The vote was fairly controversial and passed by a narrow margin. But since the service was improved to every 15 minutes and I was already paying for it I started using the service and shortly stopped driving to school altogether.
By the time I graduated I really loved the system since it really improved my commute and really regretted voting against it. I just checked and now the approval is at 94% for the UPass.
I think the solution is just for everyone to visit a place with a good public transit network and live there for a few months - in the US I can only think of New York. Exchange student programs should be mandated anyways, to mend the cultural gaps within the nation.
For some reason, the most unexpectedly shocking levels of ignorance I ever encounter from otherwise intelligent people come from car fans when discussing transportation policy. I'm talking the most basic failures of logic from people that I don't consider to be complete idiots (the acquaintances I've seen this from may not be extremely intelligent, but are generally capable of reasonable conversation about any other issue). For example, one of the most common things I see is indignation at why a given public transit system doesn't fully pay for itself, somehow imagining that vehicle owners directly defray the entire costs of car-specific transport infrastructure at time of use.
I don't know what it is about this issue that uniquely disables so many people's brains and simultaneously supercharges how passionate they are about it. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that transportation/traffic/etc is a big headache in most people's lives and the idea of it becoming any worse, even temporarily, is unpalatable enough to short-circuit any form of adult thought.
So hard to get people in the US to like public transit :(
Go to Vienna, ride a train, and then go to San Francisco, and ride BART. Its night and day. Vienna had clean trains with a smooth ride. BART seems to always be dirty, and the cars screech like banshees.
Its a vicious cycle. No one wants to fund trains, so they fall into disrepair. The then get a bad rap about being in disrepair, so no one wants to fund them. If you want a real villain, blame the oil companies that bought up local trains and dismantled them in the first half of the century.
* Streetcar companies were the loss leaders for real estate developers.
* The Great Depression and WW2 caused deferred maintenance that undercapitalized transit companies could not afford after the real estate had been sold.
* Municipalities regulated fares, with voters regularly voting down measures to increase fares. At the time, transit agencies had to generate revenue almost entirely from fares.
* Transit companies had to pay recurring franchise fees for each mile of track, while bus companies didn't pay such a fee.
* With the increase in auto traffic slowing down streetcars, busses had more maneuverability in heavier auto traffic.
That's quite a claim, considering air travel's hand in killing train companies. You have a citation for that?
Second, even that article indicates streetcar systems were well on their way to death before the conspiracy started.
Third, the participation of oil companies in it was tangential; it was auto manufacturers who drove it.
 https://www.bart.gov/about/projects/cars/delivery-plan -- Says $184 million is equal to 104 cars.
Same regarding the trains in The Netherlands and Germany. They get cleaned when they arrive at their destination and this is calculated in the downtime.
where I live, a small fraction of the people on public transit are obnoxious, play loud music, talk loudly on mobile phones, put their feet on the seats, eat and drink, litter, and create the appearance of being threatening to public safety. law enforcement agents are practically nonexistent.
because of that the entire experience of riding public transit is, rather than being relaxing, a bit tense. rather than being pleasant, it is often unpleasant.
on the plus side, underground trains get me to my destination very quickly.
if public transport were clean and pleasant, if the stations and trains and buses were safe havens rather than magnets for poor behavior and even crime, i'd get rid of my car.
>create the appearance of being threatening to public safety
Care to elaborate?
my city is Los Angeles. my experience is that if I look at such a person while their expletive laden music (with lyrics that would not be tolerated as productive discourse on HN, to put it mildly) is blaring, i get back a hostile look. usually the person is physically larger and more powerfully built than i am. sometimes there are neck tattoos indicative of gang affiliation. i see no signs of concern about the comfort and privacy of other riders. there is a sense of carelessness and what i can only interpret as a desire to provoke and annoy. they are all but saying "i will disrupt this space as much as i want and i know you will not fuck with me"
I tried a test with that argument. I replaced "a public space" with "my old, dilapidated private car" and I found that the argument still works.
Then I thought about someone who complained they didn't like living next to a freeway because there was a lot of air pollution. The argument works there too.
