The Auto Free Life

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: gprimr1, mtuandrew

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:57 pm

While I realize this topic has become Soc 201, there have been interesting thoughts expressed for a new segment of Amtrak passengers.

I know I'm a bad example for this discussion. I was a teen-ager during the '50's when an auto "was what it's all about". I've always spent a disproportionate share of my income on such and drive many a trip that the general populace would fly (around here; take Amtrak). Solo intercity auto travel is sort of an "Invictus" moment: "For I am the master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul".

We have mentioned taxicabs in this discussion; I hardly know what one is. When In The Loop, Mr. Shank and Miss Mare seem to work just fine for me. In fact the last taxicab I've used in this life was in Vienna last August, where I had gotten hopelessly lost and Mr. Google had me "walking in circles".

Bicycles, haven't been on one since college. I'd be afraid to ride one. Those I know who do think there are drivers who wilfully intimidate cyclists. I don't need that. Also let us not forget many elderly people like myself have balance issues.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gilbert B Norman
 
Posts: 12897
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Aurora Sub; MP 18.71)

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby JCGUY » Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:01 am

"JCGUY, when you say people with kids want a house and don't live in "most urban areas," do you mean areas with apartment complexes? There are enormous urban neighborhoods of houses where people can live without a car, whether it's Roslindale, Mass. or most of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, or parts of Ogden, Utah. House and urban, house and car-free don't have to be opposites."

I do mean apartment-heavy areas. That's my frame of reference. It would certainly be easier to handle raising kids in a detached house, and I can see a dense area of small detached houses fitting the bill for some people. I'm admittedly not familiar with the areas you mentioned. I did spend some time in downtown Portland Oregon a couple years ago. I had fully expected that Portland 'cracked the code' - given all the pro-Portland propaganda out there. I had a great time in Portland, loved it, but I saw the same dynamic in the inner ring there as I see in the NYC area, i.e., an inner ring composed of childless adults with the only kids pre-school age. Portland may as well have been Hoboken or park slope.
JCGUY
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 7:16 pm

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Tadman » Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:15 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:
I must wonder how many give up their autos in town; bet not many. Wonder how many will use Amtrak; again.not many.



I know quite a few go down to 1 car. We are considering doing such. I live downtown and I probably don't start my car more than once a month. I'm not an empty nester as I'm in my 30's, but the mechanics of living downtown don't necessarily discriminate by age.

I know a few empty nest couples. One has gone down to one car, they ride the train a fair amount. My parents moved to Arizona which has zero public transportation and they have two cars. I would kill for a train between Phoenix and Tucson but you have to drive with Arizona drivers, which are the worst.
Tadman
 
Posts: 8442
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am
Location: Michigan

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:00 am

JCGUY, thanks! I figured that's what you meant. I think what you describe is probably true in most of the US, that people with money and kids buy houses. The houses might be in the suburbs (those huge tracts of new houses that keep expanding almost everywhere) or they might be in cities (I see new houses getting built when I ride the L in Chicago). I wonder how much of the house preference is because Americans think "kids need a yard", how much of it is because Americans like a lot of space and our apartments aren't big enough, how much of it is because the kid infrastructure in the city isn't that great or doesn't look that great. Once you have a place with very few kids, I imagine very few parents will consider living there with kids, and very few kid services will be able to survive. I wonder how much of it is because Americans think cities, even residential neighborhoods, are really dangerous (much more dangerous than most of them really are) AND American middle-class parents tend to put their kids in organized activities where the assumption is that the parents will take the kids there.

Here's a side comment, not directed at you. Car-free families are one thing. Families with one car instead of two are another. And then there are car-free teenagers. When I was a kid in Boston (Roslindale, a dense house neighborhood along the Needham Line of the Commuter Rail, with a lot of buses and parks), the kids walked to little league and the store and the teenagers rode city buses to high school. We had one car till I was about 5, then two; each parent drove one to work because the bus and subway routes were indirect for my Dad and basically impossible for my Mom because she needed to go from one outer neighborhood to another. But from 7th grade onward my friends and I took the T wherever we wanted after school. (My mother's suburban friends seemed to think she was letting me run around in a war zone, but we knew better.) Now that I am a parent of a 5th grader and a freshman in a little Midwestern city, I feel oppressed by all the chauffeuring. The idea that I have to take my daughter from school to the pool for swim practice even though she's 14, and that I may be under pressure to buy a teenager car so that i'm not driving her everywhere when she's a senior, boggles my Bostonian mind. Living in a neighborhood and city where older kids and teens can move around on their own saves parents a lot of time; I wonder if any of the parents who left the city when their kids were five realize this nine or ten years later, and wish they'd stayed.
Arborwayfan
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby JCGUY » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:13 am

Arborwayfan wrote: And then there are car-free teenagers.


