only to circle endlessly looking for parking when you arrive?”

  • Anonymous

    “If that were true, then NYC Transit would be a profit center in Albany.”

    43% of the MTA’s expenses are paid with through direct fares and revenues, compared to an average of 19% for all transit operators in the US. So my point is true: the more you use transit, the less you need to subsidize it. At the same time however, the better transit is, the more you have to pay for it, so there’s confusion in the numbers.

    In the US, the idea of transit is that it is partly, or even essentially, a welfare program.

    “Agreed. So THAT should be our message. Or more precisely, we sould advocated for better communities, and then suggest transit as a tool to enable them. Even in so-called “Transit-Oriented Development,” where transit plays an important role, most residents will get most places in their cars. The savings come by reducing the distances those cars (and trains/buses) have to travel.”

    You separate the two, bash transit and praise smart growth. What you are doing is dumb and counter-productive, and wrong, assuming that the poor performance of transit is an inherent part of it when it is caused in fact by the poor use of it in America as a welfare program and as a service to sprawling areas where lines lose a lot of money.

    “This is a poor argument. Atlanta and Houston are examples of two thriving cities that sprawl quite a bit more than Detroit. As recently as the 1990’s, LA’s downtown was covered in parking lots, but that seems to have been eliminated in the last decade. The conclusion is: just because a city sprawls, or is auto-dependent, or has a lot of parking lots, does not mean it will end up suffering the fate of Detroit.”

    Detroit has unique problems, but one would be a fool not to see that some of its problems are reflected in other cities. The inherent problems caused by car-dependent developments can be hidden for a while by good economic conditions and growing populations, like they are in Atlanta and other places. But when growth slows down, or some decline sets in, they rear up their ugly heads.

    “Lying to people about the benefits of transit is counter-productive.”

    It’s you who is lying. When you tell people that buying a Prius will take less energy than taking a bus, you are lying to them, presuming that marginal energy consumption equals average energy consumption. That is true for cars, but 100% wrong for transit. If an individual takes a bus, the marginal energy cost is almost insignificant, if he takes a Prius, the marginal cost is the average cost.

    You still have not acknowledged this, despite me mentioning it many times, and latch on to average figures to praise cars and bash transit. Then you claim to support smart growth, your position makes no sense.

  • Anonymous

    “43% of the MTA’s expenses are paid with through direct fares and revenues, compared to an average of 19% for all transit operators in the US. So my point is true: the more you use transit, the less you need to subsidize it.”

    But you still have to subsidize over half the total cost ($3b for NYC Transit). This subsidy is far larger, per passenger-mi, than any subsidy ever spent on automobiles. Whatever economies of scale there are for transit systems, I’m sure that NYC Transit has already achieved them. Conclusion: fully scaled-up transit systems require more subisidies per passenger-mi than fully scaled-up automobile transportation.

    “assuming that the poor performance of transit is an inherent part of it”

    I never talked about the “poor performance of transit.” But when you look at transit system after transit system and you see that they all require huge subsidies and only a few of them are more energy efficient than auotmobiles that are commonly available today… well, you do begin to conclude some things.

    “The inherent problems caused by car-dependent developments can be hidden for a while by good economic conditions and growing populations, like they are in Atlanta and other places. But when growth slows down, or some decline sets in, they rear up their ugly heads.”

    Oh I see, ***wave had*** you may THINK things are OK, but they really will crash and burn someday. Just like Detroit. This is fantasy and speculation, not reality-based analysis. It’s no different from believing that the kid who keeps getting away with robbing the candy store will accumulate bad Karma and be reincarnated as something horrible in the next life.

    “If an individual takes a bus, the marginal energy cost is almost insignificant, if he takes a Prius, the marginal cost is the average cost.”

    If an individual takes an airplane from SF to NYC, the marginal energy cost is almost insignificant. If he drives the same distance, the marginal cost is the average cost. Therefore, when assessing our carbon footprint, we should count commercial flights as almost nothing.

    Or put another way: the marginal cost is only insignificant if you’re planning on convincing fewer than 40 people to stop driving and take the bus. But if you expect your message to have any resonance, then you will have to plan for more buses. It is unrealistic to expect that you can find very many new transit riders who just “happen” to fill existing unused seats.

  • Anonymous

    “But you still have to subsidize over half the total cost ($3b for NYC Transit). This subsidy is far larger, per passenger-mi, than any subsidy ever spent on automobiles. Whatever economies of scale there are for transit systems, I’m sure that NYC Transit has already achieved them. Conclusion: fully scaled-up transit systems require more subisidies per passenger-mi than fully scaled-up automobile transportation.”

    Subsidies depend on government policy. If you subsidize highways and roads, you must subsidize transit. But you could not subsidize anything, fares for transit would double in New York, but tolls on all roads would also make using cars much more expensive, especially intercity travel.

    And again with another apples-to-oranges comparison. You talk about subsidy per passenger-mile, but highways are mainly used for intercity travel, transit is mainly local, so every passenger on an highway tends to travel more miles than passengers on transit systems.

    “I never talked about the “poor performance of transit.” But when you look at transit system after transit system and you see that they all require huge subsidies and only a few of them are more energy efficient than auotmobiles that are commonly available today… well, you do begin to conclude some things.”

    Wow, “I never talked about the poor performance of transit… I just implied it really, really hard”. What an argument.

    “Oh I see, ***wave had*** you may THINK things are OK, but they really will crash and burn someday. Just like Detroit. This is fantasy and speculation, not reality-based analysis. It’s no different from believing that the kid who keeps getting away with robbing the candy store will accumulate bad Karma and be reincarnated as something horrible in the next life.”

    Will they end up exactly like Detroit? No, Detroit is the perfect storm, but these other cities will suffer from the destruction of their urban fabric that highways create if they do not correct, as LA is doing.

    “If an individual takes an airplane from SF to NYC, the marginal energy cost is almost insignificant. If he drives the same distance, the marginal cost is the average cost. Therefore, when assessing our carbon footprint, we should count commercial flights as almost nothing.”

