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Old 29.06.2011, 01:47
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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If only the trains were cleaner, air-conditioned and had space for luggage. I was shocked on my return at how dirty and impractical the S2 train from ZRH into Zurich seemed after using both the Seattle light rail system from Seatac into downtown Seattle and the BART from San Francisco International Airport into downtown San Francisco this month both of which had far cleaner seats, were not uncomfortably hot and had bags of space for luggage. All far removed from popular public (mis)conception.
> air-conditioned ? the newer generation of S-Bahn trains ARE air-conditioned. It will only take a decade or so until ALL the S-Bahn trains are air-conditioned
> if taking an S-train from ZRH-airport, take the S-16, whose trains generally are more modern vintage than the S-2
> none of the S-Bahn or Tram or bus-lines serving the airport are serving the airport exclusively, all are simply public transport for the whole region. And this means that there is no difference between a train between Dietikon and Zürich-HB and one between Zch-HB and the airport
>> the cleanliness IS an issue. Unfortunately, the SBB in recent years had to reduce the cleaning-cycles, due to the costs involved strangely enough, the trams 10 and 12, serving the airport are remarkably clean, but they are operated by VBZ of Zürich
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Old 29.06.2011, 09:23
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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And you mention Seestrasse. Look at Seestrasse/AlteLangstrasse on the other side of the lake, and see how it was in about 1970 and how it is now. Look at Mythenquai or at Brandschenkestrasse/Pelikanstrasse then and now. Or in Seefeld, look at Bellerivestrasse, Dufourstrasse and Seefeldstrasse then and now
I was addressing the synchornised lights point. Imagine the chaos if they weren't!!
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Old 29.06.2011, 10:01
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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If only the trains were cleaner, air-conditioned and had space for luggage. I was shocked on my return at how dirty and impractical the S2 train from ZRH into Zurich seemed after using both the Seattle light rail system from Seatac into downtown Seattle and the BART from San Francisco International Airport into downtown San Francisco this month both of which had far cleaner seats, were not uncomfortably hot and had bags of space for luggage. All far removed from popular public (mis)conception.
I'm curious. I've only had 1 experience on a US train and it was "fine" - nothing fancy, but nothing wrong either.

I my post above I compared CH to UK, as this is what I have the most experience of and where things are IMO worst. In NL, public transport and accommodation of cyclists is fantastic, also with good transport links, in France I find the RER/metro generally better than my experiences of UK commutes to and around London and it has an excellent country-wide network (strikes excepted), while my experience in Germany is limited, as in the PIGS.

I've read that the US has been trying to get people back on trains for long-distance travel (as flights and cars had been the primary mode of transport). However, what's it like day-to-day?

Do you really need a car in the US, can you survive without one?

Whenever I've been to the US - only on a dozen or so business occasions - public transport has been limited - unless I was staying downtown - and walking simply not possible, e.g. no pavements, in some cases. Car (i.e. cab) was the only option to get from A to B.

But I think, like here, that owning a car is part of the "American dream" definition of success - all kicked off by Ford of course, with his Model T.

You mention the S-bahn, but compared to some of the commuter routes in the UK...
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Old 29.06.2011, 10:09
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

I got a bit pissed off at the tone of the article which suggested that zurich's traffic planner took delight in making car driver's lives miserable, and contacted the press office of the dept for public infrastructure (Tiefbauamt) and asked whether there had been a change in the traffic policy.

I got an answer back both from the press office and the traffic planner, saying that the quotes did not reflect the interview given and that the article was pepped up by the editors to make it more interesting (i.e. play up the whole US is pro car, Europe is contra car image).

The asked for a correction and the reporter who wrote the original article, half-heartedly included the following statment in her blog. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/rethinking-silly-car-trips/

"Andy Fellmann, [Zurich's]chief transportation planner, [...] emphasized that he did not dislike cars or drivers per se. But he believes that private cars are generally not appropriate for city centers."
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Old 29.06.2011, 12:43
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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Do you really need a car in the US, can you survive without one?
If one lives in many of the big cities one can usually get by without a car - but there's a whole lotta US that isn't big cities. A car is an absolute necessity in many places.

The Chicago train system is a hub - it works well if you are commuting directly into the city, but getting somewhere else is difficult on public transportation. To go to a town 15 minutes away by car one might have to go all the way into the city and back out again - a journey of an hour, often more.

