Monday, 8 August 2016

The Naivety of the Enviro-Left

It comes as no surprise that the hip, inner-city enviro-left is short-sighted, economically illiterate, and generally anti-human. However, there's an element of their stupidity that I didn't see until today - probably because I've been intuitively swayed by an ounce of efficiency-thinking in this particular argument. I'm talking about videos like this:

Or EU statistics like these:
 The most recent data for the average number of passengers per car (including the driver) for the countries sampled is approximately 1.45 passengers per vehicle (in the UK - 1.58; Germany - 1.42 and Netherlands - 1.38 passengers accordingly).
In the chase for cutting terrible carbon emissions, the lefties have realized that most cars are never full, and so if we'd pack people into subways or buses or public transport, they'd run more efficiently - because those forms of transportation takes up way less space on the roads (and so solving congestion problems while at it).

This has always seemed convincing to me. Of course, cars - much like fat people - are a pretty inefficient use of scarce inner-city space, compared to subways or bus lines.

Until something struck me today. That line of thinking assumes that every passenger is going from the same place, to the same destination (or at least same direction), at the same time. As soon as any one of those conditions are relaxed, it turns out subways, buses and light rail are quite crappy means of transportation. If, for instance, I'm going later than you, we'd need two different buses; or if I'm not going from the exact same space, I'd have to walk perhaps a considerable distance to get to that point - and same if my destination is far from where the bus drops me off. Or if I require any flexibility whatsoever, say picking up children from school or grocery shopping or visiting grandma etc. In any of those cases, I need enough buses to run basically every other minute, in every possible direction (which only ever happens on specific routes in very large cities), to offset those serious disadvantages.

Or applied to my job commute for the next month. Since none of these wonderfully, crappy and always-late buses run directly from my work to my house, I need to walk about 20 minutes to catch a bus - or wait even longer for local buses to connect. Add the bus ride itself, another 40 minutes, after which I have an annoying 10 minute walk before I reach my house. Admittedly, little over an hour's commute isn't that bad - but that's assuming the bus arrives exactly when I arrive at the bus station, and that no delays occurs. More often than not, I need about an hour and a half, door-to-door.

Imagine if I had any of the above flexibility issues; children, grandma, gym or whatever else. Or had to work night shifts, at which point the buses stop going, or run only infrequently. Constantly having to time them, wait for them, adjust my life according to when some central planner decided buses should run.

If I drive, I'm home in half an hour. And most of the above issues are rather conveniently solved - at least considering the alternatives.

The arguments that transporting people by cars rather than light rail or buses is forgetting that individuals' destinations and purposes vary. They consider a static, identical "bring people from Point A to Point B", ignoring the fact that this chunk of individuals have very different lives and schedules and needs - not to mention that they're not actually leaving Point A (but a point roughly around it), nor have as their final destination Point B.

Maybe this is a symptom of not living in a mega-metropolis, but it still seems that the Enviro-Left's worship for trains and rails and buses over filfthy cars is mistaken and, in quintessential leftie ways, ignoring individual lifestyle diversity. It's simply not more efficiently to shove us all into buses and ban cars from the cities.

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