So trivial, yet it really ticks you off.

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by GHT, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    In practice, lower-income people tend to get hit the hardest with gasoline taxes. The guy working the graveyard shift in a warehouse 20 miles from home would love to have a hybrid or an all-electric car, but his low wages just don't allow for such an acquisition. So he keeps his 20-plus year old beater with a couple hundred thousand miles on it going the best he can.
     
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  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Pretty much says it all. Nobody in my circle will ever be able to drive a hybrid or electric car until they can buy one from a "Good Sticker -- Will Run" ad.

    Driving 20+ miles a day to and from work is the rule here, not the exception, since bourgie-retiree gentrification drove up the price of in-town housing past the point most hourly workers can afford -- and the vast majority of jobs here are punch-clock low-wage service-sector work. You see some genuinely frightening vehicles on the road, patched together just enough to get thru another winter, because people here don't have any other option. Unless they turn Amish and get a horse and wagon.
     
  3. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    My wife's VW Golf is 22 years old. Keeping it in a heated garage with the classic MG, along with regular servicing, has kept it in tip top condition. It has saved us a fortune on vehicle replacements. In the 25 years between 1972 & 1997 we bought a new car, periodically, seven times. I dare not even think of the depreciation, servicing and repair costs in that time.
     
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  4. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    I've never owned a new car, and likely never will. Of all the cars I’ve owned (dozens of them at this point), the newest were four or five years old when I acquired them.

    When I was a youngster, I and people like me routinely bought well-worn cars for less than a hundred bucks. If you got a season or two of use out of them before something major broke, you were money ahead.

    A friend’s dad had a wrecking yard, where we could get a rear end for 30 or 40 bucks, a transmission for about the same.

    It seems almost romantic now, but at the time we were plenty resentful of the kids from “better” families whose folks bought them late-model cars. There really were much more pleasant ways to spend the weekend than crawling under and over and around a greasy, oily, patched-together car.
     
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  5. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Ironically, once EVs become the norm, it'll make much more sense of the UK's 'Vehicle Excise Duty' - basically a flat rate annual tx on a vehicle. They have trobled enforcing it sometimes; seems to be that it would make far more sense just to put it on fuel and then people pay a fair floating rate based on how much they pollute - and you can't dodge it easily and still drive.... Once we're all running on green elctricity, all paying the same makes more sense! A mileage tax would be like metered water or electric itself, I would think - you pay for what you use. I'm looking forard to seing where the debate on congestion goes - is heavy traffic only bad because of pollution, or if you can make it green are there still other reasons to discourage it?
     
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I drove an '81 VW Rabbit diesel for 11 years, and a 1997 Toyota Corolla for 12 years -- and both of these cars rusted to the point of no return at the age of 18, which seems to be the life limit for a modern unibody car driven in Maine winters. I know of everyday cars locally that are over twenty years old, but none of them have actually been here that entire time.

    Maine winters are deadly to modern cars for a lot of reasons -- the extreme amount of salt and calcium chloride used on the roads, the third-world quality of the pavement, the harsh weather, and the salt air. Even if you keep your car clean, you could at any moment skid into a hard, frozen snowbank that'll demolish your bumper and possibly cause more extensive structural damage. I currently drive a 2013 Subaru -- the only car in my life I've ever taken out a loan to buy -- and this past winter cost me one of my fog lights when I crunched into a snow berm that had frozen rock solid. Five more years left to pay for the damn thing, too. But I expect -- and hope, actually -- that this will be the last car I ever have to buy. If I live past 2031 I'm going to be very very angry.
     
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  7. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    67 and out - ouch.
     
  8. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    A year or so ago, I was trawling around looking for a better car insurance deal. No wonder insurance companies get away with jacking up the premiums year on year. By the time I had spoken to the fifth company I was begining to loose the will to live. They all ask such impertinent questions, three of them even asked for my email address before we had started. The explanation was, credit rating. Two of the agents almost disbelieved me when I said that I've never had anything on credit, what's more, I had no intention of paying my insurance premiums in any other way than annually, cash up front. Up front, this was more of an affront, monthly payments earns the insurers, and their agents, a good deal more money. How dare I buck their system?
     
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  9. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

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    I'm not sure if this quite counts as "trivial", but I do wish people would stop talking about battery-powered cars as if they solve the transport problem. Generating and distributing enough power to charge one car per adult would cost an utter fortune. The scale of industry required to recycle all the worn-out batteries would be a headache, and they allow the perpetuation of anti-human city design.

    That's not to say electric motor-carriages are a bad idea, but they are a horribly inefficient way to travel around urban areas. If we want to reduce energy consumption, we have to build electric light railways around cities, and vice versa!
     
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  10. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    They used to have these things all up and down the East Coast called interurban trolleys. Every once in a while the frost heaves bring a hunk of our old tracks back to the surface, and I wonder why we can't just go back to that. And then they dig up the hunk of track and cut it into souvenir paperweights they sell to tourists for $50 a throw and then I know why.
     
  11. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    My last car rusted out.

    Most notably, the fuel tank assembly rotted out. It was leaking fuel. We saved up enough to replace it and do some other work (the heater only worked on the high setting, AC was shot, one setting on the wipers worked, rotors needed replacement ... needed new tires,). The mechanic put it up on the lift and called my husband and told him that it wasn't going to pass inspection in the spring without more work than it was worth (body work, the stabilizer bars were rusted right off-- this explained the swaying feeling I got going over 60mph). He couldn't release it with a leaky tank so that had to be done, but he recommended we didn't do anything else. And we consider selling it, because in his opinion it wasn't safe as is.

