Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

You’d think they proposed destroying all cars….

August 3rd, 2009

So there’s a proposal before the Madison City Council to gather data on how much people drive.

The goal is to reduce driving and make it easier for people to get around without a car.  There use to be specifics like a reduction in of 25% in miles traveled by 2020, but that was removed because too many people objected.  If you go to the link above you can see the currently 50 comments from some of my fellow citizens.  Most of them negative.  Which is really hard to believe because this is a good proposal.  Even with the 25% reduction in miles I would support this.  People drive too much.

I’ve spoken before about transportation issues.  (Here and Here)  If we can make it easier to choose a more environmentally friendly option, why wouldn’t we?  If a mode of transportation is easier or cheaper people will use it.

Take the Madison Metro Bus for example.  A one month bus pass is $55, less than $2 a day.  I pay only slightly less than that just to insure my car.  I own my car and don’t make payments but the average car payment is at least $400 a month.  ( $479 according to this article from 2007) That’s a savings of at least $12 a day.  But you know why I don’t ride the bus?  Convenience.  The bus stop closest to my home only has a bus there every 30 minutes on a weekday and every hour on the weekend.  In Madison it doesn’t take more than an hour to get anywhere by car or moped so why would I wait that long to take the bus unless I had to?  Answer:  I don’t, and neither do most of the other people in Madison.  The only way you’ll get more people to ride the bus instead of the car would be to make it more convenient.  Buses need to run every 10 minutes, 15 minutes at the most.  Yes this will cost money.  But the increased usage will offset that.  And if you’re running the buses more often they don’t have to be as big.  Why have a bus that can hold 100 passengers when most of the time they’re empty?  Why not use a bus half the size.

Another area we can really work on is location.  71% of people live over 5 miles from their job.  Half live over ten miles away.  (source) And if you’re that far from your job how far are you from other things?  Grocery store, doctors, shopping.  Just in Janurary 2008 Americans traveled over 226 Billion miles (source). Why?  Why live so far away?  Answer:  Because our society lets them.  It’s not considered wrong to live so far away.  When a former boss moved to the area, he thought nothing of living in Sun Prairie and driving the 20 miles one way to work on the west side each day.  I on the other hand didn’t want to buy anything that was more than 2 miles, and preferably within one mile.   I don’t think we really need, or would want to actually prevent people from living or working where they would like, but we can make it undesirable.

One of the reasons people give for not living in the cities is lower taxes.  That’s easy enough to fix, raise taxes.  It’s always bothered me that people who don’t live in the cities, use all of the wonderful resources that the cities offer, but don’t pay for them.  85,000 people work in Madison each day, but don’t pay a dime for any of our city services.  They use our roads, are protected by our police and fire departments, shop at our stores, and many times work at companies that have been lured here with city funds.  Personally I even look down on the people who live in the continuous cities like Middleton or Fitchburg.

And how much are we spending in travel costs to live so far away?  Those 226 Billion miles we traveled in January 2008 cost us over 28 Billion dollars in fuel alone. (assuming 20 MPG and $2.50 a gallon gas)  How much for all those extra cars and trucks?  Speaking of extra cars and trucks how many times do you see people driving 4, 5, 8 or more passenger vehicles with just the driver?  85% of people commute to work alone.  Yes there are legitimate uses for multi-passenger vehicles, but every vehicle does not need to be multi-passenger, especially when the vast majority of the time it’s only the driver.

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Are fewer options the right thing to do?

February 16th, 2009

When American consumers start buying new cars again, they’ll likely find fewer combinations of moon roofs, seat upholstery and stereo systems to choose from. As with better fuel economy, it’s a case of U.S. automakers taking a cue from their Japanese counterparts.

On the one hand it does make sense to “bundle” options into just a few different vehicles.  It’ll save time, money, resources, etc.  However, I’ve thought for the last few years that automakers could offer more options, more customizations if they would truly embrace the power of the internet.  Why have dealerships full of cars that may not have the exact specifications that a customer might want?  Send 1 or 2 cars of each model for customers to test drive.  They find a model they like, then walk inside, pull it up on the website and select everything they want for their custom car.  In about a week, they come back and pick it up, or have it delivered directly to their home.

No excess inventory, no attempting to choose exactley which features a customer might want.  Hell, no making cars that aren’t paid for, they could require payment before they begin building the car!

