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This here is a Gov't Road!

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Tell me, would you take a hot meal cold at any restaurant? Would you be ok with you, if you bought a brand new car with rust all over? If you purchased a freezer at Best Buy, would forty degrees Fahrenheit be cold enough performance? Would you ever be satisfied with electricity that only worked half the time? No? Then why in the heck does anyone accept the many short comings of the national highway system?

Have you seen these various signs of gov't run road system:

Pot holes that stay for months- or years

And when holes are patched or repaved the repair job is truly terrible

Poorly designed exits/entrances

Traffic jams that occur in the same place for decades without out anything being done

Poorly run toll booths

Low speed limits

Bearly visible lines for years before being repainted

Poorly lit

Choked with freight that should be on the rails if it also wasn't gov't run

Cops that treat tickets like a source of income for the local gov't (because it is)

I think we all know that these things would never be tolerated if you could take your business elsewhere, or if paying for this shit was voluntary. The ubiquitous traffic jams the reader sees everyday are a sign of over-reliance on gov't run and paid for national and local highway systems. What would have taken the place of such a transportation system had the gov't not interfered? I got some ideas for starters!

Someone please tell me why in the hell can I beat an AMTRAK train from Charleston to Charleston at 1/30th the cost in 1/5th the time in a car? Something is seriously wrong when a car can beat a train that has no reason to stop and no reason to go slower than 150mph all the way there! Maybe if train cargo was cheaper our roads wouldn't be choked with eighteen-wheelers! One has to wonder what other forms of transportation would have been developed had the national highway system hadn't been there to crush it? How many jobs would have been created? How many lives saved by safer roads? What kind of cars would we be driving had so many CAFE standards not been enacted?

Although rarely recognized, the government highway system is a robbery perpetrated on the American people in which 40,000 lives and billions of dollars are wasted every year. How many more years should such a simple job be done so poorly on our dime?

Edited by th3ranger
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Amen!

Why does it take a whole calendar year to finish any construction job? Why can't roads last longer than a year when fixed before crumbling down again? Who can drive 55??

I hate government roads!

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It's pointless to ask why people "accept" the government road system. People are generally pragmatic, and if there's something "free," then it automatically trumps anything you have to pay for. Not everyone has the vision or forethought to realize that government roads are horrendous.

You seem to have listed all the main problems with government run roads, but above all else, it is literally criminal that the government allows 50,000 people to die every year because of their roads. It's not just because the roads are poorly maintained and designed and an outdated technology, it's also because of the effective lack of standards enforced on drivers. Driving tests are so easy one could practically take them blindfolded (oh the irony).

Let me describe to you the train system in Japan for comparison. JR Rail, formerly a government-run agency, was privatized a long time ago and split into several companies, primarily JR East and JR West. While the government still owns the land on which the rails are built and you have to consult the government if you want to build a new rail, all the money and innovation is purely private. While JR Rail companies run an extensive network of normal-speed trains all around the country, their crown jewel is the Shinkansen (a.k.a. "Bullet Train"). It travels at 180mph at top speed and has had only one wreck in its entire 60 year operating history, and it was only because an earthquake knocked a train off the tracks. No one died. I'm not lying and I'm not exaggerating. Only one person has been killed directly by a Shinkansen, and that was a freak accident involving a man trapped in a door. Normally, doors open up again after closing on someone, but there must have been an electrical fault.

Shinkansen have never run over cars or slammed into each other (much unlike the weekly Amtrak accidents). They are literally the safest form of transportation in the world, with only one death caused directly by a train. Nothing can top that. Not even walking. You can fall while you're walking. They also get you where you're going within the country faster than a plane, because even though they go only half the speed of a domestic flight, you don't have to get to the train station early to beat crowds and security terminals and check your baggage (Shinkansen have no security gates other than the first ticket gate).

For the past few decades, JR engineers have been perfecting maglev technology and have a fully operational train that goes 300mph. The only thing holding them back is convincing the government to give them the contract to build the track.

So, in every respect, Japan has been more advanced than the US in terms of transportation for half a century. They are where we should have been 50 years ago. But "free roads" effectively nullify the chances of any company building any other kind of road. There were and still are thousands of people with ideas for new kinds of roads or transportation systems with no way to get them implemented. Somehow the government road system will have to become a total failure in the eyes of the public for any other transportation option to become feasible. There are people who could build raised rails directly on top of the preexisting road system, and still let people use their cars. There are maglev ideas, plans for a road that separates vehicles into completely segregated roads by weight - trains on one, semis on another, and cars on yet another. That way, at least wrecks with heavier and therefore deadlier vehicles can be avoided. Someone built a strip of said road in Texas and it is run privately.