I took the train into Chicago from the suburbs for many years, but there was no efficient or accessible transportation for shopping and running errands around town, or getting to other towns not on the spoke into Chicago. Stores tend to be outside of residential areas - I love to walk, but 5+ miles carrying heavy groceries was a bit much even for me. (Not to mention, dogs are not allowed on public transportation... ) Without a car, all the usual day-to-day running around was just not possible.

We got by on one car for many years, but then my company moved out of the city to the sticks (as many companies did back then, for financial and tax reasons) miles from the nearest public transportation line. So a car was needed even for the daily commute to work. And so we became a two-car family.

Typical of life outside the big cities.

---

Actually, where I live now (in the wilds of SZ) the situation is pretty much the same.

One can easily commute into Zürich, but getting around the region away from the main commuter lines is not so convenient. For instance, a trip to the vet (SZ-ZG) takes 30 minutes by car, 2 hours by public transportation. Granted, at least the CH trains allow dogs - but traveling with three, something I almost always need to do, is impossible.

If I lived in the city, if I only had one (healthy) dog, if I didn't need to cart around heavy stuff on a regular basis - then I wouldn't need a car. But that's not the way I live, so a car is a necessity for us here in CH.

---

I lived happily without a car for years in Hong Kong. One thing missing here in CH that made car-free life so easy there: affordable fast delivery services. There were many little independent delivery companies; most stores would arrange to have your purchases delivered through one of these companies as a matter of course. Delivery was cheap, reliable, efficient - I'd often find that my packages made it home before I did.

I wonder why there isn't much of that kind of thing here?
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  #26  
Old 29.06.2011, 12:54
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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Most Swiss I know are out the door by 17:01 or 17:31 depending on workplace...
And if they work to 19h or 20h or later?

Or if they want to go out at night?

Stores are now open later in summer (19h or later), and so they miss the last bus!

Tom
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Old 29.06.2011, 13:15
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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And if they work to 19h or 20h or later?

Or if they want to go out at night?

Stores are now open later in summer (19h or later), and so they miss the last bus!

Tom
Man alive. It was a lighthearted jest about the stereotypical Swiss office-worker ethic. I'd add one about the fact that shopping after business hours is not needed as your good Swiss wife should be at home doing all the shoping, but I won't.

If you want to take it that seriously, then sure there are exceptions to every rule, and some people cannot use public transport and legitimately need to rely on a car...

...BUT...

...the majority of people work between the hours of 08:00 and 18:00 hrs in major urban areas where public transport makes the need for cars minimal.

A generalisation, I know, but probably one that would stand up to a certain level of scrutiny.

Add to the fact that congestion is not exactly at its highest around 20:00 hrs at night, it is another red-herring to the general commuter car vs. public transport debate. As are shopping schedules.
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Old 29.06.2011, 13:24
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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Do you really need a car in the US, can you survive without one?

Whenever I've been to the US - only on a dozen or so business occasions - public transport has been limited - unless I was staying downtown - and walking simply not possible, e.g. no pavements, in some cases. Car (i.e. cab) was the only option to get from A to B.

But I think, like here, that owning a car is part of the "American dream" definition of success - all kicked off by Ford of course, with his Model T."
I definitely agree with Meloncollie that having a car is a necessity in much of the US. Of course, I do wish that more cities had adequate public transportation systems, but the reality is that they don't. And besides, many Americans still live in rural areas where it would be incredibly costly to extend public transportation.

Carlos, I don't think that owning a car is really part of the "American Dream." Perhaps it was back in the 1950s, but now it's considered as normal of a 'necessity' as having an indoor toilet. Besides, I think the "American Dream" is dramatically shifting. Whereas yes, many Americans may have once dreamed of owning fancy cars or a huge house, the reality is that now many of them are dreaming of simply being able to keep their jobs, pay their mortgages and feed their families.

Side note -- I see just as many SUV's here (around and outside of Zurich) as I've seen in the US.
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Old 29.06.2011, 14:05
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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American cities are trying to improve driver friendliness, while European cities are doing the opposite.

"To that end, the municipal Traffic Planning Department here in Zurich has been working overtime in recent years to torment drivers."
That's the sort of stuff the SVP likes to spout.

Being able to chose between using or not to using the car is apparently a bad thing if you're a petrolhead.

