Partners
HOME    BLOGS    BLOGGERS    MESSAGES    VIDEO    AUDIO    REPORTS    RESEARCH    WEBINARS

The Dark Side of Tech Buses for Cities

Newest First    Oldest First    Threaded View
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
sunshine
sunshine  
3/2/2014 2:35:13 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: public inefficiency
@gagnamstlye ...I like your analogy with gated communities. Private transport for the sole use and benefit of workers of single corporations are like gated communities and very different to the buses provided by private companies which can be used by others. For example, in the small town where my mother lives two major supermarkets provide free shuttle buses which can be used by anyone from the centre of town to the supermarket which happen to be at opposite sides of the town. This is obviously intended to increase their customers, but because access to the bus service is not dependent on purchase at the supermarket, it can be used to get to other facilities including smaller shops and doctor's surgery in the vicinity of the supermarkets.

Of course whether supermarkets should be based outside the town is a whole other topic.

  

Wells
Wells  
3/2/2014 1:11:16 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: public inefficiency
It would be interesting to hear more about the San Diego climate change conference, if you would post a link or two. I believe the technology with the most potential to reduce CO2 emissions is Plug-in hybrid vehicles 'matched' to rooftop photovoltiac solar panel arrays tied into utility grids. It may seem counter-intuitive to (adamantly) contend that internal combustion engines employed in the plug-in hybrid platform will ultimately lead to less combustion. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that this technological match was entirely absent from the discussion.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
3/1/2014 2:08:33 PM
User Rank Blogger
cheap v amenity value
This is a very crucial point. If we are to create cities that use amenities effectively then those cities need to break down any barriers to these amenities and energy sources being remote or used ineffectively. How can we make urban centres cheaper for business. Do we need to change these 5 year aggreements you mention, can we get rid of them??

gagnamstyle
gagnamstyle  
2/27/2014 5:46:17 PM
User Rank Burgher
Re: public inefficiency
Hello all,

Sorry about being MIA, I was at the Climate Leadership Conference in sunny San Diego. 

Firstly, its fantastic to see this level of engagement. So many voices, so many varying opinions and...even in the cases were I disagree...so much passion. Wow! Its a bloggers dream come true. 

I am choosing to respond on top of this particular response from Sunshine, becauase I believe that s/he has really got it. Unless there is no irony in the comment, I take it to mean that privatization is no panacea. Public transportation is a very good case in point. Well utilized and well run, both of which have abundant examples the world over, it is much more efficient that private transportation. Which is not to say that private transportation is not needed. It is. But, for the commute to work, school ie the main trip of the day, its makes sense to pool resrouces. It saves money, fuel, time and the environment.

Tech buses, in principle, are no different from gated communities. Like the latter they are designed on the principle of exclusion of the larger community. They are basically saying that public services are not good enough and we don't want to have any part of it. If everyone and their brother starts doing taking this attitude then we have a terrible world to live in. Also, the same companies that are doing this, don't shy away from hiring graduates from public universities, benefiting from the expenditure of public dollars. Its just that they find it more convenient to dis-engage rather than engage with the public domain. For an individual it may be ok to do so. For employers with tens of thousands of employees, not so.

Lots of people have mentioned land cost. This is more a red-herring than not. Tech companies have to balance land cost with talent availability. The people that ride tech buses are not minimum wage employees. Based purely on land costs, the companies would relocate to Iowa. But they don't. So its clearly not the sole or even greatest determinant. Also, in my book, its ok not to locate in downtowns. Companies with great clout can turn blighted places around. There are many urban cores in need of such turn around in the Bay Area alone. 

Also, even if they choose to locate far from the core, the companies can make a small gesture of engagement (rather than the disengagment that tech buses suggest) by facilitating and paying for transit service extensions, new stations etc. That kind of action is well within their reach. In fact more enlightened amongst them are doing so already. Exhibit A - the South Lake Union Streetcar in Seattle - with significant corporate backing from Paul Allen / Microsoft. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Lake_Union_Streetcar

South Lake Union Streetcar

Wells
Wells  
2/27/2014 4:23:38 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Corporate power
The main reason Henry Ford in 1914 began offering employees the $5 daily wage was so they could afford to buy a Model 'T' and drive it to work instead of taking the trolley. His dubious generosity effectively undermined the competition and established a car-dependent market. Nor did he view public transit as a 'fundamental' travel mode necessary for guiding urban/suburban development. (re: "Fordlandia" by Greg Grandin). His monopolist intent was not unusual then nor have transit agency planners since then viewed public transit in this way essential.