Then I thought about the complaints I've heard about the difficulties of living in a neighborhood characterized by a high number of shootings and police sirens. Sure enough that argument wins again.
I'm pretty sure it can be applied to complaints about the atmosphere and global warming too.
That argument is unstoppable.
It wouldn't be feasible to build out train infrastructure to reach all of suburbia but we definitely have some decent existing train lines.
My perfect commute from suburbia would be driving to a carpark beside a seperated bike path, then riding my bike the last mile and through a carless CBD. Where others might do the same but take a train instead of biking.
An argument against is car parking for less mobile people nearer their destination, but for where I live there are never free parks on the streets anyway, and you need to park in a multi-story. So perhaps a compromise and have the multi-story carparks on the fringe of the CBD, then better last-mile public transit for getting closer to your destination would work.
I think like many issues, people are often polarized to an extreme of no cars or only cars, but the best case likely sits somewhere inbetween.
I absolutely agree that all important needs should be addressed - what works in Europe isn't necessarily the best solution for the US. That being said I do think there's a lack of good public infrastructure in general and this is IMO a shame - in many places around the world, public infrastructure is something people are proud of and something that makes many lives incrementally a bit better. Replacing 1-2h of daily commute full of car jams, bad air and stressed out drivers with standing or even sitting in a clean train while reading Hacker News appears to be a really low hanging fruit to me. For the first and last mile I think that shared autonomous cars/small buses will be a very good and cost effective solution - think of it like the limousine / shuttle services at airports.
There's a reason why even in dense cities with great public transit and walkable neighborhoods, the rich choose to be driven everywhere.
In places that kept a historic center, or built themselves around walkable commercial areas, cars are just liabilities that you'll spend time and money to park, get frustrated to no limit by the congestions, slow paced traffic, overall polluted air, and cramped one way streets that you have no idea how to navigate without a car navi.
IMO it's really a matter of context and how the city works. You'll want to adapt depending on that.
I recently lived in Seattle, on Capitol Hill, for two years. I didn't have a car for more or less the reasons you list, but I did end up using Uber a lot, even though I had free public transportation courtesy of my employer. If cost was no barrier, I would have exclusively taken Uber over public transportation.
I don't own a car and never use Uber, but I live in a bike and public transport-friendly city in The Netherlands.
I do all my best thinking on the bus...
Not at all, but in my experience if you probe into why people avoid public transit, it's usually some variation on "I don't want to be near those people". I've literally heard those words verbatim from more than one person.
I spoke with a former coworker who has a practically door-to-door bus trip to work with a 20m headway (that I used to take, it was very fast and convenient, never had problems with other passengers). They chose to drive to the edge of the city where they could park w/ their permit, and then walk a pretty significant distance to work, just to avoid the bus.
It's a lower-class stigma, the bus is "for poor people" so people won't take the bus even when it's objectively the best option. If the "way you want to live" is going to great lengths to avoid people you think are beneath you (not saying this is you, but I've absolutely met people like this), that's pretty much the definition of a snob.
I don't want to take a bus where people are stumbling drunk, arguing with the bus driver, talking about their heroin adventures, playing their music loudly on speakerphone, etc. These are all things that I experienced on the bus in Seattle, particularly but not exclusively during off-peak hours (e.g. 10:30am on a workday). My friend had an even worse experience: the person behind him was almost stabbed by a raving lunatic, saved only by two quick-thinking bystanders.
And I'm just a single young man. Would you want to expose your children to that?
Whether you want to accept it or not, the world is full of bad people, and even more people who don't share your code of public behavior. Why should you have a social duty to deal with that?
Maybe Seattle is just a shithole but these kinds of things are rare in the cities I've lived in, the worst I experience regularly is people being loud and even that is uncommon, especially during commuting hours.
>Would you want to expose your children to that?
I see school-aged children taking the bus whenever I ride around 2 or 3. I've been on the bus when entire classes of children get on with their teacher to go on a field trip. I took the city bus home from school when I was in school, the city provided free passes for kids who lived a certain distance from their school. Heaps of people bring strollers on the bus, there's a special space for them at the front and everything.
