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The big knock against high speed rail is, of course, that it does not run door to door. This is, of course, why the passenger air transport market is such a strategic target ... it is an existing fuel-inefficient mode of transport where everyone travels as a pedestrian. And a well designed high speed rail system will deliver the target market among pedestrian travellers from as close or closer to their origin, and drop them off as close or closer to their destination.

But those are not the only passengers that HSR will be catering to. A term I have heard railfans use for this type of activity is "recruiting" patronage, so, after the fold, I step through some of the important current, and potential, recruiters.

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Ubiquitious Marginal Recruiter: Da Car

People today in the US normally get to the airport by car, so the first reaction of most people in the US when an airport-substitute becomes available is going to be to drive there.

This means that substantial parking will need to be provided in the vicinity of any outer suburban HSR station, for traditional park-and-ride use of the station.

However, we should never look at a fuel-efficient mode of transport, decide a strategic core market, and then stop there! A substantial benefit of high speed rail is that it brings rail outside of the inner-metropolitan core and through the outer suburbs, where a high speed rail stop can act as a support to a wide range of pro-Energy-Independence local transport.

In the balance of this piece, I am going to assume that about half of the eighth-of-a-mile zone surrounding the HSR station entrances will be devoted to the car ... access, egress, and parking. Often this will be two-level parking with covered walkway access directly to the station, making it easier for the individual park-and-ride users to avoid getting killed by the other park-and-ride users as they access and egress the station parking.

Hopefully, as the mode share of private vehicle use declines over the next two decades, some of the space devoted for car parking can be recaptured for a more intrinsically useful purpose.

Core Recruiters

There are a number of established transport technologies ... though not all of them established in the United States in this particular role ... that are inclined to act as very effective recruiters for a High Speed Rail station, because HSR provides them with an effective complement for the local transport services that they provide.

The five that come to my mind are walking, bicycles, neighborhood electric vehicles, local buses, and local rail (of all sorts).

Core Recruiter: Shanks Mare
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The first recruiter is the transport mode called "Registration 11" in Grenada and what by those running the railroads of Oz are mostly thinking of as "self loading freight" ... that is, pedestrians.

The appeal of pedestrians is that they are a core market. A very large number of the people who rely heavily on foot power to get around locally will have a strong preference for the train over any other form of longer distance travel ... so market penetration by the high speed rail service among pedestrians living in the vicinity of a high speed rail station will be very strong.

On the other hand, it would seem as if we could disregard pedestrians in outer suburbia, because nobody in outer suburbia lives within walking distance to anywhere ... ... well, at least, practically nobody (after all, a handful live in small towns that have been swallowed up by outer suburbia).

In urban settings in Oz, where more people are accustomed to walking a few blocks, the high intensity pedestrian recruiting range for a train station is taken to be about a quarter mile, with a lower intensity recruiting range of just over 0.6 of a mile (and, yes, I have done the conversion from metres for you).

A quarter mile radius gives an ideal circle of around 19% of a mile. At 640 acres per square mile, that is about 120 acres within the high intensity recruiting range. With half acre blocks, that's merely 240 households ... with area wasted on streets, less ... with one acre blocks, only 120.

As suggested in Retrofitting Outer Suburbia, the key step in building pedestrian traffic is in actually building places for those pedestrians to live.

Rezone the area around the rail station so that inside an eighth of a mile radius, half of it is mixed ground floor streetfront business, 2/3 floor townhouse residential. Rezone the balance of the quarter mile radius so that it is three story stacked townhouse residential. If a townhouse occupies an eighth of an acre, that is about 1,400 households in the quarter mile to eighth mile ring, surrounding about roughly 120 households in the eighth of a mile radius ... more than 1,500 households in an short walk to the HSR station.

Of course, the zoning does not create the buildings ... building pedestrian traffic will be an ongoing, incremental process, over ten to thirty years, once the zoning is in place, and as the price of energy continues to rise. But permit a suburban village to emerge around a high speed rail stop, and in the energy cost conditions we will be facing over the next twenty years, it will emerge.

It is important to ensure that access to the station is pedestrian friendly ... in part for the direct use of the station by local residents, and in part to maintain the connection between the station and the small commercial precinct surrounding it. This has to be built in from the ground up, and certainly warrants funding as an aspect of the station infrastructure itself.

Core Recruiter: The Bike
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To get improved mode share for cycle-and-ride transport, there needs to be infrastructure support. As was discovered in the first bicycle boom at the turn of the last century, effective bicycle transportation requires paved roads ... dirt or gravel roads are not nearly as ineffective. Luckily, most of outer suburbia is equipped with a suitable network of bike paths, connecting to each household in the area ... these bike paths are called "streets". So the infrastructure is already in place.

