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Author Topic: Trains, planes and automobiles  (Read 5190 times)

thinkdifferent13

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Trains, planes and automobiles
« on: February 12, 2004, 06:42:29 am »

Hey everyone I was just pondering how transit would work in "free" state/country.

I was thinking about shipping/trucking companies. It would probably be to their advantage to purchase/build roads that their trucks use so that they can use them free of charge. And these roads would also offer an additional stream of profit by charging the general public access to them. My question is, isnt it quite likely that Trucking company A that owns a shipping business and the roads, could not allow Trucking company B to use these roads? The Company B, which may be a smaller company (who doesnt have the funds to buy or build its own roads) will be shoved out of business because of a lack of access.

Now I know the whole "you dont have to know how it works, as long as someone else does" line, but damn it, I'm curious.

I was already thinking of possible solutions. For instance a 3rd company being created that specializes in circumventing company A so that companies B-F can still thrive. Also, I'm not sure how the phone lines work but...in most areas doesn't one company own all the phone lines, but they share them w/ the other companies? Is this sharing forced by the "man" or do they do it out of self interest? If its out of self interest, then I guess all my concerns are silly, as the shipping companies would do the same.

Anyway- I think Ive answered my own question a bit. But what are your thoughts on how transit would work in a free society? Discuss it amongst yourselves, I have given you a topic.
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RhythmStar

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2004, 07:36:57 am »

While most roads can be privatized and no road need be paid for by a tax, it is imprudent for the state to ignore roads and rights of way altogether.  For one thing, troops need transport in times of urgent need.  For another, citizens need to be able to have reasonable access and rights of way for the conduct of their business.  So, despite what purists may say, there will and should always be some roads created and maintained for the public interest, even if private profit is served in the process.

RS

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Karl

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2004, 09:15:46 am »

I was thinking about shipping/trucking companies. It would probably be to their advantage to purchase/build roads that their trucks use so that they can use them free of charge. And these roads would also offer an additional stream of profit by charging the general public access to them. My question is, isnt it quite likely that Trucking company A that owns a shipping business and the roads, could not allow Trucking company B to use these roads? The Company B, which may be a smaller company (who doesnt have the funds to buy or build its own roads) will be shoved out of business because of a lack of access.

Actually, we already have an example in history of such a system -- privately owned railroads.  Until regulation, nationalization, and competition with goverment subsidized highways killed most of the railroads, they wrestled with the same issues.

Railroads usually DID bar competitors from their tracks, which is partly why many markets were serviced by multiple railroads.  (Today, in New York City, you can still see evidence of this -- The Pennsylvania Railroad and Grand Central Railroad each maintained seperate stations only a few blocks from one another).  Despite this, today, many public officials and members of the public have bought into the idea that transportation infrastructure is a "natural monopoly."  Anyway, other railroads were typically permitted to use another railroad's lines for a fee, so long as they weren't directly competing with them.

The railroad model is best suited for long distance, limited access highways, like most Interstate highways.  Would multiple duplicate highways be the result?  Unlikely.  Highways are actually very inefficient for long-haul freight compared to railroads; should their very large subsidies go away, we are likely to see the return of many railroads.

Beyond limited access highways which can be turned into toll roads, local roads are quite a bit trickier, especially major thoroughfares.  Many secondary roads may be turned over to property/home owners associations (many newer suburban secondaries are already privately owned).  Major open-access thoroughfares may need a different ownership model, what exactly that would be is unclear to me.

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Now I know the whole "you dont have to know how it works, as long as someone else does" line, but damn it, I'm curious.

The public has the right to know and understand why.

Quote
Also, I'm not sure how the phone lines work but...in most areas doesn't one company own all the phone lines, but they share them w/ the other companies? Is this sharing forced by the "man" or do they do it out of self interest? If its out of self interest, then I guess all my concerns are silly, as the shipping companies would do the same.

Phone companies are allowed to lay their own networks, and many have, especially in recent years.  Unfortunately, the state and local governments have put the breaks on many of these efforts through seemingly unrelated regulations.  For example, in Washington, DC, many telecoms were laying their own cable and telephone lines.  One of the major telecom companies (Starpower) was wiring the city to compete with with Verizon and Comcast.  But the city turned them off by banning the "street cuts" needed to lay the lines (it caused traffic problems).  Because of that, Verizon and Comcast still hold their monopoly in most of the city.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2004, 09:21:53 am by Karl Beisel »
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thinkdifferent13

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2004, 09:43:52 am »

you dont have to know how it works, as long as someone else does

^what I meant by that was the libertarian line meaning that you dont know how every little thing would work in a free society. I am not a transit expert or a telecommunications expert (come to think of, I'm an expert on nothing...) but if I trust that others would be able to come up w/ a workable, profitable solution that satisfies everyone, thats all that matters.

Thanks for the replies guys :)
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Mike Lorrey

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2004, 10:21:53 am »

While the railroad history is a good example that transportation infrastructure isn't a natural monopoly, I would not promote rail today. It is inherently limiting with regards to consumer choice. With a car, I can tie my own road into the network, of whatever quality I choose to build, and travel to any other point in the network. I can pass slower drivers, drive slowly if I want. I don't need to signal any control center to get a switch changed or anything like that.

