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View Full Version : Imagine a world without cars.


Rain Man
03-04-2006, 10:04 PM
Okay, just for a minute, stop and think about it.

Imagine that, in 1906, the federal government, states, and local communities all said, "Instead of massive public investment in a road system, let's build mass transit. Streetcars for inside towns, and rail systems to move between cities."

Enough rails will be built to get within two blocks of any house in America, and any business.

In thinking about this, I suspect the following:

1. We would have lower transportation costs within households, because the costs would be shared. There would be massive economies of scale, so the cost of mass transit would be cheaper than that of automobiles. Also, we wouldn't have insurance and repair costs for automobiles.

2. Because of the scale, transit would be fast and efficient. There would be so many travel options that one could still maintain relative anonymity, and the classic American "road trip" would be the same, just in a different type of vehicle.

3. We would all have bigger yards and houses, because we wouldn't be investing in garages, and 10 percent of every neighborhood wouldn't be asphalt.

4. We'd have less pollution, and we'd have less noise.

5. We'd all make a little more money, because businesses wouldn't have to buy land for parking lots and pay for parking lot maintenance.

6. Because of 3 and 5 above, we'd either have physically smaller cities, further reducing travel times, or we'd have lots more green space.

7. We'd be importing half the oil that we now do.


Do you think this alternate reality could have been better?

Bowser
03-04-2006, 10:11 PM
Did we just watch Minority Report?

And there's no way to tell if it would be any better. But it is an interesting idea.

Baconeater
03-04-2006, 10:16 PM
Sure, if you consider a world without great movies like "Smokey & the Bandit" a better place.

Rain Man
03-04-2006, 10:21 PM
The whole concept is really kind of freaking me out, to be honest. The more I think about it, the more I think that someone made a huge mistake back then.

Thig Lyfe
03-04-2006, 10:23 PM
I don't like it. The opprotunities for public hobo defecation increases exponentially.

plbrdude
03-04-2006, 10:23 PM
blame it all on Louis Chevrolet

Logical
03-04-2006, 10:34 PM
I despise mass transit, 6 months in Japan more than convinced me of that.

stevieray
03-04-2006, 10:37 PM
Weird, just the other day I was wondering how long it would take me to get to work on horseback.

plbrdude
03-04-2006, 10:39 PM
Weird, just the other day I was wondering how long it would take me to get to work on horseback.


i must not be as weird as i thought. not long ago i was thinkin how small my work area would be if i was horse and wagonin' it.

Skip Towne
03-04-2006, 10:43 PM
I despise mass transit, 6 months in Japan more than convinced me of that.
Ditto. 13 months in Korea.

stevieray
03-04-2006, 10:44 PM
Ditto. 13 months in Korea.

liar, they didn't have trains then.

Wile_E_Coyote
03-04-2006, 10:44 PM
there would be no need for anti-freeze, but cats could be straped to the tracks

Skip Towne
03-04-2006, 10:48 PM
liar, they didn't have trains then.
Who said anything about trains, dumbass? We had mass transit by rickshaw in 1968. Seriously, we went to town by bus or taxi. But it was mass transit either way. A cabbie would wait till he had 4 of us GI's before he would take us to the base.

greg63
03-04-2006, 10:49 PM
...But then you wouldn't have slick talkin car salesmen and road rage. :p :D

stevieray
03-04-2006, 10:54 PM
Who said anything about trains, dumbass? We had mass transit by rickshaw in 1968. Seriously, we went to town by bus or taxi. But it was mass transit either way. A cabbie would wait till he had 4 of us GI's before he would take us to the base.

who said anything about being serious, noob ass?

cdcox
03-05-2006, 12:31 AM
Railworld would rule. I hate other drivers because they slow the roads down to a crawl. If I made the driving rules, people would get tickets for impeding the progress of other drivers. If you let a gap of more than two car lengths open in front of you, ticket. If you let someone in front of you, thereby screwing the 30 people behind you, ticket. If you brake as you approach a green light, ticket.

Mass transit rules, especially trains and subways. You get on, kick back and relax till your reach your destination. No need to deal with idiot drivers. I'm not as big a fan of busses, because the schedules are impossible for an visitor to understand. But rail is great.

