Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

Public Transport is Good

The advantages of using public transport are generally synonymous but wider than the advantages of using pooled transport. There are benefits for the greater good (such as environmental protection) and for personal gain (increased safety).

  • Reduced damage to the evironment - one bus emit far fewer fumes than twenty, or even five, cars.
  • Reduced use of fuel.
  • Buses and trains are safer than cars.
  • Reduced time spent on maintenance of personal vehicles.
  • No need to find parking spaces at your destination.

"Public Transport is Good. The Advantages of Pooled Transport." by Vexen Crabtree (2007) will eventually contain some more discussion... for now, it's just a pagelet.

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As a minus, you often get exposed to the worst elements of "trash culture" if you hop on a London Bus.

Too true, especially late at night. I wish you were wrong.

The sad thing is this only works in central London. Outside of town to run a service full enough to be both economicaly viable, and give the enviromental benifits you mention (Which deminish and then revers the emptier the bus gets) the service would have to be so infrequent as to be unusable. I remeber when this village had a an hourly bus service to the nearest town going through to cambridge (Our nearest city) and it normaly had four people on it this was some time ago and you now get a bus four times a day. I don't know what the usage is like I can't afford to wait four hours to come back from a shopping trip.

This problem even becomes evident towards the edge of London. Whilest in Feltham it would take me an hour and a half to get to work by bus due to a long wait in the middle of the journy to travel a distance that when I moved to bicycle I could cover in 25-30 minuets despite following the same route.

Conversly of course I will add that while living in Chiswick public transoprt was by far the fastest and cheapest way to travel.

I have relied on public transport in various places; including daily commutes for a number of years in a few different places.


You are generally right. You bunch of critics who have all commented on this are all basically right.

I've tried to rely on public transport in a small village in Wales, once. Impossible. In fact, I'm embarrased I even tried it. The hourly service you mention was up to 24 times more frequent than the bus I had to try and catch whenever I wanted to find fancy things like ATMs.

I'm not just talking about buses though; trains and trams and all sorts are sometimes good.

Perhaps the biggest thing you've told me is that I need to add two words to my title:

Public Transport is Good ... When Available.

I don't mind about the subsidized, under-used service you mentioned: The government has a responsibility to help out those who can't help themselves, and that includes a basic service (even unpopular ones) which are regular, that even remote people can rely on.

Expanding LPG and electric bus schemes will make such isolated services much more green, in the future.

LPG=Liquid Petrolium Gas?

If so it is indeed greener than current busses but still may meet a point where shortage of passengers make it less clean than current cars. Of course if cars were also to convert also then that advantage would be less. Electric or Hydrogen fuel cells would probably be my favorite if more electric genoration could be taken away from CO2 producing power sources again of course we must hope cars catch up with this.

I think the drop in service round here was linked to the privatisation and drop of subsidy for bus services some time back and do indeed support subsidies for improving public transport although not nessersarily on enviromental grounds (See my earlier post) but for the sake of non drivers who are quite cut off out here without them. There are a number of charitable oldfolks bus services to the town around the local villages so that old folk can get in to town to shop there once in a while.

All new electric-car designs are based around storing energy from braking to charge batteries and use internal generators; they don't even need to be plugged in. Ever; therefore they are better than you think!

Shame they're not very popular. And sometimes even, hard to get!

What sort of genorators? since takeing the energy from breaking would only at best presserve momentum to be used to get going again the energy source for preserving the momentum would be highly important.

Hydrogen Fuel cells would be a great option for this if only they were avaliable anywhere other than one small irland (I think in Japan)

Lotus are producing Plug in electric cars in Norfolk Which they then ship to america and market as luxury cars for the equiverlent of £50,000.

It works via induction: A wire in a changing magnetic field generates current (and exerts a force). When breaking, the electromagnetic is activated and this exerts a force on a magnet (in the wheels, I guess) which will simultaneously aid breaking and generate a current. The ampage is used to charge a battery, which is then used for low-speed manouvering (which is where petrol is least efficient).

In short, it uses natural momentum to charge batteries that take over when petrol would otherwise be least efficient.

Ah right I Understand now It's only electric power part of the time.

Certainly a good Idea and an improvment and this power gathering tec is a good thing but I hope it will soon be applied to cars where the engine is all electric powered be it via a hydrogen cell or battery from mains (As long as mains genoration is improved in terms of greenhouse gas production.

Outside cities, public transport just doesn't work. Even in London public transport doesn't work properly outside prime-time [try catching a bus/using the tube to get anywhere at 03:00].

