[extropy-chat] Psychology of investments in infrastructure

kevinfreels.com kevin at kevinfreels.com
Tue Jun 20 17:53:07 UTC 2006

Proponents of public transportation always seem to forget that people like
things for other reasons than efficiency. They like music, art,
architecture, flowers, and of course, cars. The money invested on designing
even "better" public transportation I think would be better spent on finding
ways that people don't have to go places. For example, the technology that
allows me to work from home was not there 10 years ago, so people in my
position were stuck driving around to other people's offices every day. Even
with a T1 connection it wouldn't have helped because the people I did
business with would have needed the same technology. Instead, hours would be
spent on the road driving from one office to the next picking up documents
and building relationships. Now I can sit here at my desk in a small town of
3000 and work out of New York, California, Florida, Texas, and anywhere else
I need to work. I can even order my groceries online and have them
delivered. To me, this is much more efficient than had the city decided to
build a mass transit system. I should try to calculate the difference in
saved time and energy from then to now. It would be interesting to see the

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Samantha Atkins" <sjatkins at mac.com>
To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 20, 2006 10:33 AM
Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Psychology of investments in infrastructure

> On Jun 19, 2006, at 8:48 PM, spike wrote:
> >> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Samantha Atkins
> > ...
> >>
> >> If we had a decent mass transit system out here in the south bay I
> >> would use it more often.  Caltrain is better than nothing but by the
> >> time I have fought traffic to park at the nearest station I would be
> >> over halfway to work.    The buses are too few to take to the station
> >> for me...
> >
> > Ja, we don't have the population densities required to make mass
> > transit
> > viable here.  The only way we could really make it go is to eliminate
> > parking lots everywhere.  If we put our minds to it, we can force
> > the people
> > to serve mass transit.
> >
> As I look out my window into my neighbor's kitchen I very much doubt
> lack of population density is a problem.
> >
> >> Well you did claim to be getting on with life yet you are advising
> >> not building various things because you fear terrorism.  Something
> >> seem a bit off. - samantha
> >
> > Something is a bit on.  My life goes on.  In fact life for me is
> > better now
> > than at any time in the past.
> >
> > I am advocating not building subways because they are too likely to
> > go bust,
> > both because of inconvenience and theoretical terrorism that has never
> > happened.  One could argue that this is an indirect fear of
> > terrorism: it is
> > a fear of economic failure because of public fear of terrorism.
> You did bring up terrorism first as your reason.
> >
> > Still, subways are a bad bet.  Even our local mass transit doesn't
> > pay for
> > itself, after all we have invested.
> That is partially on purpose imho.
> > Samantha, you and I have seen our very
> > expensive light rail go by, holding up blocks of car traffic, with two
> > people aboard, one of which is the guy operating the train.  If it
> > were a
> > private business it would have folded a long time ago.  So why do
> > we still
> > have it?  Why do we need it?  Are we still betting on them becoming
> > viable
> > at some indefinite future time?
> I have rarely seen it that underutilized.  We spend many tens of
> billions of dollars every year of lost productivity sitting in a box
> on wheels driving to and from work.   We spend much more than that on
> be box and the liquid gold that fuels it.  Clearly this is sub-
> optimal to say the least.
> - samantha
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