Rausch
03-05-2006, 12:34 AM
I'd prefer a world without phones...

luv
03-05-2006, 12:36 AM
I'd prefer a world without phones...
You'd take away my cell phone! At least give me a laptop.

Rausch
03-05-2006, 12:38 AM
You'd take away my cell phone! At least give me a laptop.

I'd give you a kidney if every phone in the world just went right the **** away....

cdcox
03-05-2006, 12:38 AM
I'd prefer a world without phones...

Yup. If I wanted to talk to someone on the phone I would call them. So no one should ever call me. And I never call anyone else becuase I figure if they wanted to talk to me, they'd call.

Saggysack
03-05-2006, 05:32 AM
Rain Man, you would hate it. Bike theft would run rampant.

Instead of a parking lot, you get these.

Bug
03-05-2006, 08:30 AM
Just a couple of quick observations.......

How is a mass transit system built through the mountains and northern states, then kept open in winter? No trucks or roads to get multiple pieces of heavy equipment to the area....Ok, maybe we solve that little issue. How do we build a rail system for mass transit through the desert southwest? The canyons would be a small engineering challenge, but I also wonder about the sand dunes.
How large of an area would be effected by a flood? Hurricane? Tornado? Earthquake? Grass fire? Speaking of fire, would there still be firetrucks? Ambulances? How would we get police patrols or response? There is never a cop when you need one, but they usually show up if you call one, especially if you call him/her something other than sir or ma'am. (just a personal observation)
Then I also wonder who might run such a system. Please don't say the government, I'm hungover this morning and really can't even fathom the insanity that would be.
I think that the idea is sound in limited appllications, and can make an impact in the import of fossil fuels. I also think that we should be working on alternative energy sources that will make fossil fuels obsolete. Mass transit has it's limits also.

Skip Towne
03-05-2006, 08:40 AM
I think we should get rid of indoor plumbing. Just look at all the pipe we're wasting.

KC Jones
03-05-2006, 08:52 AM
Instead of larger homes and yards we'd have the opposite. Our cities have all been laid out and expanded over the last 60+ years based on the automobile. We'd have smaller more compressed housing and suburbs wouldn't exist for the most part.

Rain Man
03-05-2006, 12:53 PM
Railworld would rule. I hate other drivers because they slow the roads down to a crawl. If I made the driving rules, people would get tickets for impeding the progress of other drivers. If you let a gap of more than two car lengths open in front of you, ticket. If you let someone in front of you, thereby screwing the 30 people behind you, ticket. If you brake as you approach a green light, ticket.

Mass transit rules, especially trains and subways. You get on, kick back and relax till your reach your destination. No need to deal with idiot drivers. I'm not as big a fan of busses, because the schedules are impossible for an visitor to understand. But rail is great.

Yeah, I think buses are not a good idea for mass transit. I would never get on a bus in a strange city. But a subway? It's heaven for an out-of-town visitor.

Rain Man
03-05-2006, 12:55 PM
Just a couple of quick observations.......

How is a mass transit system built through the mountains and northern states, then kept open in winter? No trucks or roads to get multiple pieces of heavy equipment to the area....Ok, maybe we solve that little issue. How do we build a rail system for mass transit through the desert southwest? The canyons would be a small engineering challenge, but I also wonder about the sand dunes.
How large of an area would be effected by a flood? Hurricane? Tornado? Earthquake? Grass fire? Speaking of fire, would there still be firetrucks? Ambulances? How would we get police patrols or response? There is never a cop when you need one, but they usually show up if you call one, especially if you call him/her something other than sir or ma'am. (just a personal observation)
Then I also wonder who might run such a system. Please don't say the government, I'm hungover this morning and really can't even fathom the insanity that would be.
I think that the idea is sound in limited appllications, and can make an impact in the import of fossil fuels. I also think that we should be working on alternative energy sources that will make fossil fuels obsolete. Mass transit has it's limits also.

The Intercontinental Railroad was completed 30 years before cars were even invented. We've had railroads in mountains, deserts, and other inhospitable places for almost 150 years.

