Moving 70 people

Here is about 70 people on a freeway. It was running at more-or-less full speed, though on the verge of getting congested. It was a Saturday, so vehicle occupancies were probably higher than average.

70 people on a freeway

And here’s about 70 people in a single train carriage. It wasn’t crowded, though certainly getting there. (The same number would fit into a conventional bus or small tram.)

70 people in a train

Note the space taken by each. A four lane freeway has a capacity of about 10,000 people per hour (assuming a level of car occupancy well above what’s normal). A conventional railway has a capacity of at least double that (triple if you assume good signalling, and trains reasonably full).

Of course it’s not a simple thing to get people to switch from one to the other.

For the highest capacity public transport mode — rail — you first need to get people to the station before they’ll get onto a train — and it needs to be easy for them to get where they’re going at the other end.

On the carrot side that’s a mix of good urban planning (for instance homes and destinations both close to stations) and good feeder services (bus or tram or bicycle or an easy walk to the station — preferably not park and ride, as it’s very expensive and space-inefficient). On the stick side, regular congestion and expensive or hard-to-find parking (all by-products of a growing city) contribute too.

But ultimately we need to decide what we prioritise — continuing to encourage (and even force, through lack of real choice) car travel, or more efficient modes.

  • Note: the numbers were estimates. I zoomed up the photos to count as accurately as possible, but it was hard to see any people in the back seats of cars — however I erred on the high side. The train carriage number is based on doubling the number in the half of the carriage you can easily see.
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19 Replies to “Moving 70 people”

  1. If I may add a comment about car-pooling … the effective occupancy in certain areas is probably 0.6 (possibly as low as 0.5).
    Consider a parent driving a kid to school for 1500m. One traveller wanting to travel 1500m, but one car travels 3000m. Occupancy = 0.5.

    It’s even less if there’s a need to drive around the block, or if the trip back is not the reverse of the trip there because of one-way streets, etc.

  2. While I appreciate the sentiment, your logic is wrong.

    You forgot that those 50 cars are hard up against the next 50 cars and the next 50 cars. If those 70 people are travelling in a block of cars 200m long, then a stretch of freeway 2.5km long contains 875 people.

    Now consider the train. We’re told the maximum capacity in Melbourne is 24 trains per hour, or one every 2.5 minutes. That’s being generous, because most of the lines still have level crossings and that sort of frequency would cause chaos. Still, if the train is travelling at 60km/h the 700 people on a train occupy a length of track 2.5 km long.

    So actually, if we ignore the width, the two modes are broadly similar in capacity. The freeway is wider, but from an urban amenity point of view, both are pretty bad things unless you put them in a tunnel.

    As you decrease speed, the capacity of the freeway increases (I think) because stopping distance decreases as the square of the speed. The capacity of the railway remains the same, one train every 2.5 minutes.

    If you go to self-driving cars, the capacity of the freeway increases because they can sit almost bumper-to-bumper because there is no human reaction time involved any more, and presumably the processors in each car can alert the ones in followong cars what’s about to happen.

  3. @Francis Driverless cars are the latest supposed panacea to transport but in reality the situation you describe above where driverless cars drive bumper to bumper on a freeway is idealistic – if a piece of debris on a windy day blows in front of a driverless car on a freeway it would cause a giant chain reaction of cars slamming on the brakes abruptly due to no stopping distance.

    Furthermore, another theory going around is that driverless cars will pick up and drop off their owners and return home in the meantime. However, no one has given any thought to the energy required and the instant doubling in congestion that would occur in this scenario (average occupancy <1). Not to mention added wear and tear on components and doubling the kilometres driven by the car

    Don't get me wrong, I love to drive and enjoy a Sunday afternoon trip down the Tulla, but when it comes to moving thousands of people in peak hour you can't beat a train.

