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The Crash of the Car-ddicted

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"The Crash of the Car-ddicted"

US Property owners needing cars are big losers



The drumbeat of regular house price reductions keeps coming out, but the US media fails to discern the clear pattern in the where the big slides are occurring. Will those who are addicted to commuting by car continue sleep-walking through this "Long Emergency", or will they awaken before they are fully bankrupted?


Originally posted on another thread: US Housing crash is getting worse


The post came as a response to this Press clipping.


“The rebound in prices seen in 2009 and 2010 was largely due to the first-time home buyers tax credit.

Excluding the results of that policy, there has been no recovery or even stabilization in home prices

during or after the recent recession. Further, while last year saw signs of an economic recovery, the most recent data do not point to renewed gains.


Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit and Las Vegas are the markets where average home prices are now below their

January 2000 levels. With a March index level of 100.27, Phoenix is not far off.”

/source: http://www.standardandpoors.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobheadername3=MDT-Type&blobcol=urldocumentfile&blobtable=SPComSecureDocument&blobheadervalue2=inline%3B+filename%3Ddownload.pdf&blobheadername2=Content-Disposition&blobheadervalue1=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobheadername1=content-type&blobwhere=1245305612764&blobheadervalue3=abinary%3B+charset%3DUTF-8&blobnocache=true


Out of those cities, I know that:

Detroit, Las Vegas, and Phoenix are "car culture" cities, lacking in livable areas which are walkable and connected to work by effective mass transit links.


At least two of the cities that are "holding up well", New York and Boston have good mass transit and large walkable core areas:


Boston : From 182.45 (9/2005) to 147.36 (3/2011): -19.2%



New York : From 215.83 (6/2006) to 163.50 (3/2011): -24.2%



Car-dependent Commuters (The "Car-ddicted"?) are getting their assets handed to them, as I have long been forecasting on the GEI website. And this is only the beginning. Here's a tip: Don't buy anywhere that owning a car is essential to your quality of life.


Detroit : From 127.05 (12/2005) to 67.07 (3/2011): -47.2%



Funnily enough, Detroit is now talking about building light rail from downtown along Woodward Avenue. That could save the city, particularly if they allow "sensible" denser development around the rail link. If the Motor City is building rail links, isn't that a sign that America is beginning to come to is sense about the need for a non-car dependent living arrangement?


Miami : From 280.87 (12/2006) to 137.28 (3/2011): -51.1%



Miami has a Mass Transit system, but it is not extensive enough to eliminate the need for a car for most folks, as this Blog comment shows:


"For months I’ve heard how escalating gas prices are prompting increasing numbers of Miamians to turn to Metrorail and the county’s bus services.

Gas prices aside, I have my own reasons for wanting to jettison my car in favor of mass transit: I don’t like driving. Miamians are supposed to love their cars, I know. I’m not one of them. If there’s ever been an easy target for converting a driver into a mass-transit rider, I’m it. Why, then, am I still spending an hour or two fuming behind the wheel each day?

I logged on to the county’s trip-planner website and discovered the reason. Using the mass-transit system to make one of my 30-minute drives to my mom’s house requires three different buses; one hour and 10 minutes of transit.

To erase my nearly hour-long drive to one of my graduate-school classes at FIU’s Broward campus? Four buses; three hours and 12 minutes.

Going downtown on Metrorail made more sense: 13 minutes — but that benefit disappears if you have work meetings or engagements elsewhere in the county. I guess I won’t be a first-time rider anytime soon."

/source: http://tinyurl.com/MHnew-Apr19


Why do we hear so little about the impact of oil prices and the expensive suburban living arrangement on US real estate, and the overall health of the US economy?


There is a real blind spot in the media reporting of the Real Estate crash IMHO. Stockton California was "ground zero" in the mortgage and property crash, precisely because of the very high commuting costs of people living there. Stockton is over 60 miles from Sacramento, and almost 100 miles from San Francisco and San Jose. That's a long and expensive journey to jobs by private automobile when gasoline prices are near $4. No wonder prices crashed so hard there, and haven't bounced back. This pattern is being repeated across the country, but Americans seem to be slow to wake up to the real cause of their economic plight. Is there something in the water than makes them blind to the real cost of their addiction to car use?


Have Americans learned nothing from their expensive addiction to cheap oil? How much longer must the economy continue to stagnate before they will throw off their damaging addiction to car-commuting and detached single family homes?

