• asim0v

    Sorry guys, but I have to disagree on the finale. I loved every frakking second of it! Let’s just get this out of the way now: because of the build-up to the finale, nothing could ever live up to what you were hoping. We’ve been watching this show for years now, since the mini-series aired. We’ve had an abundance of time to digest the plot and characters, to construct our own theories and possibilities of the BSG universe. There isn’t anything that the show could have done that would live up to the potential we saw in our imagination. In many respects, it’s the journey that was important, not the destination.

    One of the overarching themes of the finale was breaking the cycle of violence and hatred that feeds on itself. There are still wars being fought today that are hundreds if not thousands of years old. Some of the characters believed so deeply in fate they gave their lives because of it, others believed the future isn’t predestined. Head Baltar and Head Six didn’t know if humanity would repeat the same mistakes again. In reality, we’re fast approaching a time when we could create entities like the original Cylon Centurions. Even more than that, we’re approaching a time when we can take our evolution into our hands with genetic manipulation. Without a doubt, there will be troubled times ahead, but that doesn’t mean we should stop; the potential benefits are too great. It’s up to us to be responsible, to be compassionate, and to be open-minded. We can’t create life to be used as slaves or weapons of war and not expect a backlash by the creations imbued with intelligence. Despite all the bloodshed, all the countless billions of lives lost over the series, the show ends on a note of hope. Our future is our own, we should strive to make it the best possible.

  • asim0v

    Sorry guys, but I have to disagree on the finale. I loved every frakking second of it! Let’s just get this out of the way now: because of the build-up to the finale, nothing could ever live up to what you were hoping. We’ve been watching this show for years now, since the mini-series aired. We’ve had an abundance of time to digest the plot and characters, to construct our own theories and possibilities of the BSG universe. There isn’t anything that the show could have done that would live up to the potential we saw in our imagination. In many respects, it’s the journey that was important, not the destination.

    One of the overarching themes of the finale was breaking the cycle of violence and hatred that feeds on itself. There are still wars being fought today that are hundreds if not thousands of years old. Some of the characters believed so deeply in fate they gave their lives because of it, others believed the future isn’t predestined. Head Baltar and Head Six didn’t know if humanity would repeat the same mistakes again. In reality, we’re fast approaching a time when we could create entities like the original Cylon Centurions. Even more than that, we’re approaching a time when we can take our evolution into our hands with genetic manipulation. Without a doubt, there will be troubled times ahead, but that doesn’t mean we should stop; the potential benefits are too great. It’s up to us to be responsible, to be compassionate, and to be open-minded. We can’t create life to be used as slaves or weapons of war and not expect a backlash by the creations imbued with intelligence. Despite all the bloodshed, all the countless billions of lives lost over the series, the show ends on a note of hope. Our future is our own, we should strive to make it the best possible.

  • http://www.missm.com/ MissM

    My show was initially only 3 minutes long and 2.2MB. Archive.org link worked fine though and got the whole show. Missed y’all. Thanks for releasing/recording early :)

  • Urkel

    I’ve watched BSG from beginning to end and I’m sick of people saying that the reason I don’t love the finale is because I’m not spiritual/deep/intelligent/syfy enough to understand it. I’ve listened to the Ron Moore podcasts and he’s even admitted that most of the major plot points were made up on the spot. So this attempt to find something so earth(2)-shatteringly enlightening was just the creators trying to scotch tape all their mistakes together.

    I’m not saying I’m not a fan. I’m just saying that without the absolutely amazing actors then the holes peppered throughout the series would be a lot more glaring.

  • Urkel

    I’ve watched BSG from beginning to end and I’m sick of people saying that the reason I don’t love the finale is because I’m not spiritual/deep/intelligent/syfy enough to understand it. I’ve listened to the Ron Moore podcasts and he’s even admitted that most of the major plot points were made up on the spot. So this attempt to find something so earth(2)-shatteringly enlightening was just the creators trying to scotch tape all their mistakes together.

    I’m not saying I’m not a fan. I’m just saying that without the absolutely amazing actors then the holes peppered throughout the series would be a lot more glaring.

  • Urkel

    BTW. If you feel those flashbacks in the last few episodes where uneccessary then you should watch the miniseries again. I’ve been watching the pilot/miniseries and am absolutely amazed at how much was already covered way back then. And that makes those flashbacks a major waste of precious time.

    Anyway, everyone should watch the miniseries again. It really is pretty amazing.

  • socaljess

    Rodrigo Rocks Hero-Style!

  • AJinAlameda

    I was disappointed in the finale, mainly with everything after the battle at the Cylon Colony. I must confess that I wasn’t digging the religious angle, but the curiosity about discovering who were the 12 Cylons kept me watching.

    Kara Thrace was never really explained, but I wasn’t a big fan of her character anyways.

    The flashbacks didn’t work for me, except for one thing in “Daybreak: Part I.” When soon-to-be retired Admiral Adama goes to a job interview, they asked him if he was a Cylon! Whoa, wait a minute! Wasn’t just Baltar the only person that knew that Cylons took human form, and only found out just before the attack on the colonies? Am I missing something, here?

