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Miles Bader

A bit late, but note that Richard above is wrong when he writes "By the way the major rails in Japan often described as the best in the world almost all lose money. The local rails in cities like Tokyo are owned by major department stores and are used to provide transportation to the store. The overpriced items in the stores subsidize the store's rail system."

While it's true that most Japanese private railways use real-estate and retail as a fundamental part of their business model, in the cases I'm aware of, e.g. Tokyu, the rail lines are profitable by themselves, no part of the group is really subsidizing another, and no part dominates profit/income. [In Tokyu's case, the rail and real-estate divisions are roughly equal in profitability and income, and the retail operations are somewhat behind.]

I guess it's best described as a symbiotic relationship: good quality rail service attracts people to the area, and thus makes the real-estate and retail operations more profitable, and good quality real-estate/retail brings people, and so increases ridership on the railway (and of course good quality retail attracts people to housing, people living in the housing supplies shoppers for the retail, etc, etc).


What I can't understand is why more people don't use bicycles or electric bicycles or scooters to go to work. It's clean, quiet and easy. I ride an electric vespa-like scooter to work (5 miles) and the most dangerous thing is the people in the giant SUV's that think they own the road. Live close to work and save money...


A couple of thoughts: The United States is a vast nation. In my previous work life we had lots of international visitors - most were overwhelmed at the distance between most cities - meaning that European and Asian metro areas are often more densly populated than in the USA. A good example - 25 miles in some directions from New York City appears rural. A 20 minute ride on the Shinhansen from Tokyo and it still looks like you are in the city.

By the way the major rails in Japan often described as the best in the world almost all lose money. The local rails in cities like Tokyo are owned by major department stores and are used to provide transportation to the store. The overpriced items in the stores subsidize the store's rail system.

People drive or ride trains 2 hours a day to work in the cities because they do not want to live in the city. The "information age" and high realestate prices in SF area and other high tech areas has made it impossible for "public servants such as policemen and women" to live in the cities where they work. A $35-40K job does not buy a $400K bungalow. Public transportation only exist in the cities and to the most populus suburbs.

Cars by themselves seldom if ever kill anyone. Inappropriate driving or driving while under the influence of alcohol is a major factor. Individual responsibilty also play a part per NHSTA 55% of the 42k killed in the USA last year were not using safety belts. That does not say that they would all be alive if they were wearing them but my insurance will pay double if I am wearing mine so it must work.

Automibles certainly contribute to global warming. So does most everything else. 6 billion people suck in air at "room temperature" depleate it of oxygen and exhale it at 98.6 degrees F. Additionally billions of animals do the same. The new automobile that you purchase today emits less than 1% of what your fathers automobile did 20 years ago.

US auto sales of new vehicles last year were more than 17 million units. Yes way too many get way too little gas mileage. Yes a lot of people have vehicles that they don't need and there are vehicles that get better mileage that they could have purchased. This is a free country - it doesn't mean we all make smart decisions and it doesn't mean we always make the best decisions but we have the freedom to make those decisions just as we have the freedom to post what we think on this board and you have the right to write what ever you want in book form.

If the auto was at the end of the road if it's an SUV you can continue without the road - a little humor - it's made to go offroad but according to JD Powers 90% never are taken offroad intentionally. The auto has to change. Clean diesel fuels, better performance, multi fuel cars, hybrids , hydrogen and eventually even fuel cell powered cars.

All of these things will come at a price. The biggest price will be the lack of mobility for those that can not affort a car that meets future regulations.

Erik Holden

As an investor in Daimler Chrysler, I should tell you that their automotive divisions are making money (are you considering them a US or German manufacturer?). The SUV will probably make a come back, but it will be hybrid SUVs. I think the decline in US car sales is more closely related to economic uncertainty than to any realignment in people's thinking about transportation.

Karen Frantz

In the United States - for the most part - SUVs are more a status symbol than a need. Sales will continue to falter as long as the expense of owning an SUV remains high [even more affluent people can feel the financial pinch].

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