    1- If they were flying empty planes, you might have a point, but they’re not.

    2- Planes are already filled to capacity most of the time, so the marginal cost is much higher than you pretend it is.

    You need to consider what is the actual efficiency and the potential efficiency. Planes already are near their optimal efficiency and it’s not great (45 MPG per passenger). If demand for planes increase, they will have to put more planes in the air, at this mediocre efficiency. Marginal energy consumption is thus not nil as you pretend, but close to the average energy consumption. They’re still more efficient than cars for people traveling alone BTW.

    But as I said before about buses, you can either take them during peak hour or off-peak. During peak time, they’re full, 40 to 50 seats, even with poor fuel economy of 3 MPG, that’s the equivalent of 120 to 150 MPG per passenger (double that with hybrid powertrains, which will become more common). At that time, if there is more demand, they may put more buses on the road, but the marginal energy consumption is the average energy consumption FOR THE PEAK, not overall during the day, and that is still much better than cars, especially when compared to cars in the city where most buses travel.

    Off peak, there is so much wasted capacity that the marginal energy consumption of added demand is almost insignificant. By opting for buses instead of cars, you don’t increase the energy consumed but reduce the average energy consumption by passenger-mile. Even if demand increases so much the transit operator feels compelled to add buses off-peak, that would only mean that these buses are almost full, meaning the average energy consumption will have become even better than cars with 3 or 4 passengers. So in both cases, buses are better choices in term of marginal energy cost (as good as a Prius with 3 or 4 passengers). Increasing bus ridership doesn’t add to the total energy used, but instead reduces the average intensity of energy consumption.

    Your reasoning is the example of what happens when one just goes by the average without looking at the details. Your argument is a fallacy of composition, you see one study that says the average energy consumption of buses is higher than the average consumption of cars per passenger-mile and assume that it means that overall taking a bus is more wasteful than taking a car. That’s not true and I just demonstrated why.

    You can use your numbers to justify not creating more bus lines meant to run empty most of the day, but not to tell people not to use transit, like you’re doing.

  • Anonymous

    “Subsidies depend on government policy. If you subsidize highways and roads, you must subsidize transit. But you could not subsidize anything, fares for transit would double in New York, but tolls on all roads would also make using cars much more expensive, especially intercity travel.”

    No… transit fares would double, but the gas tax would go up only somewhat and the cost of driving even less (on a % basis). We’ve already looked at the subsidy numbers in this thread, and that was the conclusion. If you don’t believe me, go re-do the numbers yourself.

    “And again with another apples-to-oranges comparison. You talk about subsidy per passenger-mile, but highways are mainly used for intercity travel, transit is mainly local, so every passenger on an highway tends to travel more miles than passengers on transit systems.”

    Most highway miles — automobile miles in general — are used for local commuting within a metropolitan region. That was also discussed earlier in this thread, I will not re-hash it.

    “Will they end up exactly like Detroit? No, Detroit is the perfect storm, but these other cities will suffer from the destruction of their urban fabric that highways create if they do not correct, as LA is doing.”

    Oh no, the prophet of doom and gloom has arrived! Sorry, I have to respond to things we have actual evidence for, not wild fantasies.

    “1- If they were flying empty planes, you might have a point, but they’re not.”

    Planes are long-distance transport, transit buses are local. They have very different load characteristics for some fundamental reasons. That has also been discussed in this thread, please re-read.

    “You need to consider what is the actual efficiency and the potential efficiency. Planes already are near their optimal efficiency and it’s not great (45 MPG per passenger).”

    I repeat: plans are long-distance, which has different load characteristics. Also, the efficiency is more like 60-100 pMPG.

    “But as I said before about buses…”

    In spite of all this great theory, NYC and LA manage no better than about 45% load capacity on buses. See previous discussion in this thread. It is fantasy to believe you can do much better than that.

    Remember also that these load capacity numbers are based on seats, not actual capacity. Actual capacity is about 20% higher. So the load numbers look higher than they actually are.

    “During peak time, they’re full, 40 to 50 seats”

    They’re full at the end of the run. But empty when they begin. And then they have to dead-head back out of the city (in morning rush-hour). This is why it’s hard to make even peak transit vehicles operate with a load factor much above 25%. See previous discussion in this thread.

    Your reasoning is the example of what happens when one just goes by the average without looking at the details. Your argument is a fallacy of composition, you see one study that says the average energy consumption of buses is higher than the average consumption of cars per passenger-mile and assume that it means that overall taking a bus is more wasteful than taking a car.

    “That’s not true and I just demonstrated why.”

    You neglected to consider that buses start out empty, and they have to dead-head back to where they started.

    Please re-read this thread before repeating arguments that have already been discussed.

  • Anonymous

    “No… transit fares would double, but the gas tax would go up only somewhat and the cost of driving even less (on a % basis).”

    If you want to do it only with the gas tax, you’d need to double it at least.

    http://taxfoundation.org/blog/statelocal-road-spending-covered-user-fees-user-taxes-categories-separated-out

    “Most highway miles — automobile miles in general — are used for local commuting within a metropolitan region. That was also discussed earlier in this thread, I will not re-hash it.”

    Don’t rehash it, but the point is still valid. Highways make people travel farther and more frequently, thus increasing passenger-miles traveled. Transit tends to concentrate things instead. The comparison you make is apples to oranges.

    “Planes are long-distance transport, transit buses are local. They have very different load characteristics for some fundamental reasons. That has also been discussed in this thread, please re-read.”

    And NOW you want to make the difference between long distance and local travel. You’re quite inconsistent on this. But all of this is a red herring, you don’t address my point, planes don’t run empty all the time like buses off peak do, therefore your comparison is not valid.

    “In spite of all this great theory, NYC and LA manage no better than about 45% load capacity on buses. See previous discussion in this thread. It is fantasy to believe you can do much better than that.”