    Other thoughts:

    – There was no flashback on Tory. Weird, huh?

    – Hera is the Mitochondrial Eve. Meh!

    – Racetrack is gone (tears).

    – Over 30k humans agreed to abandon technology after the Cylon threat was essentially over, and not a single one though about joining the Centurions out of a desire to explore. Oh wait, that would be too “Trek.”

    – Not a single survivor considers New Caprica as an alternative.

    – Laura goes cougar one crazy evening, LOL!

    Ok, I’m done.

    Urkel, you are correct about the miniseries, as it is brilliant.

  • AJinAlameda

    Regarding Bill Adama being asked if he’s a Cylon, another forum points out that the interviewer used that question as a baseline to get a good polygraph “read.” That actually makes sense. It would be like asking “Is the sky red?”

    Just interesting that they chose THAT question.

  • Urkel

    Since questions are being asked:

    -Who is the 13th Cylon “Daniel”? Anders said it but it never got resolved. Kara’s dads name was D-something so my guess was that he was a Cylon and Kara was in fact the first cylon hybrid.

    -What about the prophecy to Kara that “You are the harbinger of death to the human race” thing. Apparently playing All Along the Watchtower on a phone dial got them to Fake-Earth so where’s the death?

    -What is future Baltar/Six exactly? That ending was far to Matrix with the “enlightened” walking amongst the people. I was expecting a Rob Zombie song and for them to fly away into the camera.

    -What was with the Opera house vision? It absolutely tortured them (and us) for years and the resolution is that she was simply wandering to the CIC? C’mon, that was NOT a payoff.

    -Was there really drama about a half-cylon? If it really is impossible then all the “numbers” would die and fail to pass on the cylon gene. And if it’s possible then they threw away the lives of hundreds and the galactica itself simply for one little girl.

    Anyway, with BSG done with then you’d think we’d be without a good Sci-Fi fix, but the upcoming V remake MUST be discussed. Check out the cast so far:
    Alan Tudyk – Wash from Firefly
    Morena Baccarin – Inara from Firefly
    Laura Vandervoort – Supergirl from Smallville (Drool…)
    Elizabeth Mitchell – Juliet from Lost
    Scott Wolf – Part of Five… my wife loved that show

    I really hope they put a 3-4 season limit and (unlike BSG) actually get a timeline that makes sense because this could be really good.

  • Urkel

    Since questions are being asked:

    -Who is the 13th Cylon “Daniel”? Anders said it but it never got resolved. Kara’s dads name was D-something so my guess was that he was a Cylon and Kara was in fact the first cylon hybrid.

    -What about the prophecy to Kara that “You are the harbinger of death to the human race” thing. Apparently playing All Along the Watchtower on a phone dial got them to Fake-Earth so where’s the death?

    -What is future Baltar/Six exactly? That ending was far to Matrix with the “enlightened” walking amongst the people. I was expecting a Rob Zombie song and for them to fly away into the camera.

    -What was with the Opera house vision? It absolutely tortured them (and us) for years and the resolution is that she was simply wandering to the CIC? C’mon, that was NOT a payoff.

    -Was there really drama about a half-cylon? If it really is impossible then all the “numbers” would die and fail to pass on the cylon gene. And if it’s possible then they threw away the lives of hundreds and the galactica itself simply for one little girl.

    Anyway, with BSG done with then you’d think we’d be without a good Sci-Fi fix, but the upcoming V remake MUST be discussed. Check out the cast so far:
    Alan Tudyk – Wash from Firefly
    Morena Baccarin – Inara from Firefly
    Laura Vandervoort – Supergirl from Smallville (Drool…)
    Elizabeth Mitchell – Juliet from Lost
    Scott Wolf – Part of Five… my wife loved that show

    I really hope they put a 3-4 season limit and (unlike BSG) actually get a timeline that makes sense because this could be really good.

  • http://diogenes-sinope.blogspot.com/ Sean O’Hara

    One of the oldest, hoariest cliches in science fiction is the story about refugees who land on a lush new world, and the last line is, “Then Adam said to Eve, ‘We shall call this place … EARTH.'” The BSG finale is just a slight modification of that cliche — we have ADAMa saying he wants to call the new world Earth, and one of the characters turns out to be Mitochondrial Eve.

    The other problem is that by having the Galacticans land 150,000 years ago, they’re 140,000 years too early to have an influence on civilization. Not only did they give up all their high technology, they didn’t even retain construction and agriculture.

  • http://diogenes-sinope.blogspot.com Sean O’Hara

    One of the oldest, hoariest cliches in science fiction is the story about refugees who land on a lush new world, and the last line is, “Then Adam said to Eve, ‘We shall call this place … EARTH.'” The BSG finale is just a slight modification of that cliche — we have ADAMa saying he wants to call the new world Earth, and one of the characters turns out to be Mitochondrial Eve.

    The other problem is that by having the Galacticans land 150,000 years ago, they’re 140,000 years too early to have an influence on civilization. Not only did they give up all their high technology, they didn’t even retain construction and agriculture.