Some cyclists on arriving at the station will bring their bike with them on the train. However, others will require parking, and a generous amount of both cycle-post parking and cycle lockers must be provided.

The greater range of the bicycle means that it can provide a useful supplement to pedestrian traffic, even if only a relatively small share of the population adopt it. Taking 5 times the pedestrian recruiting range as the core bicycle recruiting range gives a radius of 1.25 miles ... the ring from  a quarter to one and a quarter miles is about 4.7 square miles, or 3000 acres. With half acre blocks, that is 6000 households.

Even without infilling, if bicycles can gain a mode share of 5%, then that adds 300 households to the self-powered recruiting range of the station, more than 15% on top of the core pedestrian households ... raising it to over 1,800.

Further, the effective range of the bike is dependent on the strength of the rider. Assuming the same 5:1 ratio for the outer recruiting zone, then the outer recruiting "ring" is 1,600 acress, or 3,200 households, plus, with half acre blocks. If 1% of transport mode share was taken up by these "strong riders", then that would push the effective non-motorized transport market to over 2,000 households.

Core Recruiter: Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
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This core recruiter is newer technology than the more than century old bike, and the Shanks Pony from as long as we have been around (how many millenia is, of course, is subject to some debate among the Republican Presidential candidates) ... but in the niche of getting around complexes, sprawling stadium parking lots, and similar tasks, it is a well established technology.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles have a substantial part of their niche defined by the National Highway Traffice Safety Administration definition of a "low speed vehicle":

low-speed vehicles (as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) are capable of up to 25 mph. Low-speed vehicles must have seatbelts, windshields, turn signals, headlights, brake lights and other safety equipment that golf cars don't require. NEVs are designed to be used in residential areas with low density traffic and low speed zones. With a top speed of 25 mph, low-speed vehicles can be used on streets with a posted 35 mph speed limit or less.

NEV's are street legal on 35mph or less streets, but unlike bikes are not normally legal to operate on higher speed avenues and highways. This makes it important to ensure that there is access to the train station via a network of 35mph routes.

The train station can encourage the use of NEV's by providing special parking close to the station for ultra-compact vehicles, and providing a charge station were a driver of a NEV can park&plug&ride.

Assume an average operating speed of 20mph, and a core recruiting radius of 15 minutes ... or 5 miles. With half acre blocks, that gives more than 100,000 households in the core recruiting radius. Turn 1% of those on to NEV's, and that is up to 1,000 additional core market households ... turn 5% on, and its up to 5,000.

Variety, of course, is the hallmark of a focus on high energy efficiency, since one-size-fits-all tends to be one-size-wastes-always. Also lying within this general niche are electric bikes and communities including a dedicated alternative path network for golf-carts.

Core Recruiter: Local Bus
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Of course, some people are not in a position to walk a quarter mile to the station, and we will be building up both cycle-and-ride and park-plug-and-ride use of the HSR station over a decade or more to get the types of mode shares described in those sections.

Meanwhile, the first resort for providing an alternative to cars in outersuburbia is bus service. From personal observation, this is presently very heavily biased toward a mix of college, very low income, and wheelchair riders, but our experience in the US seems to have been that bus ridership can shift toward the mainstream as gas prices hit unaccustomed levels.

And it is in this respect that local buses and a HSR station can often be the best of friends. Part of the very successful re-introduction of commuter rail to Perth, Australia, was a system of short local bus routes tightly integrated to the service schedule at the local rail station. For some reason, people that would not dream of getting on a bus to go shopping will not blink twice at hopping onto a bus for a five minute ride to the local station.

I'm not sure why the stigma associated with riding the bus is so easily waved off with, "I've got a train to catch". This may be mysteriously connected to the psychology in which someone over the age of 30 riding a bus to get downtown is a failure (to specialized Maggie Thatcher's famous turn of phrase), but a fifty year old in a suit and tie will readily hop on a downtown free circulator bus in distinctive livery to get to a lunchtime eatery.

On the one hand, the local bus has a greater top speed than the NEV ... but on the other hand, there is scheduling leeway required if it is going to arrive reliably in advance of the departing train. So as a rough guestimate, I'm happy to take the 100,000 houses in the radius of the LEV, and aim for a similar 1%-5% mode share in people who would use the bus to reach the HSR station.