    Again with your fallacy of division. NYC and LA manage 45% load capacity ON AVERAGE, PEAK AND OFF PEAK. But at peak time, the load factor is much, much higher. The number of 40 to 50 is what I picked up from a Google search on the subject. I didn’t pull it out of my bum. Suburban feeder lines are empty half the time during peak hours, not so for urban buses which are frequently full on most of their route as nearly as many people get in as get out.

    I see that you have chosen to ignore completely my discussion about your fallacy of division and my explanation why, peak or off-peak, taking the bus consumes less energy than taking a car. This is a crucial part that shows the failings of your reasoning but you keep avoiding it and never addressing it. You seem to want to bash transit and praise private vehicles and I don’t know why.

  • Anonymous

    “Suburban feeder lines are empty half the time during peak hours, not so for urban buses which are frequently full on most of their route as nearly as many people get in as get out.”

    Whether you decide to build at low density or high density, you have two options on how to arrange your city:

    a) Put all the businesses and other points of interest in the center, and bring everyone to that place every day.

    b) Disperse points of interest throughout the city.

    If you choose option (a) (New York), people will converge in the morning and diverge in the evening. And you will have to run dead-head transit vehicles. If you choose option (b) (Los Angeles), you can make a better argument for a more even loading on your transit system. But everyone pretty much agrees that overall, this makes it HARDER to reasonably serve a city by transit, not easier.

    The interesting thing here is that NYC and LA — two cities with very different distributions of both housing and businesses — have ended up with such similar loading factors on their bus systems. Although once you throw in the NYC subway, it appears NYC transit loading factors are higher overall.

    Yes, there ARE urban bus routes like you describe. But they exist mostly to take people short distances around the urban core, not to get them in and out every day. If you look at subway/bus routes in NYC, you will find that stuff between downtown and 59th St. works like you describe, whereas stuff outside of that zone tends to operate more like a suburban feeder system: packed inbound in the morning and outbound in the evenings.

    As I’m sure you are well aware, only a small fraction of New Yorkers can live in Manhattan south of 59th St. The laws of physics dictate this. The vast majority of New Yorkers rely on feeder lines with strong directional bias in the mornings and evenings.

  • Anonymous

    “If you want to do it only with the gas tax, you’d need to double it at least.”

    Fine, triple the gas tax. Now you’ve added $.40/gal to the cost of driving, or $.016/mi (at 25mpg). That is a minuscule subsidy, given that we’re paying $.55/mi to drive. And as recent experience has shown, raising the price of gas by $.40/gal has very little effect on peoples’ behaviors.

  • Andrew

    43% of the MTA’s expenses are paid with through direct fares and revenues, compared to an average of 19% for all transit operators in the US. So my point is true: the more you use transit, the less you need to subsidize it. At the same time however, the better transit is, the more you have to pay for it, so there’s confusion in the numbers.

    And, in comparison, most streets bring in 0% of their expenses through direct fares and revenues.

  • Andrew

    The only way to compare the two subsidies is on a per passenger mile basis. A passenger-mile is a measure of benefit. So, $/p-m is a surrogate for cost/benefit.

    A pretty bad surrogate. Is your 50-mile commute to work worth 10 times more than my 5-mile commute to work (and 100 times more than my neighbor’s half-mile walk to work)? If I move closer to work to shorten my commute, have I given myself a demotion?

    Transit functions best in relatively compact settings. Cars function best in spread-out settings. Transit riders tend to travel shorter distances than drivers in order to accomplish the same tasks.

    Trying to compare transit and cars on a passenger-mile basis inevitably favors cars.

  • Andrew

    Are you aware that weekend ridership on the New York City subway has reached an all-time high? Trains, running every 10 minutes or better on almost all lines, are crowded.

  • Anonymous

    The loading factors aren’t similar at all between NY & LA.

    LA averages 4.38 passenger trips per vehicle revenue mile and 50.44 passenger trips per vehicle revenue hour.

    NYC averages 8.41 passenger trips per vehicle revenue mile and 64.89 pax/trips per vehicle revenue hour.

    And that’s before considering subways and other trains.

  • Anonymous

    “If that were true, then NYC Transit would be a profit center in Albany.”

    Well to some extent it could be argued that it is indeed a profit center for Albany. NY City and the nearby county’s are indeed a profit center as far as Albany is concerned. The NYC area contributes around 75% of Albany’s budget, yet only gets back around 50% of the monies spent by Albany.

    And NYC could not exist without its transit system.

  • Anonymous

    “43% of the MTA’s expenses are paid with through direct fares and revenues, ”

    Actually in 2011 according to NTD data, that percentage is 46%. And that’s just the NYC part of the MTA. If one adds in the data from the LIRR & Metro North, then riders covered 52.5% of the operating costs.

  • Anonymous

    No, New Jersey’s combined fuel tax Federal & State is 32.9 cents. So tripling that would mean an increase of 65.8 cents.

  • Anonymous

    Load factors are similar. See:

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/002361-los-angeles-metro-bus-system-compares-favorably-with-its-peer-group

    The problem here is one of units. Load factor is the time or distance average of the # of passengers, divided by the capacity of the bus. It does not depend on the length of trips taken by passengers, or the speed of the bus. Trips per revenue hour is a function of load factor AND the length of trips passengers take AND the speed of the bus.

    Here’s an example to help clarify:

    Suppose you have a 40-passenger bus route that’s 5 miles long and takes 30 minutes to complete. If 10 people get on at the beginning of the route and stay on to the end of the route, your statistics will be:

    load factor = 10/40 = 25%
    passenger trips per revenue mile = 10/5 = 2
    passenger trips per revenue hour = 10/.5 = 20

    Suppose the road is improved and the bus only takes 15 minutes to complete the route. Now you have:

    load factor = 10/40 = 25%
    passenger trips per revenue mile = 10/5 = 2
    passenger trips per revenue hour = 10/.25 = 40

    Suppose now that 10 people get on at the beginning of the route, and then get off halfway through. At that point, 10 more people get on, and get off at the end. And the trip still takes only 15 minutes. Now you have:

    load factor = 10/40 = 25%
    passenger trips per revenue mile = 20/5 = 4
    passenger trips per revenue hour = 20/.25 = 80

    Back to the real world of NYC vs. LA… we know that distances are further in LA, and traffic flows faster.