Honestly the only advantage of the current system is that you can take a car home the same day.  I think that the public would be willing to wait a few days to get the car they want.  The current system was set up DECADES ago.  We didn’t have as efficient transportation systems then, nor the number of options we have now, nor the instantaneous communication.

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I rode my moped yesterday…..

January 23rd, 2009

I rode my moped yesterday for the first time in over a month.  I forgot how much fun it was.  It doesn’t go that fast, but when you’re used to walking everywhere 30 mph feels like you’re flying.  Last time I rode it was December 12th.  With the weather we’ve been having it wasn’t safe, or even possible.

I don’t ride it when there’s snow on the road.  So any day it snows, or is predicted to snow, I won’t ride.  I’ve done it before, it’s not fun, or same.  In addition, the roads still aren’t safe to ride the day after, up to the 2nd day after a snow fall.  The past few weeks usually every 2 or 3 days we get more snow.

It’s also not wise to ride it when it’s very cold.  If the temperature drops to more than 5 degrees below freezing, it’s not a good time to ride.  The moped doesn’t run very well at that temperature, and starting it can take a while, huge strain on the battery.

We haven’t had snow in 3 or 4 days, and it was warmer than it has been.  I wasn’t watching the thermometer that closely but it may have even gotten above freezing.  It took me a few minutes to get the moped unburied.  I moved it a few weeks ago up near my front door.  There’s just about enough room there, and now they can plow my parking spot.  The battery is still pretty good, though it took some kick starts and a lot of grinding to get it started.  It ran well, though, once it warmed up a little.  I took it to the store and did some grocery shopping, and it started up right away when I came back out.

It’s supposed to get cold again this weekend, I can’t wait till it’s warm all the time.

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When are car companies really gonna wake up?

January 18th, 2009

((This was orginally posted on my Myspace blog))

Ford Fusion Hybrid to get 41 mpg city 36 hwy

This is the newest, most state of the art hybrid that the big automotive companies have built.  It’s 8 mpg better in the city and 2 mpg better on the highway than the Toyota Camry hybrid.  This is not the improvement that the car companies and consumers need.  My 2005 Nissan Altima got 27 mpg city and 33 hwy.  A 14 mpg improvement is not going to help anyone.

Car companies need to change.  They need to change now, and they need to change quickly.  They need to stop selling and producing inefficient vehicles immediately.  They’ve already announced that they’re shutting down for most of January.  Before they resume production, they need to be making new vehicles.  If they don’t, they will die.  They should die.  Another company will take their place.

Companies like Aptera and Tesla Motors.

Aptera is producing 2 versions of it’s 3 wheeled vehicle.  One is all electric, the other is a hybrid that gets more than 100 mpg.

Tesla Motors Makes a roadster that goes from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds.  It can go almost 250 miles on a charge.  That’s right its all electric.

Sam Walton said:

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

So that’s what I’m gonna do.  I am firing everyone who works for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Suzuki, Kia, and Mitsubishi.  I’m firing them by not spending my money with them.  From this moment I will not buy a vehicle from one of these companies unless it is more efficient than my moped.  If these companies can’t or won’t change, then I’m going to force them to change, by forcing them out of business.  I hope you join me.



So I sent a letter to the editor to the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times.  The Capital Times printed it.  You can read it on their website here.

The Wisconsin State Journal printed it with some edits.  You can read it on their website here.


And a few days later someone wrote a letter to the editor in response.

Great, but who can afford it?

A recent letter writer said, “I am firing everyone who works for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, BMW and the rest. If they can’t or won’t change, I’ll force them to by forcing them out of business. I hope you join me.”

The writer basically says that we should all buy a Tesla roadster which will go from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds or an Aptera, a three-wheeled vehicle that gets 100 miles per gallon.

Wonderful, with the exception of a few small items of concern. The base price for a Tesla is $129,000 and the three-wheel Aptera base price is $30,000 for a car that, according to sales information, seats 2.5 people. Since it’s a three-wheeler, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will probably require a motorcycle license to drive this vehicle and you’ll also need a half-a-carpool-friend to truly make the Aptera the socially- and environmentally-correct vehicle to drive around Madison.

It’s pretty obvious that this winter in Madison has already been way too cold and long.

— Kim Tschudy, New Glarus

Now I never said that everyone should buy a Tesla or Aptera vehicle.  I said that if the major auto manufacturers could not produce efficient cars, then other companies such as Aptera and Tesla would take their place.  I think that’s pretty clear in my original blog.  However since this writer was probably going off of what the WSJ printed in their paper, maybe it wasn’t so clear.

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