Re: SLS: Re: AltInst: Road tolls would centralize cities

From: <>
Date: Wed Sep 09 1998 - 10:40:53 PDT

In a message dated 9/8/98 7:45:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< Prior to the "unification", a privately funded and operated subway system
 was built in Hong Kong. I am told that it was considered a financial success.
  Obviously, the high population density in Hong Kong made this form of
 transportation more economically feasible that it would be in cities built
 primarily after automobiles were introduced. You can't expect a policy of
 low density housing and low subsidy mass transit to work.>>

I don't think it is a question primarily of low density as it is so much the
subsidies given to the private automobile. Hong Kong is bigger than most US
cities and it now sprawls over the "New Territories," which are connected by
rail to the subways system downtown.

In the US, we could have more high speed rail and monorail systems, like at
Disney World--they move a lot of people there everyday in a small city.

In mainland China, there are few private cars but a very good public transport
system, except for the pollution. They have too many taxis, which has been
unregulated in the past. It is interesting to see that in Beijing there is not
much room for private cars since taxis and buses manage to clog the streets by
themselves, not to mention the bicycles.
Given the increasing population density, they will have to move towards more

In most US cities, subways are not yet a requirement. They also would not
compete without government subsidy given the prevalence of the private auto
and the subsidies they receive in highway construction.

New development should also consider urban rail, bike paths, as well as buses.

Political possibilities are interesting to discuss, but what ultimately
happens is up to the people in communities and states. I don't think anything
is really politically impossible. Good ideas can prevail as long as they are
economically sound.

If you look at the difference in road systems between the US and Chinese
cities, you will find that getting rid of the automobile is not so much a
difference between private and public as it is a public policy choice between
rail and road systems. Rail systems are obviously to be preferred wherever it
is economically feasible. They cost more in capital outlay obviously. Since
the US is rich, it is foolish not to improve its rail systems.

Tom Lacey

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Received on Wed Sep 9 18:17:16 1998

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