    There is almost a factor of 2 difference in passenger trips per revenue mile above. Because load factors are similar for the two systems, we can conclude that is because the typical LA bus rider rides about twice as far. No surprise here.

    The numbers on passenger trips per revenue HOUR are much closer to each other for NYC vs. LA. That is because LA buses go about twice as fast as NYC buses. Again, no surprise.

  • Anonymous

    Well, you wanted to double it, and I tripled up. So if I double your $.40 tax for NJ, that would still be an additional $.40/gal.

    But the conclusion would be the same even if you add $.80/gal to the price of gas. That would be another $.032 to the cost of driving, still a subsidy of less than 10% compared to the $.55/mi cost of driving.

  • Anonymous

    “Actually, compared to taking the bus, it DOES seem to accomplish some of those goals. Such as reduced price and reduced CO2 admissions.”

    Nice try, but you left out a key word “fuel”. It is supposed to reduce fuel costs; not your overall costs!

    “Your argument is highly speculative.”

    It’s not speculative at all. It’s well known that banks will give special perks to large depositors. Step in to Chase Bank one day and just look at the special lines in the larger branches for those with greater funds on deposit. They call it the Private Client line.

    “But let’s be very clear here: I never believe politicians who promise transit or road projects as decreasing congestion. It never works that way, because of the principle of induced demand.”

    Agreed, expanding a road or adding a new one only invites more congestion.

    “So no, transit does not reduce congestion either. Nothing will ever reduce congestion in Manhattan.”

    I didn’t say that transit reduced congestion. I said that “it helps with congestion.” However, transit has most certainly played a major role on impacting congestion in NYC. NYC is the largest city in the US, and by a large margin. Yet NYC does not rank 1st in many of the major congestion categories measured by experts like those at the Texas Transportation Institute.

    This despite the fact that NYC has fewer freeways, and smaller freeways than LA.

  • Anonymous

    Like most things you’ve posted, you continue to be wrong.

    I didn’t want to double it. That was valar84 who suggested that. You might want to start spending some time paying attention to what people actually write, as well as who wrote it!

  • Anonymous

    If you don’t like my load factors, then go argue with the experts at the National Transit Database. They are the experts at this, not you nor I.

    If and when you can convince them to change their standards of measure, then we can talk again.

  • Anonymous

    “Nice try, but you left out a key word “fuel”. It is supposed to reduce fuel costs; not your overall costs!”

    I said CO2 emissions, which is proportional to fuel costs. We’ve been over this, the fuel savings of bus systems are not at all obvious. And I doubt the NJ Transit buses are very fuel efficient.

    “However, transit has most certainly played a major role on impacting congestion in NYC.”

    No, it didn’t lessen congestion. Ever. What it did do was allow NYC to keep growing, and growing, and growing, far past the point at which growth would have stopped without an effective subway and commuter rail.

    “Yet NYC does not rank 1st in many of the major congestion categories measured by experts like those at the Texas Transportation Institute.”

    This is a complex issue. Apparently, Kansas City ranks #1 both in congestion and freeway lane miles per capita. But congestion is a funny thing — I think it’s a measure of how long a trip takes, compared to how long it WOULD HAVE taken without any traffic. So what? It’s an excuse for highway planners to widen freeways that are functioning perfectly fine at 35mph. There is no g*d-given right to blast through a major metropolis at 65mph.

    “This despite the fact that NYC has fewer freeways, and smaller freeways than LA.”

    Metro NYC and Metro LA are more similar than different in terms of freeway lane miles per capita. See:

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CFUQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tlcminnesota.org%2Fpdf%2Flanemilespercapita.pdf&ei=bO8KUq7zGZPUyQGM8YH4Dg&usg=AFQjCNH517OeZuPmqIdkgJeUo-ghpwXGNQ&bvm=bv.50723672,d.aWc

    Note that Metro Chicago ranks dead last in freeway infrastructure per capita, and yet it’s still rather sprawled. Metro Detroit ranks below average as well.

  • Anonymous

    Choose whatever alarming factor you’d like on how much the gas tax would have to go up to eliminate driving subsidies. It’s still insignificant, compared to the transit subsidies that reach 100% or more of the out-of-pocket cost to transit users.

  • Anonymous

    This has nothing to do with whether or not I like “your” load factors. It has everything to do with quoting the relevant statistic for the topic at hand. When evaluating a transit system, you use measure different things for different goals.

    If you want to evaluate energy efficiency, you will look at “average relative passenger load” (which I’ve been calling load factor). That tells you how much benefit you’re getting from your vehicle, compared to the theoretical maximum benefit it could provide.

    If you’re worried that people are being turned away due to overcrowding at peak times, you look at your peak passenger load.

    If you’re wondering how much it will cost you to hire drivers compared to the revenue you’ll collect, you look at passenger trips per vehicle revenue hour.

    If you’re wondering about the capital costs of your transit vehicles compared to the revenue you’ll collect, you look at passenger trips per vehicle revenue mile.

    In this case, we’re talking about energy efficiency. So average relative passenger load is the right statistic to look at.

  • Joe R.

    There’s a reason transit didn’t lessen congestion in places like NYC-lack of public policy. When transit is abundant, you’ll still get enough people driving to congest the roads unless you give them strong disincentives. And it doesn’t take that large a percentage of the population driving to cause gridlock or near gridlock. This is why sane transit policies should include congestion taxes, limits on parking (both on and off street), and perhaps even making some streets off limits to motor vehicles entirely. These policies serve three purposes. One, they eliminate car trips which aren’t so important to their end user that these users are willing to pay the extra fees. Two, they speed up the car trips of those who are willing to pay the fees. Three, they provide money for mass transit.

