Tom Toles by Tom Toles

Tom Toles

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  1. Robert Landers

    Robert Landers said, over 2 years ago

    I love it when the ultra conservative on this site keep dissing France. The same France with the fastest, most convenient, and finest public transportation of any civilized country on earth. They are so far ahead of us in this area that we are not even in the race anymore. We do not even seem to have the kind of people anymore that can translate our incredible technological expertise (that placed human beings on the moon, and brought them back safely some 40+ years ago!) into an even reasonable public transportation system. Why, oh why? As a patriotic American that makes me truly sad, truly, truly sad!!

  2. Mark

    Mark said, over 2 years ago

    Been saving that up for a while or something?

  3. cdward

    cdward said, over 2 years ago

    ^He’s on point with the cartoon. The US passenger rail system has so much potential but is being held back. We need it, and we need it to be world class. Not only France but virtually every other wealthy country has superior rail.

  4. Robert

    Robert said, over 2 years ago

    Perhaps if rail travel were subsidised to the same level as air travel … who am I kidding? But I can dream, can’t I?

  5. Enoki

    Enoki said, over 2 years ago

    Trains couldn’t compete for the passenger market so they disappeared. No amount of government subsidy today will change how inefficient and under utilized passenger trains are except in very singularly niche markets for commuters.
    Wishful thinking is not a sound business plan… Except on the Progressive Left.

  6. Ted Lind

    Ted Lind GoComics PRO Member said, over 2 years ago

    Commuter train system infrastructure is bought and paid for by the government. Most do not even break even on operating costs. They make sense in high density corridors because of other costs they avoid. Europe has more high density corridors and things are much closer together so you see more trains. It is simple economics. Besides, we can’t even maintain our existing infrastructure.

  7. Enoki

    Enoki said, over 2 years ago

    Poor analogy TTM. Fuel isn’t the only consideration.
    The bus driver costs money because he or she is paid to drive whereas the car owners are not.
    The bus is utilized just twice a day, once to take the kids to school, then once to take them home. It sits unused the rest of the time.
    There is also the idle time at each stop for the bus to consider. The bus also has a far bigger engine to push the weight of the vehicle and load.
    Then there is the time value of the trip. While in this case it might be low in the case of mass transit it is often high as the persons using it are unproductive and idle for longer periods due to the longer transit times involved.
    Even in the example given kid number 30 may be looking at an hour or more on that bus to and from school.
    The result is that much of mass transit is inefficent and costly compared to private vehicles. Hence why it is often under-utilized and operates at a loss.

  8. DragonRydr

    DragonRydr said, over 2 years ago

    More to the point, FREIGHT rail is doing OK, is profitable, but passenger rail hasn’t been profitable since the 50’s. That is why Amtrak has taken over passenger service. Without it, there’d be NO passenger rail (outside local commuter rail) anywhere in the US.

  9. DragonRydr

    DragonRydr said, over 2 years ago

    @Ted Lind

    It’s not a case of CAN’T maintain our infrastructure, but WON’T. We have all the money in the world to bully other nations, sending our military in to force them to follow our policy, but we can’t educate and feed our children or maintain our roads and bridges.

  10. hippogriff

    hippogriff said, over 2 years ago

    Ionizer: Trying to divert attention? SNCF’s TGV is just one example. The German Schnelltrein, Japanese Bullet Train, etc. are equally valid examples. The cartoon showed the US flip side of the coin. As Norman Thomas often said, “I just hope when we have to buy the railroads, they don’t charge too much.” As with health care, the US is the only country in the over-developed world depending totally on private-profit corporations for essential services.

  11. Patrick JB Flynn

    Patrick JB Flynn said, over 2 years ago

    I have this crazy fantasy of a few of our billionaires getting it together and investing their large fortunes into the building of a modern rail system—one that could truly transform this country, and in so many positive ways. But nah, won’t sell with the base, of whom it would best and well serve. Given the problematic return on fossil fuels, it might not turn a profit.

  12. I Play One On TV

    I Play One On TV said, over 2 years ago

    Public transportation success depends on several factors. I used to live in Boston, where it is very practical, and used all day, every day. The main reason it was used is because it’s near impossible to navigate the streets in a car, and parking is almost non-existent. The only value in owning a car in Boston is to leave Boston. To travel within the city means using the T.

    People hate buses. They smell, and are much slower than cars due to traffic signals in addition to the stops. Also, a six-lane road with buses becomes a four-lane road, because drivers will stay out of the bus lane, so buses actually impede traffic in lots of instances. People love trains. If the tracks are planned and constructed well, they need not stop at intersections where cars/trucks travel, and can make the trip much faster. This was very evident in Boston, where both types of transportation were available.

    Buses are impractical. Only those who really have to ride them, regardless of scheduling inconvenience, ride them. Ridership is therefore low, so the town/city reduces route lengths and numbers, to the point where even the people who depend on them cannot depend on them. This is why public transport relying on buses cannot survive.

    Suburban sprawl makes public transportation impractical, but every big city should have a train system accessible from the suburbs, such as the MARTA in Atlanta.

    The reasons passenger rail is not utilized are many. Primary is the fact that the tracks were routed through many cities, especially up the east coast, and those cities restrict speed to the point that the advantages of using the system are nullified. Also, the poor quality of the tracks, and our reluctance to fix the tracks, help to reduce maximum speed of transport.

    Add some bullet trains, and you might be surprised how many people will choose to take the train instead of the minivan when they go on vacation or to see family out of state. But that would cost money, and we need to save money to go to the next war, and we all know that war is the ONLY monetary outlay that many of our “representatives” believe are worthy.

  13. Enoki

    Enoki said, over 2 years ago

    Ancedote is not evidence Nantucket. I can’t answer your question as I don’t know what the considerations that particular company made on that particular contract.
    On the whole, mass transit systems lose money. Most hemorrage it in massive red ink. That is why they are heavily subsidized by taxes.

  14. Enoki

    Enoki said, over 2 years ago

    The trip will generally be unproductive. Not everyone can perform useful work while riding mass transit and even when it is possible the system may not be conducive to efficency in doing that work.
    I also think most people prefer the flexibility private transportation brings. They spend less time on average in transit to and from locations, can more efficently perform many tasks (try buying groceries and riding the bus).
    On the whole mass transit is very inefficent for most people most of the time. That is why it generally is under utilized and cost ineffective.

  15. Enoki

    Enoki said, over 2 years ago

    @Patrick JB Flynn

    More like those billionares got to be billionares by doing profitable things not things that lose money. T. Boone Pickens in Texas was initially a big fan of “green” energy and wind generation.
    Once he discovered that wind farms were cost ineffective compared to natural gas, and other energy systems he dumped the projects he had planned as unprofitable. If rail made sense and money they’d do it.
    But, it doesn’t so the only way rail gets done is by people who are economically clueless and can use OPM. That is, politicians.
    Where I live there is a light rail system to nowhere built at a cost of over a billion dollars. It loses approxmately $8 per rider per trip and is government subsidized as a result. It provides few jobs and has not been the economic boon that its champions claimed.
    My crazy fantasy is we do what will work: N2N+H.
    That is natural gas to nuclear power plus hydrogen for portable fuel. We push cheap plentiful energy and give people the most individual freedom and mobility we can. We also try as hard as possible to marginalize government involvement in the whole process.

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