My train usage went way down after that. I moved away recently and went back to the city for a week. I most definitely do not miss the subway. Exterior light rails are better.
I don't think that is true of every dense city with great public transit.
What would you rather do - spend 45 minutes on public transit with two screaming kids and all your groceries, or drive your own car 15 minutes to the store?
When I lived in the city, both of the grocery stores near me offered home delivery -- you drop off your bags at the front desk and schedule a delivery later this afternoon, so no need to carry them home or take them on transit.
But it was a dense enough city that you didn't take transit there, you'd just walk.
They had some kind of dial-in grocery shopping service as well that you could use to call in an order for delivery... but nowadays, online shopping seems to have solved the problem of shopping with children.
(in my case roughly 4 min, 11 min and 13 min respectively by foot according to google for my nearest 3 big grocery stores).
Trying to turn car based suburbia into a car free zone is admittedly an almost lost cause, but that's a bit of a misnomer.
The real argument is to establish the city-design as one that is not car centric, not to convert a car-centric design into a car-free zone.
And if you really want to be able to park your car, you should support people taking the train. Otherwise there won't be much parking left for you if you really need it and it'll make your car transit experience suck more. :)
Besides, car culture tends to create an environment where the advantage is theirs alone. Cities that have good public transit or encourage active transportation tend to adapt to people's needs while still accommodating private vehicles.
cities are quite resilient. i feel that apartments are more likely to get more expensive since the desirability of dense cities like nyc, london, tokyo, hongkong never seem to wane. but the suburbs and the rural areas, didn't these areas get hit the hardest in 2008? the 2008 GFC doesn't even show up on a HK property price chart.
> It's your space that you control
it is entirely possible my hangups about the suburbs are just as misplaced as this guy's concerns are about not having privacy in the city. i, for one, have never lived in a suburb.
Some kind chap tried to put together a combined metro/light rail map here: http://www.mappery.com/maps/Melbourne-Train-and-Tram-Map.png
I can't find a map that overlays the rapid or regular bus services on the same map, presumably because it would be a godforsaken near un-interpretable dense mess.
We own a car parking space under our building that I rent out to someone else for roughly $250 a month. Good for them, good for me.
I wouldn't ever fill a car trunk with groceries because a supermarket and several specialty stores are just around the corner if i need them, and meals and ingredients are delivered to my door each week.
I don't have to bother about the price of petrol, petrol stations, finding a park, walking from a park, servicing, registration or maintenance. I gain in health and fitness due to my walking, plus I meet my neighbours. When I do need to travel around, i catch one of the several trams all within 5 minutes walk. And when I do I get to read.
My community gets to fill in many of those areas that would be taken up by car parks with actual facilities and amenities. I have 5 libraries within half an hour walk of my front door. A university, acres of parkland and gardens, a public swimming pool, doctors, schools, several theaters, galleries, tennis courts, ovals, cricket nets, a couple of playgrounds, and several hundred cafes. We're also members of a car share, so in those odd times where we need/desire a car (which by my bank records, is about 4 times in the last year, and some of those were probably in moving/helping others move) we pick ones from the neighbourhood.
Property prices here are pretty good measures of desirability. And those prices are immensely higher the closer you get to the core of the historical city, or indeed the arteries and density of the public transport network.
Now don't get me wrong, I actually love rural living/driving as well. We have some older stuck-up neighbourhoods where wealthy people live with cars relatively close in, and the outer ring of the metropolis is pretty much car territory.
But the poorer you are here, the more likely you are to live further out, away from public transport, and the wealthy want to cram into the inner, older, historical suburbs built before the age of the automobile and serviced by the network.
And lets not also pretend that you haven't given up things...many things, as well as gained things, by preferencing to use an automobile, and choosing to live around others who also preference such.
Lets not also kid ourselves: one of the reasons some of the wealthy choose to be driven everywhere is because they have (real, justified or imagined) fear of mingling with the poor...
Walking and biking in the city center with lots of green areas.