  4. Despite the contention surrounding the ‘mathematics’ behind your argument (as suggested by @Francis E), essentially a growing city the size of Melbourne cannot continue to invest in a culture of private vehicle centric transportation as the primary means of mobility. Good, safe, reliable public transport will be the panacea of Melbourne’s liveability and economic prosperity in the decades to come and with it the change in perception that public transport is just a second-rate alternative to the luxury of a car. The Melbourne Metro and it’s 5 new underground stations is a good start.

  5. Francis: there’s nothing wrong with Daniel’s logic.

    ” if we ignore the width ” – but you can’t ignore ‘the width’ – that’s the point of the photos, they capture a moment in time showing how much space is required in mode versus mode to carry a similar amount of people.

  6. Obviously there is a variety of ways you could calculate capacity, so here’s my logic:

    Road lanes have a theoretical capacity of 1800 vehicles per hour (one every 2 seconds). Four lanes = 7200 vehicles, though in practical terms it’s almost always going to be well below this. At an occupancy rate of 1.39, that would make 10,000 people — though the typical occupancy rate is around 1.2. (See Vicroads road use and performance, 2012-2013 Performance Monitoring Information Bulletin, page 25)

    Will automated vehicles increase lane capacity? Maybe I’m not following developments closely enough, but it seems to me that the “next generation” (eg the vehicles going mainstream in the next few years) will focus just on getting from A to B safely on roads shared with human-driven vehicles and other obstacles. I don’t recall seeing anything claiming they’ll drive together in close formation to increase lane capacity. That could be decades away. And as others have commented, it doesn’t solve what to do with the vehicle after the trip.

    In Melbourne a train’s typical desired load is 798, with “excessive” loading being described in some circles as 1100. Actual capacity (theoretical crush load) is more like 1500. If we go with 1000, then 20 trains per hour gets you 20,000 people per hour.

    Remove level crossings (so trains don’t lock up roads — note, happening on the Dandenong line soon) put in high-capacity trains (typical load 1100 with 7 cars, but provision to extend to up to 10 cars: 1570) at 24 trains per hour = 37,680 people.

    Upgrade the signalling too so you can get to 30 trains per hour (not uncommon overseas) and you’d get to 47,100 — almost five times the capacity of the four lane freeway.

    This is all theoretical of course. Even if you can get the core of your network running at this level of efficiency, as I said in the blog post, you need to feed people into the system.

  7. @Francis, I can’t even top up my phone without some IT stuff-up or another, another phone’s data usage meter isn’t working, my 2nd-previous energy provider had three stuff-ups in quick succession, ANZ just came with a letter admitting errors with interest calculation on an old account, the Myki system scanning was slow this morning (bad update?).

    All the above in the last 14 days. Most other weeks have at least one problem, too.

    And then there’s a whole bunch of criminals, and a whole bunch of greedy people, who intentionally make things worse – hackers in the first case, and web programmers who make prices (eg hotel rooms) go up and down like a yoyo (or shove adverts at you that max out CPU) – in the second case.

    And you want me to get into an auto driven car?

  8. @Francis

    “So actually, if we ignore the width, the two modes are broadly similar in capacity. The freeway is wider, but from an urban amenity point of view, both are pretty bad things unless you put them in a tunnel.”

    A freeway has considerably higher externalities compared to rail. There are more accidents, health costs, congestion and higher economic costs for using private rather than public transport.

    The noise and pollution near a train is significantly less than that from a freeway and once level crossing removals are implemented at 50+ crossings on our system not only will you have capacity improvements but the trains will generate much less noise as they will not be using their horn as frequently and many of the crossings will be partially underground.

    This analysis is very conservative in terms of the capacity advantages of public transport over private car use as it is only analysing the corridor not the extra parking (more capacity) required at both ends of the freeway including the need for widened arterial roads to handle the traffic entering and exiting the freeway.

  9. @Daniel, I much prefer your revised argument. You did end up roughly where I did. I will note that the people in the cars are comfortably sitting down in their private space and the crush-loaded passengers not.