    We sold it for $3,500 to a dealer. They didn't crawl underneath or do anything but start it. They offered that price and I said... "where do I sign?"

    Buyer beware.
     
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  12. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I've had cars in better condition than that get nothing but scrapyard value when it's time to trade in. That dealer needs to open a branch up here.
     
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  13. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    We are going back there to trade in our current when the time comes. 423 miles away (according to Google).

    Hopefully they won't remember us. Or more accurately our last car.
     
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  14. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    I have some recollection of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. quipping in his later years that he was contemplating legal action against the makers of his poison of choice, Pall Mall cigarettes, because despite all the acknowledgement that their product would kill its users, here he was still alive and still puffing away after all those years.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  15. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

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    On one street in a north-west corner of England, they're actually doing it correctly:
    old_and_new_tram_track_on_Blackpool_extension_July_2018_by_GPrior.jpg

    On the right, you can see the old tramway, unearthed during roadworks.
    On the left, the reason for those roadworks: To lay fresh rails and restore tram services to the route. Huzzah!
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  16. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Pretty much before my time, but from what I can tell from reading about them and from what I've experienced in the few places where rump parts of those old systems still exist, they were a great solution and one that, today, in theory anyway, would be embraced if still in place as they fit in with the, putative, anti-car-owning culture of the Millennials.

    There has been some effort to bring back a version of them with the light rail trains that have popped up here and there (I rode the one in Jersey City, NJ a few years back), but they are insanely expensive to build and seem to cover only a small area versus the large distances covered by the old interurbans.
     
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  17. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

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    Oddly, 'western' culture seems to have become frightfully averse to investment, even for projects with a good projected cost:benefit ratio, and despite the (to my mind) obvious historical fact that the construction of infrastructure brings economic growth and raises the standards of living.

    The comment about area covered is interesting. In Britain, the first-generation tramways (mostly built before the Great War) were high density city-centre affairs. The recently constructed systems tend to serve as a replacement for the branch-lines that were closed in the 1960s, with 'fast' (50mph) running out to commuter villages and suburban Park & Rides. The trams here in Nottingham are routinely full to point where the ticket inspectors can't do their job, but 97% of passengers are happy with their journey. [citation]
     
  18. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    We have a bus system here that started as transportation for students at the university. It ran on campus and to several places in town to get them where they needed to go. Like most government projects it has expanded exponentially to cover the entire town with full size busses that run constantly with very few passengers on many routes. In a town of 20,000 including the university students it is not unusual to be able to see 4 or 5 busses rolling within your sight in the center of town. They are running on old residential streets that were never intended to carry that kind of weight. As the program grew, they needed a larger building for offices, maintenance facilities, etc. Instead of building a steel frame building in the nearly empty "industrial park" they decided to save an abandoned factory building in a residential neighborhood. 14 million dollars later, it was completed. The residents of the neighborhood now have a constant stream of busses in and out at all hours. When the thing got started the students paid through their activity fees for a bus pass and I believe the public paid a quarter per ride. Very quickly it was decided that 25 cents was too much of a hardship and the coin boxes were removed. Other than employing a large number of people (at public expense) the costs far outweigh the benefits. It would be far cheaper to provide free van service as needed than to run this system. This kind of stuff is why government projects are so many times a disaster.
     
  19. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    And therein lies one of the major malfunctions of our society. Those with more who can afford to pay up front - insurance, housing, cars, whatever - pay less overall, while those who can't afford one lump sum end up paying out more. That's the only upside to the stupid price rise of "owning" property in London: by the time you finish a thirty year mortgage, your little flat will be worth close to what you ended up paying for it. In the meantime, in between time, ain't we got fun....

    I'm told London has the lowest rate of car ownership per capita of any European city (quite an achievement, given its size) - which I put down not only to widely available, 24 hour public transport, but also a culture which accepts the same. In other places in the UK, and even moreso in much of the US I suspect, it might be much harder to break people out of the private car culture. I know they've struggled hard with this in Northern Ireland, where the public transport network is limited, so most anyone who can afford a car has one, so if the car is there anyway it's much cheaper than pubic transport if you're taking a family on the move, so the train can't be made cheaper through mass usage.... vicious circle.

    Doubtless, like most environmental waste it doesn't pay to recycle currently, they'll just tell us they recycle it, then dump the nasty pollutants on any poor country either desperate or crrupt or both enough to grab whatever chicken feed they get in return. In the meantime, In between time....

    Without straying too far into verboten territory, this is ultimately a democracy problem. Why plan for the long term when you'll be out of office, or, worse, the opposition might be in power and then take credit for what you did? It's not long since we had a Mayor here in London who took all the credit for a predecessor's plans coming to fruitiion, put nothing in motion for the city that would outlast their term, and is now among those pointing figners at their successor. Standard political practice. I don't know what it will take to force long-term thinking on them....

    Then there's also the legacy of their eighties when the prevailing political culture in the UK emphasised road building, the private car, closures to unprofitable public transport services and the sale to the private sector of those lines which did work, to be run as profit making services. (The irony being that somethingl ike the East Coat sleeper service is now a luxury few can afford, with most who want to travel from London to, say, Aberdeen or Inverness forced to fly).

    There was a plan to have a pedestrianised Oxford Street here in London, with a shuttle-service tram in both directions, by 2012. Unfortunately that didn't happen because the Mayro changed in 2008 and the new guy cut a swathe of plans like this. It was talkedc up again in 2016; I think it's now progressing slowly as the uber-wealthy nimbys that live off Oford Street are worried about local busses being rerouted.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  20. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

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    'Twas ever thus.

     
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