Friday, December 17, 2010
Overheard on Streetcar desires


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "When Mr. Rogers starts calling his ride into the Land of Make Believe a streetcar, I'll start calling it a streetcar. Until then, it's a trolley." --mkelly9772


Many streetcar projects are planned around the country now that the Obama administration recently offered some U.S. cities a piece of a $130 million federal fund for streetcar projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion, cutting pollution and reducing reliance on foreign oil, and creating jobs. Our readers were largely in favor of streetcars, with a few exceptions and many shared stories of streetcar lines in their own cities. Supporters welcomed the economic development and ability to get around without a car while opponents feared that streetcars would be unsustainable and hard to pay for. Check out readers' responses to this story and others on


Can streetcars save America's cities?


scion101 wrote, "I'd love to use public transit were I live but the problem is how this country just adores cars. There aren't even any sidewalks in my neighborhood, you can't go anywhere in time without a car." JDCNCDE countered the streetcar sentiment. "So having a train driving down the middle of the street adds 'class' to a city? And no, that not 20 to 30 cars off the road; it's 20 to 30 more people getting a free ride since all rail systems, even your beloved San Francisco trains, can't operate in the black on fares alone."


termites, a New Orleans, Louisiana, resident, spoke of riding the street car to work every day and hating driving. termites pointed to a new development springing up because of the street car line. "Street cars work, they bring new jobs, new development and business wherever they go. That equates to money and tax revenue. It seems silly that other U.S. cities don't get this philosophy. I live in New Orleans and ride our beautiful street cars to work each day." i2i noted, "No rail passenger rail system in the U.S. operates in the black. However, many bus systems do. We simply don't have any money to throw at boondoggles like this."


When liver donations go wrong


A woman named Laura Fritz was "devastated" when she saw a news story about Ryan Arnold's death after donating a piece of his liver to his brother, Chad. Data (see story) shows that four living liver donors have died in the United States since 1999 and about 38 percent of liver donors have some kind of complication. Some experts think some of these deaths and complications could have been prevented if there was a change in the way hospitals exchanged information about complications with organ donations. We heard tons of personal stories that put more faces on the article.


pittiemomma wrote, "I would not endanger someone I love -- a child, a sibling to save myself. Not even at less than 1 percent. There is something wrong with the selfishness, the utter fearfulness of the unknown." Mrmax79 responded, "If I had a sibling or parent that was going to die without a transplant and there was only a 3 percent chance of having a complication, I would gladly take my chances (than) to sit around and do nothing." RetLaEnvEmp posted, "My brother-in-law gave part of his liver to his 3-year-old daughter 17 years ago. At the age of 5 she had another liver transplant. She was big enough to receive a donor liver from a young man killed in an auto accident. She is now a beautiful grown young lady attending college. The live donor liver transplant gave her life -- no ifs, ands, or buts about it. ... The deaths and losses from transplants also should not promote some liberal thinking that government should regulate everything for safety or everything must be reported and exposed the way 'I' want it to come out and if it is not, then it must be a cover-up."


Tiger's half-brother wants to reconnect


The last time Earl Woods Jr. says he met with his half brother Tiger Woods was in 2006 when burying their father. He wants to reconnect but says Tiger has been unresponsive. Our commenters speculated on the things that drive families apart. Some thought family members are seeking Tiger Woods' money. RVenger said he can identify with the Woods' situation. "Who can say what Tiger's thinking?" inplano10 said, along those lines, "It usually comes down to money to show the true wretched character of the evil." Sheppard1 wrote, "Airing your family business in the press isn't the best way to show someone you 'love them to death.' " cheekbrown replied, "It may be the only way to get Tiger's attention."


The legacy of 'Tron'


"Tron: Legacy" just came out, and this sequel to the 1980s original has got lots of people feeling extra-geeky. We heard everything from memories of the first film to high hopes or good reviews of the new movie.


mycroft16 was nostalgic. "I have to agree that it was 'Tron' that really got me interested in computers. I was really young when it came out and probably didn't see it until I was 10 or so (1989), but even at that age I was taking anything electronic in the house apart to see how it worked and it intrigued me that the programs inside it could be 'living' lives like that and having problems and worries about things. It really intrigued me and was a fun thought." jeffyY said the first "Tron" changed his life. "The original movie is one reason I got hooked on computers and programming. This was the reason why I went to school for my engineering degree. I know for a fact that my life would be MUCH different if the original movie never came out, or if I never saw it. It truly changed the way I saw things."