Core Recruiter: Local Rail
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A major advantage of local rail is that it can often share the HSR station, allowing on-platform transfers between the HSR and local rail. Local rail that does not run on standard rail can normally be integrated comfortably with dedicated transfer stations.

Of course, one of the benefits of local rail is that the local core recruiter net surrounding the HSR station can be replicated around each of the stations of the local rail system:

  • Each can be zoned for a donut of higher density stacked townhouse housing surrounding a mixed commercial/residential core
  • Each provides the center of a wider ring of cycle-friendly access to the station
  • Each provides the target for NEV's in the vicinity
  • Each provides an traffic driver and interchange anchor for a system of short, local bus routes.

Of course, the Route Matrix Revolution applies to local rail at the HSR stop as well. If one local rail line is along the corridor that is carrying the HSR, then the HSR station is a natural location for another local rail to intersect from a different line of travel. The local transport centers focused on a local rail station can radiate out from the HSR station in multiple directions.

New Recruiter Technologies

Of course, these are just established technologies. There are a number of new transport systems coming down the pike that could serve as effective recruiters for HSR stations, but there are three that I would like to single out for mention.

Pluggable Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Regular HEV's gain two advantages from the battery-electric component of their drive train. The first is the greater efficiency of running combustion engines at a steady pace, and second is the energy recycling from recapturing energy while breaking that can be used again when re-starting.

Pluggable hybrid electric vehicles also gain from the greater energy efficiency of all-electric traction and from the cost savings available when buying electric power off-peak ... but only for the portion of the journey that takes place on stored electric power.


This means that if the normal drive to the station and back, plus sidetrips, falls within the normal all-electric range of the PHEV, the HSR station offers a natural complement to reliance on the PHEV for local driving. Just as with NEV's, this can be extended further and made sticker by providing park-and-plug-and-ride parking, in which the HSR user would pull in, deposit funds or leave an authorization for the electricity stored by the car, and head off to catch the train.


I have mentioned the Aerobus system previous, in Retrofitting Outer Suburbia. In essence, the system involves laying light rail on suspension cable, with the vehicle consisting of a passenger compartment suspended below an enclosed pod that contain the motors and wheels. This allows for a suspended vehicle with capital costs similar to a light rail vehicle installed into an already available right of way.

This system never got beyond pilot test status in the West, but its cost advantages and the relative simplicity of crossing water with the Aerobus has won the company two contracts in China ... one in a "Three-Rivers" urban setting, and another to connect an island city with the neighboring mainland.


This is an especially appealing option for providing a local rail system that cuts across the HSR corridor, where there is no suitable Right of Way available. Individual pylons about 600 feet apart provides for the lowest capital costs, but if there are tricky clearances, its possible for individual pylons to be up to 2,000 feet apart.

Running an Aerobus system across a rail corridor would allow an Aerobus island platform to have direct ramp / stairs / escalator and elevator connection to two or more rail platforms underneath. Since it is common for major employment centers like Hospitals, Universities, Shopping Malls and Office parks to be located at some distance from existing rail corridors, and an Aerobus system can provide service closer to the door than the average car in the parking lot.


This vehicle, being developed in Japan, functions on the same principle of track maintenance vehicles that can get around track breaks by driving on the road. It has rubber wheels for running on the road, and steel wheels for running on the track. A short access siding would normally be the only new infrastructure required. title=

This, of course, can get over the passenger home side of the "door to door" equation, allowing a service that a passenger could book to stop in front of their house, to be let off directly at the HSR station platform. It is also appealing for small towns that have grown away from their original rail-orientation ... instead of bringing a new rail line to the people, bring the people to the existing rail line.

On-call mini-bus (UPDATE)
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This core recruiter was brought to my attention by das monde, who diaried on it on 31 January in A transport service to reduce CO2 emissions.

The On-Call mini-bus combined the conventional Dial-A-Ride with an on-call taxi service. The conventional dial-a-ride simplified the logistics of the process with notional routes served by the dial-a-ride service and lead times of a day or longer. The On-Call mini-bus uses modern logistics mapping and GPS tracking technology to create the bus route on the fly, in response to demand.

From the user perspective, the next available service or service with a target pick up time will be available from mobile phone or internet, or by conventional telephone ... and the bus service can automatically inform the user of when the service will be picking up by SMS or email.

Your Turn

Now I throw the floor open. What are your ideas for effective Recruiters for HSR system ... and, yes, irrespective of my framing of this as a hypothetical outer-suburban HSR station, you can place your HSR station where you like ... in the middle of downtown, in a traditional cross-roads small town, or even, if you wish, in a tunnel station underneath the main terminal building of the international airport.