You know, there are good types of freedom and bad.
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Old 29.06.2011, 14:11
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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If only the trains were cleaner, air-conditioned and had space for luggage. I was shocked on my return at how dirty and impractical the S2 train from ZRH into Zurich seemed after using both the Seattle light rail system from Seatac into downtown Seattle and the BART from San Francisco International Airport into downtown San Francisco this month both of which had far cleaner seats, were not uncomfortably hot and had bags of space for luggage. All far removed from popular public (mis)conception.
But have you checked how far BART can take you beyond the maybe two dedicated corridors? Switzerland has a transport network that is good overall rather than a handful of once futuristic but isolated systems that by themselves are rather nice but have swallowed all the funding leaving endless nothingness in between for places where actually most people live.

Believe me, I've done a lot of public transport in the US and even got to places where most people believe there isn't any public transport. It does work and you can get around but it's totally disjointed, it takes a lot of preparation and research and it takes a lot of time and sometimes a good sense of humour. In places its rather picturesque, like going back to the 1950s, both in terms of technology and in terms of the concept of service and staff attitudes. And that can be entertaining if you're a tourist. But I can clearly see why people chose not to use it ever day.
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Old 31.07.2011, 21:44
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

Another NY Times article on European attitudes to cars in cities: The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread. Well worth reading in full, I give two very different quotes. First off, there may be hope for America to break the car habit:
Quote:
For American cities to think outside the car would seem to require a mental sea change. Then again, Americans, too, are practical, no-nonsense people. And Zef Hemel, the chief planner for the city of Amsterdam, reminded me that sea changes do happen. “Back in the 1960s, we were doing the same thing as America, making cities car-friendly,” he said. Funnily enough, it was an American, Jane Jacobs, who changed the minds of European urban designers. Her book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” got European planners to shift their focus from car-friendliness to overall livability.
Also, EFers are not the only ones to complain about European shopping hours:
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But that points up another mental difference: the willingness of Europeans to follow top-down social planning. America’s famed individualism breeds an often healthy distrust of the elite. I’m as quick as any other red-blooded American to bristle at European technocrats telling me how to live. (Try buying a light bulb or a magazine after 6 p.m. in Amsterdam, where the political elite have decreed that workers’ well-being requires that shops be open only during standard office hours, precisely when most people can’t shop.)
OK, one more quote :
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The coexistence of different modes of travel is hard-wired into the culture.

This in turn relates to lots of other things — such as bread. How? Cyclists can’t carry six bags of groceries; bulk buying is almost nonexistent. Instead of shopping for a week, people stop at the market daily. So the need for processed loaves that will last for days is gone. A result: good bread.
The cost of good (preservative-free) bread is daily shopping. Some, I suppose, will find it almost as onerous as the price of liberty.
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Old 01.08.2011, 13:59
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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I got an answer back both from the press office and the traffic planner, saying that the quotes did not reflect the interview given and that the article was pepped up by the editors to make it more interesting (i.e. play up the whole US is pro car, Europe is contra car image).

[/I]
That's b/s - the left/green city government of zurich is doing whatever they can to make the lives of people relying on their car as miserable as possible. They created artifical congestions by closing lanes after the westumfahrung was opened, de-synchorized traffic lights, and announced plans to completely ban parking in the city center. At the same time, there's hardly any improvement in public transport - if you don't happen to have your home and work right next to a train station, it can easily take you 45-60min to commute a few km on public transport. Many other European cities are 5-10 times larger than Zurich, but still feel much easier to move around.
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Old 01.08.2011, 14:26
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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The Chicago train system is a hub - it works well if you are commuting directly into the city, but getting somewhere else is difficult on public transportation. To go to a town 15 minutes away by car one might have to go all the way into the city and back out again - a journey of an hour, often more.
the Chicago hub thing is quite mad. It's not just the Chicago suburbs but the whole country. For example you can easily get trans from Chicago to New Orleans or San Francisco or lots of other places but try to get between those places without hubbing into Chicago and its much more difficult.
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Old 01.08.2011, 14:36
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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That's b/s - the left/green city government of zurich is doing whatever they can to make the lives of people relying on their car as miserable as possible. They created artifical congestions by closing lanes after the westumfahrung was opened, de-synchorized traffic lights, and announced plans to completely ban parking in the city center. At the same time, there's hardly any improvement in public transport - if you don't happen to have your home and work right next to a train station, it can easily take you 45-60min to commute a few km on public transport. Many other European cities are 5-10 times larger than Zurich, but still feel much easier to move around.
que?

