November 28, 2007
A Coming Future When Cars Are Not Privately Owned
Via Planetizen: During a speech on next-generation fuels, the Chairman of Ford Motor Company addresses the problem of traffic congestion and likens it to another long-time concern about automobiles, saying congestion will "soon be just as critical of a vehicle issue as emissions are now." He even goes so far as to suggest that the privately-owned automobile may not be the wave of the future anymore.
Fifty years ago Henry Kaiser said that the only limiting factor on auto sales would be the presence of enough roads to drive them on. Even more telling is when Mr. Ford states that the current model of the privately owned automobile will change.
"Pointing to efforts under way in India and South Africa to encourage consumers to use bicycles, mopeds and public transportation instead of automobiles, Mr. Ford said, ''The idea of individual car ownership as we know it today will change, too.''
Ford wants ''to be part of that -- not to be frightened by it, but to participate in it,'' he said."
November 28, 2007 9:37 AM
Peter W Says:
If Ford got in the business of making high speed trains then perhaps the federal government would be more interested in supporting it.
November 28, 2007 9:39 AM
Peter W Says:
['it' being high speed rail service, if it wasn't obvious']
November 28, 2007 10:33 AM
Uhh, it works the other way around, I think. Ford isn't going to start building trains that don't have a track to run on. The Feds need to be investing in HSR; don't worry, the private sector will be right behind them to build the equipment.
November 28, 2007 2:31 PM
Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com Says:
This is a rather perplexing statement on the part of Ford, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it, either.
I just don't see high speed rail trains with the big blue oval on the front in our nation's future. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Is he maybe talking about making Ford buses, scooters, mopeds & bicycles?
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge supporter of developing a high speed rail network in this country, but I don't see Ford seeing itself as becoming a supplier of the rolling stock... though, I realize this was likely a tongue-in-cheek comment. ;-)
November 28, 2007 4:45 PM
"I just don't see high speed rail trains with the big blue oval on the front in our nation's future. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Is he maybe talking about making Ford buses, scooters, mopeds & bicycles?"
Most people didn't see Cadillac building tanks in 1941 either, but the first one rolled off the line in 1942. About a year ago GM had a big public relations campaign where they wanted people's advice about what to do in the future. And I sent them a letter telling them that they could retool their idled factories to build wind turbines, and that the market for wind turbines was back ordered for more than 2 years, and so they could probably make a lot of money, get a big name among environmentalists, and not have to lay off workers or sell factories... I never got a reply.
But back to the topic at hand, I think Ford is saying he wants to buy zipcar. It isn't exactly groundbreaking, Honda actually owned a small share in flexcar...
November 28, 2007 5:24 PM
Terry Parker Says:
Obviously the Chairman of Ford Motor Company’s comments are driven by the fact that Ford and the other US Automakers are loosing market share to foreign competitors. This however is only the tip of the iceberg. Within ten years or less, China will surpass the United States as the largest industrialized nation in the world, and one reason why General Motors has made investments there building luxury Buicks for the affluent class. Like in Europe, the percentage of trips in China made by automobile is growing. As China becomes a more affluent industrial power, the number of trips made by automobile will increase even faster.
In 15 years or less, India will surpass China as the worlds leading industrial nation. Anybody that thinks that automobiles will not be the transport mode of choice for those who can afford them is being naive.
The US industrial base that built this country and gave us the standard of living we now have is eroding, fleeing overseas due to a lower production costs there and costly environmental restrictions in this country. Ford like other US based manufacturers is only looking to diversify because of the choke hold environmental politics has on industry here.
In today’s global economy, foreign oil is no different than buying a foreign manufactured car, a foreign manufactured bicycle, a foreign manufactured TV set or a foreign manufactured photo copier, etc, etc, etc.
To maintain a practical US standard of living, several things need to take place. The United States needs to recapture its industrial base so wages can keep up with inflation. There is currently too much of a reliance on government jobs funded by taxpayers and dependence on a service economy where wages do not keep up with inflation. We can not expect the government to help out until the environmental zealots are no longer in charge so US industries can compete for market share. Additionally, some foreign manufactured goods, examples such as foreign manufactured automobiles and foreign manufactured electronics must have an import tax placed on them at a high enough rate, possibly 10 to 25 percent, to discourage their purchase and encourage the purchase of goods made by US workers thereby supporting US jobs. The automobile industry is one of the largest factors in the US economy with more than a tenth of US jobs tied to it. If the environmental political forces and alternative transport advocates continue their push of socialistic reform attacking the automobile as a choice for consumers, the economy and family wage jobs in this country will certainly weaken and decline.