    Yes, congestion is a complex issue here. In the end, it doesn’t particularly matter if a freeway operates at 25 mph much of the day instead of 65 mph. I submit the primary problem is congestion on local streets. This has the effect of making urban life far less pleasant for the majority who walks or bikes. It’s a fundamental issue of fairness. In a democracy the needs of the majority outweigh the needs of the relative minority in NYC for whom car travel might be a better choice. We need streets with far less traffic not to speed up motor vehicle travel for few remaining on the roads (although that’s a positive end result), but rather to speed up walking and cycling, as well as make it safer. You’re right, there’s no right to speed at 65 mph by car through a major metropolis. However, there should be a right to travel under your own power at an average speed nearly equal to your cruising speed, without worry that you’ll end up a statistic due to a moment of inattention. People on foot or on bikes have to constantly defer to cars in places like NYC, with the unfortunate effect of doubling or tripling travel times. This shouldn’t be. When you reduce average speed, you reduce the effective radius a person under their own power can travel. That’s why we need public policy initiatives to reduce motor vehicle congestion-to benefit the supermajority in cities who get around under their own power,

  • Anonymous

    No, it has everything to do with whether or not the NTD considers it important. If they’re not reporting that number, then either they don’t consider it to be an important number or they know that they cannot accurately calculate that number for some reason.

  • Anonymous

    “I said CO2 emissions, which is proportional to fuel costs. We’ve been over this, the fuel savings of bus systems are not at all obvious.”

    Once again you’re not reading what people are writing! This has nothing to do with buses and whatever fuel savings they might or might not have. This discussion is about carpooling. Your son was not going to drive a car to that B’Way show, so you did not save fuel by carpooling. You did not reduce CO2 emissions by carpooling. You did not reduce the number of cars on the road. So you failed to meet the standard for using the carpool discount!

    You may not like the standard, you may disagree with the standard. But that doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t meet the standard,.

    “No, it didn’t lessen congestion.”

    You like to keep putting words into other people’s mouths. I’ll thank you to stop that!

    I never said “lessen”. I said it has an impact on congestion. And it does! Period. End of sentence!

    According to the TTI, if NYC & Newark stopped all forms of public transit tomorrow, drivers in this area would see an extra 440.647 million hours in delays. Transit has an impact on congestion!

    “Metro NYC and Metro LA are more similar than different in terms of freeway lane miles per capita.”

    Which is why I said NYC. Not NYC Metro Area. The NYC Metro area includes roads in New Jersey, roads in Westchester, roads in Long Island, and even roads in CT.

  • Anonymous

    Congestion is (sort of) based on the ratio of supply vs. demand for vehicle travel.

    I suppose the conclusion here is that expanding supply on non-vehicle travel is unlikely to have much effect on demand of vehicle travel, due to high demand elasticity.

    Congestion pricing works to diminish demand by increasing its price, while keeping supply constant. And it has been shown to reduce demand without reducing supply.

    Another way to achieve the goals you mention would be what NYC has been doing — reduce supply, and start allocating space to things other than cars. The changes to Times Sq and Broadway do NOT count here because that was a perverse example where closing a road to traffic actually increased throughput. But I the proliferation of protected bike lanes probably does count as a supply reduction and reallocation.

    I would say that supply reduction is probably a better policy for the most part than congestion pricing / demand reduction:

    a) It costs less. Almost half of the congestion pricing fees in London go to paying for the operation of the system.

    b) It reduces demand more. If you narrow a road by 20%, ultimately 20% fewer cars will have to use it. Reductions in demand spurred by congestion pricing are more like 5%.

    c) Congested traffic is slower, and in many ways safer for bikes and peds.

    d) It actually gives more space to non-motorized use, whereas congestion pricing does not.

  • Anonymous

    Congestion is (sort of) based on the ratio of supply vs. demand for vehicle travel.

    I suppose the conclusion here is that expanding supply on non-vehicle travel is unlikely to have much effect on demand of vehicle travel, due to high demand elasticity.

    Congestion pricing works to diminish demand by increasing its price, while keeping supply constant. And it has been shown to reduce demand without reducing supply.

    Another way to achieve the goals you mention would be what NYC has been doing — reduce supply, and start allocating space to things other than cars. The changes to Times Sq and Broadway do NOT count here because that was a perverse example where closing a road to traffic actually increased throughput. But I the proliferation of protected bike lanes probably does count as a supply reduction and reallocation.

    I would say that supply reduction is probably a better policy for the most part than congestion pricing / demand reduction:

    a) It costs less. Almost half of the congestion pricing fees in London go to paying for the operation of the system.

    b) It reduces demand more. If you narrow a road by 20%, ultimately 20% fewer cars will have to use it. Reductions in demand spurred by congestion pricing are more like 5%.

    c) Congested traffic is slower, and in many ways safer for bikes and peds.

    d) It actually gives more space to non-motorized use, whereas congestion pricing does not.

  • Anonymous

    You really do like to argue just for the sake of arguing!

    All I did was provide the correct fuel tax rate for New Jersey and state that tripling the fuel tax would create a higher number than you had claimed. I’m not picking any number here. I have nothing to do with deciding which alarming factor you or Valar wish to pick.

  • Anonymous

    When your own powers of reason fail you, mindlessly cite “experts.”

  • Anonymous

    Funding roads by gas taxes is unfair, when one thinks about it. People who live in the city and use their car there pay as much for highways through their gas bills as the suburbans who actually use them (especially since fuel economy is much better on highways than on local streets). Tolls would be more appropriate, limiting the cost of the infrastructure to the actual users. Also, fares for transit should ideally be based on distance traveled, not just a unique fare.

    If you do that, you make people pay for traveling farther, which makes a lot of sense. The farther you travel, the more energy you consume and the more you require infrastructures to travel on, so the more you should have to pay. This would provide an incentive to live in denser communities and to limit commutes.