Originally posted to BruceMcF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 02:56 PM PDT.


Which is your favorite HSR recruiter

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| 90 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  All Aboard! ... pay in tips, comments, ... (22+ / 0-)

    ... rebukes, extensions, modifications, and indeed all manner of information interchange. and Energize America

    by BruceMcF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 02:47:14 PM PDT

    •  thank goodness for diary rescue (0+ / 0-)

      I almost missed this.

      Kos has got to start splitting it up into subject areas. . .

      domestic politics
      international / war
      environmental news

      at the very least.
      I miss half the good enviro diaries.  

      Kossacks can make a huge difference in uniting in activism for public transit.

  •  Combining bikes with trains (8+ / 0-)

    What is especially helpful is when the transportation system combines bicycles with trains. When I can take my bike on the local light rail to Union Station. Then place my bike and myself on a passenger train to another city, then I have dramatically extended the range I can travel by bike.

  •  Great diary. thanks! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Motorcycles! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, BruceMcF

    Why does everyone always forget about motorcycles?

    Edwards-Richardson 2008

    by TekBoss on Wed May 16, 2007 at 03:25:43 PM PDT

  •  The elevator (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zeke L, ormondotvos, A Siegel

    The most popular and perhaps most
    efficient public transit conveyance is
    the elevator. Taken for granted and

    And at your transit villages, dare I
    suggest a few ultra-urban spires,
    with elevators taking people to
    their apartments 30 or 40 stories
    in the sky.

    I happen to live in an apartment
    on the 33rd floor, in a building only
    a block or two from subway stations.
    It's almost perfect.

    And yes, I know my neighbors.
    Whatever negatives the ignorant
    have spread about high-rise living,
    it just ain't so.

    Probably the worst thing about
    living in a high-rise building is that
    we live better than ground-dwellers,
    and it sometimes seems that they
    hate us for it. Therefore the usual
    zoning ordinance prohibiting any
    high-density construction.

    Oh yeah. And the suburbanites on
    the zoning boards are afraid that
    a high-rise builiding could somehow
    fill up with undesirables of color. You
    know, they didn't move to the burbs
    to be followed by the kind of people
    who woud live in public housing, for
    gods sake.

    But maybe enough empty nesters have
    moved back to the cities, into high-priced
    high-rise apartment buidings, that even
    suburban zoning boards could now
    consider a few towers near transit stops.

    •  You certainly dare suggest it. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, jqb, ormondotvos, A Siegel

      I find it perposterous to believe that 40 story buildings will suddenly rise up in the middle of outer suburbia, but there should be no hesitation in suggesting it.

      Towers make no sense in the outer suburban context when you can easily get healthy urban densities (cf. Jane Jacobs, the Death and Life of the Great American Cities) with stacked townhouses at four stories, or three stories and basement, and even that will leave sprawling expanses of dead suburb surrounding the living outer suburban village cores.

      I would request, though, that the hard returns every six to eight words to stretch the comment out to high rise height be omitted. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 04:57:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Would you prefer? (0+ / 0-)

        I like columns of newspaper or magazine
        width. Sorry if you don't. But why is that
        part of your problem? Does the term
        "control freak" mean anything to you?

        Anyway, I can indeed imagine residential
        towers going up in suburbs like White Plains
        and New Rochelle -- oh wait, they're already
        building them there! Sorry you're ignorant
        of that fact and enraged and dismissive when
        I suggest it should happen elsewhere.

        So I ask, would you prefer to have readers
        and supporters (I think I've Rec'd your diaries
        three or four times before, but probably
        won't do it again)
        to do everything 'your way or the highway'?

        •  I said outer suburbia ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Turquine, A Siegel

          ... you've got to get out and about more if you think that part of New York is what people are talking about in terms of "edge city".

          I cannot puzzle out how I am a control freak because I prefer to cede control of the comment display width to be sorted out between the reader, their browser and the dKos system.

          If the punishment for pointing out that the column formatting gives the impression of being a selfish grab for screen real estate is that I never receive recomendations from you again, well, there's the breaks.

 and Energize America

          by BruceMcF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 06:43:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No joke. (0+ / 0-)

            I do get out, recently taking trains in Switzerland and trams in Amsterdam, as well as riding Amtrak, the Long Island R.R., Jersey Transit, and MetroNorth, as well as the subways, since, like most elevator-riding New Yorkers, I don't own a car. I'm even a longtime member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers

            And I repeat that I've always been sympathetic to diaries here about public transit and railroads.