  • Vance

    I am with you guys entirely on the BSG finale and with Urkel and others above, they simply left the loose ends hanging if they couldn’t come up with something that actually worked. That is the problem with making it up as you go along, which Ron tried to justify as “so creative” in his podcasts. In the end, you have a jumble.

    But my real issue is with the 150,000 BCE time frame. There was nothing special whatsoever about the areas chosen (Nile, etc) until less than 20,000 years ago. This is an area which I know a great deal about and they idea of in influx, or “uplift” in humanity makes sense either around 40,000 years ago (Upper Paleolithic revolution), or about 10,000 years ago (beginnings of the agricultural revolution), and the whole Nile, Mesopotamia and Yangtze angle only makes sense with the latter time frame. To think that they arrived at 150,000 BCE, but their unique contribution lay dormant for over 100,000 years and then somehow comes out is simply idiotic.

    And the idea that their seeding our planet explains everything from the Greek myths to Dylan’s song falls entirely flat with such a time gap (and would even be a HUGE suspension of disbelief even if they arrived at 10,000 BCE).

    BTW, a very good book on the development of culture after the last ice age is called After the Ice by Steven Mithen, which you can find here:

    http://www.amazon.com/After-Ice-Global-History-000-5000/dp/0674015703

  • Vance

    I am with you guys entirely on the BSG finale and with Urkel and others above, they simply left the loose ends hanging if they couldn’t come up with something that actually worked. That is the problem with making it up as you go along, which Ron tried to justify as “so creative” in his podcasts. In the end, you have a jumble.

    But my real issue is with the 150,000 BCE time frame. There was nothing special whatsoever about the areas chosen (Nile, etc) until less than 20,000 years ago. This is an area which I know a great deal about and they idea of in influx, or “uplift” in humanity makes sense either around 40,000 years ago (Upper Paleolithic revolution), or about 10,000 years ago (beginnings of the agricultural revolution), and the whole Nile, Mesopotamia and Yangtze angle only makes sense with the latter time frame. To think that they arrived at 150,000 BCE, but their unique contribution lay dormant for over 100,000 years and then somehow comes out is simply idiotic.

    And the idea that their seeding our planet explains everything from the Greek myths to Dylan’s song falls entirely flat with such a time gap (and would even be a HUGE suspension of disbelief even if they arrived at 10,000 BCE).

    BTW, a very good book on the development of culture after the last ice age is called After the Ice by Steven Mithen, which you can find here:

    http://www.amazon.com/After-Ice-Global-History-000-5000/dp/0674015703

  • Vance

    Oh, I just saw that Sean also pointed out the time gap issue in the comment just above mine.

  • Vance

    Oh, I just saw that Sean also pointed out the time gap issue in the comment just above mine.

  • http://www.coolb.com/ CoolB

    I read Watchmen for the first time a month or so before I saw the film and honestly I didn’t really care for it. It was good, but I think part of the problem is every time I heard someone talking about it they always said how awesome it was, or something along the lines of “the best graphic novel ever”. So for me it just didn’t live up to all the hype and praise.

    Also, even though it is one of the first, if not the first, story to use the “government telling heroes to stop being heroes” I’d seen the storyline before other places so it wasn’t as fresh and exciting to me as when it first came out.

    In fact I almost didn’t see the movie, but I’m glad I did, I actually enjoyed it more than the book.

    Although I agree with Tom, the sex scene was too long and uncomfortable in my oppinion as well.

  • http://www.coolb.com CoolB

    I read Watchmen for the first time a month or so before I saw the film and honestly I didn’t really care for it. It was good, but I think part of the problem is every time I heard someone talking about it they always said how awesome it was, or something along the lines of “the best graphic novel ever”. So for me it just didn’t live up to all the hype and praise.

    Also, even though it is one of the first, if not the first, story to use the “government telling heroes to stop being heroes” I’d seen the storyline before other places so it wasn’t as fresh and exciting to me as when it first came out.

    In fact I almost didn’t see the movie, but I’m glad I did, I actually enjoyed it more than the book.

    Although I agree with Tom, the sex scene was too long and uncomfortable in my oppinion as well.

  • Urkel

    Two Articles worth reading (Spoilers Obviously)

    Article: 12 Plotholes That Must Be Filled in the Battlestar Finale
    http://io9.com/5174139/12-plotholes-that-must-be-filled-in-the-battlestar-finale

    Article: Daniel Was Battlestar’s Biggest Fiasco, Says Ron Moore
    http://io9.com/5175958/daniel-was-battlestars-biggest-fiasco-says-ron-moore

  • Urkel

    Two Articles worth reading (Spoilers Obviously)

    Article: 12 Plotholes That Must Be Filled in the Battlestar Finale
    http://io9.com/5174139/12-plotholes-that-must-be-filled-in-the-battlestar-finale

    Article: Daniel Was Battlestar’s Biggest Fiasco, Says Ron Moore
    http://io9.com/5175958/daniel-was-battlestars-biggest-fiasco-says-ron-moore

  • http://tangentialconvergence.blogspot.com/ Dave Brodbeck

    They ran into H Sapiens idaltu, not H Sapiens sapiens (us). I liked it.