  • Anonymous

    “Funding roads by gas taxes is unfair, when one thinks about it. People who live in the city and use their car there pay as much for highways through their gas bills as the suburbans who actually use them (especially since fuel economy is much better on highways than on local streets).”

    Actually, I would say the gas tax is quite fair, if not biased toward urban dwellers. First, state and federal highways DO form important arteries in the cities, jus as in the burbs. Looking at NYC, I see the West Side Highway / Henry Hudson Parkway, the LIE, BQE, Prospect Expressway, Queens Blvd, Northern Blvd, the Bruckner, Deegan and Cross Bronx, US Route 1 (Fordham Rd, Boston Rd, etc).

    Second, a large portion of the gas tax goes to fund transit, which mainly benefits city dwellers. NYC Transit get $3b/yr.

    Third, suburbanites drive up to10x as much as urban dwellers, so they pay the lion’s share of the gas tax.

    I suppose the question is… who pays more than they get back in gas tax, and who pays less than they get back? Would be interesting to find out, but I think the answer is far from obvious.

    The gas tax is also good social policy. It encourages energy efficient automobiles, and also the use of transit (which it is used to subsidize).

    Gas tax is also cheap to administer and easy to collect.

    “Tolls would be more appropriate, limiting the cost of the infrastructure to the actual users.”

    Problems with this include: (a) You will never be able to toll every road currently funded by the gas tax, making tolls inherently less fair. (b) Tolls cost a lot to collect. (c) Tolls fail to encourage energy efficiency (although this could be fixed).

    “Also, fares for transit should ideally be based on distance traveled, not just a unique fare.”

    This is true for many transit systems (including most suburban systems). And it has been considered for NYC Transit. But it would be bad social policy in NYC because the people who travel the shortest distances are the most wealthy, leaving the poor and middle classes in the outer boroughs with some of the longest commutes in the nation.

    “This would provide an incentive to live in denser communities and to limit commutes.”

    Again, this may be unique to NYC. But the densest communities in NYC cost the most, and are getting denser. Whatever the reason, there seems to be ample incentive already to live in denser communities.

  • Anonymous

    “Actually, I would say the gas tax is quite fair, if not biased toward urban dwellers. First, state and federal highways DO form important arteries in the cities, jus as in the burbs. Looking at NYC, I see the West Side Highway / Henry Hudson Parkway, the LIE, BQE, Prospect Expressway, Queens Blvd, Northern Blvd, the Bruckner, Deegan and Cross Bronx, US Route 1 (Fordham Rd, Boston Rd, etc).Second, a large portion of the gas tax goes to fund transit, which mainly benefits city dwellers. NYC Transit get $3b/yr.Third, suburbanites drive up to10x as much as urban dwellers, so they pay the lion’s share of the gas tax.”

    You’re missing the point. If gas taxes are meant to be the user fees for road infrastructures, then this is completely out of whack. Building a new highway to a distant suburb that will be clearly underutilized is much more expensive than an urban road in a city core that suffers from a lot of congestion. But since the suburban highway has no congestion and high speeds, cars driving on them will consume 50% or 33% of what they consume when stuck in congestion on the urban roads. So in effect, people driving on the urban arterials or local roads subsidize the suburban highways.

    For example, take someone who lives in a inner suburb and one who lives in an outer suburb. The outer suburban’s commute rejoins the inner suburban’s commute at the limits of the city. The inner suburban commute is 5 miles in largely stop-and-go-traffic, the outer suburban has to travel 20 miles of free-flowing highways before reaching that same 5-mile part. In stop-and-go traffic, their cars get 20 MPG on the highway, they get 35 MPG. The inner suburban consumes 0,25 gallons per commute, the outer suburban consumes 0,82 gallons. Though the outer suburban uses 5 times as much road infrastructure as the inner suburban, he ends up paying only three times more.

    I’m not saying to eliminate gas taxes entirely, tolls on all roads, highways and local, would be impossible to collect. But should tolls be put on interurban highways? It does make sense if you want to use the concept “the user pays”.

    “(c) Tolls fail to encourage energy efficiency (although this could be fixed).”

    You said yourself that the best energy policy is to reduce distances and be denser. Tolls encourage density by making people pay for the distance traveled, so by your own claims, tolls should be good energy policy.

  • Anonymous

    Gas tax also charges people by distance travelled, they are not so different from tolls in that respect.

    Your analysis is now comparing inner suburban drivers vs. outer suburban drivers, it is no longer a city vs. suburbs thing. Maybe the inner suburbs ARE getting the shaft here: they don’t get the road funding of the outer suburbs or the transit funding of the city. Any time the government takes money and does something with it, you will always be able to find some people who get more than they paid, and some who get less.

    The numbers will change as we move toward hybrid and electric drivetrains (remember the 50mpg standard on the books). Hybrids consume similar energy in city vs. highway. Electrics are most efficient in stop-and-go traffic and least efficient at 70mph. How will that change the fairness analysis? The hybrid stop-and-go driver will consume a LOT less gas than today, whereas the hybrid highway driver will consume about the same.

    As for a system that takes money from developed areas to fund development in new areas — well, that is the way networks grow. You could make the same fairness argument against extending subway lines as well. But by definition, most of the population is in the developed areas. In a democracy, if people in already-developed areas think expanding the network is a really bad idea, they will vote against it.

    Anyway, I think we’re past the point where there are miles of unused “freeloading” freeway out there —

  • John Dough

    Nope. You got it all wrong, Andrew.

    Cost to benefit ratios aren’t a way of suggesting that my 50-mile commute is worth more or less than your 5-mile commute. The whole point is that every passenger-mile has the exact same value.

    It’s a way of saying that, if it costs me $25 to go 50 miles and it costs you $5 go 5 miles, then I am paying less per p-m ($0.50) that you ($1.00). It’s a way of comparing trips of different lengths. I’m going ten times as far for 5 times the cost.