    Can you push 47,000 people per hour through the four new metro stations? (You’re not allowed to count the other Loop stations unless you also count the 4 lanes of Nepean Highway paralleling the Frankston line).

    Motorways stop being a good idea when they are used to try to funnel large numbers of cars into a point like a central business district, an airport, or the country’s largest university. Melbourne has managed to do all three of those – it might be some kind of bad planning record.

    I agree that self-driving cars will not solve the problem of what to do with the cars when they reach the CBD. It’s not that people won’t accept the environmental cost of the cars driving away to park elsewhere – after all, that’s what the trains currently do. It may even be that people would be happy to wait 10 or 15 minutes for their car to come from a nearby stabling area, though this is already longer than a wait for a peak hour train. It’s simply that there just isn’t the space for those cars to stop and let passengers on and off. We know that because there is already pedestrian congestion around train and tram stops, where people are under pressure to board and alight promptly in a way that they are less likely to do with an individual car.

    However, self-driving cars *may* solve that problem in a “cluster” of destinations like the office parks surrounding Monash. For many people, that will be a more desirable environment than one with the crowding 47,000 people per hour implies. To me, it’s bad policy to start from the idea “trains good, cars bad” and end up with a dense-core city by default. It would be better to think through what we want and put in the transport to get that.

    @Alastair, the freeway is wider and needs more land, but the railway often needs higher value land because it is constrained by gradient and platforms having to be straight.

    @Kiwi Nick, you’d better get used to the idea. Google have had them running around Silicon Valley for a while now. They are around 5 years from sale, and an obvious case for wide adoption is the elderly who are no longer safe to drive. The South Australian government just changed their regulations to permit their use (it is speculated that either Google or Apple plan to test there).

    @Daniel, I think Mercedes already have close following “convoys” working in a modified production vehicle as an add-on to their lane assist, which already drives the car with no hands and no feet (not that you should). Cars can opportunistically convoy with adjacent cars that also have convoy mode. I will be surprised if this not in actual use on German motorways before the Metro tunnel is finished.

  10. “Motorways stop being a good idea when they are used to try to funnel large numbers of cars into a point like a central business district, an airport, or the country’s largest university. Melbourne has managed to do all three of those – it might be some kind of bad planning record.”

    This is the point, that their lack of capacity makes this mode (motorways) an incredibly poor and expensive tool for linking areas where you need much higher capacity. This is why metros are being built in many large cities around the world including Melbourne (if MM1 gets proper funding).

    “the freeway is wider and needs more land, but the railway often needs higher value land because it is constrained by gradient and platforms having to be straight.”

    During the Ring road widening works the bridge near Pascoe Vale Road was raised because trucks could not climb out of the dip. Freeways also need large amounts of land for entry and exit ramps, interchanges, separation of destinations (ie Westgate freeway), safety facilities and enlarged connecting arterial roads.

    Railways may need to be straighter with lower gradients, but I don’t see how this results in a need for higher value land as they usually add to the value of surrounding land and result in higher taxes for governments while freeways lower it, even encouraging businesses to move further out.

    “However, self-driving cars *may* solve that problem in a “cluster” of destinations like the office parks surrounding Monash. For many people, that will be a more desirable environment than one with the crowding 47,000 people per hour implies. To me, it’s bad policy to start from the idea “trains good, cars bad” and end up with a dense-core city by default. It would be better to think through what we want and put in the transport to get that.”

    Even if they were implemented tomorrow, driverless cars cannot compete with rail let alone trams, buses or even cycling. The differences in capacity are just too great and at the end of the day you will still have a single occupant vehicle that only marginally takes up less road space. Yes, we will probably see a change to driverless cars in middle and outer suburban areas and the world will be a much safer place because of it but it wont make our inner cities and major activity centres function more efficiently.

    http://gonzalocamacho.com/2014/06/21/better-understanding-transportation-capacity-roadway-vs-light-rail/

    http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/22803/a-streetcar-is-more-space-efficient-than-individual-cars-and-we-knew-it-70-years-ago/

    Trains are not good and cars are not bad, they both have their advantages and disadvantages, its not one or the other but rail critics argue that you need both when the problem is not that but the fact that investment is heavily skewed towards freeways while investment in rail is much lower and in the case of Tony Abbott, no funding at all because that is what we are used to doing.