I would, instead, treat the road network in the Free State like the internet. Many private companies own different areas of the network, all working together to transfer information, and everybody gets paid based on traffic and reserved bandwidth... You own your own computer and phone lines/broadband lines in your house, and you pay the company you hook up to. They wind up paying the people they are hooked up to, etc...
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FTL_Ian

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2004, 10:27:46 am »

I say, that without the FAA, we would probably have flying cars by now, negating the whole discussion.   ;D

Regards,
Ian
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thinkdifferent13

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2004, 10:53:22 am »

yes, its 2004, where are the damned flying cars on cities on the moon? Damn it! I was promised flying cars!
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Karl

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2004, 11:14:06 am »

While the railroad history is a good example that transportation infrastructure isn't a natural monopoly, I would not promote rail today. It is inherently limiting with regards to consumer choice. With a car, I can tie my own road into the network, of whatever quality I choose to build, and travel to any other point in the network. I can pass slower drivers, drive slowly if I want. I don't need to signal any control center to get a switch changed or anything like that.

Sometimes automobile is more compelling, sometimes its not.  Thats not for us to decide -- its up to the market.

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I would, instead, treat the road network in the Free State like the internet. Many private companies own different areas of the network, all working together to transfer information, and everybody gets paid based on traffic and reserved bandwidth... You own your own computer and phone lines/broadband lines in your house, and you pay the company you hook up to. They wind up paying the people they are hooked up to, etc...

It would be really quite silly to exclude non-automobile transportation from the equation.  Rail (heavy, light, subway), bicycle, and walking all compete with roads at various levels.
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Mike Lorrey

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2004, 01:32:14 pm »

I would also dispute that the highways are 'government subsidized'. They are driver subsidized, paid for with gasoline taxes. Doesn't matter that government is the agent involved, outside of the whole imminent domain thing (which the railroads benefitted from anyways). If the oil companies were smart, they'd have formed a consortium to pay x many cents per gallon of gasoline to road companies (or gotten into the business themselves. Car companies too.

Conversely, the railroads went to hell cause they couldn't compete. Rails don't do last mile transportation. They charge as much as airlines do, but get you there little faster than by car.
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Karl

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2004, 02:43:27 pm »

I would also dispute that the highways are 'government subsidized'. They are driver subsidized, paid for with gasoline taxes.

Sorry, Mike, that is not true:

http://www.transalt.org/press/magazine/032Spring/02provocateur.html

Railroads are also hit from the other side -- they too must pay a diesel fuel tax -- money ostensibly used to fund competing transportation infrastructure!

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Doesn't matter that government is the agent involved, outside of the whole imminent domain thing (which the railroads benefitted from anyways). If the oil companies were smart, they'd have formed a consortium to pay x many cents per gallon of gasoline to road companies (or gotten into the business themselves. Car companies too.

Oil companies benefited enourmously from those highway subsidies, which is one of the reasons that they are so successful today.  Without those subsidies, can we be sure that they would have enjoyed the same success?

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Conversely, the railroads went to hell cause they couldn't compete. Rails don't do last mile transportation. They charge as much as airlines do, but get you there little faster than by car.

They couldn't compete, because the government made it so.  Rails don't do last mile transportation but that is irrelevent -- last-mile transporation is only one part of the transportation choice.  Only government-run Amtrak charges as much as airlines; countless mid-distance commuter rail systems, which approximate the distance of most typical highway drives, are substantially cheaper than airlines.  And most of those DO get you there faster than by car, especially in rush hour in major cities.  BTW, airlines are heavily subsidized as well, as are most passenger railroads.

You see, we have a transportation system designed and paid for by government bureucracts, and not the free market.  Hence our problem.
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Jhogun

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2004, 09:26:30 pm »

yes, its 2004, where are the damned flying cars on cities on the moon? Damn it! I was promised flying cars!

I thought it was gyro-copters.
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<Patrick>

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2004, 12:49:26 am »

yes, its 2004, where are the damned flying cars on cities on the moon? Damn it! I was promised flying cars!

Those bastard Jettsons lied to us!
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RhythmStar

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2004, 07:48:51 am »

In France, the preferred method of travel between Paris and Lyon, or just about anywhere else, is the high-speed train called the TGV.

http://www.beyond.fr/travel/railtgv.html

RS


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lloydbob1

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2004, 08:46:52 am »

yes, its 2004, where are the damned flying cars on cities on the moon? Damn it! I was promised flying cars!

Those bastard Jettsons lied to us!

Not just the Jetsons, but, every copy of Popular Science that I read in the 50' and 60's!
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Ogre11

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Re:Trains, planes and automobiles
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2004, 02:12:39 pm »

I would also dispute that the highways are 'government subsidized'. They are driver subsidized, paid for with gasoline taxes.

That's not true.  At least, its not true here in NC.  Sure, the laws state that it should be like this, but each and every year, without exception, the legislature votes an "emergency" to exempt the law, "just for one year."

In reality here, all taxes from nearly every source go to the giant bottomless pit called the "general fund."  Then the dollars are poured out by the millions to to pigs lined up at the trough.  Usually transportation is far down the list.  So while at least some of the money collected from use taxes may end up being used for roads, it is not a direct correlation.

Yes, its horribly wrong, and I've done what I can to let people know what's going on, but the state legislature (at least here) is almost invisible to people.  When I ran for election to the state senate, I was asked dozens, if not hundreds of times, "You mean you're running against Jesse Helms?"
« Last Edit: February 13, 2004, 02:13:24 pm by Ogre11 »
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