    When applied to government subsidies, it’s a measure of bang for the buck. If you invert it, it tells you how many passenger-miles you get per dollar. The more miles you get, the better the investment.

  • Andrew

    The whole point is that every passenger-mile has the exact same value.

    Do you seriously believe that?

    Transportation is a derived demand. People don’t take trips in order to rack up miles; they take trips in order to reach other locations and to perform activities (work, school, shopping, entertainment, etc.) at those locations.

    If it costs you $25 to go 50 miles to work, and it costs me $5 to go 5 miles to work, then we’ve both arrived at work and I’m $20 ahead. Your 50-mile trip is worth no more than my 5-mile trip if they accomplish the same purpose.

    Any metric that treats distance as a desirable factor will necessarily favor the spread-out over the compact. That isn’t rocket science.

  • Joe R.

    I agree. People make trips, and what we should really be looking at is the subsidy per trip. Looked at in that way, sprawl results in far greater subsidies per trip. In the end, if I walk 3 blocks and someone else drives 10 miles, and we both get groceries, we’ve both accomplished the same goal, but I needed far fewer subsidies to reach it.

  • John Dough

    You’re confusing the value of a trip with the cost to provide a passenger-mile, the conventional unit of measure for transportation benefits. I’m comparing the relative value of subsidies and you’re debating me by comparing the value of two trips. While, technically, you’re correct that $5 is $20 less than $25, it’s irrelevant to the point we’re debating.

    You’re looking at from the perspective of a customer seeking to minimize out of pocket cost of a trip while I’m weighing the benefit derived from two alternative government investments.

    Go back to yesterday’s comment. I said the only way to compare the two SUBSIDIES is on a per passenger mile basis. That’s the statement you challenged.

    Why don’t you sleep on that. If you’re still confused in the morning, let me know and I’ll give you an example.

  • Andrew

    John, I’m not confusing anything at all. As I’ve already said twice, a passenger-mile is not an honest measure of transportation benefits, because the purpose of transportation is to bring people from one location to another to allow them to carry out activities.

    Transportation is a derived demand. A half-mile trip to work, a 5-mile trip to work, and a 50-mile trip to work all provide exactly the same transportation benefit. If the government investments required to support those three trips are $1, $5, and $25, then the government is getting the greatest bang for the buck on the shortest trip and the worst bang for the buck (by far) on the longest trip. The cost per passenger-mile is plainly irrelevant, because the three trips provide the exact same function.

    Of course, if you want to promote low-density, car-oriented suburbs over high-density, transit-oriented cities, then you’ll latch onto passenger-miles. But that’s not honest, now is it?

  • John Dough

    Here’s what the USDOT, BTS, has to say about it:

    “Passenger-miles are the most basic measure of passenger transportation mode usage. They take into account both the number of passengers using a mode and the number of miles each passenger travels on the mode. It is likely that most forms of user benefits, and even many non-user benefits, are proportionate to mileage, and thus it can be used as a proxy for total benefits. It is comparable across modes.”

    The last time BTS analyzed subsidy by mode, here is what they came up with:

    Highways, -$1.91 per thousand passenger-miles (Yes, that’s a negative subsidy.)

    Transit, $118.26 (Yes, that’s almost 12 cents per mile.)

    Of course, you seem to know more about this than the USDOT so I suppose you’ll think its analysis is bogus.

    Full disclosure: This report is almost 10 years old. I know things have changed since then, but not enough to change the balance or the bottom line conclusion: On a passenger-mile basis…selected by the USDOT as the best proxy for total benefits (while acknowledging it’s not perfect)…transit subsidies are a couple of orders of magnitude higher than highway subsidies.

    Now, go ahead and do it your way. Divide highway subsidies by highway trips then divide transit subsidies by transit trips.

  • Anonymous

    No sir, my powers of reason are just fine. I just have no time to waste trying to explain to someone who thinks that they know it all when the don’t and can crunch the numbers better than the rest of us.

    Again, if the experts don’t think that the number is useful enough to include, that’s good enough for me. You can argue with them about why and good luck convincing them that you’re right.

  • Anonymous

    John,

    As I’ve told you before, the reason that report is 10 years old is because the report was flawed. The DOT made certain assumptions that they shouldn’t have made and got called on it.

    How they accounted for trucks skewed the study into making it appear that drivers were actually paying more money than their costs. Furthermore, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out to you, one cannot fairly compare one mode that sees trillions of estimated passenger miles to modes that only see billions of passenger miles.

    That is why the DOT has never repeated the study.

  • Anonymous

    All we have here is a quote of a few random numbers, with no understanding or investigation as to how they were arrived at or whether they are even relevant to the discussion at hand. But you seem to say that since these numbers were produced by “experts,” they must be not only be correct (which I don’t dispute), but also relevant to THIS conversation (which I do). It is meaningless to quote random numbers without understanding what they are.

    Appeal to experts is, by definition, the opposite of a reasoned argument. It is what people do when they can’t follow the details of a discussion but wish to continue arguing. It is a way of shutting down any kind of real discussion.

    In reality… when experts write a report, they have a purpose in mind. Just because they know a lot about their subject does not mean that they had YOUR purpose in mind when they wrote the report. Just because they calculated a particular statistic does not necessarily mean that is the statistic YOU should be using for YOUR purpose. This does not make them less expert, it just means they can’t read your mind.

  • Anonymous

    Sir, had you bothered to look at the NTD website you would know why they publish these reports and the purpose of the numbers.

    The purpose of the NTD reports is two fold. One, to give people comparable statistics that they can use to compare how well one mode of public transit fares over another. Second, the numbers are used to help provide guidance for what project the next round of Federal dollars should be allocated to.

    While I suspect that there are other reasons beyond this, I’ve no doubt that at least one reason that they don’t provide the stat you want is simply because it is far too hard to compute an accurate number. Yes, you made it sound wonderfully simplistic. But the reality is far from that.