There's also the problem of transporting objects: a car is a convenient, secure mobile storage-facility for stuff involved in most day-to-day activities.
Take laundry to dry-cleaners; drop into off-licence to pick up wine; then on to builders merchants to get paint; go to farm-shop for eggs and onions, then home, stopping off at petrol-station to fill up the fuel can for the chainsaw/lawnmower. If you try this with public transport it would take all day and you'd look like a sherpa dragging all the stuff round with you.

Finally, in a car you don't get social-defectives with severe personal-hygiene-problems insisting on sitting next to you then trying to engage you in conversation while you'd really like to be listening to Mahler.

Hey I've travelled on hundreds of occasions by night bus in London over the last decade, and I even enjoy the spectacles sometimes.

I have transported rather a lot by bus, sometimes, including a few times moving house by taking many bus journeys and hauling incredibly impractical boxes & bags by bus. But I knew I had services that were not crowded.

I know there are many advantages about having your own private transport; I'm just emploring people to take buses, trains and trams whenever they can!

I don't think anyone is saying that there are not situations whre a car is not on occation the only practical opption (Although whilst within Londons Zone three I only had to hire a van twice).

Night buses work fine for getting home from central London and I would certianly rather use them than drive in especialy when clubbing (My normal reason for being in London at three in the morning)

I Even managed my weekly shopping by bus even when I was out at heathrow with no problem. Once outside of major metropolitan areas the equation changes dramaticaly and of course different life situations dictate different needs. For instance I work with a lawnmower these days and it's only practical to transport it by car, although If I'd lived whithin ten minuets walk of a petrol station as I think most of the residentual parts of London seem to be I would probably just walk to pick up fuel. Where I live now that is not an option.

I manage to do everything with public transport and, more importantly, a bike. 2 rucksacks can fit a lot of shopping in. If I need a car/van for moving I'll hire one.

As Marcony points out, public transport doesn't work as well in rural conditions. Public transport works best in a high-density environment, but works even better when you have a multi-stage system. As a conceptual example, the origional EPCOT design had a monorail for moving around en-masse, with individual cabs on a slower system for moving people around to areas between the monorail stations. While the latter is boardering on encouraging a lazy populace, it's a good example of finding a balance between capacity and speed/convenience.
Buses are a poor choice for rural communities, but a train system connecting several towns at much higher speed are a marginly better solution. There's still the capacity issue.

On a seperate subject, I have a lot of notes and improvements that could be made to the current underground rail system. I'd be interested in your opinion of them if we get a chance to chat sometime.

Park & ride systems are good too; stop-start city traffic is appalling for the environment so public transport's advantages arse even more apparent with multi-stage setups.

How about trains where you press a button on the station to make the next train stop? (Although, working out timetables could be hard. Hmph).

I don't know if I need to read your notes, but if they are genuinely good, send them to Mayor Livingstone, he loves people doing that kind of stuff.

I've concidered the "call" button system, but it really only works on short-haul lines with no other trains on the network, otherwise you can get a backed-up system. Park and ride systems fall down that there's no way to recall transport to a point where all the transport's already been taken off to other locations.
If we assume a 10-minute wait is acceptable, that gives a range when you know the speed. Treat it like an elevator, only flat. In the tallest buildings multi-stage systems are used. Mostly because of mechanical issues with a hundred stories of cable, but it also effects of latency. Who wants to wait 3 minutes for an elevator waiting right atop the other end of the shaft?
A series of connected closed systems seems a possibility. Transfer from one to another to reach your goal in a series of low-capcity cars. At worst, you have a max 10-min wait at each interchange. At best, with computer control, cars could be ready and waiting for you as you pull in. It also could enforce a degree of ride-sharing. "Please wait two minutes for another passenger sharing your route".
With an override for emergencies, of course.

That's just off-the-cuff brainstorming though. My own more detailed ideas are more a direct replacement for the existing Underground framework. A complete replacement though. The ideas are not practical unless you're digging new tunnels. It would unify the rolling-stock though.

The Smaller the capacity the less the enviromental efficency. Public transport is not just about convenience to the public but also econermy and lowering the number of vechles on the street. Also I can tell you that to a traveler it is often preffereable to wait for ones convayence a little longer than know one will have to change convayence over and over especialy at the end of a long day it is far more plesant to sit down and know one will not have to get up again until one has reached one's destination. After all an exsperienced travler can make use of the journy time in many pleasurable ways if not continualy desturbed by the need to change train.

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Better than dying in a car crash...

Private transport is not good if you get assalted by some nut job who thinks you disrespected him at the last set of lights. Arseholes are everywhere. Nowhere is safe not even your little metal box.

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