I completely agree, and it goes beyond kids who are as old as teenagers. I think it's infantallizes kids when they can't get around without their parents driving them.
JCGUY
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 7:16 pm

A myth that refuses to die ...

Postby Douglas John Bowen » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:21 pm

... to wit: There are no children, or at best, few children, in Hoboken.

In deference to JCGUY, I cannot comment on a comparable situation in Portland.
User avatar
Douglas John Bowen
 
Posts: 855
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2004 10:54 pm

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby JCGUY » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:52 pm

There are tons of children in Hoboken, of course!

From Wikipedia: "Out of a total of 25,041 households, 15.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them . . . The average household size was 1.93 and the average family size was 2.68."

And very few of the kids in the gentrified area are school-aged kids. Hoboken has over 50,000 people. People reading this outside NYC/NJ will have trouble even imagining this, but Hoboken's 50,000 people support a single public high school with a total enrollment of about 600 students. The 600 takes on faith that the enrollment figure is not boosted by a liberal reading of who actually shows up to stay enrolled in order to make the district's sky high per pupil spending seem a bit lower. Hoboken spends about $25k per child, per year. Those lucky 600 each got $300,000 educations, not counting free pre-k.

And you very much do not need (or really want) to have a car in Hoboken.
JCGUY
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 7:16 pm

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby David Benton » Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:40 pm

Arborwayfan wrote:Here's a side comment, not directed at you. Car-free families are one thing. Families with one car instead of two are another. And then there are car-free teenagers. When I was a kid in Boston (Roslindale, a dense house neighborhood along the Needham Line of the Commuter Rail, with a lot of buses and parks), the kids walked to little league and the store and the teenagers rode city buses to high school. We had one car till I was about 5, then two; each parent drove one to work because the bus and subway routes were indirect for my Dad and basically impossible for my Mom because she needed to go from one outer neighborhood to another. But from 7th grade onward my friends and I took the T wherever we wanted after school. (My mother's suburban friends seemed to think she was letting me run around in a war zone, but we knew better.) Now that I am a parent of a 5th grader and a freshman in a little Midwestern city, I feel oppressed by all the chauffeuring. The idea that I have to take my daughter from school to the pool for swim practice even though she's 14, and that I may be under pressure to buy a teenager car so that i'm not driving her everywhere when she's a senior, boggles my Bostonian mind. Living in a neighborhood and city where older kids and teens can move around on their own saves parents a lot of time; I wonder if any of the parents who left the city when their kids were five realize this nine or ten years later, and wish they'd stayed.

I call my partner her older kids taxi driver. The teen/early 20's generation don't seem to have the urge we had as teens to get a drivers license as soon as you turned 15. ( the traffic cop who took me for mine graciously "forgot" he had pulled me up the week before for not wearing a helmet). While many will use public transport where it exists( not a lot in rural NZ), just as many rely on family and friends to drive them .
So I guess Amtrak and other public transport can provide service for parents and other family members as much as for the "millennials" they actually transport. Maybe change "take the train" , to "send your kids on the train".
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.
User avatar
David Benton
 
Posts: 7840
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:29 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby AgentSkelly » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:24 am

This reminds me of an old timer I met who talked about as a kid after WWII, his father after he got back from Germany in 1946, decided that the family needed a car for the first time, so he went out and bought a brand new 1947 Chevy "Carryall" Suburban and would find any reason to drive it...even if it was going one block down the street.
New Westminster to Amtrak 516, whats up with the extra 4 axles, over?
AgentSkelly
 
Posts: 1414
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2005 10:05 pm
Location: BNSF Vancouver Terminal