            I'm sorry if I failed to grasp that this discussion was to be ONLY about new HSR stations in the outer suburbs. (In fact I don't find the term "edge city" that you use in your second smackdown to appear in this diary.) But I foolishly jumped to the conclusion that what works for planning of any kind of Transit Oriented Development, and the discussion of recruiters, would apply almost universally.

            Perhaps I was misled by this come-on:

            Now I throw the floor open. What are your ideas for effective Recruiters for HSR system ... and, yes, irrespective of my framing of this as a hypothetical outer-suburban HSR station, you can place your HSR station where you like ... in the middle of downtown, in a traditional cross-roads small town, or even, if you wish, in . . .

            New Rochelle and White Plains (emphasis added) lie outside the city of New York, in Westchester County. These older inner suburbs are what they are today because of their status as important stops on the commuter rail lines. In that way they mght be models for future transit oriented development.

            And of course the Acelas and Metroliners stop at MetroPark in New Jersey, which was built to be a station for the outer suburbs. I'll take another look next time I'm on the way to D.C., but I seem to remember that high-rise office buildings now cluster around it. I don't see it's beyond the pale of discussion that residential spires could be accepted there as well.

            Now as for this swipe:

            pointing out that the column formatting gives the impression of being a selfish grab for screen real estate

            It's quite a long diary,
            with subheads and
            photographs (hey, including
            one of high-rise buildings).
            You need not begrudge
            the space occupied by
            any comment on it. And
            doesn't it take up the same
            amount of space whether
            vertical or horizontal?
            The total word count,
            the character count,
            the number of pixels,
            all remain the same.
            So share the wealth!
            And the very narrow
            formatting still seems to
            fit the subject matter, even
            as I look at it once again.
            The comment was headed
            The elevator.
            You know, elevator shafts
            are tall and narrow, and . . .
            oh, nevermind. Better to
            have text illustrating sprawl.

            •  You are the one who situated the towers ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ... out in outer suburbia:

              And at your transit villages, dare I suggest a few ultra-urban spires, with elevators taking people to their apartments 30 or 40 stories in the sky.

              And I don't "my" transit villages were left in any way obscure:

              A quarter mile radius gives an ideal circle of around 19% of a mile. At 640 acres per square mile, that is about 120 acres within the high intensity recruiting range. With half acre blocks, that's merely 240 households ... with area wasted on streets, less ... with one acre blocks, only 120.

              As suggested in Retrofitting Outer Suburbia, the key step in building pedestrian traffic is in actually building places for those pedestrians to live.

              I still think that the idea of jumping from 1/2 to 1 acre block suburban sprawl directly to 40 story towers in one step is silly.


              Oh yeah. And the suburbanites on the zoning boards are afraid that a high-rise builiding could somehow fill up with undesirables of color. You know, they didn't move to the burbs to be followed by the kind of people who woud live in public housing, for gods sake.

              I don't see that adopting an arrogant attitude of superiority to the people living in outer suburbia is the most effective way of persuading them to modify zoning in a direction that supports greater Energy Independence.

              And finally

              And doesn't it take up the same amount of space whether vertical or horizontal?

              Of course it takes up far more space when laid out vertically than when allowing the system to lay out the paragraphs. Each line takes up the same screen real estate ... spreading the same words over more lines occupies more space.

              Don't be a control freak. Let the system do the formatting and allow the reader of the content the freedom to get things set up so that they have the display that they want.

              If you want to set up a diary in narrow columns, that would be different. Anyone who didn't like it wouldn't read your diary.

     and Energize America

              by BruceMcF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 09:16:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Whoa ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zeke L

          BruceMcF is a great contributor to the community ... and is unfailing insightful in his contributions.

          And, well, the columns don't just annoy Bruce ...

          Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

          by A Siegel on Wed May 16, 2007 at 07:12:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  the control freak is the one who forces his (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          preference on readers, rather than letting them choose the width of the display.  Of course, that's the least of your offenses.

    •  Bikevator (0+ / 0-)

      At a local museum they have a Bikevator- a very small elevator filled with papier-mache creatures that kids can raise by using a bike to power a generator to generate the amount of energy it takes to bring a real elevator up one floor.

      It takes a LOT of pedaling.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Wed May 16, 2007 at 07:31:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I look into it (0+ / 0-)

        I had assumed that the use of counterweights meant that the lifting required was largely the weight of the self-loading freight, er, passengers. That's the way it is for most funiculars, which are sort of elevators on a slant.