    One needs to track each bus route and monitor what sized bus ran that route each run of each day in order to provide an accurate number. One cannot simply assume that all buses have 45 seats or whatever number you like based upon what you think the agency’s buses actually seat.

    As for “real discussion”, that’s not what you’re interested in. You’re just interested in being right and in an effort to ensure that you throw out tons of numbers in the hope that you blind people into thinking that you must know what you’re talking about. Unfortunately the reality is far from that. In fact you cannot even keep straight who said what and why they said it.

  • John Dough

    Whenever somebody tries to organize complex flows of monies into something simple that can be understood by ignoramuses, there can be challenges to the methodology. For example, when a highway department spends $10 million building a parkingnlot and a “multimodal transfer station” (expensive bus stop), it’s logged as a highway expenditure, understating the transfer of funds frm highway users to transit users.

    But, that’s not the reason it has not been done again and you know it…because I’ve told you before.

    The 2004 report was done at the request of congresspersons who thought it would prove your contention: that highways are subsidized more than transit.

    They never asked for it to be done again because that has shot themselves in the foot. They can’t handle the truth…much like you.

  • John Dough

    BTW, trucks are highway vehicles and truck drivers/owners are highway users and pay highway user fees. To not include truck costs in the study would have truly been deceitful and biased.

    And, the best known, if not perfect, way to “fairly compare” one mode against another, in spite of differences in passenger-miles, is by equating costs to unit benefits…in this case passenger-miles received for dollars spent. If you have a better way, take it up with the USDOT. In the mean time, I’ll put my money on them.

    I would love to see the 2004 report updated. Wouldn’t you?!

  • Anonymous

    John,

    With the current House of Representatives that study would have been repeated many times by now. With the most anti-rail Presidency in history under George W Bush that study would have been repeated if they could have gotten the DOT to do it. The DOT didn’t repeat because they got called on that study for several errors.

    The NTD exists because many Congress people were certain that buses were the better way to move people as opposed to trains. Unfortunately for them, the very first study showed the opposite. And every subsequent report since has continued to show that, even as costs have risen. Yet because their results have been tested by others and found to be correct, they continue to publish annual reports.

    “For example, when a highway department spends $10 million building a parkingnlot and a “multimodal transfer station” (expensive bus stop), it’s logged as a highway expenditure, understating the transfer of funds frm highway users to transit users.”

    When that happens it’s because the DOT has saved money by not having to expand that highway further down the road. It’s a trade off. Highway users can get dinged for that lessor expense of the bus stop or they can get dinged for the major expense of expanding the highway. Better for your side to quietly accept the lower charge!

    The same thing also happens with rail though too. Prior to building new light rail lines, all the utility lines are always upgraded and sometimes moved. Yet the rail project gets dinged for that cost, even though the greater benefit is to all the taxpayers served by that infrastructure.

  • Anonymous

    Yet they didn’t include trucks in that report John! That report only shows cars. And therein lies one of the bigger reasons that the report has never been redone. How they calculated things to remove the trucks from the equation was flawed. The reduce the amount of expense being charged to car drivers because they stated that we needed to build bridges and highways to stronger levels than needed by cars for the trucks.

    But as many people pointed out to the after the fact, charging trucks for the extra costs of lanes that they cannot use was unfair. Many highways that are more than 2 lanes in each direction carry restrictions that prevent trucks from using the left most lanes. Yet those lanes are still built to truck standards even though they cannot use them and wouldn’t even need them if the highways were only being built for trucks.

    It’s thanks to the removal of those charges from the driver’s column that it looks like drivers are actually paying more than their costs.

    There were other problems with that report too, including the fact that total passenger miles is nothing more than a guess. There is no accurate way to actually get the real number, unlike with transit where they can count actual riders in the vehicle.

    So until the above flaws and others can be fixed, there is no point to trying to create another such study.

    I’ll leave you with one other thought, had the DOT done a similar report back in 1957 with or without the same problems, we would have stopped building our Interstate Highway System because of the standard that you want to apply now to transit.

  • John Dough

    So, you’re saying that, in a report that looked at subsidies per passenger-mile, somebody went to the trouble of subtracting truck subsidies from the numerator and truck miles from the denominator before the did the calculations. Is that right? Where did you read that?

  • Anonymous

    John,

    The point of the report was to compare passenger subsidies. While there is of course still a driver in the truck, the primary purpose of the truck is not to move a passenger from point A to point B. The primary purpose of the truck is of course to move freight.

    And while I can’t go look at the report right now, I believe that right in the report they do note that they adjusted the numbers so as to only provide a subsidy total for cars.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

National Geographic Reveals the World’s Transit Superstars

|
Guess where these people are. Photo by danncer via Flickr. National Geographic released the results of their annual Greendex consumer survey yesterday, ranking the environmental friendliness of housing, transportation and eating habits in nations around the world. Sadly, only one nation can boast that a majority of its population rides transit at least once a […]

Solo Driving Drops in DC as Transit and Biking Soar

|
We’ve been writing a lot this week about the national shift away from car travel and toward transit, biking, and walking. Yesterday, Washington area officials released new data that indicates the DC region is at the forefront of that trend. The region added half a million new workers between 2000 and 2011, according to a […]

Americans Aren’t as Dependent on Cars as You Might Think

|
Americans drive a lot. About 90 percent live in a household with a car. Among adults, 89 percent are licensed to drive. Overwhelmingly, most people get to work by driving alone. But those statistics obscure some important nuances. A new study by Ralph Buehler and Andrea Hamre in the journal Transportation looks at Americans who are “multi-modal” […]

Commuting Tips for the Incrementalist: Small Changes, Big Savings

|
Rob Perks couldn’t understand why his friend, Megan, drove to work every day instead of taking public transportation. She said driving was cheaper and more convenient, but Perks had almost an identical commute and he was pretty confident he was saving a lot by taking transit. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation of all Megan’s driving costs […]