The fact is, cars are 150 year old technology that has only been slightly improved over the years. They are slow compared to all other forms of transportation, more dangerous than most, and breathing their fumes is harmful. The Shinkansen in Japan, on the other hand, runs on electricity and therefore does not stink or harm your lungs, has killed only 1 person in 60 years versus countless millions killed by cars in the same amount of time, and is the fastest form of land-based transportation in the world. Oh, did I mention they are private, spotlessly clean, and punctual to the second? And that their food is much better than the so-called "food" served on Amtrak?

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Oh, and one more thing. I'm sure that by now, had roads been left private all along, that cars would only be recreational vehicles or hobbies, and everyone would be using privately run, super high speed maglev trains or something I can't even imagine. Freight trains would also be maglev. People and goods would be traveling 300mph or faster all the time. Can you imagine it? And even if cars were still relatively popular, I bet most of them would be fast, efficient electric cars and there would be a whole electricity station infrastructure. Hell, why not just plug cars up to wires like an electric train?

You could ask the same of airplanes. While they are not truly nationalized, they are subsidized, and because the government will only approve the construction of an airport where they think it should be built, they force airlines to work within a constricted infrastructure. They can only use certain airports as hubs and can only build airports in certain areas, thus artificially affecting the allocation of all their resources, and most likely being detrimental to profit in most if not all cases. If this were not the case, airports would probably be cleaner, faster, and generally more efficient in ways it is saddening to imagine. Not to mention, airlines would probably have enough money to use a handful of suborbital, ballistic-trajectory flights that go Mach 20 and get you across the world in 1 hour. I remember seeing some documentary about such a concept not too long ago.

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The exercise here for me was to imagine how and why government roads are bad, and view them in such a way that I am able to see them in as bad a light as government health care. Government run highways never have seemed all that bad having grown up around them, and I now, of course, know they must be bad in principle, but I could not conceptualize how. I do not ask why everyone accepts government run roads, because they have never been any other way for me, and I believe most readers as well, so it is very difficult to see what is so wrong about them, let alone reject them wholly as they should be.

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The fact is, cars are 150 year old technology that has only been slightly improved over the years.

Well, there is choice. And there are more cars bought, sold, rebuilt, fixed, passed down, restored, and lots of other things.

The freedom of being able to go where one wants, when one wants, alone or with some others is available. Door to door service.

While trains are practical in certain locations, it's completely impractical in the suburban areas I have lived in. There is a big world out there outside the cities. Cities only comprise a small area.

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^^But you're thinking is too confined. The only reason cities and roads are laid out the way they are is because of centuries of government planning. Originally, people could and did design cities the way they wanted, but zoning laws were quickly put in place. Moreover, by building "free roads," the government has subsidized cars, making them the only feasible choice just because they subsidized them. Thus, roads sprung up everywhere. That was probably inevitable after the invention of the car, but was it inevitable that they would spread as far and as deeply into American infrastructure as they have? I don't think so. The only reason, for instance, we use so many semi trucks to move goods is because the government killed trains by subsidizing roads. That's simplified, but basically true.

The way modern transportation has developed, as a result of countless inventions and government interventions, it is nearly impossible for us, in this situation, to postulate what could have been. Cars will probably always exist, at least for the foreseeable future, but might we be using something else? Had there been no government zoning laws, for all we know, suburbs may have never come into existence. People may have been riding trains all the time. You just can't say.

Also, Shinkansen in Japan are NOT intra-city. They are inter-city, going from Tokyo all the way north to Sapporo, and all the way south to Nagasaki, stopping at all the major cities in-between. For intra-city travel, people use regular-speed trains, of which there are almost more than one can count. All of them, except city metros, are privately run.

Edited by Krattle
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To Theranger:

Government roads are bad compared to private roads for the following reasons:

1) they are government roads (in other words, they are "free" so that anyone and everyone uses them

2) because of #1, roads are always congested, and building more roads is not the answer because they TOO are free

3) roads are almost always in some state of disrepair

4) 50,000 people die every year because of car wrecks (are they stupid? no, not necessarily)

5) DMV driving tests are poor at best

6) bridges are also in disrepair, a fact recently brought to light

7) traffic of various sizes is mixed for no reason (semis 10 times bigger than a car, train tracks crossing when there is no reason for that to happen)

8) road repairs or renovations always take months

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If we had a free road system, or systems, who knows what innovations would have been added to them to improve them. Roads have improved little since the 1950s, it seems. Cars, otoh, have improved greatly, with all sorts of new features, although even the auto industry has been encumbered by a straight jacket for decades, making innovating much more difficult.