Instead of attacking US industry with carbon footprint rhetoric and continually advocating unreasonable higher and higher emission standards, man made global warming believers should be, as hard as it is to say, devising incentives to control population growth - possibly even looking at capping it. Even though global warming is also viewed as a natural occurrence as demonstrated 15,000 years ago when melting ice flows from the last ice age created the Columbia River Gorge; the simple fact is the world is fast becoming over populated putting a strain on natural resources. No cost prohibitive web of streetcars, and no warehousing of people in dense communities can resolve such an over population reality.
November 28, 2007 6:40 PM
So, Terry, are you saying that even if we "do our part" to save mother earth it doesn't matter anyway because the Indians and Chinese are rapidly industrializing and leaving us in the dust? I am starting to feel that way - we try to reduce our carbon footprint, change our ways, all in vain since those Asian countries with 10x our population are ruining the environment with wreckless abandon.
November 28, 2007 9:53 PM
Peter W Says:
"We can not expect the government to help out until the environmental zealots are no longer in charge..."
Yeah, I can't wait until Bush is no longer in charge. I hate environmental zealots. ;)
"I am starting to feel that way - we try to reduce our carbon footprint, change our ways, all in vain since those Asian countries with 10x our population are ruining the environment with wreckless abandon."
I read somewhere that basically China pollutes a
bunch basically due to the sheer number of people there. Per capita, China produces 1/4 the greenhouse gases of Americans. So it would be hypocritical for an American like myself to tell a Chinese dude that he needs to stop polluting so much, when I pollute 4 times as much as he does...
November 28, 2007 10:02 PM
Not to mention the fact that the US alone consumes 25% of the world's oil.
November 28, 2007 10:05 PM
I'm just waiting until Terry moves to China, and renames himself Terry Park. Of how about Terry Parthasarathi, of Hyderabad?
November 28, 2007 10:21 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
Will someone please let me know when TriMet actually provides a service that offers frequent, reliable service to all parts of the Portland area,
that affordable housing in the downtown core becomes a right to any person seeking it?
Until either TriMet (and its partners, the City of Portland and Metro) recognize that not everyone can live downtown for whatever reason, and provides a truly responsive transit service to anyone within TriMet's service boundaries, or that anyone who wants to live near an abundance of transit can easily afford to do so, there will be a need for people to live in lesser expensive areas, where TriMet refuses to provide adequate service, and thus a need for private transportation.
And until the City of Portland realizes that downtown housing is well out of the reach of much of Portland's residents, it must understand that there is indeed a market for housing in Lents and Rockwood, and the outer areas. If the City (and Metro) is serious about building density and providing affordable housing to all residents (not just subsidized housing to the poor, but affordable for all) - it needs to plan for that NOW, build it NOW, even if it means a mortatorium on more expensive projects. Until that happens, you will see growth in the outer areas, and the city has a responsibility to provide equal services to those areas (or de-annex the land, which means it cannot collect tax revenue or assert control over it, such as zoning regulations).
November 28, 2007 11:26 PM
I find it highly ironic that you simultaneously attack alternative transportation "socialists" and then you turn around and advocate two highly socialistic reforms:
1. Protectionist tariffs, and;
2. Population control.
I've read your posts in here and various other sites and you keep stating your disdain for socialism, but I think the reality is simply that you have a disdain for alternative transit and its supporters.
November 29, 2007 12:47 AM
AL M Says:
"I never got a reply."
Did you really write that letter! That's way cool!
"help out until the environmental zealots are no longer in charge so US industries can compete for market share."
"If the environmental political forces and alternative transport advocates continue their push of socialistic reform attacking the automobile as a choice for consumers,"
"No cost prohibitive web of streetcars, and no warehousing of people in dense communities can resolve such an over population reality."
Now that makes sense!
"Indians and Chinese are rapidly industrializing and leaving us in the dust? I am starting to feel that way -"
I think you may want to take a trip to India or China sometime cause I think you may see that neither of these countries is "leaving us in the dust" as you put it. Most of both countries populations continue to barely survive!
"Yeah, I can't wait until Bush is no longer in charge. I hate environmental zealots. ;)"
"Will someone please let me know when TriMet actually provides a service that offers frequent, reliable service to all parts of the Portland area,"
Well I'll say one thing for you, you are very consistent! LOL!!LOL!!
