Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ferry Tales Can Come True, It Can Happen to You...

Today’s Capital tells of a local group thinking about solving Bay Bridge traffic woes and it comes up with--a ferry system? I think we’ve all read this story before, and again and again and all they can come up with is a return to the very type of service that used to move us until the first bridge was built? This type of “thinking” if you can call it that, continues to operate on the same old assumptions that we must drive cars, we will always drive cars, and there will always be cheap private automobile transport available.

The first bridge came in 1952, followed by the second one about twenty years later, and ever since, they have been followed by talk and more talk about bridges here, bridges there and now ferry systems.

It’s a big challenge, but one must ask, who will make up the masses of people that will make such a trip? Where will a ferry big enough to carry hundreds dock in downtown Annapolis? Where will all the cars be parked (on both sides) for the people to get on the boat? By the time one parks a car on Kent Island, boards a ferry, rides on the ferry and then disembarks, I predict about 45 minutes will have elapsed.

We cannot compare ourselves to either Seattle or New York, although maybe Rhode Island has some similarities. A lot of conditions as well as infrastructure need to be in place for a ferry system to work, but most of all, there must be a market that meets a critical mass requirement that will actually ride such a ferry system because A) It saves a lot of time B) It is comparable in cost to driving C) It is a lot easier than, or otherwise preferable to driving or D) Some other compelling reason or set of reasons such as lots of high paying jobs in a dense area and lots of nice bedroom communities in outlying areas.

Does either Baltimore or Annapolis offer that? Will they ever?

Remember the Concorde SST? If it were profitable, the French and British would still be doing it.

Why are we proposing complex, large scale “solutions” when the state capital does not even have commuter buses to Baltimore and when our own local transit system is beleaguered by mismanagement, labor shortages, poor morale and tenuous federal funding issues that are not even addressed? And why are we not seriously talking about major development of express commuter buses for crossing the existing bridges? At the present, Annapolis Transit sends one commuter bus back and forth to Kent Island each weekday morning and afternoon. It goes over empty in the am and comes back full and then goes back full in the pm and comes back empty, and is considered to be a very successful run. So, why are we not expanding that? Why are we not expanding other commuting options by transit? Why are we not discussing reinstating the commuter express bus chopped under the Ehrlich Administration?

Again, we operate under certain assumptions that we will also be commuting in droves in the year 2010 and 2015, but will we? Only if we choose to keep doing that.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer to your question is: Yes, we will still do that.

Anything else is fantasy. There is no real convenient alternative to private transport of some type, esp when people from all over the state at all times of the day and night most of the year want to get some place. Sorry, no possible mass transit system could ever solve this problem.

Perhaps you could talk your boy into stopping the importation of higher birthrate illegals into this state. They will drive most of our population growth if we let them. Keep the state pop slowly growing or steady or declining and these kind of things largely solve themselves.

I'm sure the dems in the legislature will do their part to make MD even more of a regulatory hell than it is now, and thus cause an excodus. All they need to do is get serious about immigration control by not offering any incentives, and we should be all set.


2/04/2007 04:29:00 AM  
Blogger Paul M. Foer said...

"Clarence"-Wow! Blame the immigrants! How convenient--and how hackneyed. Where does one begin to respond with the issues you raise such as "immigration control", "importation of higher birthrate illegals", "regulatory hell" and what exactly is an "excodus"--some sort of arcane legal term, or did you mean "exodus"--as in going out, you know, like with Charlton Heston? And who is "your boy'?
I happen to believe we need to limit immigration and control illegal immigration, but I think it has little to do directly with traffic on our Bay Bridges.
As to shifts in transportation modes, I predict it is necessary and unavoidable in our collective future. The era of widespread use of the private automobile is coming to an end.
At the very least-start your own blog about immigration--as if they are not enough already! You write a comment but say nothing productive or useful about the issue, but manage to spread ignorance about immigrants. Speaking of people wanting to get some place "at all times of the day and night"-why don't you leave Maryland if you hate the place so much? You have my clearance, "Clarence."

2/04/2007 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't need to explain myself to someone I think is a Democratic hack, fully comfortable with one-party rule for most of the last 40 years. I'm an independent and I hate both of the major parties.

To be fair, my post wasn't proofread and wasn't the best written, but I find it hard to believe you could misunderstand it in the way you claim to do.

My main claim is backed via demographics: hispanics, esp. the illegal ones tend to have more children than any other group. Of course I think you already know that, but just in case I don't mind educating you. In any case, import a high fertility population, add 20 years, and what do you get? A lot more of that traffic you hate so much.

As for your assertion about private transportation use coming to an end, I find that laughable. I sincerely doubt you spent over half your life riding Maryland's abysmal public transportation system, but I have, as well as those of Washington, NY, Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco. I'll say some were better, some were worse, but they all suffered from flaws that inherently make them inferior to your own car: you operate on their schedule, not they on yours.

That fundamental fact is why people will never voluntarily switch to a system of mass-transit, and will punish anyone who tries to force them.

I'd love for you to inform me of just why this switchover to mass cattle herding modes of transit is inevitable but I suspect your skill with grammar far exceeds your knowledge of transportation systems.


2/04/2007 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Paul M. Foer said...

Clarence, Clarence, Clarence....tsk, tsk, calling me a Democratic hack is just plain silly--and untrue. I'm not afraid to call myself a Democrat, but a hack? I don't think so. Where do you come off attacking me because of my party affiliation and blaming that party for just about everything? Lighten up Clarence. And you continue to whine about immigration despite the fact that I clearly said "I happen to believe we need to limit immigration and control illegal immigration..." And you try to start a chest-thumping match about who has used more or who knows more about public transportation which is just plain silly. However, since you know my identity, if you wished, you could find out about my wide ranging experience and knowledge of public transportation by easily using the web (however you are hiding behind a veil of anonymity, so I can't find out who you are--nor can anyone else). I also happen to believe public transit has many flaws, excesses and inefficiences, but, so does the automobile system-and it is much bigger! I HAVE used public transit in all those cities you mentioned--and many more on three continents. I also have a background in marine transportation. I stand by my contention that our system of private automobiles is endangered and coming to an end due to a diminishing supply of fuel, land use costs, overcrowding, economics etc. I do not advocating forcing people to take transit. I advocate for more choices for everyone. And one day we won't have choices about cars for that matter. So-what else are you angry and ready to argue about in response to my piece about a proposed ferry system for a Bay crossing? Health care? Abortion? Stem cells? You remind me of Andy Rooney--and another thing...blah, blah, so again--you have clearance, Clarence.....

2/04/2007 10:18:00 PM  

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