The emergency services thing is a bit more interesting. I'm not quite sure how that would work. Interesting point.

Rain Man
03-05-2006, 01:02 PM
Instead of larger homes and yards we'd have the opposite. Our cities have all been laid out and expanded over the last 60+ years based on the automobile. We'd have smaller more compressed housing and suburbs wouldn't exist for the most part.

I'm not sure. When I think about old neighborhoods like mine, yeah, they're dense and the yards are small. But that's because they were truly designed for the speed and stamina of a horse. I'm not sure that there was ever an era in American history when housing was designed for mass transit, unless maybe it happened in Manhattan or something.

If it could start from a planned basis, I could foresee urban development in a rail-based society as being a series of hamlets that would likely be contiguous, where homes are within walking distance and where commercial and residential areas alternate along the tracks. You have express trains taking people to the suburbs where they then hop locals to get to their homes. It's really the same rail system that exists in Europe, I guess, where I've been able to go from a hotel in London to a hotel in Paris without ever setting foot in anything other than a train. (Man, that's a great system.)

The bottom line is that I could see having suburbs. I could see also, though, that it would be so valuable to have land near the rail stops that you could end up with an alternating pattern of dense development-light development-dense development, etc., with the dense parts being built around the train stops. I think you'd have a lot more open space, but it might be a mile from the train, still with easy access from housing.

Edit: maybe we're defining 'suburbs' two different ways. After pondering it, I agree with you that we probably wouldn't have bigger yards and the "suburban home" lifestyle of today. I think we would have suburban development, but it would be in the form of small, dense villages.

Baconeater
03-05-2006, 01:31 PM
Walking distance? We're talking about Americans here, right? Jeez, I wish I had a house with a garage on the same level as the kitchen so I wouldn't have to carry the groceries up the steps.
And what about when I need 10 sheets of drywall from Home Depot? I'm not carrying that back from the train station on my bicycle.

IMO, we'd be less independent without our cars, and that's a trade-off I wouldn't be willing to make.

Logical
03-05-2006, 01:32 PM
Yeah, I think buses are not a good idea for mass transit. I would never get on a bus in a strange city. But a subway? It's heaven for an out-of-town visitor.

You really need to be forced to ride the subways in Japan going to work and coming home every day. Filled with so many people that you literally have people pressed up against you on all sides, yeah that is really f*cking pleasant.

cdcox
03-05-2006, 01:38 PM
You really need to be forced to ride the subways in Japan going to work and coming home every day. Filled with so many people that you literally have people pressed up against you on all sides, yeah that is really f*cking pleasant.

I'd rather be pressed up against these dim wits, speeding along toward home, than have them in front of me driving and yammering on their cell phone at 10 mph.

kcfanXIII
03-05-2006, 01:44 PM
i think that a rail only system, would not work. i think the evolution to the automobile would have been inevitable. but, i think rails could and should play a bigger part of travel within the US. imagine how much easier it would be to hop a train from JoCo to arrowhead, or kaufman. or from blue springs to westport. or from louisburg to the airport.

penchief
03-05-2006, 03:54 PM
I like to spend too much time in rural areas and the wilderness. It's highly unlikely that mass transit could meet those needs. What about people who want to live on the edges of population? Freedom of movement and independence are traditional values that would be hard for me to give up. Especially since I've done so much traveling in my life. Real traveling doesn't consist only of going from point A to point B. Real traveling is akin to hitchhiking. A person has to be able to explore for themselves and experience the culture and scenic value of wherever they go.

As someone who could be considered a loner, my car has pretty much been a sanctuary, too; a vehicle with which to transport my mind and soul as well as my body. Scenery, soulful music, and solitude allow me to put things into perspective.

That said, I do believe that a more efficient mass transit system would be beneficial to a big portion of our society, as well as being kinder to our natural environment (as would more efficeint vehicles and alternative energy). I just think that it should be a lifestyle choice based on location and need. Making mass transit beneficial to as many people as possible would be the pragmatic approach, IMO.

Skip Towne
03-05-2006, 04:43 PM
You really need to be forced to ride the subways in Japan going to work and coming home every day. Filled with so many people that you literally have people pressed up against you on all sides, yeah that is really f*cking pleasant.
I liked the novelty of being the tallest guy on the bus. I'm 5' 10".