    Trains are good were you need capacity and cars are good were you need flexibility. In inner City Melbourne and to major activity centres you need capacity and this is why our roads are gridlocked for most of the day.

    Currently in many inner city areas, private car use is subsidised in the form of residents permits and free parking for shoppers. This is for political reasons but amounts to the tune of billions of dollars in subsidies as the value of this land is the highest in the state.
    Additionally the use of the majority of our roads are free which encourages overuse and is a form of hidden subsidy.

    Melbourne needs to urgently reform our transport system to stop subsidising car use by implementing more paid parking, introducing an inner city congestion charge, reintroduce fare zones and off peak fares, encourage ride sharing, build more metros, bike, tollway and walking infrastructure (funded by parking and congestion charges).

  11. Cars can take people exactly where they want to go. Public transport can’t.

    You’ve already mentioned the problem of getting people to the station at the origin of their journey. There are two other problems – getting them from the station at the other end of the journey, and the time and cost burden ( for the end user and for whoever is providing the resource ) of having to travel by roundabout routes when a road journey can be a lot more direct.

    To get to their local station, people can walk, cycle, catch buses, park and ride, kiss and ride. At least two of those options are not available at the other end, and cycling is problematical, unless you take your bike on the train, which if large numbers of people did it, would become unworkable.

  12. The Monash/Westgate freeway carries more people a day than melbournes entire rail network and with freeway management has lifted occupancy beyond previous technical limits and lifted average travel speed/travel reliability considerably. So whilst it may have considerable land take/cost with 4 or even more lanes it pales into insignificance when you consider the land including stabiling/stations/maintenance facilities and massive operating costs of the entirer rail network against it remembering the freeway is carrying as many people and a vast amount of the freight task.
    When you consider the huge benefit the M1 project delivered to a massive number of people for around $2b and the likely similar benefits of the upcoming tulla project against the relatively small benefits to a fraction of people of the metro rail projects with its $11b cost it becomes quite hard to see how similar rail projects will stack up (to even get a positive cbr there must be some quality numbers work it would seem). That’s without the whole private investment appetite for substantial cost recovery through tolls for freeways.
    The reality is that even with CBDs recent growth, its importance in relative terms has continued to decline in areas like %of total jobs & should raise questions about investing vast amounts of money towards inner Melboure with its already fantastic transport instead of middle/outer or greater Melbourne/Victoria.
    For example there are large numbers of houses in places like casey which are literally over a mile to a bus with 30+min frequencies if your lucky, missing footpaths etc. (this is a city with 283k a bigger pop than Hobart or Geelong heading to 500k in the next 20years or about Gold Coast pop). Some buses & bus lanes in these sorts of areas of our cities real growth areas as it happens is just one way I’d rather seen the money more effectively invested along with tech investment to get even more out the freeway/railways (fss ran more trains when my grandfather was a kid before the city loop and yet with the loop and all the modern signalling available now etc. apparently we need a $11b tunnel duplicating other effective services to “fix” things)

  13. @Francis “As you decrease speed, the capacity of the freeway increases (I think) because stopping distance decreases as the square of the speed. The capacity of the railway remains the same, one train every 2.5 minutes.”

    Publicly available data on the topic is few and far between so I produced some illustrative examples for sharing:
    https://meltdblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/speed-step/
    The variable limits that are used on some managed roads are part of the network model and are designed to reduce the inflow to bottlenecks (reduce the overall throughput) so that congestion will not occur in there, it functions the same as a ramp signal but has the cars already on the highway queuing in motion. In free flowing roads without bottlenecks reducing the speed will only reduce throughput, but merging is a very inefficient process and where these bottlenecks typically occur. Melbourne’s highways are an example of very poor design with their merge/de-merge repetitions where microsimulation would suggest not adding any lanes if they only merge back in.