    I could have done without the religion stuff, but well, I could generally do without religion, and I do in my daily life….

    I could say that the ‘force of nature’ idea of god was ok, the Einstien version of god, god is the laws of physics, but it went beyond that. Well that was my interpretation anyway.

    All that said, I am glad they went to Africa to find H Sapiens Idaltu. I also loved the old school theme song played when Anders piloted the fleet into the Sun.

    I think the new movie that will have nothing ot do with Moore or the rebooted version will suck and blow….

  • Rob

    Thank you Vance and Sean! This point was driving me crazy during the finale. I could not figure out why the particular time was chosen, as it seems completely irrelevant. Having them discover Earth somewhere near the discovery of agriculture would have made a lot more sense – it takes a big leap to believe that such a large group of people equipped with agriculture could show up, only for the technology to die out for the next 140,000 years.

    On a completely different note, I’d love to hear what Tom and Roger (and all you folks) think about Canada’s recent shift in foreign aid. And more broadly, about what you feel the role of northern societies is in the development of the south. Just as background, Canada recently announced that it was cutting the number of countries receiving foreign aid, and that it was shifting it’s focus away from Africa and instead focusing on Eastern Europe and Latin America. Last year, Canada passed a bill (C293 if you’re interested) untying Canadian aid and promising poverty reduction as the focus of all future aid. I’m heading to Malawi and Zambia (two countries which will no longer receive foreign aid) this May on a placement with Engineers Without Borders/Ingénieurs Sans Frontières, so this is an issue that concerns me a great deal! And, I think, a good jumping off point to a general discussion on the role or effectiveness of foreign aid.

    Tom and Roger talk a lot about politics, and this is an issue I’d love to hear discussed!

  • http://www.zenoftim.com/blog Tim

    Gotta say I loved the finale of BSG, by mostly for the last 30 minutes rather than the first 2.5 hours – which seems to put me in the minority.

    I thought the best scene was when Lee turned around and Kara had vanished, I saw it coming but was still shocked when it happened. (Almost shed a tear, but I’m to manly for all that ;-) )

    As for the time discrepancies mentioned above, I just place that in the same category as FTL, robots with AI, and resurrection via clones and download.

    Finally, anybody have any thoughts on Stargate Universe? Thats the next big sci-fi… err syfy show i’m waiting on.

  • Vance

    The reason they chose the 150,000 years BC time frame was to fit the mitochondrial “eve” theory and the “recent” flavor of the “out of Africa” theory (in which “we” developed soon after this time period). That was the driving concept, but if they were going there, then they could not also have the cultural impact angle as well. They tried to have both and that is where they messed up.

    The idea with the “eve” is so that all of us today could be descended from a Cylon, which creates some nice shock value. If they waited until the cultural impact angle made sense, then only a portion of us could have Cylon heritage.

  • Cole

    I’m still scratching my head over the whole Starbuck thing because the “She’s an Angel” theory just doesn’t make sense. If she came back driven by some unexplained force AFTER her resurrection then maybe I can make excuses for the theory. But the fact is that she saw that Sun symbol, heard the music and was being called to Earth while she was still “human”. So that would mean that God(s) called her to die on a nuked planet in order to have her fulfill her destiny as an Angel? Puh-leez.

    I didn’t fully think this out, but I’m thinking that a better “Angel” solution would have been to let her remain dead the whole season and just do like Valeria from Conan. In their darkest moment then just appear there only to save them and find earth 2, then disappear. Sure, it’s stupid but it makes more sense than an angel being an actual person for the whole season and then disappearing for no reason.

  • Vance

    BTW, didn’t the planet shot of the nuked earth they found show our earth’s continents? Does anyone have that saved to check out?

  • Techpriest

    Hi All! Long time since i actually commented in EMW Land (school well…tends to take over). But i’ve been listening all the while. I won’t make any comments about the BSG finally since i no longer have access to sky one (which broadcasts it in the UK) and the dvd wont arrive till june. Sorry if i missed your comments, but if i even saw a hint of BSG spoiler-ism i had to skip it. I wasnt TOO bothered by the spoiler’s tom and roger gave out, as that still leaves room for the side-plots ever present in the BSG series, the cool space wars and the other stuff.

    In short, my main post is about transport. The discussion a few episodes back about transport and canada’s shift “Steel to Rubber”, as the car and bus took over, and the train faded back into an Amtrak style role, got me interested in transport, so after a few wikipedia sessions and my own research, i feel (fairly, by no means completely) versed in the realm of transport. I also happened to stumble apon an article issued by the “Libertarian Alliance” on why the privatisation of the railways in Britain turned into a failure. While i, as what i would call an “Economist Liberal” (The same kind of liberal policy put forward by the economist magazine, and defined in the “about us” section of their website), take issue with many of the points it raises, it does offer some interesting thoughts and points for rail travel, some of which i have combined into my discussion of the railways.. For the purposes of knowledge, i will use Britain as the example.

    1: Following the partially-succesful experiment by Sweden in the 1980’s, many countries attempted to split the running of railway track, and of railway trains. This was designed to operate railways on a air-travel model, where the passenger-carriage (IE: Airlines) is seperated from the “medium” (Runways and airspace). This model turned out to be a failure, with the exception of sweden (to quote patrick beja, “the scandinavians have some secrets their not sharing with the rest of us, i think their all robots”). The main reason for this, is that the “medium” is simply less important in air travel than on railways. A train has to stick to the tracks ALL the time, whereas a runway is only needed at the START and END of a plane journey.

    2. “Sector-isation” of railway systems tends to result in marked failures. In Britain, the “under one roof” model of state-owned “BR- British railways” was switched into a model of a track operator (Railtrack, which later went bankrupt and was bought by the goverment), ROSCOS (Rolling Stock Companies, who leased rolling stock, these are often critiscsed for holding near-monopolies on rolling stock, and often having 90% profit margins on leases) and TOCS (Train Operating Companies). TOC’s then pay the track operator a fee to use the track (similar to runway landing slots). This essentially results in situations where the passengers ticket, the train station, the train track, the train itself, and the ownership of the train could all be managed by COMPLETELY different people/companies. This causes beuracry, unnecessary costs, delays among other things.

    3. The Vertically Integrated Model tends to win. There are still a few places in Britain where train systems operate under a “Vertically Integrated”, “Everything Under One Roof”. A good example is the coastal commuter line near london, the “LTS” line, run by the “C2C” company. On the LTS line, all signalling, ticketing, rolling stock, train operation and station management is controlled by the single franchise holder, this is considered one of the main reasons that C2C has become the best rail system in post-privatisation britain, with 95.3% punctuality AND a profitable system (profitable to the point where the franchise holder could afford to dump their “inherited” rolling stock and opt for an all new fleet complete with “regenerative” braking to save energy). Other proponents of privatisation (such as the Libertarian alliance article) point out that Japan is the poster child for railway privatisation, with the entire japanese railway system privatised. They also point out that JR (Japan railways) is profitable, and as is well known, has the most punctual, speediest and some of the most comfortable trains in the world. However, they forget that while the JR Companies (JR Group is just a “big box” company for the little franchises, such as JR East and JR Kyushu, to tag on to for combined branding and ticketing initiatives) do all of the above said things, the JR Companies operate a vertically integrated model, and crucially, operate in a population dense area where rail travel makes more sense than japanese toll roads, and (during the government owned era), massive investments in infrastructure, technology, and marketing were made, securing this position. Infrastructure investment is just NOT something the private sector does on railways, as exemplified by the fact that the State still does most infrastructure investment in britain, and the private sector attempt at managing rail infrastructure (“Railtrack”) went bankrupt.

    4. The idea that the railways have to be profitable, is in and of itself, to a certain extent: absurd. The Motorway/Autobahn/Expressway/Freeway/Interestate road systems of the world are heavily subsidised by the state, and are NOT expected to “pay their way”, so why should railways? The requirement for profit is even more absurd in areas (UNLIKE japan) where rail travel needs to truly “work” to get an edge over other forms of transport. Rail transport, as has been pointed out in studies around the world (and by proponents of Prop. 1A In California) is more “space/enviroment per passenger” effecient, and takes thousands of cars off the roads. The “commuter” effects of rail (as exemplified by the south-east of Britain, and large portions of japan) can also bring wealth into an area. A recent report by the “Atkins” (Not the diet, different company altogether) agency found that a £36 Billion invesment in a new High Speed Rail system for britain would generate 63 Billion in indirect profit for the country over 5 years, but the system itself would be unprofitable for at least 4 of those years. A good example is spain, where the “AVE” high speed system has had money poured into it faster than any other piece of transport infrastracture in europe, and has made significant drops in journey times (from city center to center), managed to cut unnecessary air travel, and made IDENTIFIABLE drops in congestion on the roads.

    Well, Rant Over. My apologies for what appears (now that i’ve written it) to be a HUGE piece, but EMW seems like the place to discuss a massive topic like this. Might be an idea to bring Patrick Beja in on this for the “TGV” angle on it. But i’d REALLY appreciate if this was made a major discussion topic in the show, if only to spread debate. Railways are undervalued in many parts of the world, both sides of the atlantic (and the pacific for that matter) alike, and whether or not you like them, debate on them can only be a good thing.

  • Matthew

    I just want to agree with Techpriest and note the following:
    truly iconic and now useful pieces of infrastructure would not have been created if private enterprise with their 30 year return windows created the infrastructure. An example of this is the Sydney Harbour Bridge in that when it was created it could have carried, AT THE SAME TIME, 10% of all Sydney’s cars at the time of creation. It was not cash flow positive for over 30 years and didn’t pay back the loan for the construction for 40 years but now that fact that it was built for big meant no further bridges (to blight the spectacular harbour views) were required. It was also future proof as there was no further infrastructure required until the early 1990s. Mind you there has also been lots of white elephants done by public sector agencies the balance out the good ones.

    Vertical integration is also important from the perspective that if something goes wrong there is one party at fault and also to sort it out rather than everyone not wanting the liability which leads to much blame shifting.

  • socaljess

    Thanks Techpriest for bringing up public transportation as an EMW discussion topic – I study and work in this field. Now, the challenge would be how EMW narrows down the discussion since public transport is multi-faceted. Depending on the region or country, the foundation and current operations of transit vary a lot. For instance, San Francisco’s transit system varies from Southern California, yet they may have similar problems with congestion, urban sprawl, etc. In recent years, there have been events, such as high costs of fuel and severe weather on airport operations, that have contributed to rethinking diversifying transportation. So, EMW would really have to consider a specific region and transit type before discussing this immense topic.

    Like the Obama administration’s support for high-speed rail in the economic stimulus package. It signifies a huge message to the airline and oil industries that it’s time to diversify transportation. Past high speed train efforts in the U.S. have been shot down by well-moneyed airline industry lobbyists. California’s current high-speed train effort will incorporate a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) funding system in its operations with most public funding on planning and construction. Most American transportation authorities are represented as a public agency with most operations run by a private agency. So these practices have and continue to be in place.

    OK, let’s see how Tom and Roger tackle this topic. I am interested in hearing their opinions on the congestion pricing plans for San Francisco.

  • Matthew

    There is an interesting book called The Puritan Gift: Reclaiming the American Dream Amidst Global Financial Chaos by Kenneth Hopper and William Hooper about the reason why the US was great and also how it lost it. One of the reasons they note is that only the managers of the US model feel that they need to get paid to work their job and then they need to get bonuses to be paid to work. That is something that does not happen with anyone; that I need an incentive to work the job that I am already been paid for. That was not the case when the US industrial might was the envy of the world.

    Here is an interesting program concerning the managers and their sense of entitlement no matter how well they actually do their job.
    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/backgroundbriefing/stories/2009/2526727.htm

    In regards to Rail, can I make a point that trains are probably the easiest form of mass transportation (other than ships) to be run on renewable energy. As peak oil occurs then portable, cheap forms of energy become more difficult to find while the issue of electrifying the rail system is easier than doing the same for roads or overcoming the issue of the weight of batteries or gas tanks will be on planes.

  • Vance

    I am no expert on transportation, but I am wondering what the effect of a Los Angeles-type layout has on the efficiency of public transportation. You take the 12 million or so folks in NYC and the 12 million or so folks in the greater LA area and you have two VERY different models. The LA model spreads everyone out over a wide area, and this no single destination center, since there are business centers, like pods, all over the basin. Getting public transportation to within walking distance of even half of the people would likely be prohibitive, no? There is simply no way that someone living in Southern California could get by without a car that I can see.

  • socaljess

    Trust me Vance, I agree maneuvering through most of SoCal can be challenging esp. if one is not close to public transit and rail. But with rising gas costs and more transit options now available, SoCal transit ridership has increased and made it more possible to be less car-dependent. Certainly, the physical and development attributes of global cities are worlds apart but I think they share similarities in problems with parking, congestion, and increasing populations. And though Southern California today is still fairly car-dependent, years before the automobile became more available to the common folk, SoCal had a very viable light rail line (from downtown LA to as far south as Newport Beach) . Of course, passenger rail, trolleys, and bus lines were soon eaten up by the auto popularity, freeway construction, and the local tire and auto part industries.

    But in the last 20 years, SoCal land use policies and transit development have shifted toward building a stronger, viable, and diversified regional transportation system in response to post-war suburban sprawl. San Diego and Portland have proven this – LA is slowly but surely getting there (LA County Metro has many projects in scope) – Anaheim has pushed for local public transit and higher density housing and even a regional transportation hub (Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center) to serve the OC.

    So, don’t give up on SoCal regional transportation – regulatory policies, public support, funding, regional economies and construction tend to make the whole process long and painful (but so worth it). But if you a real close look at SoCal region today and its transit options, you’d be very surprised.

  • Vance

    I have seen some progress every time I go back to LA (lived there for most of 25 years), and I think it will slowly make greater inroads. But, I think that will be for the commuter, since you will still need a car to get around your local suburban community. For example, I grew up in the Glendora and Covina areas and there is now a train that runs from Glendora right into LA. But the majority of the people in the east San Gabriel Valley don’t work in LA. In fact, very few of them do. And those that do would still need a car to get to the train stop. So, in order for those and similar millions to be able to live without a car, it would not just be a light rail to LA that is needed, but an extensive, clean, reliable bus system as well. And that would have to exist in every little community from the West San Fernando Valley to Rancho Cucamonga to Newport Beach.

    In a centralized area (like almost every other major city in the US) the size of the public transportation system needed to get everyone “car free” is much more concentrated. I do see progress, but I think that LA will be the last city that can make it truly feasible for people to give up their private cars.

  • Techpriest

    “Give up their private cars” can mean many different things. A very good Light Rail or Metro system in central LA, combined with branch lines to “Park and Ride” sites (Places where commuters leave their cars for the day while their in the city) near the major commuter roads, could be very effective. This sort of scenario has been employed in other parts of the world as a “stop-gap” between the construction of metros and the construction of effective commuter rail systems. The potential downside is that the system is TOO effective, and businesses and city life start to gravitate around the park and ride sites, this causes a “donut” effect where the edge of a city is where the activity is, and the centre is essentially…pointless. However, the donut effect can easily be avoided by putting in place proper planning regulations that encourage the city to stay where it is, while using local tax regulation (IE: making a tax-cut or tax-deduction of some kind available to those who leave their cars at park and side sites, rather than drive all the way) to encourage the use of the system.

  • Vance

    Yes, they do have a park and ride system as well around LA, but I am not sure how much it is used. What I find most interesting about LA is that there IS no city center. While there is a downtown, it only draw a fraction of the workforce, which is spread out over LA and Orange counties fairly evenly on a given day. Between the business centers on the westside, San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Ana, etc, etc, a rail system would have to link everywhere to everywhere. I lived in Covina, went to college in Fullerton and did all of my entertainment in Westwood, etc. SoCal’s just cover a lot of ground. :0)

  • Techpriest

    This is…unprecedented. Even the largest european conurbations don’t operate on this “centre-less” model. Granted, some of have multiple centres, for example the Docklands in London, along with the area near Fenchurch Street and St Marys Axe Street. Hmmm….what about a system that artificially created “Centres”. I’m thinking along the lines of a commuter rail system that connects to a hub. The hub then connects to a metro for that area. So if you started at street X In Fullerton, and needed to get to street y in Westwood, you would do something like this:

    A: Start at street X, go to nearest metro station
    B: Use metro to get to Fullerton Commuter Rail Hub
    C: Use Commuter Rail to get to Westwood Commuter Rail hub
    D: Use Metro to get to Street Y in Westwood.

    My utter lack of knowledge on North American rail systems and North American urban models lets me down here, but i think this model could work, if it was put under a unified ticketing and pricing structure like the “CityRail” System in Australia.

  • Vance

    Yes, that might work, but you would be shocked by how large of an area we are talking about. Think about 5,000 square miles and about 12,000,000 people. I did a little research and here is what I found. There are only seven commuter rail lines right now, but they do cover a lot of ground, and it is actually one of the largest systems (in length of rail) in the world. BUT, even given that, only 1.5% of travel is made up of public transportation and only 0.2% is rail travel (as of 2003). So, even with a large investment already, we are only servicing a tiny portion of the population.

    One reason for this is that 75% of the population lives in what they call “post-auto” densities. The entire area was built upon the existence of cars and an extensive freeway system. To now convert that “car-based” layout to a “car-free” scenario would be an incredible feat.

  • Vance

    BTW, one interesting statistic is that there is currently one metro station for every 48 square miles in the 2,300 square miles that it services now (which is only half of the total area, keep in mind). That is 50 stations right now. If you wanted to get a metro station within a mile of everyone (to make “car-free” feasible), that means another 2,250 stations. And that would only cover half of the total acreage.

  • socaljess

    One challenge for policy to influence a shift from a car-dependent region to a car-free one would be to balance land use: employment centers: transportation. SoCal has seen this especially with the Inland Empire (over an hour away from downtown LA). The 91 Freeway that serves this region but was not designed to accomodate the increased traffic from employment centers moving to rural-burbs for larger facilities and cheaper rent, as well as the affordable dream homes being built (now mostly vacant due to foreclosures). Balancing these three factors is near impossible when cities vie for the employment center-derived tax dollars, local land use policies could not respond to the onslaught of homebuilders and their developments and transportation policy does not adapt fast enough to face these regional changes.

    Another aspect is the public’s receptivity to specific transit types. There are the assumptions that bus transit is used more by low-income groups and that middle to higher income groups tend to feel more comfortable in light-rail, trolley, or heavy rail. This would align with the much studied concentric model of sprawl (similar to Techpriest’s reference to centreless cities), whereby the urban core serves lower income groups and as they advance these group move farther from the core, accelerated by automobile purchase and social mobility. In the end, the outer circle is made up of high income groups living it up in the suburbs.

    I agree with Vance that in discussing LA – we’re talking a very large city, the size of a county or region in some countries. Then add it to the SoCal region, it’s vast beyond comparing to any other region that has a similar development. So yes, developing local transit systems with all those bedroom communities in Socal- it’s a constant for transportation planners in planning and policymaking. WOO-HOO!

  • Techpriest

    Interesting note that relates to the high speed rail conversation earlier. The Japanese Rail system, while profitable now under the JR group system, was not always so. The Vast construction Cost of Shinkansen Lines mean’t that at one point, whole divisions of JNR (Pre-privatisation, Japanese National Railways) were dedicated to servicing spiralling debt, and eventually JNR’s debt topped ¥28 Trillion Yen. In Contrast the “Profitable” JR Group of companies bought out the entire system, during privatisaiton, paid only ¥9.2 Trillion Yen. This makes an overall loss of ¥18.8 Trillion Yen. However the estimated overall benefit to the Japanese economy over the systems entire existence is ¥22.8 Trillion Yen. This means, including the money gained by the Japanese government during privatisation, the Japanese government spent a net ¥18.8 Trillion Yen, to gain ¥22.8 Trillion Yen in economic benefits. A “national profit” of ¥4 Trillion Yen.

  • Matthew

    I just watched the Watchmen and while I enjoyed the high production values I didn’t enjoy the plot line or a lot of the dialogue. This is not due to the to the film been bad per se but I go to watch a movie to escape from reality, to enjoy a time of escapism from the grind of the world.

    That is why I have watched US films or films that follow the tradition of the US films where there is a happy ending to that of European film which is all about the bleakness of life. As an aside I was told once that US films follow the Mark Twain tradition of happy endings while European films follow the Les Miserables, Victor Hugo tradition. I don’t know about you guys but if I want to deal with the bleak aspects of life all I have to do is to go to work. There I deal with staff having to get Restraining orders against clients, Politicians and their love of compromise and self serving ways or the corporates that are always grasping even when they have done nothing to deserve it.

    I watch films to escape from it, where absolute values means something rather then the endless compromising that occurs in the world.

    Also Techpriest I have done/reviewed economic appraisals and they can be done so as to give any answer you want. Its not that hard to change some little assumptions to give you a radically different answer. Even one that, shock horror!, show that a project actually made money….

  • Matthew

    I just watched the Watchmen and while I enjoyed the high production values I didn’t enjoy the plot line or a lot of the dialogue. This is not due to the to the film been bad per se but I go to watch a movie to escape from reality, to enjoy a time of escapism from the grind of the world.

    That is why I have watched US films or films that follow the tradition of the US films where there is a happy ending to that of European film which is all about the bleakness of life. As an aside I was told once that US films follow the Mark Twain tradition of happy endings while European films follow the Les Miserables, Victor Hugo tradition. I don’t know about you guys but if I want to deal with the bleak aspects of life all I have to do is to go to work. There I deal with staff having to get Restraining orders against clients, Politicians and their love of compromise and self serving ways or the corporates that are always grasping even when they have done nothing to deserve it.

    I watch films to escape from it, where absolute values means something rather then the endless compromising that occurs in the world.

    Also Techpriest I have done/reviewed economic appraisals and they can be done so as to give any answer you want. Its not that hard to change some little assumptions to give you a radically different answer. Even one that, shock horror!, show that a project actually made money….

  • Techpriest

    Matthew, you have a very good point, statistics is one of few sciences where two scientists with preciesely the same set of data, and can achieve completely different conclusions. But the point of the note of the shinkansen was not to swing it either way, but to show from a purely economical overall view, the view of high speed rail is a mixed one. However, from a truly global “overall” view, i think the shinkansen has worked for japan. First of all, the “bullet train” has been a huge marketing boost to japan and tourism in japan. Secondly, it has greatly reduced the traffic load on Japans motorways, and has formed a project which allowed japan to have a “focal point” to greatly improve its science and technological skills.

  • Techpriest

    Matthew, you have a very good point, statistics is one of few sciences where two scientists with preciesely the same set of data, and can achieve completely different conclusions. But the point of the note of the shinkansen was not to swing it either way, but to show from a purely economical overall view, the view of high speed rail is a mixed one. However, from a truly global “overall” view, i think the shinkansen has worked for japan. First of all, the “bullet train” has been a huge marketing boost to japan and tourism in japan. Secondly, it has greatly reduced the traffic load on Japans motorways, and has formed a project which allowed japan to have a “focal point” to greatly improve its science and technological skills.

  • Matthew

    Techpriest, For me the other reasons that you mention should be the the reasons why a project should occur and not whether a project will make ‘money’ or not. This is coming from the person that has to deal with the numbers on projects!

  • Techpriest

    I see what you mean, but numbers and money isnt everything. Most well designed rail projects will make profit eventually, but i what i was trying to get at is the requirement that many people have that the railways need to profitable as soon as possible. It’s a view which i find while understandable, short sighted.

  • Techpriest

    I see what you mean, but numbers and money isnt everything. Most well designed rail projects will make profit eventually, but i what i was trying to get at is the requirement that many people have that the railways need to profitable as soon as possible. It’s a view which i find while understandable, short sighted.

  • Matthew

    Private investors all look at infrastructure with a 30 year window to see if they are making money or not. By the way this is the same temporal window as banks and mortgages.

    Some infrastructure projects that is done by the government has a pay back window of 60 years (mind you this thinking is going away as the government starts to see things the same way as the private investor).

    There is also ancillary benefits and costs that usually isn’t taken into account. For instance in cities that has to deal with warm weather and their greatest electricity use is air conditioners,e.g. LA, solar panels on individual homes means that there is less pressure to upgrade the electricity grid. This is due to less need to upgrade the grid for peak electricity demand.

    In regards to Trains this could greatly reduce the need to upgrade the road network, especially for road trains (i.e. BIG trucks). This means the costs of resuming land from private owners to expand roads and also the need to prepare the roads to deal with such heavy vehicles as road trains will not be incurred or incurred less.