Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughts on HSR and buses

I'm back from my California trip - beautiful state, beautiful weather, completely dysfunctional government.  For example, even with massive fiscal problems it's still trying to build a vastly expensive high-speed rail line from San Francisco to San Diego.  On a related note, a private group is exploring building a Houston-Dallas HSR line with no subsidies of any kind.  I'm totally okay with private efforts.  I'm probably even okay with a little eminent domain to get the right of way at a fair price.  I hope they can make it work.

Here's a great alternate perspective on HSR: a TED talk on the value of perception and psychology vs. economics and technology.  Go to the 6:12 point to see a great example of the Eurostar train, where they spend a vast amount of money to reduce travel times by 40 mins, when for 90% or 99% less money they could have improved the experience instead and actually gotten higher rider satisfaction.  I believe the absolute same principle applies to bus vs. rail, whether intra- or inter-city: spend 1% or 10% of the same money improving the bus service and get higher customer satisfaction than the rail line would generate.  (hat tip to Karl)

And Greyhound is doing just that, learning from Megabus and upgrading their service with wifi, power plugs, and nicer seats with more leg room.  With that kind of service option available at say $30 one-way within the Texas Triangle, how many people do you think would pay $150+ to go on HSR?  On second thought, maybe nobody should mention this possibility to the Texas HSR group...  ;-)

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At 1:24 PM, May 31, 2012, Anonymous awp said...

Greyhound doesn't need to learn from megabus, when we can just get megabus. http://www.khou.com/home/New-service-offers-inter-c-155833115.html

At 1:59 PM, May 31, 2012, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Yes! I saw that. Fantastic news. I'll be commenting on it in a future post.

At 10:45 AM, June 01, 2012, Anonymous GU!C said...

What do you think about Keep Houston Houston's take on HSR? He says it actually encourages sprawl.


At 3:36 PM, June 01, 2012, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I think that's somewhat true, although the high cost of HSR tickets will keep a lid on it somewhat. We're not talking <$5 rides like intracity rail, but more like $50 or $100. That said, more an more people are working virtually 2-3 days a week, so maybe they're ok with a long distance commute a couple times a week. We had a couple in Monterrey, CA tell us that the population had exploded there and in Santa Cruz with Silicon Valley workers because they only have to commute over the mountains once or twice a week, and otherwise telecommute. HSR could have the same effect, which is definitely pro-sprawl.

At 4:03 PM, June 26, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still wouldn't take Greyhound, not with that forsaken station still there in midtown.


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