      •  This tells us more about the incredible ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... efficiency of the bicycle as a means of transport, that it is able to take such a modest power source and convert it into far better range than walking ... a counterweighted elevator is reasonably efficient in lifting the load, and then (like a PHEV when braking) recovers some of that energy again when that same load gets on the elevator to go back down again. and Energize America

        by BruceMcF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 09:27:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for this info (0+ / 0-)

          As a bike rider and an elevator rider I'm glad to see this reply.

          There must be other energy efficiencies coming with elevator use. Apartments stacked one upon another are insulated top, bottom, and sideways.

          Those same savings come with low-rise buildings of only 3 or 4 stories, but isn't the effect simply multiplied by 10 when the building is 30 or 40 stories tall?

          The biggest energy efficiency from high-rise living is that a car becomes unneeded. The density of population makes retail and other services practical and convenient. A supermarket is across the street. The next block has a drug store, across from the pizza parlor, Chinese restaurant, and the dry cleaner. A bank and ATM are on the corner. Otherwise I ride my bike, unless the weather makes it impossible, and then I take the subway.

          It is the combination of the elevator and public transit -- and surely one helps the other -- that makes the city relatively energy efficient.

          I suggest this model works even in new transit villages, wherever they are developed.

          •  There are lots of ways to make a car ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... unneeded. The town where I am living has two supermarkets less than ten minute walk to the west, and multiple pizza parlors, public library, post office, bank, chinese restaurant, some more pizza parlours, within ten minutes walk to the east. I assume there is a dry cleaners, through I don't do any dry cleaning.

            If you have 1,500 households within a quarter mile of the business cluster, that is going to support a cluster of staple service establishments at the core.

            The people that want to live in a 40 story condo/aparment tower will move to the city to do that ... indeed, the HSR may see a small amount of reverse commuting of young people that prefer the greater excitement and diversity of urban-village living but found a job in one of the outer suburban transit-village centers.

   and Energize America

            by BruceMcF on Thu May 17, 2007 at 01:05:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Urban density people might buy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, BruceMcF

    I think urban density more like some of what I have seen used in London would be an acceptable alternative for many people. Townhouses that look more like houses than glorified apartments. Ones that have features of a house or include a small garden or outdoor space might be more easily adopted than featureless dense housing.

    The couple of more urban housing options that appealed to me had small outdoor areas, nicer architectural features etc. There are even some single family home neighborhoods they are putting up out here where the side yards are extremely small and the front and back are about half as deep as your typical suburban lot. The homes are all placed at an angle to the road. You can walk one of these neighborhoods in 1/4 of the time but it feels more like a single family home type neighborhood.

    •  Stacked townhouses can be very much like you ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      ... sketch, typically with a single car lock up garage behind each quad accessed by a back lane, a large patio at the back of the 2/3 floor townhouse, sitting on top of the garage block, a small ground floor garden/lawn for the ground / basement townhouse.

      And then outside of the 1/4 mile radius, I would not be surprised to see more infilling take place.

      The key is to start pushing for the zoning to define the densities in ways that create single family homes, simply sitting more tightly together than in the traditional greenfield development outer suburban sprawl. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 06:00:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Casinos (4+ / 0-)

    customers delivered to their door can be an incentive to get casino operations to foot the bill for the long distance terminal.

    Democratic Candidate for US Senator, Wisconsin, in 2012

    Runamarchy: n., the end product of corrosion of constitutional order.

    by ben masel on Wed May 16, 2007 at 05:34:47 PM PDT

  •  Cellphone integrated jitneys: small buses, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, BruceMcF

    preferably electric or hybrid (Toyota Highlander?) where someone who needs to get to the bus, or anywhere else, just calls the jitney company, and software dispatches the most efficient machine that will do the job.

    Each jitney/cab would have a Garmin GPS router built in and integrated with the software network.

    The driver could be lower pay and qualifications than a bus, and Toyota's high quality would give long service life. Drivers waiting for customers could be parked over charging coils, to save refueling, and perhaps even take the vehicles home during slack hours.

    This is a reality-based community. Those who wish to live outside it should find a new home. This isn't it. -- Kos--

    by ormondotvos on Wed May 16, 2007 at 05:44:25 PM PDT

    •  Ideally, in this scenario, that jitney company .. (0+ / 0-)

      ... is nestled in behind one of the residential/commercial building in the immediate environs of the station, so there will be a row of jitneys lined up for people who called for them from the train.

      You'd think they'd have a lightboard display showing the transaction code, which would be in the text message that acknowledged the call.

      Of course, this is easier to do in Europe and Australia, where there are standards in place for interoperability across mobile service providers.