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I'm coming to realize one thing: all governments are not equal.

Roads are a good example. For all the shortcomings of America's roads, you should one day drive down to Mexico and comapre them. I'll just cite one example: the Mexico City-Toluca highway.

This is one of the most heavily used highways in the nation. Lots of cargo and passengers move over it every day. The toll is around $4.25 US one way, $8.50 round trip, and it's less than 60 kilometers long (about 37 miles). There's a perpetual traffic jam at the Mexico City end where you get off the highway (getting on is relatively uncluttered) from around 7 am to 9 pm. It is three lanes wide each way. Mostly it's kept in good repair, but there are occasional pot-holes. They also take forever to paint lines after repaving. Recently i had to struggle through fog without any lines to tell me where the road was going (I had to drive very slowly).

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Krattle, trains are a solution that works really well for Japan a country with an area of 377,873 km2 and a population of 127,433,494.

Now compare that to lets say Canada with an area of 9,984,670 km2 and a population of 33,744,000 and you will quickly realize that any attempt to implement a Japan style solution is nonsensical.

Are there some places where highspeed rail might work? Sure, but it isn't going to replace the highway here any time soon.

I'd rather see road technology improved, and the establishment of an Autobahn style system. I'd like to see it done by a private company too.

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But Zip, why? Why would it be nonsensical? We already have a road system more complex than any in the world, so why would it be nonsensical to implement a train system less complex than that? How can YOU even make that decision? That's what the free market is here for, to make that decision from all the countless millions of consumer decisions. Hypothetically, had the US government not crippled the train industry in America, we would probably have super-high speed trains.

How is it NOT nonsensical to travel across 2500 miles of roads at 70mph when you could do the same distance at 300mph on a high-speed maglev? Answer me that. You would only need a couple of tracks that go to the major cities - New York, Boston, Phili, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Dallas/FW, Las Vegas, San Fran, LA. Private rail companies would figure out the most feasible routes between major cities, and you could cut travel time down to nearly 1/4th what it would take by car. How is that nonsensical?

The problem is, Americans have some kind of view of cars as a great symbol of freedom. I think they're death traps and when you drive on a road you're putting your life in the hands of all the other moronic drivers out there. On a train, you're putting your life in the hands of the trained, intelligent engineers and conductors who created the train and drive it. I think I would much rather do that.

Also, don't forget that Japan has nearly 1/2th the population of the US. 127,000,000 in Japan and 300,000,000 here, spread across a much larger area, so that means the traffic on any given train route would probably be no higher than it is in Japan.

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How is it NOT nonsensical to travel across 2500 miles of roads at 70mph when you could do the same distance at 300mph on a high-speed maglev? Answer me that. You would only need a couple of tracks that go to the major cities - New York, Boston, Phili, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Dallas/FW, Las Vegas, San Fran, LA. Private rail companies would figure out the most feasible routes between major cities, and you could cut travel time down to nearly 1/4th what it would take by car. How is that nonsensical?

Because you're assuming that everyone is going to one place.

Mass transit operates on volume, requires loading, specific time schedules, and it doesn't pick one up at the start point or final destination. If I walk fifty feet to my car right now and get in, I can be 500 miles away in the time I decide to get there in addition to making other choices on my route, possible foot choices and prices. Figure seven hours

If I want to travel 500 miles in a plane or train, I have to go to a specific location that isn't my house. So, I can ask someone to take me there or pay for a service to get me there, and I cannot leave on my transport until the schedule says so. Once at destination, one has to again ask someone to pick you up or pay for transport. That time and cost always shut down air travel for us immediately. It was, as you say, nonsensical. Even on some trips longer than that, it was still nonsensical as at the destination one still needed a rental to get to different locations.

Mass transit is what it is.

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Look, as I said in my post there are places where it could work in Canada but a Japanese style transit system is a non starter in Canada due to economic reasons. Lets just take a look at Population density, distance and climate

The population density in Japan is 338 persons per square kilometer 30th in the world

The population density in Canada is 3 persons per square kilometer 219th in the world...

Are you seeing a problem yet?

Japan has an area of 378 thousand square kilometers

Canada has an area of 9 million 984 thousand square kilometers almost 26 and a half times as large

...

Tokyo has an average annual temperature of 15°C and varies from between 4°C and 27°C

Ottawa has an average annual temperature of 10°C and varies from between -36.1°C and +37.8°C

The longest railway line in Japan is the Sanin Main Line, 673.8 km. which wouldn't even get you 1/3 of the way across the province of Ontario.

Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku, Tokyo, has 3.22 million users per a day, that's a tenth of the population of Canada as a whole.

I could go on... but I think you should be able to see my point now.

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Since when were we talking about Canada though? I'm only talking about the US. It's obvious that in a country as small (population wise) and as spread out as Canada it would be very hard to run any substantial train system at a profit.

This thread is about the US road system, not Canada. I'm saying a Japanese-style rail system would work in the US.

Edited by Krattle
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Since when were we talking about Canada though? I'm only talking about the US. It's obvious that in a country as small (population wise) and as spread out as Canada it would be very hard to run any substantial train system at a profit.

This thread is about the US road system, not Canada. I'm saying a Japanese-style rail system would work in the US.

Given that the trains running in congested areas like Chicago where it does get you places quicker than a car, it might work....but that doesn't make a profit.

Save your money and start up a train system. Chicago needs $1,000,000,000 to keep theirs operating as fares don't cover the cost.

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Since when were we talking about Canada though? I'm only talking about the US. It's obvious that in a country as small (population wise) and as spread out as Canada it would be very hard to run any substantial train system at a profit.

This thread is about the US road system, not Canada. I'm saying a Japanese-style rail system would work in the US.

You might want to look into the same things for the USA

Area - Total 9,826,630 km2

Population - Density 31/km2 (180th)

That marvel of engineering that is the 673.8 km "Main Line" in Japan wouldn't get you from New York to Columbus Ohio.

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These are all interesting arguments, but in a free market innovators would come up with who knows what clever ideas. Nobody knows!

B)

I'm not discounting that, but to draw a direct comparison between what has been done in Japan and what would be done in the US without taking these other factors into account is to ignore a vital piece of the puzzle.

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I still don't understand why it matters that the main line in Japan doesn't get you from New York to Columbus. The US is already laced with railroad tracks that go all over the place, both commuter and freight. Therefore my argument already has hard proof to back it up. It is quite possible for railroads to be built all across the US and for them to be profitable. Maglev aside, just putting a high-speed electric train in place would not require building any new routes, just updating the existing infrastructure for a handful of extant routes. New tracks that could handle the extra stress (they aren't that different from normal tracks though), and electrical wires overhead.

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Just update the infrastructure?

How expensive do you suppose it would be to hang all that doggone wire over thousands of miles of track? I've seen the way it's set up in Europe and it's astounding how much hardware it takes to suspend the power lines for the electric trains. We use diesel-electric locomotives for a reason.

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...First of all, you're not a businessman and you don't run a railroad company. Nor am I.

Second of all, my original argument was a hypothetical scenario about a possible course the development of transportation could have taken in the US had the government not: 1) imposed zoning laws, thus setting in stone the way cities and suburbs are designed, 2) subsidized railroads, 3) hampered railroads in countless ways (read Rand's essay in Capitalism: Unknown Ideal), 4) built public roads.

Had roads been private from the beginning and remained that way, and had railroads not been so impeded by the government, I suspect we would have developed completely differently and we would be using high-speed commuter trains instead of what we use now. Hypothetically! JR Rail is thinking about creating a whole new maglev line that would cost $10 billion. If they can afford it in a country as big as California, then surely a company here would have been able to afford something even bigger in my hypothetical scenario. Also, railroads were not and are not laid out all at once. They are built piece by piece from city to city. A company here would most likely start with a high-speed rail between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC because there is huge profit to be had from the millions of commuters in that area who need to go between those cities all the time and who would gladly go 4 times the speed they do now on aging 60mph trains and 60mph cars. Companies would find what's profitable and do it, period. No one on this forum has enough knowledge to say which cities would be profitable to link up by rail. But a railroad company with teams of researchers would.

JR Rail only runs a handful of Shinkansen, and it would be the same way in the US. There would most likely be only one or two trains going cross-country and then routes between the most populous cities, like in the New York-Phili-Boston-DC area.

Again, all hypothetical in a universe that developed on a completely different track from the one we are in now. Even so, this sort of thing could still easily happen as an alternative to dangerous, slow highways. It doesn't even have to be commuter trains. High-speed rail could be used to transport cargo at 2 to 4 times the speed it is now on semis and normal trains. Can you imagine the demand for getting stuff where it needs to go that much faster? A company could lease space for UPS, Fedex, USPS. Shipping times could be cut in half. I'm sure there are countless ways a company could think of to make a high-speed rail across the US profitable. You can't ship everything by plane, so you have to resort to trucks and trains, but a high-speed train could make even those options faster. Who wouldn't want freight shipped twice as fast?

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