    You can also see the impact of robotic cars in another simulation:
    https://meltdblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/hiding-in-the-gap/

  14. @Austin
    “The Monash/Westgate freeway carries more people a day than Melbourne’s entire rail network and with freeway management has lifted occupancy beyond previous technical limits and lifted average travel speed/travel reliability considerably”

    Do you actually have evidence of this and what about all the parking required plus the feeder arterial road network.

    Do you think radial freeways could bring in the same amount of workers into the CBD in the morning peak that rail can.
    It would be physically impossible or you would have to decimate the downtown areas like the US sunbelt cities which have more dedicated parking space than actual building space.

    http://usa.streetsblog.org/category/special-reports/parking-madness-2015/

    “it pales into insignificance when you consider the land including stabiling/stations/maintenance facilities and massive operating costs of the entire rail network against it remembering the freeway is carrying as many people and a vast amount of the freight task”.

    Its the other way around, the land required to service the car is massive compared to rail. Just one freeway interchange would use more land than all the land needed for train, tram and bus stabling and maintenance facilities combined. In this case one cloverleaf interchange is as big as the entire city of Florence.

    Source: http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/you-cant-set-shop-side-expressway.html

    Factor in all the roads. car parks, driveways, service stations and other car related services, safety buffers and sound barriers and rail/trams are the most frugal user of land compared to roads.

    Page 14 of this source http://www.vtpi.org/landuse.pdf

    “When you consider the huge benefit the M1 project delivered to a massive number of people for around $2b and the likely similar benefits of the upcoming tulla project against the relatively small benefits to a fraction of people of the metro rail projects with its $11b cost it becomes quite hard to see how similar rail projects will stack up (to even get a positive cbr there must be some quality numbers work it would seem). That’s without the whole private investment appetite for substantial cost recovery through tolls for freeways.”

    This is just your opinion, can you please provide evidence that roads benefit a massive number of people while rail does not.

    The MM1 project will benefit the entire train network while also providing better access to the Domain area which is a key business activity centre and will also provide better access to Parkville which is a key education and health centre.
    Both these areas have limited road and parking space and are a very important economic driver for Melbourne and are considered strategic in Melbourne planning documents.

    Source: Pg 27 and 40 http://issuu.com/planmelbourne/docs/plan_melbourne_-_may_2014?e=9511360/7907109#search

    More literature on the benefits of rail projects.

    “The capital investment in projects such as Crossrail sparks a chain reaction in business activity up to three of four times the initial investment, enabling and promoting urban densification and greater urban productivity. Investments such as these can also provide up to twice as many local jobs than investment in other areas, such as roads, due to their complexity and thus the variety of competencies required.

    Such projects can also help to act as a catalyst for wider urban development, helping to attract businesses and private investment to cities. The opening of a new metro line in the French city of Lyon, for example, quadrupled the rate of urban regeneration in the corridor it served; the proportion of new buildings developed along the route that are used for commercial purposes stands at 60 per cent, compared to just 13 per cent elsewhere in the city.

    While large-scale public transport investment projects are undoubtedly expensive, they are actually significantly less expensive than the direct cost of congestion. Traffic congestion can seriously harm the competitiveness of cities, affecting travel time reliability and business productivity. About 50 per cent of the cost of traffic congestion is borne by business; it is estimated to cost the EU economy a staggering €100bn per year.

    By transporting large numbers of people more efficiently, public transport has a major role to play in alleviating congestion and smoothing traffic flows. If the external costs and social impacts of congestion, such as pollution, are factored in, it becomes even clearer that investing in public transport is actually good value for money.”