The Westumfahrung was opened. That was an improvement. the Westumfahrung was opened to take traffic out of some city streets that weren't at all built for it. So what's wrong with desynchrionising traffic lights and reducing lanes so people actually use the expensive new Westumfahrung? After all that was the whole point of the exercise.

And as for improvements in public transport, there is loads going on. New tram lines, a new train tunnel. Things are getting better all the time.

And there are definitely no plans to comletely ban parking in the city centre. On the contrary, there are political agreements in place between the major parties that all parking places that are eliminated in remodelling projects must be compensated for by new ones elsewhere. Anything else is scare mongering by the SVP. You know, they are the same people who complain that there are road works everywhere while also complaining that not enough maintenance is being done. The logic is quite baffling.
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Old 01.08.2011, 15:14
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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...If I lived in the city, if I only had one (healthy) dog, if I didn't need to cart around heavy stuff on a regular basis - then I wouldn't need a car. But that's not the way I live, so a car is a necessity for us here in CH...
What would you make of a vehicle congestion charge for those from outside city centres? Does that seem fair?

I read a congestion report once about the UK, where apparently 25% of vehicles are driving around looking for somewhere to park.
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Old 01.08.2011, 16:11
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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What would you make of a vehicle congestion charge for those from outside city centres? Does that seem fair?

I read a congestion report once about the UK, where apparently 25% of vehicles are driving around looking for somewhere to park.
Well, considering that I avoid going into Zürich city, only go in when absolutely forced to, and when I do I take the train in because I am terrified of driving in ZH traffic - I wouldn't object. But then that's easy to say, as I probably wouldn't be much affected.

But several of my neighbors, who run small businesses that service customers throughout the greater metro area and so need to drive around the city regularly, would probably find such a charge quite a hardship.

I just asked my husband, who drives into the city every day. He drives largely because the first train to the city is about an hour too late to get him into the office when he needs to be in, and because driving saves him about 2 hours over his already very long day. His response: A city center congestion charge would be bearable, but it might also go on his growing list of reasons to move his office out of Zürich and/or Switzerland.

So - you'd keep me off the roads, but I never drive in the city anyway. You might or might not keep OH off the roads, but unless you are also out and about at 5AM, does it matter? The roads are hardly congested then. The person who might be most affected be would the the small family-owned business, the kind of folks who could least bear the extra expense.

I have no idea if any of this is relevant, though.

(Why not just put up a toll booth at the SZ-ZH border? )

Last edited by meloncollie; 01.08.2011 at 17:09.
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Old 01.08.2011, 22:47
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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As I remember, London is slightly larger But the "greenish" local politicians in both places are very similar.

And you mention Seestrasse. Look at Seestrasse/AlteLangstrasse on the other side of the lake, and see how it was in about 1970 and how it is now. Look at Mythenquai or at Brandschenkestrasse/Pelikanstrasse then and now. Or in Seefeld, look at Bellerivestrasse, Dufourstrasse and Seefeldstrasse then and now


************************************************** ***************************





People I know get out from work between 18.00 and 20.00, depending on workplace


************************************************** ************************************

Interesting. Probably more interesting if one takes into account the change in traffic density between then and now.
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Old 01.08.2011, 23:30
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Re: Zurich and Europe stifles drivers in favor of alternatives

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Outside major cities? Nope. It is not a necessity. It makes life easier, for sure, but it is not a necessity. In most places in CH there's a Postbus service at a minimum.

In absolute rural areas, I'd probably agree. But congestion is mainly an urban issue anyway, so this is somewhat of a red-herring.
I used to live in Oberhasli (very close to Zurich). The train station is a long walk away (not at all nice in Winter when it's -7 or pitch black at night). The bus connecting the village to the station runs every hour only until 8 pm, until 4 on satuday and does not run on Sunday. I work often until 9 pm. Oberhasli is not 'rural' switzerland and it does not have adequate public transport. A car is needed unless you think hiking 30 min to the trainstation in all types of weather is appropriate. Additionally, the bus is timed to perfection to make sure that most of the time, you miss the half-hourly train by 30 seconds and have to wait for the next one...
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