NavitarOne saw it and called the movie "sci-fi at its best." ibook900 plans to see the film he nicknamed "Tron: Redemption" in 3-D on an IMAX screen, calling it a huge movie event. CAPARSONS wrote, "The original is SO BORING. Let's hope this one is at least watchable. The first was basically the first video game tie-in movie." ViSmith replied in kind, "Boring now maybe, but the first 'Tron' was a great movie when it came out. It sparked and captured the imagination of most of the technology developers that are now designing your cell phones and computers. I don't think they found it boring, and I doubt you find the internet or computer boring now either."


More comments: Larry King ends his record-setting run on CNN


We continued to receive memories of Larry King as he hung up his proverbial suspenders on his CNN talk show. While not every commenter was a fan, we did receive a lot of touching tributes to the departing host. Teiko said, "We sure will miss Larry. Great, great guy. Speaks like a human and not some rigid script-controlled robot. CNN shouldn't even bother trying to get a replacement for him; they won't find any. His ugly shirt-and-tie combos are worth watching his show for." ncsuee said, "So long Larry King! I watched your show last night and it was awesome! They say that people are judged by the friends they keep ... all you had to do is watch last evening's show to tell the measure of an incredible human being!"


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity

December 17, 2010
Click to view SuperMod's profile

How about the people who actually ride the trains pay full fares to cover the cost of supporting the system rather than relying on tax payers to subsidize you.

December 17, 2010
Click to view SuperMod's profile

Tron rules.  They need to make at least one more.

December 17, 2010
Click to view kdogg487's profile

Because your being punished for polluting the air with the car that you drive.

December 17, 2010
Click to view helmut99's profile

Why is it people complain about partial public subsidies of mass transit when the vast highway system is almost 100% paid for by taxpayers?  Mass transit is far cheaper for the tax payer in terms of per person per mile of transport.  Not to mention reducing snarled traffic jams in cities like LA, Houston and Phoenix and putting fewer dollars in the pockets of petro-dictators.

December 18, 2010
Click to view thejetsett's profile

mass transit cheaper and less subsidized than roads/highways...... sorry to all those angry at the bus/subway lol oh and for the "green" ppl yes it pollutes less

December 18, 2010
Click to view moorhs's profile

Cars are far more subsidized by the government than buses or trains.


The highway system and gas subsidies (gas is much cheaper in the US than anywhere else in the developed world) combined mean you pay about 1/3 of what it would cost in a free market to drive your car on the highway every day.

December 18, 2010
Click to view Parhelion's profile

The trend is never going to be reversed until 1, the private car stops being a symbol of power and patriotism, and 2, it becomes less economical for the average American.


Yes, in large metro areas where the mass transit has been well-planned, it's a boon... but it's still not as effective as a car.  I live in Tempe and work in Scottsdale -- a 15 mile ride that takes well over an hour on the city bus PLUS I have to walk approximately a half mile.  That doesn't include the waits... on Saturday and Sundays, the busses only run once an hour and are often late.  Add in 12 hour shifts, and that doesn't leave me a lot of time for sleep or home duties.  In my car, it takes me only about 15 to 20 minutes and it's far more dependable... and the cost?  A full month pass costs me MORE than I spend on gasoline for my car.


That said, most areas are far, far worse. 

December 18, 2010
Click to view dwight's profile

What about the Shweeb?

The Shweeb could be used in similar manner as a amtrack would be used except that it would be either human powered or motor driven or even both. In the morning a rail guides your Shweeb Pod from it storage rack in the garage to the overhead rail line. a signal tells the track switch operator to switch the mechanism so that your Shweeb can join the main track then it's off to work you go. Once you arrive at work your Shweeb is then automatically docked inside of a the Shween parking garage and off to work you go. The idea would solve the problem of mass transit problems as not all people would want to use the Shweeb or be able to which would reduce the number of cars that congest the streets, which were designed for horse use and not car use, as well as eleviating pollution in the inner cities. The idea would also create many new jobs ranging from construction jobs to Shweeb Line Maintenance as well as Track Operators. Innovation and Progress that America would enjoy for years to come.