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Cost of Transit / Major Cities compared:



Listed are the comparable monthly passes (basic all purpose pass for busses, trains and transfers) and what the single cash fare would be for one trip. The number of trips listed is how many trips you would have to make in a month for the pass to be worth while for simple round trips.


Miami monthly metropass - : $75, single fare $1.50 (50 trips)

Boston monthly metropass- : $59, single fare $2 (29.5 trips)

New York monthly metropass: $76, single fare $2 (38 trips)

Chicago monthly metropass : $75, single fare $2 (37.5 trips)

San Francisco (Muni&some Bart stations) metropass: $45, single fare $1.50 (30 trips)


Maybe its because Miami-Dade’s transit thinks we need to pay more than other cities for our monthly pass because we use the transit system so much more often than these other cities do (sarcasm)?


/source: http://www.transitmiami.com/transit/mdt-transit-pass-conundrum


/see map:



DrB's view:


The Miami system is small - and that is why the Daily charge is low. It has limited functionality as a transport mode, and would need to be expanded if it is to compete with Boston, New York, or Chicago's transport system.

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Europe and the UK are also trying to reduce their addiction to Car-commuting




Is this the end of the car?




The decline of driving in Britain may have reached a tipping point. At least that's the idea behind the theory of 'peak car'. Clint Witchalls finds out more


Friday, 20 May 2011



Pile-up: As populations move back into major cities such as Leeds, Manchester and London, a 'new urbanism' is reducing the number of young drivers and cars on the road


Something weird is happening," says Phil Goodwin, professor of transport policy at the University of the West of England. "Car use in Britain is on the decline, but no one is exactly sure why." Goodwin says we have reached "peak car". If he is right, this has important implications for how we design our towns and cities, and where public money gets allocated.



Goodwin has been building his argument for peak car in a series of articles in Local Transport Today. His evidence includes that fewer young people are learning to drive. Between 1992 and 2007, the number of 17- to 20-year-olds who held licences fell from 48 per cent to 38 per cent, and for 21- to 29-year-olds, the number fell from 75 per cent to 66 per cent. Also, there has been a decline in private transport's share of trips from 50 per cent in 1993 to 41 per cent in 2008. And, according to Lynn Sloman, director of Transport for Quality of Life, between 2004 and 2008, car trips per person went down by 9 per cent and car distance per person by 5 per cent.


Of course, this doesn't amount to incontrovertible evidence of the beginning of the end for cars – it could be a momentary blip, an aberration – but it would be foolish not to have this debate now, given the paucity of Government funds, and given the long planning horizon of most public works.


The Department for Transport (DfT) is working on the assumption that between 2003 and 2025 traffic across Britain will grow by 25 per cent and traffic in London will grow by 23 per cent.


"If the future is going to be on a different trajectory to the path predicted by the Department for Transport, then that has a very big impact on what types of infrastructure are invested in," says Sloman. Over the next few years, Sloman, Goodwin and the Institute for Public Policy Research will be poring over National Travel Survey data in order to "dissect the peak". They will analyse the national aggregate figures to try to understand who is reducing car-use, where it is happening and the types of trips that are being reduced.


The science fiction writer William Gibson said: "The future has arrived; it's just not evenly distributed." If one thing is clear from an initial analysis of the data, it's that the future has arrived in London.


"The picture for the whole of Britain has been quite stable since the mid-1990s, but London is a very interesting case," says David Metz, visiting professor at the centre for transport studies at University College London. Metz, a former chief scientist at the Department for Transport, explains that the population density of London has been going up, but the number of car trips per day has stayed steady. In other words, car journeys per person are falling. "This reached its peak in the early 1990s, has been declining ever since and it's projected to go on declining as the population keeps growing," says Metz.


It's not clear yet why London and a few other places are experiencing a fall in car-use, but a number of social trends, transport policies and technologies appear to be having a cumulative effect.


One seemingly obvious candidate to explain peak car is the rise of the internet, as the two phenomena began in the early 1990s. Before the internet, hardly anyone worked from home. Today, many people who have an office job work from home at least one day a week. If everyone works at home one day in five, that's a 20 per cent reduction in traffic. Only, it's not that straightforward. As Goodwin points out, commuting journeys are a good way of preventing cars from being used during working hours. When a car is at home, it's available for other members of the household to use. While the net effect is still positive, it isn't big enough to explain peak car. Internet shopping has also made a small dent but, again, not a big enough dent to explain the numbers.