      Actually, in this county (I am living in a small town that had outer suburbia grow up around it), they have a door to door service ... which will have a varying number of passengers ... for $4, but you have to book the previous day.

      I had a guy explain to me, while I was sitting waiting for the bus to go to work at the Uni, that his sister used it, and at current gas prices it cost less than driving to where she works. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Thu May 17, 2007 at 09:58:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, what a great diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    It's going to take me some time to digest all of this.
    Great work!  Thanks for mentioning it on the other thread...

    Practice random acts of kindness (favorite bumper sticker)

    by Sally in SF on Wed May 16, 2007 at 06:13:25 PM PDT

  •  What did you miss? (0+ / 0-)

    Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

    by A Siegel on Wed May 16, 2007 at 07:07:42 PM PDT

  •  A fascinatingly thorough discussion, Bruce! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The(good!) policy implications for sustainability are huge, and you've laid out the bones here that could be easily adapted to each individual city as this type of policy starts being adopted.

    Actually, Ottawa just scrapped a planned light rail project in December, and council is looking at alternative options right now.

    Would you mind if I emailed this to my city counsellor? I don't know that it would fit with where they're planning on going... but every little bit helps, I guess.

    Canadians: We love our pot so much that when we run out, we send the army to find more!

    by KiaRioGrl79 on Wed May 16, 2007 at 08:07:56 PM PDT

  •  parking challenge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zeke L

    Great diary, Bruce...
    You've hit many nails squarely on the head with this diary.  

    I commuted from Stamford, CT to NYC on Metro North for 4.5 yrs, and parking was the biggest pain in the ass.  The garage and outside lots were a feudal fifedom for their operators who loved to wield the control stick when it suited them.

    In one instance, my truck was nearly towed from its legal spot because the lot was to be paved.  Their notice consisted of a flyer stuck under my windshield wiper... which I never saw because I had taken the train to work to meet up with co-workers and subsequently travel that evening to Texas for a convention.  Good thing I checked my messages (on the high-tech home answering machine of the day) to hear the Stamford police threat to tow me... They couldn't answer why I could be towed for parking in a legal spot for which I had a permit... but I'll give them credit for at least calling.

    The last straw for my commuting was when in an effort to reduce the waiting list, a requirement was instituted in which commuters had to purchase their permit within 5 calendar days of the first of the month.  I had been travelling, and, as you may surmise by this point, was away for the first five days of the month.  I lost my permit, and would have to wait over a year for another.  All for a spot in a lot with no security, from which I also had a car stolen.  

    In Long Island it used to be very common for commuters to have a "station car..." with rusted, dented, peeling paint that no one would want to steal.  My car was a celica with 180,000 miles and very little original paint left... at least the thieves left me a crack pipe in the back seat for the "hey I got my car back!" party.  the joke was on whomever stole the battery that could barely hold a charge for more than two days.

    The other issue my rambling comment alludes to is that of the location of many rights of way.  In Stamford, developers started building on "the other side of the tracks" after public housing apartment buildings were torn down.  But very little else was being invested in rejuvenating the economy and standard of living for the poorer folks who still lived there.  Poverty breeds crime, and when you're trying to attract riders to rail through development around the station (great idea) situated in higher crime neighborhoods, a perception hurdle may also have to be overcome.  

    Impeach 'em all, let the Hague sort them out.

    by netguyct on Thu May 17, 2007 at 07:42:22 AM PDT

    •  It may sound odd, but part of this is the ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... tax code. One major reason we get sprawl is that we subsidize sprawl ... and the flip side of subsidizing sprawl is a tax-driven effect driving the value of higher density areas down below what they would otherwise be.

      This is from "Planning To Sprawl: Your Tax Dollars At Work" (the numbers refer to the subsidies for sprawl in the specific case in UP Michigan they are looking at):

      IRS Section 1031 Real Estate Tax credit, at least $2 million annually. This lucrative federal tax break gives developers the opportunity to buy property of equal or greater value than what they are selling and avoid paying capital gains taxes. One effect of the tax credit has been to encourage developers to buy ever larger parcels of land to build bigger buildings, leading to more sprawl.

      If this tax credit was capped at equal value per acre, say on capital gains of over $1m, then the focus would very quickly shift to infilling, which would provide part of the backroom pressure to support the kind of zoning changes I described in the diary.

      I did not focus on more densely built up areas, but the same one-eighth-acre, one-quarter-acre planning zones around the station can be used. The target solution in more densely settled areas is to allow everyone to get access to the core rail network from the block that they live, with effectively integrated mass transport.