    Source: http://www.citymetric.com/horizons/which-cities-are-greatest-risk-nuclear-war-1586

  15. @ Austin83 “The Monash/Westgate freeway carries more people a day than melbournes entire rail network”
    You might need to share your numbers on that as they are a long way off what is published:
    http://www.tai.org.au/system/files_force/Vic%20Trains%20briefing%20note.pdf
    Places rail (all train and tram) journeys above 1,000,000 per day, and this blog linked through to a reliable source quoting over 700,000 journeys per day just from the metropolitan trains:
    http://ptv.vic.gov.au/news-and-events/news/ptv-releases-research-showing-how-we-use-our-train-network/

    Looking at numbers from consulting reports or just going to wikipedia has the Westgate and Monash each around 200,000 per day peak and there would be considerable through traffic double counted in both of those numbers but even those together and using an unrealistically high occupancy of 1.5 people still comes short of the rail journeys.

  16. @ John & @Llib the managed motorways framework contains a great amount of detail on the benefits of the M1 and other managed motorway projects (I have linked it below). Page 7 (16%to 19% improved throughput per lane). Page 9 quotes the M1 services more than 1 million passanger movements a day. Page 15 & 16 detail the 50%+ increase in throughput overall and the 19% to 28% improvement in travel speed over the 3hr peaks.

    Appendix A also has further detail including tat some sections of the M1 are now likely beyond 2000vph/per lane.

    People view say the Westgate and think the freeway carries 200,000 people but that thinks of the freeway like a railway delivering people to the CBD the reality is the freeways primary function is to provide access to dispersed areas outside the cbd around 30% in the M1s case (where it does the bulk of its work and where the bulk of the population live and work).

    https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/business-and-industry/design-and-management/design-standards-and-manuals/managed-freeway-manuals

    Payback period for the $1m streams pilot on the M1 was estimated to be 11days on vehicle operating costs and travel time alone.

    https://www.transmax.com.au/cms/streams-intelligent-transport-system/case-studies/city-of-melbourne-vic-roads-case-study

    There are real and substantial benefits from the M1 project delivered to the 1m daily users. The metro project will cost $11b without trains, more busses/car parks or improved signalling and won’t deliver anything like a 50% passenger increase or the substantial travel speed improvements that the M1 delivered in fact for some it will likely increase travel times. Grasping at WEBs like projected retail uplift given the variables that can influence such a measure to justify a project is a fairly questionable approach.

    As for land take at Newport, sunshine, dynon, northmelbourne, flinders and even Richmond and then all the land and parking at every train station the rail network would quickly take up a lot of space for its similar 1m passengers to the M1. The biggest wasters of space in a roads aren’t our high volume/capacity freeways but rather low volume local streets and parking. I’m sure if you added all the victrack land for the entire rail network against the land for the M1 it wouldn’t show a disproportionate imbalance.

    All this is why I say I think in an impartial assessment it may be quite difficult for large rail projects to stack up which imo has always been their barrier to funding.

    Also @fracis for traffic flow the best way to think of it is a bell curve with speed horizontal and volume vertical (freeway management tries to optimise flow in the top of the bell curve). Unmanaged conditions you usually have traffic slowing down from free flow as occupancy increases from the very right of the graph until there’s a flow breakdown and the speed flips to the other side of the curve which is basically the bumper to bumper freeway crawling. Recovery is also a concern without FMS as capacity/speed will continue to degrade but demand will keep coming delaying recovery.

  17. @Austin
    The argument is about capacity not usage and VicRoads which is a biased roads based agency that uses the example of an entire corridor and I am sure they are double counting to make their argument.
    VicRoads has made the argument that rail is very peak based and underutilised in other times which is correct as our train system is radial and has very few decent crosstown connections. If you look at overseas metro systems the capacity and usage is significantly higher due to better crosstown connections and better feeder public transport.

    “There are real and substantial benefits from the M1 project delivered to the 1m daily users. The metro project will cost $11b without trains, more busses/car parks or improved signalling and won’t deliver anything like a 50% passenger increase or the substantial travel speed improvements that the M1 delivered in fact for some it will likely increase travel times. Grasping at WEBs like projected retail uplift given the variables that can influence such a measure to justify a project is a fairly questionable approach.”