Petrol prices have also had a modest impact. There is an inverse correlation between petrol prices and traffic – when petrol prices go up, traffic levels go down. But petrol will have to get a lot more expensive before people abandon their cars in significant numbers. "In the long run, people accommodate the rise in petrol prices by buying more economical cars," says UCL's Metz.


Metz and Goodwin believe that a movement called "new urbanism" may partly explain the drop in car-use in cities such as London. New urbanism – to cite the movement's website – promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable [sic], compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but assembled in a more integrated fashion, in the form of complete communities.


"There was a period of about 20 years when the population of London declined as people moved out to the country, to market towns," says Metz, "but that trend has gone into reverse over the past 20 years and you've got fashionable inner city areas, such as Hoxton and Shoreditch, the heart of digital enterprises. That is all quite helpful in terms of becoming less car-dependent, making more use of public transport, walking and cycling."


There is some evidence that this is happening in Leeds and Manchester, which experienced inner-city decline, leading to low-rent property, then occupied by artists and entrepreneurs. As mentioned before, fewer young people are learning to drive, possibly because of the cost of learning and the steep cost of motor insurance in that age group.


My daughter is 20 and lives in south London. Of her extended group of friends, only two have driver's licences. "Seeing how stressful driving can be is off-putting," she says. "Also, I know people who had a car but had to sell it because London's so expensive."


At the other end of the age spectrum, the elderly – the fastest-growing demographic in the UK – have a big incentive to abandon their cars: free bus passes.


Other transport policy is also having an effect. The introduction of controlled parking zones through most of London makes it all but impossible to find parking during the day, and the Congestion Charge zone has made it expensive to travel through central London. At the same time, there has been a strong investment in public transport – specifically rail travel.


"From a carbon perspective, it gives us some hope," says Sloman. "There has tended to be an assumption on the part of policymakers that it's just not possible to change people's travel behaviour to less carbon-intensive means of travel but, actually, if people are changing their travel behaviour already, perhaps we can support that kind of change in behaviour by going with the grain of what people want to do." When Goodwin looked at the charts of public transport use in the last century, he saw strong and rapid growth of rail, buses and trams, followed by an abrupt and precipitous drop.


There was a vicious cycle as cars came to prominence. Each increase in car-use accelerated more car-use, because the quality of public transport declined. New towns, such as Redditch, were designed specifically with drivers in mind. Increasing car-use had an effect on the way cities were laid out. Small, local destinations closed and were replaced by bigger, more distant ones. Shopping centres, schools and hospitals began to be located away from the centres, so people needed cars to access them.


The $60,000 question is: will the process work in reverse? Will we see a virtuous circle of declining car-use coupled with increasing use of greener modes of transport: our legs, bicycles, trams, trains and buses?


"If people are moving back into the inner cities and central areas, then you're getting people choosing to live in areas where the public transport tends to be better and the parking difficulties tend to be worse, and you could easily imagine a virtuous circle," says Goodwin.


/continues: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/features/is-this-the-end-of-the-car-2286616.html


Car Ownership = Extra Hassle & Extra Expense

(I used to know someone in London who said the only reason he owned a car was to "get women."

I decided the sort of women who needed that inducement weren't worth having.)

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Saudi Arabia became the world's top oil producer by tapping its vast reserves of easy-to-drill, high-quality light oil. But as demand for energy grows and fields of "easy oil" around the world start to dry up, the Saudis are turning to a much tougher source: the billions of barrels of heavy oil trapped beneath the desert.


Heavy oil, which can be as thick as molasses, is harder to get out of the ground than light oil and costs more to refine into gasoline. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have embarked on an ambitious experiment to coax it out of the Wafra oil field, located in a sparsely populated expanse of desert shared by the two nations.


That the Saudis are even considering such a project shows how difficult and costly it is becoming to slake the world's thirst for oil. It also suggests that even the Saudis may not be able to boost production quickly in the future if demand rises unexpectedly. Neither issue bodes well for the return of cheap oil over the long term.


"The easy oil is coming to an end," says Alex Munton, a Middle East analyst for the Scottish energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. The major oil fields in the Gulf region, he says, have pumped more than half their oil—the point at which production traditionally begins to decline.

. . .

With no fresh-water sources in the Arabian desert, Chevron has been forced to use salt water found in the same underground reservoirs as the oil. That water is full of contaminants that must be removed before it can be boiled and injected into the ground.


Finding the energy to boil the water will be even tougher. Chevron could use oil instead of natural gas—literally burning oil to produce oil—but that would burn profits, too. So the company likely will be forced to import natural gas from overseas, an expensive process that involves chilling it to turn it into a liquid, then shipping it thousands of miles.


Some experts are shaking their heads.


"They're in trouble," says Robert Toronyi, a retired Chevron engineer who now serves as chief operating officer for Quantum Reservoir Impact, a Houston-based consulting firm. He says the project is so challenging that it will be hard for Chevron to turn much of a profit.


Chevron says the project will be profitable as long as oil prices stay above $60 or $70 per barrel, well below Monday's level of $97.70.

. . .

"You know where the oil is," Mr. Higgs says. "There's no doubt about that. So the question is: How do I economically produce it?"


/more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704436004576299421455133398.html?mod=googlenews_wsj


Gasoline prices are not going to get cheaper in the long run.

And if the Dollar crashes, the Dollar price of oil will only go up faster. So prospective home buyers should be thinking about this, and consider that car commuting in the future may be an expensive luxury. Homes far from mass transit may continue to slide in value, as buyers opt for greater convenience, and freedom from the expensive car-ddiction.

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A Similar thread has been started on the KunstlerCast Forum:



Let's see how much interest it stirs thre

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KunstlerCast #158:

Americans Demand Walkable Neighborhoods...

But Prefer Suburban Style Housing .. May 26, 2011.

MP3: http://media.libsyn.com/media/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_158.mp3


On today's episode JHK discusses a recent poll by the National Association of Realtors which found that while many Americans claim they want to be able to walk to stores, restaurants and other urban amenities, they prefer to live in single family detached homes above all else. This seems to be a contradiction, but the arrangement could be possible through New Urbanist planning.


/source: http://kunstlercast.com/



Detached homes require so much space that "walkable neighborhoods" and nearby stores become impossible - the low density does not allow the shops a sufficient customer base to stay in business.


A reasonable compromise, which still allows some gardens might be single family, and multiple family brownstones. These are very popular in cities like New York and Boston.


As JHK put it, about the 'contradiction':

"Americans do not like cities very much... because they are used to the idea of cities overrun with automobiles... and the resulting parking problems make people hate their city."


"People have been programmed to like the suburbs they are familiar with."

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Not really news but even Abu Dhabi, the epicentre of the global oil industry, is betting on a transit future, with significant plans for freight, inter city, metro and light rail.




Initially this will be for the present day poor, the workers which keep the place afloat, but the utility of the system in future cannot be overstated. When the pumps run dry, the rails will run on renewables.


When a region with "the resource" starts to react you know that the game is changing. Time for the US and other auto-centric nations to take the not-so-subtle hint from the Gulf.


Transit (include technology, land use, subsidy, demand management) is the future and all effort should be made to promote it .

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The Car-ddicted complain about anything - even snow ! - that deprives them of their right to DRIVE



How rational is this?


If government is to be made smaller, maybe we need to think about new ways of getting around

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I've noticed in rural Aberdeenshire a glut of properties on the market however in the city of Aberdeen where I own properties and prices have remained static. I put this down to Bubb's reasons for easy oil even somewhere like here (oil city) has not gone unaffected.

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Europe and the UK are also trying to reduce their addiction to Car-commuting



For some real irony to that, a few weeks back driving down the A38 near the Toyota Burnaston plant I noticed, there is a bike lane between Burton on Trent and Derby.


Around 4.00p.m several of the employees were descending down the track at a rate of knots that made me think good for them. No more than 5 miles or so in either direction, keeps them fit and no doubt leaves the wife able to do the school run in the Verso :lol:

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For some real irony to that, a few weeks back driving down the A38 near the Toyota Burnaston plant I noticed, there is a bike lane between Burton on Trent and Derby.


Around 4.00p.m several of the employees were descending down the track at a rate of knots that made me think good for them. No more than 5 miles or so in either direction, keeps them fit and no doubt leaves the wife able to do the school run in the Verso :lol:


Maybe a two car family becomes a 1-car family, and suddenly they can really afford the family house they want to buy.

But keep the commute short !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Joseph Cortright: Walking the Walk: How Walkability Increases Home Prices in U.S. Cities


Submitted by abanks on Sun, 12/06/2009 - 9:42pm

Summit Presentation access destination health Slideshow Transportation Summit 2009 walk score walkability



Joseph Cotright's presentation "Walking the Walk" discusses the value of walkability within healthy urban design. Mr. Cotright states that while cities are all about access, the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of walkability are important to pay attention to when planning for healthy transportation networks.


/more- VIDEO : http://www.cnu.org/node/3278

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