Skip Towne
03-05-2006, 04:46 PM
How will I get to your house with all my tools to install your Directv?

milkman
03-05-2006, 04:48 PM
How will I get to your house with all my tools to install your Directv?

Mules.

Rain Man
03-05-2006, 04:48 PM
You really need to be forced to ride the subways in Japan going to work and coming home every day. Filled with so many people that you literally have people pressed up against you on all sides, yeah that is really f*cking pleasant.

I can live with it, as long as they don't put the men and women in different cars.

As trivia, I've ridden subways on four continents. Can anyone beat that? North America (DC, New York), Europe, (Paris, London), Asia (Seoul), and Africa (Cairo). There aren't any subways in Australia or Antarctica; what about South America? Does Rio or Sao Paulo have a system?

cdcox
03-05-2006, 04:49 PM
At the turn of the century there were local and rudimentary rual road systems. I. imagine thoese would still exist for local deliveries

Rain Man
03-05-2006, 04:54 PM
I liked the novelty of being the tallest guy on the bus. I'm 5' 10".

Heh. I spent three months in Seoul, and I was NEVER not the tallest guy on the subway at a little over 6 feet. NEVER. And if you were there in the 70s or earlier, you probably towered over people. By the early 90s, the taller people in the younger generation were starting to get close to my height, but anyone over 40 was flat-out short.

There was one guy on the basketball team at the college I was at who might've been an inch taller than I was, but other than that I was Big Man On Campus. (Or at least Tall Man on Campus.)

chiefqueen
03-05-2006, 04:59 PM
I'd prefer a world without phones...

.......especially at Chiefs games. Have you ever sat by anybody who was giving play-by-play the entire game while the person on the other end was watching the same game on TV?

Skip Towne
03-05-2006, 05:01 PM
Heh. I spent three months in Seoul, and I was NEVER not the tallest guy on the subway at a little over 6 feet. NEVER. And if you were there in the 70s or earlier, you probably towered over people. By the early 90s, the taller people in the younger generation was starting to get close to my height, but anyone over 40 was flat-out short.

There was one guy on the basketball team at the college I was at who might've been an inch taller than I was, but other than that I was Big Man On Campus.
Yeah, I was in Korea in '68. In 1956, the starting center on OU's football team was 5'8" and 158 #.

Rain Man
03-05-2006, 05:04 PM
Yeah, I was in Korea in '68. In 1956, the starting center on OU's football team was 5'8" and 158 #.

'68? How did you draw ROK instead of Nam during the biggest year of the war? Luck? Or were you doing something different?

chiefs4me
03-05-2006, 05:09 PM
.......especially at Chiefs games. Have you ever sat by anybody who was giving play-by-play the entire game while the person on the other end was watching the same game on TV?



uh, YEA....ROFL

Skip Towne
03-05-2006, 05:14 PM
'68? How did you draw ROK instead of Nam during the biggest year of the war? Luck? Or were you doing something different?
I was in the Kansas Air National Guard. It's where the congressmen hide their sons so they don't get killed. I got in with a high AFQT score. I was in basic training with Charles Robb who was dating Lynda Bird Johnson, LBJ's daughter.

Rain Man
03-05-2006, 05:33 PM
I was in the Kansas Air National Guard. It's where the congressmen hide their sons so they don't get killed. I got in with a high AFQT score. I was in basic training with Charles Robb who was dating Lynda Bird Johnson, LBJ's daughter.

I bet your unit was watching that relationship with great interest. If Charles and Lynda Bird get along, you're on easy street out of harm's way, and if Charles dumps Lynda Bird, your unit gets a parachute mission into Hanoi.

Skip Towne
03-05-2006, 05:38 PM
I bet your unit was watching that relationship with great interest. If Charles and Lynda Bird get along, you're on easy street out of harm's way, and if Charles dumps Lynda Bird, your unit gets a parachute mission into Hanoi.
She called him every night. None of the rest of us got to receive calls.

listopencil
03-05-2006, 06:44 PM
If we build Rickshawopolis then the terrorists have won.