    The speed limit was reduced on a large part of the Monash after the so called upgrade which increased travel times in
    off-peak journeys and the same will happen to the Tullamarine Freeway once its widened.

    Its the road promoters that grasp at WEB’s to try and make their road projects economically justifiable and even then they could still not make the EW link get a better ratio than 1.

    Not only you have retail uplift from better public transport you have better access to jobs for commuters, better access to other services such as health and education (ie Parkville), less pollution and accidents, better health, lower land usage (in the case of MM1 a very minor use of land), reduced crime, allows business to concentrate producing better agglomerative effects and reduces the cost of infrastructure for the government. Not only economic benefits but social and environmental ones as well.

    “As for land take at Newport, Sunshine, Dynon, North Melbourne, Flinders and even Richmond and then all the land and parking at every train station the rail network would quickly take up a lot of space for its similar 1m passengers to the M1.
    The biggest wasters of space in a roads aren’t our high volume/capacity freeways but rather low volume local streets and parking. I’m sure if you added all the victrack land for the entire rail network against the land for the M1 it wouldn’t show a disproportionate imbalance.”

    If you are quite so sure can you please prove it and show numbers. Victrack owned land is underutilised and a big portion of it is not used for rail infrastructure.
    Car parking is needed at most stations in Melbourne because our feeder bus services are inadequate and it proves the point that cars are quite wasteful in their usage of land. Even these large car parks get full quite early in the morning indicating their inefficiency.
    In many overseas metro systems, car parking is quite rare as most people are in walking distance or use a feeder bus which frequency is much better than your average Melbourne bus service.

    In regards to the low volume roads and parking taking up a lot of space, this is the whole point of our previous arguments, the freeway is not self contained it needs arterial roads and parking and lots of other space hungry infrastructure such as driveways, service stations etc to make it function.
    In many sunbelt cities in the United States the majority of the city is swallowed by freeways, roads and parking. This is from the previous source from streetsblog and treehugger, if you have evidence to disprove this please show physical evidence of how a single occupant car takes up less land per capita than a train or a tram.

  18. An interesting debate. I’ll take a look in depth when I get time. At present I don’t have anything to disprove or confirm @Austin83’s central assertions, but I’ll just make these points:

    – Everyone knows more people travel by car than public transport. PT mode share is high in the CBD and inner suburbs, but is perhaps about 15% overall. That’s what happens when roads are prioritised for investment for 80+ years.

    – More than 2000 vehicles per hour per lane would be very difficult, at least in a safe manner, as it would mean gaps of well under 2 seconds per vehicle. (As @Francis suggested in the early comments, such a thing might be possible in the future, but is difficult with current technology.) Even if you can squeeze that number out of a lane, it’s still only 2-3 trains worth – a fraction of the carrying capacity of a railway.

    – To claim that individuals moving around cities with a 1 tonnne chunk of metal wrapped around them is more efficient than on foot/PT is simply incorrect. Yes, stations and stabling yards all take space, but mass transit is fundamentally more space-efficient than individual vehicles, and it’s easier to move the big space demands (stabling) out of the inner city, since it only takes one driver to move an empty train out of the way until the next peak. Remember that many trains stay in service, with each seat accommodating many passengers throughout the day, and often multiple people on a single trip/service.

    – Managed motorways reduce congestion on the motorway, but arguably at the expense of the feeder roads where queuing is moved.

    – Aside from space, never forget the other issues, around emissions, air quality, equity of access.

    – It’s really a question of how we want our city to develop in the future. Do we want more of the (highly liveable, desirable, economically prosperous) development we see in the inner city? The manufacturing economy is transitioning to the knowledge and service economy, and the types of central business districts that make that work can only be served by mass transit.

    As Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said recently: “a million people a day coming into the city; they can’t come in by car”.

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