December 18, 2010
Click to view cashewkitty's profile

I live in Southeast Michigan and I plan on buying a car next year.  I have been taking public transit for almost 8 years and nothing has improved.  The buses break down, drivers are on their cell phones talking, texting and driving at the same time.  Any talk of making this thing regional becomes political warfare!  I was stuck on a the last bus 2 hours last night and the mechanic almost had to beg dispatch to send a relief bus!  I almost got frostbite, again! This is completely messed up!


Mass transit is a great idea, but 8 years of complaining and voting to renew the millage hasn't changed anything.  I don't know about the rest of the country, but in Michigan, you need a car to live here!

December 18, 2010
Click to view timothyone's profile

Public transportation will never work! It is a waste of money! Vote GOP!

By: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum


December 18, 2010
Click to view munkee83's profile

Riding the bus is only a crummy experience in the USA.  Even in Mexico, you can take a 100 mile round trip for $20 and you ride clean, comfortable, and safe. 

December 18, 2010
Click to view djdeep's profile

My bicycle from One On One Bike Studio was worth every penny! I am fit and enjoy my individual freedom! No trace, no "slave tag" license / plate, quiet, subtle. Almost no chance of getting pulled over and harassed by the man. Don't have to interact with the sheep on the bus that smell like cheap perfume from the drug store! YUK! HA HA !

December 18, 2010
Click to view Profesor's profile

To those of you who think that fares on public transportation should be raised to cover the actual cost of running the system let's do the same with airline tickets.  People seem to think that only trains are subsidized.  The Federal Government pays for the airline control system, the Federal Government pays most of the cost of paving runways, the Federal Government trained most of the commercial airline pilots while they were in the military.

Who do you think paid for the Interstate Highway system in the US?  The Federal Government paid 90% of the cost,

I'm tired of hearing people say only trains and public transportation is subsidized by the taxpayers in the US.  All transportation is subsidized by taxpayers in the US.

December 18, 2010
Click to view DoctorOD's profile

"How about the people who actually ride the trains pay full fares to cover the cost of supporting the system rather than relying on tax payers to subsidize you."


How about the whining conservatives stop taking handouts from blue states, while they cry about having to pay for it? If New York and California stopped supporting your welfare state, they would have record surpluses, instead of deficits.

December 18, 2010
Click to view organically's profile

U.S. highways kill 35,000 and year and injur hundreds of thousands.  Transit only injurs or kills a handful every year.  Also, highways are paid for by us taxpayers, just like transit.  Overall, automobile transportation costs per person and transit costs per person are similar -  not to mention the pollution and cliamte change factor of cars versus transit. $20 a gallon for gas would solve three huge probloems in our great nation -  1) decrease transportation deaths/injuries and the billions of dollars it costs us all, 2) improve our one and only environment, and 3) get us to stop buying oil from nations that hate us.

December 18, 2010
Click to view crandell's profile

== How about the people who actually ride the trains pay full fares to cover the cost of supporting the system rather than relying on tax payers to subsidize you. ==


Supermod: How about the people who drive start paying to cover the cost of supporting the road system? Drivers receive just as much subsidy. Maybe you've noticed that most roads don't have tolls and gas taxes do not cover the costs of road construction, maintenance, policing, oil subsidies, public real estate dedicated to parking, etc. You pony up for driving and I'll be happy to pay the full cost of my transit.

December 18, 2010
Click to view weirdmn's profile

I live in Minneapolis, which once had one of the best street car systems in the world.  No matter where you lived in the Twin Cities, you were never more than a few blocks from a street car.  Fairs were low, because the street car companies made their money from real estate (the bought the land on either side of a route before they laid down the track) not the actual fairs.  One could ride all the way from Stillwater to Excelsior and back again for a few cents without the headache of trying to find a parking space. 


Then after WW2, General Motors bribed some corrupt politicians and businessmen to destroy this wonder of the world and replace it with a terrible bus system (GM buses, of course) that is best avoided at all costs.  I'm sure GM did the same thing in numerous other cities across the nation. 


It's GM's fault we were cheated out of our street car systems, so GM should pay to replace them.  All of them.

December 18, 2010
Click to view belushijohn's profile

Mass transit is only practical in high-density population areas - which leaves 98% of the US out of the equation.  But if you add up the costs of supplying rides and the net cost is lower than supporting cars carrying the same number of people who would ride, then it is a better deal. 


But why street cars instead of buses?  Street cars require rails, a whole new level of infrastructure, where buses can travel existing roads.  A waste of money.  Add more buses, make the timing of the routes more attractive, and you increase ridership.

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