No cars means clean air and safe traffic. Air pollution from cars is a silent killer.
I agree, and in fact I do this (park at BART in the East Bay and ride it into SF). The problem is, no one is advocating constructing these systems where they don't exist. They are advocating a direct ban (or prohibitively high tolls and parking scarcity) to prevent people who live outside the city from entering it at all. With maybe some handwaving about bicycles, or an assertion that walking 4 hours a day is good for you. Some of the same people are even advocating that we eliminate the existing parking at suburban light rail stations!
Because clearly what we need is even more pressure for even more people to pay astronomical rents.
In otherwords, I still park in the city but I also get paid more to compensate for the costs of commuting, because it is still the best option available to me.
If they shifted the parking to the fringe of the CBD at various transport hubs and removed it entirely from the CBD then there would be more usable space for city inhabitants, uninhibited public transport and separated foot/bike traffic. All much better options than a car doing nothing on prime real estate for 8 hours a day.
But given the income required to live in the city vs. in the surrounding area, I'm skeptical that we should be creating more playground for the well-heeled inhabitants of trendy neighborhoods at the expense of people who need to live car-sized distances away from the CBD (and transit hubs) to have decent homes at their income levels. Maybe if we thought the resultant construction could house at least as many new residents as the drivers it displaced.
My city's (Prague's) administration actually supports this a lot, but since the city districts (and not the administration) actually hold power over what gets built in a specific district, and no district wants a big parking lot, the situation remains as bad as ever.
Or worse, bad compromises get through -- for instance park at the very edge of the city and then walk 10 minutes to a bus which takes another 15 minutes before you reach any subway station. A great political move to destroy the whole idea.
So yes, transportation hubs!
Groceries? I walk. Have one option a 15-minute walk away, and two 25-minute walks away. I do 3 to 4 bags at a time, not a problem. I also have subway/bus literally across the street, and right next to highway for when driving to clients makes sense -- but usually can get to them via mass transit (subway and bus) so long as they're in certain areas within about 20 miles (32km) from where I live.
Still own a car, but it's only for fun, not necessity and I never use it for errands. If it wasn't for fun, I'd not bother with owning one.
I live in Boston. It snows here and I do often buy more than one bag of groceries at a time. Fortunately, I just walk two blocks down the street and go into one of the two grocery stores that are right there.
Compare where I grew up in southern NH: it snows there, too, but the nearest grocery store was a 20 minute drive, so of course I would drive there. Rural NH is not a city, though.
I was only there for the Superbowl and never actually walked one, so maybe it's not so convenient.
What's the big deal?
The problem is that personal car ownership with our current technology does not scale up, when taking into account of environmental impact. Nor when you reflect on just how much public right of way we've given up to infrastructure for cars. Nor when you think of how many people die of automobile accidents. Nor or the impact cars have on living in social communities.
City planners have wreaked havoc on cities with their continual obsessions with fads; maybe they should focus on helping people get what they want instead of trying to change people.
You have train stations next to million-dollar bungalows. That's madness. Build up.... But doing that raises the NIMBYs ire.
The challenge with intensification is that the benefits are to the city and the planet, but the downsides are local. City gets more property taxes with the same infrastructure, and a good node for transit. The world gets greener living. However, the neighbors get more traffic and cast shadows.
To me the solution is obvious: make paying off the neighbors part of the standard process.
I offer an alternative: the NIMBY's can keep their un-intensified environment, if they pay via taxes to fund the infrastructure that makes it possible to tie an intensified area elsewhere into the city transit infrastructure, and pay any necessary infrastructure to extend out to that intensified area (roads, utilities, datacomm, permitting, environmental studies, etc.). Currently the NIMBY's force an externality upon all other city residents by making the city grow outward (with costs increasing as the square of the linear distance from the city center) instead of upward (6X multiplier per square meter for high-rise skyscrapers over SFR's, don't know what the multiplier to add for expanding infrastructure).
So if the NIMBY's want to keep 100 hectares of SFR's as SFR's, no problem if they stump up the money to pay for the nearest 100 hectares that can be zoned for intensification, the rail extension to tie it to the city center, the roads to connect to it, etc. As long as the cost of the externality is captured and passed onto willing buyers, I don't see a problem with NIMBY's.
You: There should be a law.
NIMBYs: Well, no elected official will pass such a law. If they do, we won't re-elect them.
You: I'll find enough YIMBYs to elect someone who will make you pay up.
NIMBYs: You'll find nasty greedy developers who want to bulldoze neighborhoods and kick Grandma out of her home? Go for it. We'll let the neighbors know all about it.
(edit: to be clear, I am a YIMBY and I agree with you in principle. But NIMBY rhetoric wins big in local politics, and I don't know enough effective YIMBY rhetoric to counter it.)
But a land value tax as a partial replacement for property tax is also good.
The city I grew up in had a population of around 27,000 people 30 years ago. I think it's roughly the same today. Unsurprisingly, traffic and parking work about as well today is it did when I was a teenager.
Additional taxes on new construction would exacerbate any traffic problems by pushing people out to the suburbs (, especially with Vancouver's already high housing prices). I would argue for precisely the opposite: allow for much greater construction everywhere, with fewer restrictions. City planners' efforts to 'sculpt' a city usually involves restricting supply to force people to live where the planners want them to, which drives up prices and drives population to suburbs.
Car infrastructure like roads and parking doesn't scale so the only real alternative to congestion is rent - I.e congestion fees and more expensive parking.
If it was (say) $100 a day to enter a major city by car, and as much again to park, then congestion would be over. You might argue this is surrendering the roads to the 1% which it is, but it also quickly funds new infrastructure and public transport.
How is that relevant? NYC has its own issues, and is very far from Vancouver.
edit: comment above was originally only the eight words in my quote when I commented.
It’s amazing how much energy goes into making excuses for why a city can’t get better.
Although I’ve heard great passion for better city-making here in Perth this week while working with the Heart Foundation, I’ve also heard some of those excuses, while working with stakeholders, politicians and State planning and transport staff.
“Perth is different,” I’ve been told, in various ways.
It’s true, Perth is different. Every city is. But you’re not THAT different. You’re really not.'
At the end of the day there's one reason why most cities in the US won't have decent transit any time soon - that the people who would build the transit do so on the grounds that it is Virtuous and Glorious and Green. Beyond that, they make projections that everyone will ride it and that it'll reinvigorate the economy and reduce traffic. (And if you're against it that's probably because you're an evil Republican which means you probably voted for Trump which means you're probably a Nazi, but I digress.)
And then, instead, you get something that goes from nowhere to nowhere, and covers maybe 25% of its operating costs off ticket revenue... before the cost of capital expenditures.
And if you think this is exaggeration (including the Trump bits) try reading several articles about the Virginia Beach TIDE light rail project ... which, to sum it up in one number, gets roughly a $8000/rider/year subsidy from the city.
But the unionized public transport employees will vote for you and campaign for you and your causes forever.
Almost every highway and road and most parking spaces have a revenue recovery ratio of 0%
> Almost every highway and road and most parking spaces have a revenue recovery ratio of 0%
Theoretically, that's what the fuel tax is for. At the federal level, the highway trust fund raised $35 billion in fuel tax and spend $39 billion on highways (and $8b on transit - the deficit here being covered by the general fund). If we wanted to be generous we'd say that's an 89% recovery ratio, which probably is totally unfair and ignores some important capex somewhere (recent "stimulus" spending, for example) but is substantially more than zero.
(State and municipal numbers are quite variable, I'm sure.)
I see your BART, and
raise you Santa Clara
what the fuel tax is
* That's federal spending on interstates only. State and local recovery ratios are lower. The road in front of your driveway is often the worst, it is an amazing outlay of public service to serve relatively few people.
* If you include fuel taxes as part of the recovery ratio for car infrastructure, you should include dedicated sales taxes and other funds as part of the recovery ratio for public transit infrastructure. (Remember, public infrastructure makes things better for car users too. Building an extra parking space helps one car, building a train helps everyone who rides that train and all the car users who no longer have to fight with those people for space on the road or for parking spaces.)
This is almost in line with my initial premise, that politicians putting together public transportation systems are the reason we can't have nice public transportation systems here in the US.
There is one reasonably good public transportation system (the NYC subway - much of it being privately built ages ago in a different sort of era) and several sorta-quasi-nice public transportation systems in the US. BART is one of the latter. We don't even make them like that anymore, though.
> * If you include fuel taxes as part of the recovery ratio for car infrastructure, you should include dedicated sales taxes and other funds as part of the recovery ratio for public transit infrastructure.
No way. Most gasoline and diesel that is sold is sold for the purpose of driving a vehicle on a public road, and it is roughly proportional to the use of that road. It could be closer to a fee-for-use provision if one added a separate tax on square-of-vehicle-axle-weight times distance - the real thing that wears down highways - but it is a lot more practical to enforce with a fuel tax and without computerized surveillance on all automobiles.
A sales tax on all transactions is completely different and drains unrelated economic activity to maintain and operate transport: the most common use of public transportation by volume is to commute to work, an activity that's pretty poorly connected with shopping at the store.
A dedicated fund covering a portion of taxpayer expenses does nothing to improve it, either (the money is fungible).
Are you saying this 8mile light rail requires opex of $16bn, more than the entire NY subway system?
That's a hell of an assumption. I know people who live in NYC, making very good money, and they're all crammed into tiny apartments with multiple roommates because the congestion and rent are so ridiculous. That's fine for people in their early 20s, but do you really think these same people are still going to live in NYC once they get married and have kids? A small percent will buy a place in NYC, and the rest will move out to the suburbs.
If anything, I'd predict that small and walkable urban areas, interspersed inside large suburbs, are more likely to be the future growth areas.
I also know a lot of people that had kids and moved to the burbs - but they all commute via public transport (either train or bus).
I guess my point is that anecdotes don't really mean anything?
If only a smaller fraction of commuters are stuck in congestion the situation is probably working okay for everyone else.
That isn't what I said. I implied that someone riding in a train probably doesn't care much about road congestion.
This is a MYTH that must be ended someday. No, not only people living in most city centres are not rich, but they are even poorer than people living in the suburbs.
In my country, this the case for every single city except the capital.
I don't know Vancouver, but a 5 minute search of maps of densities and maps of income seem to confirm this again: centre, dense areas are the poorest.
And yet, on every thread (same in US forums or at my place) about transportation, transit, housing, bicycle(!), urbanisation, whatever that relates to cities, someone (or many) will come and say that people from the centre are rich and privileged and that the suburban people are poor and that they had no other choice than to move there to survive.
Truth is, except for a few slum-like suburbs, other suburbs are mostly populated by people who chose to move there to have a bit of a garden or to have bigger houses or to park their cars or to have dogs or to have a swimming pool, etc. and these people have a higher living standard.
The will of the people is stronger than the plan.
In a free market economy, we should take home prices as an indication of how people want to live. The densest, most walkable city centers tend to have the most expensive homes. Manhattan being the extreme data point.
> The densest, most walkable city centers tend to have the most expensive homes. Manhattan being the extreme data point.
Alternatively, places that are attractive places to live (e.g., because of climate and access to fresh water) or to locate trade centers (e.g., because of natural ports, navigable inland waterways, etc.) tend to be high demand places to live, driving both price and density. In this view, Manhattan isn't in demand because it's dense, it's dense because it's in demand.
Even in the UK I don't think there's anywhere that truly resembles American suburbia, with its vast sprawling acres of large houses and large yards where it's actually impossible to safely walk anywhere. It's a uniquely inefficient design.
I once visited a very new housing development in Marbella (Southern Spain) that was identical to new housing developments in San Diego. Two car attached garages, everyone had cars. It was completely American. Eerie.
So I don't think it's a matter of never having had it. It seems like we have actually regressed.
Mass transit has to be understood in terms of how it allows spread. Buses allow people to commute rather than walk. Trolleys, cars, horses and subways do the same. Some of those trolley lines were put in place to make the new developments attractive to people who would have to work in the city center. As cars become more available fewer people opted for trolleys and they got pulled (some people believe the GM-LA deal for buses lead to the demise of all trolleys, but I think that's more wishful thinking. However, trolleys then, as today, are relatively expensive to run and investors are better off making money elsewhere.
Here's the 2016 update of the "Walkscore": https://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/
2. San Francisco
7. Washington DC
This list makes a lot more sense than the 2014 list.
I live in the downtown area, which is fairly walkable, but its equivalent to a single neighborhood in a larger city. To get another nonresidential neighborhood, you have to drive 3-5 miles.
People keep telling me Indianapolis is going to blow up, that is just on the brink of making it big time. That is only because land is so cheap. And land is only so cheap, because its so spread out. But that means the city is essentially suburbs with a few high density hubs.
Where I currently live, the high-speed commuter trains, which only stop at a handful of hubs, come every 30 minutes during the morning and evening rushes, and then once an hour outside of those times. Even then, sometimes the train goes all the way to my destination, but other times, it stops and goes out of service half-way there, so I end up having to wait for 30 minutes for the next train.
Regular trains, that stop at every station, arrive every 15 minutes, and are NOT coordinated, meaning that instead of being able to transfer by jumping off one train and walking across the platform to get on another, or waiting just a minute or two, I end up standing around for 12 minutes for the transfer train to arrive.
In my case, I can drive to work in 40 to 50 minutes in heavy traffic, or I can take the train and get there in an hour and a half each way.
Furthermore, rail passes are a joke where I live. They don't sell a pass for just the commuter train, or just between two commuting points. Instead, you have to buy the premium pass, which includes bus, train, and commuter rail services to everywhere the transit authority goes. I don't need that! A monthly commuter rail pass costs $198.00. I drive a Toyota Avalon Hybrid, and a rail pass ends up costing me about $100 more a month that I spend on gas.
If we want to make public transit attractive, it has to be cheaper and faster than driving, otherwise nobody with an ounce of economic sense will do it. I lived in Japan for a number of years, and the train system there is one of the best in the world. It is cheaper and faster to use the trains there, so most people do. I never wanted to own a car while I lived in Japan. In their society, especially in big cities, it is cars that don't make economic sense. This is what must take place for a public transit society to exist in America, in my opinion. We can't provide an abysmal experience for riders, and expect anything to change.
Hell, I would take either one of those--cheaper OR faster. Where I live and work, public transit is neither of those.
I live in New York, frequently travel to suburbs around the country and world, and have not missed for a second the driver's license I gave up almost 5 years ago.
It's not always seamless, but neither is driving. A shockingly good trade, already, and one that will only get better as cars drive themselves.
Uber may save on parking density, but not traffic density.
(Maybe your argument is that you normally walk/bike/train, and use Uber for rare special situations?)
Self driving cars will reduce the cost of Uber-like services as well, and lower the cost of tunneling (self driving cars will mean higher capacity and smaller shoulders and lanes, and electric cars will mean less ventilation required). Going underground is the best way to increase travel speeds and reduce friction between pedestrians and vehicles. Cities should look more like Venice.
We are still a ways off, but this is where things are headed.
We might not need the parking, but the roads will be useful.
Roads are also the target of a lot of rethinking, and the model where whole blocks of the city are completely closed to motorized circulation got traction in a few big cities already.
If we get fleets of on-demand self driving cars in cities that are currently car-centric, many of the disadvantages of car transportation will be ameliorated. A 45 minute commute by car is no fun, but when the car is able to drive itself and you've got high speed wireless data access, it probably won't be so bad.
A widely available fleet of self-driving cars may help the last-mile problem with public transportation (how do you get from, say, the subway station to your workplace or from the subway station to your house). If this makes public transportation easier, this may decrease miles driven per day.
Will self-driving cars reduce the accident rate, and the congestion that results from traffic slowdowns near accidents?
Will self-driving cars make better use of less obvious travel routes and avoid bottlenecks in the road network?