The BART system for instance, is designed to operate at crush loads during rush hours and less than 1/4 filled in the reverse-commute direction and during off-rush hours. Development of BART station areas is mostly single-use housing, a development pattern that led to BART barely able to handle rush hour loads and not coincidentally, roads and highways also overwhelmed during rush hours and as miserable the rest of the time. BART station design is also useful for understanding land-use and development. Most stations are huge transit centers with large parking lots and noisy polluting bus traffic which discourages transit-oriented development nearby. 

Personally, I recommend the study of 'circulator' bus lines from rail stations. Circulators of a short mile or two in length require the least number of buses to provide frequent service from rail station to nearby destinations/attactions/services. Peripheral bus lines need only cross a circulator line at convenient transfer points. This reduces circuitous routes and redundancy near rail stations. Parking located along a circulator becomes access for services, retail, entertainment, instutions, housing etc, as well as transit access, especially with minimal transfer time. Please, do not harp on transfers as automatic subtractions to ridership calculations. The problem with transfers is the uncertain wait time. Convenient transfers actually increase ridership and between transit routes and modes. Anyway, circulators minimize the impacts of train station transit centers, which encourages transit-oriented development of train stations and surrounding area and could lead to BART train length reduction from 10-cars to 4-cars at all hours. The perceived need to daily commute cross-county cannot be met.   

 

 

 

 

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/27/2014 1:19:56 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Damned if you do...
Sorry to be unclear, Venks. I meant only that at first it seemed that buses, being gas-powered for the most part, aren't saving emissions. Then I realized that by keeping cars off the road, buses are indeed saving emissions.

kq4ym
kq4ym  
2/27/2014 12:21:41 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Corporate power
It's a compromise that may not be ideal, but how do we correctly choose what's the best way to form the "community" around or into corporate life. Trying to find the space and distraction free atmosphere might be on corporate leader's minds, while fitting into a city or urban community near public facilities and culture may be more directly on employees' immediate needs. But, the company for better or worse has the influence and the money to direct pretty much where and what employee life is going to be like. And pay workers enough and they'll usually go along for the long ride to work no matter what they really would prefer.

Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney  
2/27/2014 12:21:04 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Corporate power
I have to agree with you, Rob. Companies are locating to distant office and industrial parks for one simple reason: They're cheap. Every department, division, business unit, subsidiary and corporation is under intense pressure to cut control costs. Who wants the scrutiny or cost-justification that undoubtedly comes with a 5-year lease in Time Warner Center or the Transamerica building? (Or Vegas's City Center... ugh.) Not every CEO or company has the luxury of lining up buses for employees or locating its offices near public transportation lines, and I'd argue that outside the nation's 3-5 most populous cities, cheaper locations still trump amenities-rich locations.

PeterJ
PeterJ  
2/27/2014 10:15:17 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Damned if you do...
By coincidence there was a radio report this morning on US National Public radio about the Google buses and backlash surrounding them. Apparently the media is not allowed to view the buses, which some refer to as "luxurious." The report I heard accented the fact that they symbolize an inequity in the community -- probably more in an "in your face" sort of way...

Venks
Venks  
2/26/2014 8:08:45 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Damned if you do...
Amy, your point is well taken! I'm rethinking any objections I've had. In some ways, the downsides of campus buses is, on balance, not as much of a downside as promoting a thousand more individual car rides.



@Mary: I didn't exactly get you when you said that the downside of campus buses is balance. What exactly did you mean by balance? What kind of balance are you willing to see, Mary?

Page 1 / 4   >   >>
research
Smart City Money Makers
companies and solutions that are most prominent, and destined to be most profitable, in the smart city revolution.
How to Make Your City Smarter
Cities all over the world need to become smarter and more sustainable. But where to start? Download this guide to learn the first, proven steps toward making your city smarter.
all research
quick poll
Join the discussion
All polls
twitter feed
Future Cities Twitter Feed
follow us on facebook
Site Moderators
Future Cities is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
moderators@ubmfuturecities.com
directory
Designed to provide the people with access to green building products all year round
connect to us
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2014 UBM,
All rights reserved.