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:50 pm

That was typical, and I think part of the reason for the large-scale desertion of trains by the general public. Both civilians and servicemen had ridden nothing but crowded trains during the war and once it was over resolved never to ride a train again. A common practice was to place an order with every car dealership in town: "call me when you have a car--I don't care what make, model, or color, just call me and I'll be right down." And once the car was delivered, people drove everywhere.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3465
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby gokeefe » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:17 pm

Without question Portland, Maine should be on that list. There's a robust bus system (both local and inter-city), excellent bikeways, and of course Amtrak's Downeaster.
gokeefe
User avatar
gokeefe
 
Posts: 9820
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:28 pm
Location: Winthrop, Maine

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:17 am

gokeefe wrote:Without question Portland, Maine should be on that list. There's a robust bus system (both local and inter-city), excellent bikeways, and of course Amtrak's Downeaster.


With all due respect, have you ever tried to live in Portland without a car?

I was just talking with a friend of mine the other day who moved down here from Portland a few years ago, and he was complaining about multiple times that he had to walk several miles to/from work, etc. because the buses were so "useless". Apparently he tried to rely on them but more often than not ended up either walking or bumming rides off of friends and family. In fact the primary reason he moved was the inability to get around without a car. And this isn't the first time I've heard that complaint from the multiple Mainers I know who've moved down to Mass.

Portland might have a better bus system than many other American cities its size, but I'd still stop far short of describing it as "robust", and I doubt anyone would want to try and live there car free, unless maybe they lived right downtown within walking distance of everything they need. But I'm willing to bet 99.9% of people living car-free in Portland are not doing it out of choice.
Call me Connor or DTP

Railfan & Roadgeek from the North Shore of Mass.
deathtopumpkins
 
Posts: 971
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:56 am
Location: Somerville, MA

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby AgentSkelly » Sat Mar 04, 2017 2:12 am

ExCon90 wrote:That was typical, and I think part of the reason for the large-scale desertion of trains by the general public. Both civilians and servicemen had ridden nothing but crowded trains during the war and once it was over resolved never to ride a train again. A common practice was to place an order with every car dealership in town: "call me when you have a car--I don't care what make, model, or color, just call me and I'll be right down." And once the car was delivered, people drove everywhere.


No doubt; his father was a motor pool guy and I'm sure had some fun on the half-built and/or wrecked segments of the Autobahn in Germany during the war; the old timer told they got a Suburban because they seemed to be slow sellers at the time so there was a few on Chevy lots waiting verses his father's first choice of a Willys Jeep CJ-2A, which was near impossible to get due every GI wanting one...

And speaking of crowded trains, a WWII vet I did interview in high school a long time ago, told me the problem when he was moving around by train as an Marine wasn't so much the train was crowded, but rather he was next to people that he grew to hate after being in the trenches with them...
New Westminster to Amtrak 516, whats up with the extra 4 axles, over?
AgentSkelly
 
Posts: 1414
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2005 10:05 pm
Location: BNSF Vancouver Terminal

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:06 pm

This topic evolved into one addressing sociological changes between Gen Y and this pre-baby boomer. An auto is something that "Millennials" do not consider a mainstay of life such as did my generation. They are also more interested in "having experiences" than they are in owning and showing off a hunk of metal that simply is for "A to B" movement. When they embark on "experiences", most will involve air travel, but enough will be relegated to "surface" - and without an auto "there", that represents a new market for passenger rail.
Gilbert B Norman
 
Posts: 12897
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Aurora Sub; MP 18.71)

Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby bdawe » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:07 pm

I come from something of a maritime family. My father works at sea. His grandfather and great grandfather built boats and ships, as did their fathers - fishermen and shipwrights for centuries. His other grandfather was a captain of the Royal Navy.

So I always wondered as a child why my father did not own a boat, despite no obvious impediment to doing so, and I asked him one day. He tells me, "Son, a boat...is a hole in the ocean that you pour money into"

To a certain extent as a Vancouverite, I've come to have the same opinion of cars.
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
User avatar
bdawe
 
Posts: 517
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:06 pm
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

PreviousNext

Return to General Discussion - Passenger Rail

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest