Edit: On the other hand, I'd much rather the money go into some sort of vaguely 21st century high-speed rail infrastructure, particularly for short to medium inter-city trips. The absence of such makes us the laughingstock of Europe and Asia.
Yikes! No! This is a complete waste of money. Our cities are just not built to make use of something like this. The various stake holders (environmental groups, politicians, industry, unions, etc.) all but make sure that these projects will cost ten times more than they should and end-up in exactly the wrong places. And, because of this, not enough people will use them.
Take the proposal that was floating around a while ago (maybe still is) to build a high-speed rail connection between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Maybe it is a good idea, I don't know. Here's the problem. The start point in LA is Central Station. That's Downtown Los Angeles. In other words, an hour to two hours away from this great mass of people living in the area. That is, if you even want to consider going Downtown (it ain't like Downtown San Francisco). I know I have absolutely zero interest in driving 50 miles to get on a train. Heck, I avoid LAX like the plague.
Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see mass transportation akin to what they have in Europe. On my most recent trip I took the train from Amsterdam to Munich. I was great. I think that Europe evolved into this infrastructure while we evolved into something else.
Take a city like Amsterdam and look at the light rail going everywhere. And take a look at the tens of thousands of bikes running around. That bike parking lot in Dam Square across from Central Station is simply amazing. Their culture and way of life have evolved around these ideas. Try to bring something like that into a megalopolis like Los Angeles and you'll fail. The place simply was not built with this kind of thinking in the first place. Heck, I drive 60 miles a day just picking up my kids from school!
I would like to see a transition to something more sensible than what we are doing today. I really would. I just don't think that high-speed rail is the way to do it and, therefore, think that investing in it would be a complete waste of money and resources.
If you want to feed money into something that has the potential to make great changes given our way of life and culture, send your monthly check to companies like Tesla. We desperately need to move away from these horrible, polluting and inefficient gasoline engines into something that provides greater options in terms of where energy might come from and could just be better for the environment.
When in Europe do as the Europeans. Here in the US. Well.
Commuter culture doesn't make rail, its the other way around.
Our cities are not built to take advantage of rail infrastructure because for half a century we have been heavily subsidizing the car industry instead of the rail industry.
Also, that's not even true. Lot's of parts of the country could take advantage of rail infrastructure. Amtrak's northeastern line runs at a profit, even though it's a shitty shitty excuse for a high speed rail line. A Europe-style high-speed rail connecting DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston would connect a huge urbanized corridor with half the population of France.
If the high-speed rail were put in, and that great mass of people would use it, there would be money in providing transit between the rail and the great mass of people. So it could be built, and problem solved. But I don't see how going to great mass X (instead of Y, Z, etc) is better than great(est) commerce center A.
As to those locations specifically - I have no idea if they're suitable. But high speed transit goes to city centers, not fringes, basically everywhere in the world, and this should be no different.
It turned out the nightmare scenario came to pass and lots of young, black, lower income residents from East St Louis started showing up to the mall. A strange thing happened though, instead of destroying the area, they mostly just brought a lot of money and purchased things.
Seems obvious to me, but rich white folks be crazy sometimes and mostly they write the checks when it comes to city planning.
Ask virtually any store manager at the Saint Louis
Galleria about shoplifting, and you'll invariably get two
responses: One, it's out of control; and two, it's gotten
exceedingly worse since August 2006, when MetroLink opened
a stop just 500 yards from the high-end shopping center.
In the first six months of this year, Richmond Heights
police made 345 arrests at the mall. That's nearly double
the number of arrests made in all of 2005, before
MetroLink opened its Shrewsbury line.
More alarming are the numbers of juveniles (kids under the
age of seventeen) arrested at the mall. This year police
are on pace to take 276 juveniles into custody for
shoplifting and other offenses — a sevenfold increase over
the 39 kids arrested at the Galleria in 2005.
"I know it's not politically correct, but how else do you
explain it?" comments a frustrated Galleria store manager
who, like many Galleria shopkeepers interviewed by
Riverfront Times, says her employer prohibits her from
officially speaking for the company.
"Anyone can see all these people crossing Brentwood
Boulevard from the MetroLink station," the manager
continues. "Most of them aren't here to shop. They're here
to hang out and cause trouble."
That isn't addressed, all the article says is that theft is up.
The incidents described in the full article include huge violent fistfights that led to curfews. Low income people are unlikely to spend lots of money. Lots of theft and violence is accompanied by lots of broken windows behavior that may not rise to the level of a criminal offense, but does scare away higher income people (example: screaming at the screen in a movie theater). And very few retail shops operate at 100% margins such that a doubling of revenue would exactly compensate for a doubling in theft.
All in all, it is highly likely that events transpired as predicted by the project's critics. No doubt the proponents like homosaur did not sell the project as "violence will increase, thefts will double, and your previous patrons like Johnny Fields will leave, but...". They instead tried to insinuate that "rich white people be crazy" to think something like this might happen.
Actually low income people spend HUGE amounts of money, if you study economics you'd know that poor people pay more for almost any good than do the rich. What I mean by this is that the poor will by 500mL of milk rather than 4L, and so in a year when you look at the costs of milk for the poor they are more than the rich. Similarly, the poor shop at convenience stores and the rich shop at warehouse stores further exacerbating the price differential.
The issue of violence amongst teens has not been solved yet in St. Louis, even if the Galleria figured it out. The Delmar Loop, the other area talked about there, still has a major problem with petty crime and even had a shooting related to the spontaneous gathering of urban teenagers quite recently. The businesses can't have this both ways. They want all the increased business but they don't want to deal with paying for security. SLPD cannot solve these problems on their own and the Loop has dropped the ball on security and people are well aware of it now.
Don't think it has yet been shown that their business actually increased due to these kids. The quotes from the article indicate otherwise: high income residents and middle lass kids were driven away by the violence and then the curfew. The mall owners aren't conflicted here, things transpired just as they had predicted.
You can't judge this from an outdated article about 2007. That was from that time period when it was a security free for all out there. The people who want to cause trouble certainly know they are not welcome at that mall anymore and will be arrested if they cause any trouble.
I'm guessing the Nordstroms, which is a very high end designer-centric dept. store with $200 silk ties and the like didn't move a 2 story store last year because the high income residents stopped coming. In fact, I'm sure the complete opposite is true.
They don't need 100% margins to come out on top if they sell more units than are stolen.
So if a shop was selling 10 units an hour and losing 1 unit an hour to theft, and footfall doubled (simplistically doubling sales and thefts), then the shop is now selling 20 units an hour and losing 2 to theft. At realistic margins, the shop is more profitable than it was.
Note that "costs associated with thefts" is not just the cost of the goods stolen. It includes the costs of security.
I also like how you think that they should be happy with your model, that how they feel about the situation is of no consequence.
They have to live with this situation; they've got skin in the game. You just post.
I wasn't discussing the article, but correcting errors in someone else's post.
I never said what I think about the situation. I merely corrected someone else's financial misunderstanding.
They have to live with this situation; they've got skin in the game. You just post.
You're clearly angry at something. I strongly suggest you deal with this yourself, rather than continue to flail around and vent your frustration on strangers over the internet.
The funny thing is, all the poor black people from the inner city come to their suburbs anyway. Who else is going to work in their low-wage retail sector? It's just that instead of doing so in an efficient and economical manner, they do so in old, broken-down cars that greatly contribute to the traffic problem that causes these very same suburbanites so much agony.
If the new arrivals had so much money, why couldn't they just drive in earlier? Why did they have to wait till (cheap) public transportation was available to come to this mall?
And therein lies the problem for high speed rail in the US. We don't have that supporting network, and we're not going to. We're too spread out in our cities for it to work.
So it's drive 30 miles to the train station and then pay $15 a day for parking while on your trip, like the airport.
edit: all that said, I'm not aware of anywhere that has high-speed rails going outside city centers. But I'm hardly an expert on this - I'd love a counter-example. Japan, for instance, has their bullet trains essentially only between city centers, and subway and light rail supporting it. And that's one of the better rail systems in the world.
The sunk cost argument can be overcome if you make public transport faster than cars, less congestion and parking difficulties is a big change. But you do have to rebuild it first (yes the US had public transport in the past, you ripped it out).
And yeah, if public transit gets better than personal, things will change very quickly. But that path involves trillions of dollars, and just try getting a tax increase voted through for one. I'd love it, but it's not happening any time soon, and certainly not on a large scale.
For example, the last train trip I took stopped a handful of times while we waited for livestock to finish crossing the tracks. High speed trains do not do this.
Nevertheless, if you give any credence whatsoever to a hydrocarbon-constrained future (and there are plenty of compelling reasons to do so), electric high-speed rail is the only option that makes sense.
This is incredibly inefficient. You could choose to organize your life another way. You'll get the cheap electric car sooner or later. You might even get cheap energy to run it with. But you'll never, ever get that time back.
As far as organizing my life around it. Kind of tough. Sell the house and move? Can't do that. The schools are not moving. One of my kids will start at a school closer to home this year. The number will go down to 35 miles per day then. I can then contemplate the idea of a pedal-powered electric-assisted four-wheel contraption that I could most certainly build myself for a fraction of what an electric car would cost. It'd be a great project to teach the kids some engineering and ride around during good whether.
But! I think the adoption of self-driving cars is actually going to beat the adoption of all-electric cars.
Then someone tipped me off about the train. It takes slightly longer than driving and about twice as long as flying, but it's almost all productive time. It's cheaper than flying and about the same as driving (depends what days you travel), and it's a much more pleasant experience than flying.
The only drawback is limited service (it's daily, but with limited direct service), but with better promotion and subsidies to increase demand, there's no reason service couldn't be more frequent. I'm sure there's equipment upgrades that could be made to shorten service times also.
Amtrak, in the pacific northwest at least, really is a hidden gem. It's a shame it's not more popular.
Also, they are extending the lines that feed into Union slowly but surely. Pasadena already has good coverage, Hollywood coverage is decent, Santa Monica's Expo line should be done in a couple of years - it's already halfway done to Culver City. South LA lines already get lots of riders.
The REAL problem in LA is a taxi is still the best way to get to LAX.
Please. The geography of the US compared to these Europe & Asia projects are so radically different, the reason high-speed rail hasn't been a priority is because it isn't as viable here. Rail fares are more expensive than flights , and a trip from SF<->LA would take anywhere from 2-3 times as long. No thanks.
I've traveled by air and rail around Europe, and I greatly prefer flying. Cheaper, and faster. The only people laughing at us are the americans who think a rail infrastructure is something to be jealous of.
What people forget whenever making this argument is that while your population density is low, you have large areas - larger than many countries - with quite high density. Your population density is pulled down by the vast areas with really low density.
And yes, as a European: Your rail infrastructure is the subject of widespread ridicule. I'm 36. I don't have a drivers license - I've never had a compelling need for one. Only time I've ever missed having one is when visiting the US.
What Norway does have, however, is a rail network that is provides viable service for a huge number of people in terms of frequency, and a network that provides a decent route selection, and that particularly covers the heaviest commuter routes.
That's part of the point: Whenever rail in the US gets brought up, people use the vast size of the country as a counter-argument, but that's irrelevant: Countries like Norway who also deals with low population density and large distances still provide service that makes it easy to commute by rail and other public transport.
You don't need to cover every possible route. But there's a vast number of potential routes in the US, connecting areas with high population densities and a lot of commuter traffic, that's so poorly served that nobody can depend on them.
THAT is the problem. Not the distances. Lack of willingness to invest in making the routes that can be viable reliable enough and with frequent enough services that people actually can use them.
High speed rail is great for some routes. But frequency and reliability matters far more for most stretches.
In the cities and densely populated regions of Norway you can easily get around without having a car. Or flying. And that includes stretches like Oslo-Bergen, Oslo-Stavanger or Oslo-Trondheim, though all of them are slow. The rail, tram, light rails and bus services combine to provide services that are reasonably frequent, and reliable enough that you can actually use them without too much hassle.
And keep in mind our largest city has half a million people (Oslo), and the metro area around it has less than 1 million people including the city itself...
I'm from Oslo (though I now live in London) and used to commute from a suburban village outside of Oslo by rail for years, and then within Oslo and out from Oslo to a tiny little place outside of town for a few years. Trains were frequent and fast.
Fast forward a few years, and I had to travel regularly to Palo Alto. It was a nightmare without a drivers license. I depended on cabs pretty much everywhere. Sure, I could get the train in to San Francisco now and again, but the service is/was near unusable. Half hourly services a lot of the day, if that. Slow. Ends early in the afternoon - I went to SF one weekend and had to rush to get back to the station by 9pm to get the last train back. WTF...
Buses were a joke. Even walking is hell - "everyone" in Europe who's been to the US tends to consider US roads pretty much built to kill pedestrians. Menlo Park to Palo Alto, for example, or Redwood City to Menlo Park, are walking distance as far as I'm concerned. But the obvious route along El Camino Real is without sidewalks a lot of the way... Yet that was nothing compared to trying to walk around the small part of Virginia I've seen when visiting DC.
It's a cultural issue that starts with the assumption that everyone will drive, so why bother? If you're going to get trains, the assumption needs to be that people will leave the car at home (or that you want to try to get them to, at least). So it needs to become easy to walk locally, easy get the bus when you need to go a little but further, with good service to rail stations, and frequent rail service suitable for commutes or taking a trip into town.
Only then is there much point thinking about things like high-speed rail. High speed rail is for a population that's already used to consider rail a good choice, and that often opts for rail even when plane is faster, because of the convenience.
Transit convenience is much better in New York, Boston, or Chicago, and many people in New York don't own cars. Heck, even other parts of the Bay Area are better; if you live in SF or Berkeley you don't need a car, and many people don't have one.
In any case, it's the intercity lines I'm more skeptical of, which so far (I live in Copenhagen) don't seem all that much better in Scandinavia than Amtrak in speed or frequency. You can go once per hour Copenhagen-Stockholm, for example, which is about the same frequency as the Boston-NYC-DC route. And like the US, once you get off one or two main routes, everything is slow and infrequent. For example, Copenhagen-Oslo (600 km) runs twice a day (with one change) and most people fly instead. I've also ended up giving up and flying instead every time I've tried to find a train from Copenhagen to continental Europe. It looks like getting to some German cities would be possible, but getting to Amsterdam would've required 12 hours and two changes.
It's a tedious argument that gets trotted out every time someone compares the US with another country in terms of public transport.
But every other country also has low density areas, which often have weaker public transport.
As it stands, the US has lots of low density areas, but also a large number of really high density areas. I don't think anyone would complain about lack of train coverage for your hopelessly low density areas.
What is a joke is that there are US cities with populations the size of small European countries that are still served by useless rails systems, and there such cities within what would be easy reach of each other with decent rails where it is pointless to try.
E.g. someone pointed out that Oslo to Bergen in Norway is still about 7 hours. But that is 7 hours between a city of 500.000 people, in a region with less than 1 million, an a city of about 120.000 people. Yet there is a viable train service covering the stretch. What's in between? Mostly a mountain range where practically nobody lives. It's a service that is mostly there to serve the endpoints.
Yes, a lot of the potential riders take a plane instead.
How many regions in the US do you have with 500k-1m people on one end of a what could be a 7 hour rail link with regular speed trains, with 120k-200k people on the other end, that are currently not served by rail at all?
Now add in the number of much larger cities.
That combined with the useless excuse for commuter rail outside of some very limited areas (mostly a handful of cities on the East coast) is what makes Europeans generally consider the state of rail in the US to be ridiculous.
It simply does not scale the way you think it would. The population density varies widely in the USA.
That's how it scales.
The US has a massive list of metropolitan areas far more densely populated than Norway, and far more densely populated than the Oslo-region (by far the most densely populated area of Norway) that are under-served by rail or near enough to each other for cost effective inter-city rail connections but that doesn't have viable rail links today.
I'm not arguing that coast to coast rail links are viable in the US because they are viable in Norway. That'd be stupid - the distances are far larger.
I'm arguing that the fact that Norway has viable train links from Oslo to Bergen and Trondheim (about 7-8 hours without high speed rail for both of them) - from a region with less than 1 million people to regions with less than a quarter million people each - is a pretty good demonstration that there's a multitude of stretches in the US that are short enough and between populated enough towns that they could be viable for proper rail links, or because the stretches include more populated areas (both the Oslo-Bergen and Oslo-Trondheim links are through very sparsely populated regions so the traffic is dominated by traffic between the endpoints)
I was with you till this point, but that's just wrong. The USA is vastly larger than continental Europe, and has problems of scale that are correspondingly larger. If you don't believe me, let me do some back-of-the-envelope land area comparisons for you to the UK, France, and Germany (or your country of choice).
San Francisco to San Diego is approximately 500 miles. 24 million people live in that corridor.
Paris to Marseille is 481 miles. It takes about 3 hours and 16 minutes by train to make that journey. I'm not particularly adept at French, so finding corridor population details is difficult. However, judging by the population of the regions the train passes through , I'd estimate that (11.7, 1.6, 6.1 and 4.9) 24.3 million people live in that corridor. That's a really rather close number.
Lack of high speed rail in the US is probably due to the auto companies removing the public transport that provides a feeder into that kind of system. The large spread out cities are a symptom of a car culture, not the other way around.
Thats the whole reason for overbooking flights, adn why you can upgrade to 1st class - the airline only knows that the discount seats will show up
If they'd cover NV, this would be a great way to save a lot of money on taxes -- live in the Reno area, have a NV residence, and fly to the Bay Area 1-2 times/week for meetings. You then only pay income tax on income earned in California, but not on capital gains, and not on any work you do outside California. That could easily be a savings of more than $1k/mo.
At the same time people here think a 20 minute commute is outrageous, the cost of living is insanely cheap, and the majority of the city is extremely safe.
Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to argue that, as a city, Reno competes with any larger US cities. But imho it beats that hell out of anywhere that has a similar cost of living. Most people I know in larger cities tend to move an hour or two into the suburbs as they get older and end up making time to get into the city very rarely, I'd definitely take Reno over that.
I don't think Reno is the greatest place on earth, but I can never understand why people despise it so much more than anywhere else.
I really hope Tony Hsieh's Downtown Las Vegas stuff works out well.
I don't disagree with you, just looking for an outside perspective. I've lived in both Reno and Las Vegas and have been working to build up the Reno startup community through Reno Collective coworking, Ignite Reno, WordCamp, Hack4Reno, etc. We've pulled off a lot of things and seen a lot of growth in the last few years but we know there is still a long way to go.
Neither one is ideal now, and neither has an "anchor tech company". Zappos isn't really enough of a tech company to be that. Hsieh's thing might be able to accomplish that, though. Having a pool of people familiar with startups to hire from would be great, but realistically you'd be recruiting people to relocate in either case.
 "that will fly just below the TSA’s radar – using 9-person planes to dodge under their screening of any plane carrying over 10 passengers." -- http://www.forbes.com/sites/edzitron/2011/06/29/planered/
I bet a lot of people (mostly business(wo)men) would be willing to pay through the nose for a subscription service where:
a) You can just turn up and fly
b) You get true first-class service and food (à la Pan Am in its heyday), not what they pass off as first-class these days
c) Comfortable chairs with lots of legroom (they're most of the way there on this right now with first-class)
d) "Volume" subscriptions (just like with software) available for large companies
e) Relaxed luggage size/weight requirements
f) Good wifi and cell phone service (support for all major carriers) on-board
g) No children allowed
h) Frequent departures, using small planes
i) You don't have to go through all the TSA crap, both the screening as well as restrictions on what you can bring on-board
j) No silly restrictions on electronic device usage, including during takeoff and landing
The last two would obviously be near impossible thanks to the government, but the others are definitely doable.
I'm not sure how it compares to Pan Am though---because I wasn't alive during those days.
That means faster checkin, quick TSA and no screaming kids.
A few airlines have failed trying to do this on transatlantic routes because the airlines/airports have a strangle hold on the big airports. The major airlines don't like competition and the airports don't like their richest customers speeding through without the opportunity to spend that 4hour checkin provides.
I would easily pay $1000 to $1500 a month.
It would as affordable as an Amtrak pass and just as convenient.
The possibilities for those who don't want to move to another city for work but want to broaden their options (or course if your salary range allows--but if you are making 100k or more it is brilliant).
At some point America is going to realize that it needs a 21st century infrastructure. It's going to cost a lot more in 20-30 years, of course.
It might not be rational, but we pay a lot more in taxes to make it seem like traveling is far less expensive than it actually is.
Several states impose a fuel tax that's below their sales tax limit. They still need to pay for road maintenance.
"U.S. annual gasoline consumption is 140 billion gallons and growing." The federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon that's 25.76 billion a year but you need to subtract out the oil company subsidy's, NHTSA's billion a year for safety, federal reconstruction aid after a disaster etc, and not just the new federal construction costs.
While 'free parking' is available in large sections of the country it still takes land and someone needs to maintain it. However, it's vary unusual for federal, state, or local governments to pay for such parking as part of a gas tax, it's generally taken from the budget of the agency providing that parking space.
Anyway, I responded to someone making a very specific claim about federal spending so I responded to that, state spending is a far more complex issue so here are some numbers:
Do you really think Alaska magically get's by on 8 cents a gallon or are the diverting funds for somewhere else to pay for roads? They don't have a sales tax so the math is easy on that one.
But, now let's look at Wyoming it has a nice 4% general tax on everything and charges 14 cents a gallon for gas. Let's say gas is around 3.25 a gallon before taxes and at 4% would wait for it be 13 cents. Do you think that single extra cent is going to pay to maintain all their roads? Because if the tax was 12 cents a gallon clearly they would be subsidizing that relative to you buying say cheeseburgers and they don't exactly have a lot of toll roads. Then again, if they spent close to the same percentage on road maintenance as people did on gas then the numbers would work out just fine. But wait for it, they don't.
If you happen to live by Omiya's station (about 30mi closer to Sendai), you'd be there in under 2 hours.
If even the English can do public projects better than you, you have a problem!
NYC always has several big tunnel projects going on. The problem here is the very hard granite and the depth of existing infrastructure. New tunnels have to be very deep. At the moment I believe there is a large east-side subway project and a water main project. There was supposed to be a new west side tunnel for Amtrak and NJ Transit trains coming into Penn Station from NJ, but unfortunately NJ's ahole governor killed the project.
I'm not familiar with tunnelling projects in Philly and DC, or the areas between them. I suspect the terrain is a lot more varied than below the Channel though. It'd be challenging to tunnel the whole way.
Beijing to Shanghai, for example, is currently averaging 186mph, and if they get back to initial goals, they'll average over 200mph.
In short, NYC to Boston should be 90 minutes by train.
Taking into account travel time to and from the airports, plus time spent in security, you might be looking at longer than 3.5 hours.
Still, travel along the Northeast corridor would be a lot cheaper if those fares didn't have to subside ridiculous cross-country routes. A one-way ticket from New York to Los Angeles (changing trains in Chicago) costs $266 and takes 62 hours, not including the 5 hour layover. Why are these trains still running?
There are also strong network effects in play. NYP to BOS is great if you're just going from NYP to BOS. But if you're going from NYP up to Portland, or BOS to Trenton or Pittsburgh or something, the cheap NYP-BOS connection is useless to you unless there are also not-extremely-expensive links from NYP or BOS to your actual endpoints. Part of what makes NYP-BOS so cost-effective as a route is that it's also fed by other lines that A) exist and B) aren't prohibitively expensive.
A political reason is that the keep-Amtrak-alive coalition is basically a mixture of urban transit advocates and representatives from rural areas who want to keep their town's train stop. A system that only served the major cities wouldn't have broad enough support, especially if it were only the major coastal cities (e.g. if you cut the Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, etc. services).
More info: http://pandodaily.com/2012/04/05/silicon-valley-gets-its-own...
Kind of funny. We don't even have high-speed rail in this country yet. The distance between LA and San Francisco is less than 400 miles. Someday it'll be a 2 hour train trip, but it's looking like it'll be another 100 years at this point.
Acquiring land already developed on to get lines in and out of larger cities isn't simple, and building underground routes like the "Chunnel" to get out of city centers isn't cheap.
And, I agree, there is a cultural perspective of rail travel that changed dramatically once it became affordable for so many to own a car.
I keep meaning to write about "why I refuse to move to the valley", and transportation and the negative impact it has on housing, is one of them. They are solving a real problem, but if you've lived abroad (or in a few NA cities like NY), you know that it isn't an efficient solution. It also isn't accessible to most.
Some of the comments in this thread have, for the first time, made this capitalist associate himself with the 99% movement.
I agree 100% with your sentiments about transportation in the West. I get that the weather is great and world-class outdoor activities are only a few hours drive away.
...But your groceries are also a drive away. And your friends. And your job. And your restaurant.
I live in Cambridge, MA and walk everywhere: to the lab, to the store, to friend's houses, to eat. For people used to it, walkability of a place is a huge, huge living quality factor.
Then I moved to Amsterdam. There are many 'quality of life' reasons why I'm here, but probably one of the biggest is that I'm a 10 minute bike from work, 15 minute train ride to an Int'l airport, 2 minute walk to a dozen cafe's & restaurants. Waiting in line at the grocery store takes longer than the walk home. On dates, my wife and I walk to the movies.
Walk/Bike-ability is a huge life improvement. I'd wager that it'll have more impact than a nicer car, a personal driver, or a 'private' jet subscription.
(The heck, I read their whole faq despite being on the other side of the ocean without any need to fly because I find the idea so intriguing..)
The people willing to pay 1k/month for this are probably not in the group of people looking for $80 specials.
Those specials are also inflexible and require either advance planning or a lucky weekend special. The target market for something like this is frequent fliers who need complete flexibility.
pretty huge caveat there!
Which would you rather have:
Dinner with $FAVORITE_CELEBRITY or the equivalent Skype session?
Never once have we been unable to reserve a boat, even on a holiday with only a few hours notice. I assume the same level of availability would be possible in a flying club, dependent of course on the ratio of travelers to planes.
The difference between SurfAir and fractional ownership is that the latter usually have a fleet of semi-identical vehicles (boats, planes, whatever) that are available at your disposal and that you are able to operate them... With SurfAir, it seems like there is only one plane with a pilot, which greatly limits flexibility and availability of the program.
Of course, I also notice they think it will take 15 minutes to get from Palo Alto to Monterey (60 miles straight plus departure/approach navigation) which is unpossible.
If by "near" you mean Salinas, then yes, but then East Palo Alto is pretty cheap too. Monterey itself (and vicinity like Pacific Grove) is absurdly expensive!
I'm moving to a job in Hawthorne (LA), and since I hate sitting in traffic, I'm strongly considering commuting by air. I'd fly myself though, even with a low-end general aviation plane you can comfortably get out of LA in 45 minutes. Apparently it's done: http://www.aopa.org/learntofly/whyfly/commute.html :)
Additionally, I would love to support a little airline like this even by buying an occasional single round-trip.
Not every company with a slightly different business model is "disruptive."
they have 9 seat jets that cost a certain amount to buy /lease /fuel /service.
Assume that all nine passengers travel just once a month and then move to 1.5 times a month, then twice a month and so on. My layman guess is that this is introductory pricing and they might to revise it pretty soon.
*I pay $50 in gas to travel 250 miles with my full size sedan car, so jet fuel alone must be a lot.
Another major deal breaker is wait time. Do I have to make reservations 4 months in advance or can I call the same day?
From their website it looks like the Pilatus PC-12 (single engine turboprop). Those burn around 65 gallons per hour @ ~$5.50/gal for Jet-A and cruise at somewhere north of 300mph.
But - what airport in LA does this service fly to? Please say Santa Monica. :)
LAX, JW, LB, or Burbank would be much less convenient...
the age of the microtransistor has ushered in an era where any businessmale or woman can conduct business or find entertainment anywhere in the world with a delay measured not in hours but in milliseconds, at a cost measured not in the thousands of dollars per month but in the dozens. With unlimited transmission capacity for documents, moving pictures, radio and television broadcasts and recodings, gramophones, and telefacsimiles, equivalent to a Boeing 747's carrying capacity as measured in typewritten pages every fraction of a second, and truly unlimited. All for a modest monthly sum.
Sounds too good to be true? Well...thee is one thing. In this age 'truly unlimited' doesn't mean anything anymore, so as to how much you're actually getting or paying, you'll have to see.
I guess I'm saying, nice marketing Surf Air - nick it from a telco?