      Of course, the target is not going to be reached quickly, so we have to keep pushing to move forward on as many different fronts as we can. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Thu May 17, 2007 at 08:16:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        you were focusing on any particular area, just a hypothetical area around a train station.  I naturally applied it to the rail corridors with which I am most familiar in a feasibility thought exercise.

        South Norwalk, CT has a rejeuvenated downtown area with apartments over shops and restaurants.. and a train station on the same line.  It fits the model, except for being bike friendly.

        I don't think the 1031 exchange is as responsible for sprawl as I think you're implying.  It's been just easier and cheaper to buy tracts of farmland and put up cookie-cutter houses on 1/2 to full acre lots. As a society, we have been "sold" on the "mericun dream' of a house in the burbs with a baseball-stadium-green lawn as being the symbol of having "made it."  Perhaps the houses would cost a whole lot more if the developments had to completely fund the highway expansion that invariably follows.

        Building in a tight, populated urban area is far more difficult and expensive --especially when you have to hire (depending on city) off-duty cops at double time to direct traffic at construction sites for the duration of the project (stamford, for example)
        In stamford, though, the new construction around the train station has been primarily corporate, with the intent of getting reverse commuters (NYC banking types) on the train.  UBS built a very large facility literally across the street from the station.

        Impeach 'em all, let the Hague sort them out.

        by netguyct on Thu May 17, 2007 at 08:55:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My hypothetical area was around an ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... outer suburban station. A lot of the same ideas translate directly ... some of them need a bit of modification/extension for more densely built up areas.

          On 1031, I would direct you again to the link ... its just one in a long list of subsidies to sprawl. Providing state/federal funds to build new sewer lines, but leaving local areas on their own with respect to capacity expansion / maintaining / rehabilitating existing ones. Flat rate hook up fee pricing regulations on utilities, which cross-subsidize more expensive per hookup sprawling development. Its an awfully long list, which is why that consideration of our tax dollars at work in a new sprawl development is so useful.

          We see the flip side of this in existing built up areas, because the heavy tax and government spending subsidies to sprawling greenfield development undermines the commercial appeal of redevelopment in existing built up areas ... subsidizing greenfield sprawl development is subsidizing urban decay.

          One thing that is common across a relatively recently established outer suburban area and a long established urban / inner suburban area is the benefit of mixed commercial/residential development in the immediate environs of the station. Passenger rail is very capital intensive. Spreading the patronage across the day and building both origin and destination patronage will increases the efficiency of a passenger rail system in almost any setting.

 and Energize America

          by BruceMcF on Thu May 17, 2007 at 09:50:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and one of the successful Ozzie ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... strategies in built up areas has been to build over the rail corridor and train station itself ... that would be an open straddle rather than an enclosed station if there are diesels using the station ... one thing that does is make for a building with the very best possible rail access.

 and Energize America

          by BruceMcF on Thu May 17, 2007 at 01:25:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    As suggested in Retrofitting Outer Suburbia, the key step in building pedestrian traffic is in actually building places for those pedestrians to live.

    This misses your meaning, in that when Americans ask "Where do you live?" they mean where is your house.

    The "living" that ROS is talking about is walking, working, shopping, dining, people watching, checkers, frisbee, reading, etc. You know - what people do in areas where driving is not the #1 mode of transport.

    So building places for people "to live" means rezoning areas in suburban housing developments to allow for mixed use housing, commercial and retail uses, and creating open spaces and greenbelt walkways.

    17. Ne5

    In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

    by Spud1 on Thu May 17, 2007 at 06:16:12 PM PDT

    •  Yes, but spoken softly. (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, getting a quarter acre up to urban neighborhood population densities does push toward the creation of a general zone where once can "live while walking" (and, given the obesity crisis, also walk to live) ...

      ... but it also entails "where do you live" in the sense that the outer suburbanite understands, of where is "your" house that you are gradually buying back from the bank. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Fri May 18, 2007 at 11:14:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I added the 'teaching' tag nt (0+ / 0-)

    The Gods are amused when the busy river condemns the idle clouds - Rabindranath Tagore

    by plf515 on Sat May 19, 2007 at 03:57:11 AM PDT

    •  Why do I keep forgetting that? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I guess because so much of this feels like co-learning rather than like teaching. Maybe 20% of this diary is in an area of professional expertise, the rest is sharing stuff as I am learning it. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Sat May 19, 2007 at 07:23:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, learning and teaching go hand in hand (0+ / 0-)

        and both go in my round up !


        The Gods are amused when the busy river condemns the idle clouds - Rabindranath Tagore

        by plf515 on Sat May 19, 2007 at 08:12:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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