November 29, 2007 1:28 AM
"Did you really write that letter! That's way cool!"
Yes, a real letter with a stamp and everything. I can't claim credit for the idea, it came from (I believe) Richard Heinberg, but I do really like it. The argument is that if we fought [middle-eastern, oil-funded] terrorism with the same level of intensity that we fought WWII, then like WWII, we should force car companies to retool... But since building tanks and shooting at an idea doesn't actually work, what would work would be to deprive the terrorists of their funding, which means stop buying oil from them.
Retooling Ford to build trains works if you draft the citizens to build the tracks, (and if I had to choose between a draft to fight in Iraq, and a draft to lay light rail on the mall, I know what I'd choose,) but the market for wind turbines, (and therefore, cheap (and reliable when combined with the NW hydro system,) power) is already here, GM could start today...
November 29, 2007 12:16 PM
In all seriousness,
Access to transit in the outer areas is a real issue.
It's a good idea because people in the suburbs invariably drive more because the typical commute is longer and they're less likely to have other services within walking distance.
It's a bad idea because suburbanites seem to have a cultural dislike of public transportation, and the population and job density is too low to support public transportation at a reasonable rate.
I'll argue to Mr. Halstead that in today's low-wage service economy, public transportation is just an important economic driver as are highways and such; even people who never use it experience significant benefit because of the increased worker mobility as well as a decrease in traffic (image if everyone in Beaverton had to drive to Downtown Portland for the nearest McDonald's or Red Robin?) So, your tax dollars are delivering you at least SOME benefit.
Anyhow, what can Tri-Met do to "fix" this?
November 29, 2007 1:05 PM
There definitely needs to be better transit in the suburbs. However, Portland's streets are configured in a grid pattern which make it far easier to operate buses and other transit services than in the newer suburbs which have a limited number of arterials and a large number of cul-de-sacs. Take the Bethany area for example, the only reason there is a bus going up Bethany Blvd. is the presence of Bethany Village and PCC Rock Creek, otherwise there'd be no reason to have one. Just my opinion.
November 29, 2007 4:36 PM
Jason Barbour Says:
This isn't another 'let's question the merits of transit' thread, however I just have to chime in:
...(I)n today's low-wage service economy, public transportation is just an important economic driver as are highways and such... (image if everyone in Beaverton had to drive to Downtown Portland for the nearest McDonald's or Red Robin?)
That might be true that there might be a location close to where one decides to spend money as a customer, but a reality that many aren't aware of is that just because there's a certain fast food, coffee shop, or general retail chain everywhere doesn't mean that the employees that work there are working at the location that's closest to them. Sometimes, they're told the only openings are at a location that's miles from their home, get involuntarily transferred to another (farther away) location, or they're working for the company that would hire them (because they were otherwise told they were "overqualified" by a competing company whose office was down the street, as an example). To compound the problem, many of these service industry jobs have nonstandard work hours, making use of a rush-hour only service route impossible, or if the route stops running at 10 PM and ones' shift ends at 11:30 PM, that makes it impossible to use transit to get home.
Anyhow, what can (TriMet) do to "fix" this?
My personal opinion - many agree that TriMet can provide options, but can't mandate how people get to and from. Since most employers would probably give us the finger if we suggested they review their policies towards employee commutes and how they relate to distance from their home vs. the company's other locations and the shift start/end times in relation to bus schedule times, I think the best plan would be to publicize this information, so people can decide how they want to spend their dollars as a customer at various establishments.
November 29, 2007 5:30 PM
"Sometimes, they're told the only openings are at a location that's miles from their home, get involuntarily transferred to another (farther away) location..."
There is actually a story of Starbucks deliberately transferring a employee to a further away location specifically so they couldn't commute by bicycle...
(I love the response from corporate. If the guy really did look inappropriate at the meeting, then tell him that. Don't just transfer him 16 miles away.)
November 29, 2007 8:39 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
Retooling Ford to build trains works if you draft the citizens to build the tracks
You know, I should have thought of this a lot sooner, but I don't think the idea of Ford building trains is all that innovative.
After all, General Motors built locomotives up until only one or two years ago when it sold the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) (which also included the GM Diesel Division, the name of the railroad business in Canada) to a private equity fund. And it only did that because GM was cash strapped and has been losing business to GE for years - otherwise GM would have been happy keeping EMD as it was an easy profit center. (EMD locomotives are known for the longetivity - those GP39-2s that Portland & Western uses in Washington County? They were built in 1974. And the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad between Banks and Tillamook relies exclusively on a "museum fleet" of mid-1950s era EMD products.)
Today, General Electric (also one of the largest producers of aircraft engines, and one of the largest leasors of aircraft) is the largest locomotive manufacturing company in the world.
November 29, 2007 8:57 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
Portland's streets are configured in a grid pattern which make it far easier to operate buses and other transit services than in the newer suburbs which have a limited number of arterials and a large number of cul-de-sacs.
The last time I checked, busses (or any form of transit) tends to use collector/arterial streets; the fact that there are more cul-de-sacs in the suburbs is not a deterrent to transit (it's a convenient excuse, however).
After all, take a look at lines 18-Hillside, or 51-Vista, or 63-Washington Park. They certainly don't travel down a "grid" street - yet they travel exclusively within Portland city limits. And many East Portland routes don't remain on the same street (i.e. 22-Parkrose, 23-San Rafael, another two City routes). 60-Leahy Road is another good example of a bus line that uses local streets rather than arterials (and as one of TriMet's poorer performing routes, maybe it should be re-routed on arterial streets like Cornell Road and Miller Road, or possibly outsourced to a contract operator.)
On the westside, there are plenty of streets that are "transit friendly" except for TriMet's failure to provide quality transit:
Cornelius Pass Road (i.e. a route from West Union to Aloha)
Baseline Road (there is a huge gap between 185th and 231st that is unserved by transit)
SW 209th Avenue
SW 170th/173rd Avenue (even though it has a MAX station that has no connecting service, and there is a major business park just north of it)
True, Bethany might not have great routes for transit - but TriMet did run a successful shuttle (at least it was when it was privately run by Sassy's Cab). When TriMet took over and slashed operating hours, it became one of the most expensive "routes" to operate. However a bus line could easily be extended on Saltzman Road, or Thompson/West Union Roads, or Laidlaw Road.
And, there are a few busses that actually DO turn around at a cul-de-sac or another type of turn-around. 15, 51, 52, 53, 60, 67...
December 1, 2007 12:21 PM
"However a bus line could easily be extended on Saltzman Road, or Thompson/West Union Roads, or Laidlaw Road."
Yeah, those would be good places for new bus lines but the problem would be getting people to ride. You'd have to sit everyone living around down and make them sign a contract saying they'll ride the bus to and from work everyday otherwise those routes wouldn't pencil out.
December 3, 2007 8:38 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
Did TriMet make every resident of Orenco Station sign an agreement to promise to ride MAX?
Or South Waterfront that they MUST ride the Streetcar and the Tram everywhere?
Or the Pearl District, to restrict their trips to the Streetcar?NO!!!
The best TriMet can do is to provide a service. If nobody rides it, and TriMet actually works towards improving it, then fine - discontinue the service and I can't even blame TriMet.
Unfortunately TriMet doesn't try, doesn't care, doesn't invest, unless it's another MAX expansion. The closest TriMet has come to even attempting an improvement on a local service bus route was the 39 Lewis & Clark line, which extended the hours and weekend service and re-routed a portion of the line to serve Hillsdale. And unfortunately ridership didn't materialize so the improvements were rolled back.
I don't blame TriMet for trying. But it seems TriMet said "well we tried on the Lewis & Clark line and it didn't work, so ALL OF PORTLAND doesn't like busses." How about we try, try again?
March 18, 2009 9:38 AM
Interesting that noone has yet mentioned the glaring hypocrisy of Mr. Ford's apparent awakening given the fact that for decades, beginning in the 1920's, the Big Three bought up and destroyed almost every remnant of a once vibrant public transport network across the country in their all-too-typical corporatist shortsighted and grasping desire for immediate profits.
These are the jerks who spent the majority of the last century facilitating the environmental degradation we and our children and grandchildren are inheriting. Does anyone seriously think these parasites have any real concern now (aside from finding new ways to bilk the consumer and society to line their own pockets)?
March 18, 2009 6:09 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
Jim wrote: beginning in the 1920's, the Big Three bought up and destroyed almost every remnant of a once vibrant public transport network across the country in their all-too-typical corporatist shortsighted and grasping desire for immediate profits.
There is absolutely no connection between the "big three" or the "Streetcar Conspiracy" and Portland -- and yet Portland's transit system was gutted and dismantled the same; in fact, EARLIER than Los Angeles.