Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Name, Marginally Different Additude

In case you're wondering what the heck happened to the name of the blog, I've switched it to something I think is a little more fitting: The Occasional Thought About Planning From Someone Who Lives in Albuquerque.

Let's face it, I didn't really hold up to the whole "Carfree in Burque" idea - this blog has turned out to be mostly about other cities, about places I've been to which are very specifically not Albuquerque. Recently I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C. and I thought I'd put up a post about transit in D.C., like I did for the Pacific Northwest cities. But then I realized I hadn't written anything about Albuquerque in ages, and it seemed somewhat hypocritical to have that in a blog that was supposed to be about living a carless existence in Albuquerque.

Maybe now I'll get around to posting that bit about D.C. And then again, maybe not. I'm feeling kinda bored. Frankly, this isn't the greatest time to be an novice urban planner in Albuquerque - the economy is at a stand-still, few new projects are rolling out, and any significant improvements in mass transit are going to be a ways off. Some of my fellows use this as a segway into bashing Mayor Berry for doing things like holding off on the arena project. Frankly, I think the guy's doing a pretty good job. I may not have voted for him, but we did elect him on a platform of fiscal responsibility, and he has kept that campaign promise. He has managed to balance the budget without cutting services, and all you have to do is look oh, say, anywhere else in the country to see what a rare thing that is. He's managed to make the best of what we have, and in these times that's what we need. I'll gratefully accept a little boredom when the alternative could be much worse. Maybe it's the sanity from Jon Stewart's speech, but I'll gladly cut the partisan crap and extend my hand in graditude.

That said, I am still bored. And while I'm fine with that in other aspects of my life, it's not very good news for my blog. My posting here has been pretty irregular (hence the "occasional" in the title) and that's not going to stop anytime soon. I apologize for that, but frankly I can't bring myself to be that apologetic - this is my current reality. My enthusiasm has dropped below the point where I feel like posting here that often, and I'm just going to accept that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The GM Streetcar Conspiracy - and Why I've Stopped Caring

Anyone who enters the world of transit advocacy has likely heard of the GM Streetcar Conspiracy; it's a familiar tale that those who study transit will hear multiple times, and I'm sure most of my readers are familiar with it. In case you haven't heard it however (in which case I ask, how the heck did you pull that off?), here's the basic gist of it:

In the 1930s and 40s, several auto and gas companies (General Motors, Standard Oil, and Firestone Tires, among others) got together and acquired local streetcar systems (remember, back then mass transportation was largely a privately-run endeavor) in order to tear them out and replace them with buses.

That so much is the facts, but transit advocates often take it the larger levels. Many of them point to this event as the moment in which we became overly dependent on automobiles; that the dismantling of streetcar systems was part of a larger plan to reduce the overall quality of mass transit in the United States, forcing everyone to take up driving.

It's a compelling tale and one I've heard all too often, to the point that now I've gotten rather sick of hearing it. Every once in a while it'll pop up, just to remind us who's really at fault for all our current transit ills.

Firstly, let me say that I do not deny this event had a significant impact on mass transportation in the country, and an understanding of this event is recommended if you want to know the history of urban transportation systems in this nation. But I think too many people overblow its importance.

Let me start with the idea that a switch to buses was part of a grander scheme to get everyone in cars. The main problem I have with this idea is that it assumes buses have always had the stigma people place on them today (at least in the United States). I have trouble with this one; in the 30s and 40s buses were still very much a new technology, and there was a lot of excitement surrounding them - they were sleek, they were fast, and they were cheaper to install. I don't think the general public at the time had the romantic notions of streetcars that we have today - mainly because they the streetcars hadn't been removed yet. The stigma that many people attach with buses today would come later.

And the idea that GM had this stigma in mind when they replaced streetcar systems with buses is a far reach for me. Somehow the following scenario doesn't quite sound right...
(In the top floor of an Art Deco skyscraper in Detroit...)

CEO: Gentlemen, I have a most brilliant idea! You know all those streetcars out there, on our streets? Well imagine if you will, buses instead of streetcars! Yes, stinky, slow, filthy buses! We'll destroy the nation's public transportation system, and force everyone to buy GM cars! Muhuhawhawhawhaw!!!

Board members: Muhuhawhawhawhaw!!!
Come on, people are rarely that good at predicting the future - I think the GM of today serves as a fine example of that. Now certainly there was profit motivation involved in dismantling the nation's streetcar systems, but I don't think it was part of some larger overall plan - I think GM and these other companies simply wanted to get in to a market they had been excluded from.

Then there's this notion that this event is somehow responsible for our over dependence on automobiles today. As cars became more affordable and more attractive with new suburban development through the 40s, 50s, and onward, mass transportation systems began a long decline, and I think this is the moment when mass transit began to have a stigma placed on it. Now, to blame this on GM's actions is to suggest that if only we had kept our streetcars, everything would have been fine and our mass transit system would still be hunky-dory. But can we honestly believe that streetcars would not have been subject to the same decline as buses in such a scenario? It might be easy to believe that streetcars would have survived based on our current romantic notions of them, but then we make the mistake of looking at the past through the lens of the present.

Recently, I saw a public screening of Beyond the Motor City at the UNM Architecture building, which was followed by a discussion. The movie deals with the history of Detroit transit and its plans to build a light rail system and the impact of such a system. But to my surprise (and thankfulness) it didn't mention the GM Streetcar Conspiracy. But of course, during the discussion someone from the audience had to bring it up. Here's what she said:
Now, I want to remind everyone that GM destroyed our mass transit system. And now we've just given them a huge bailout. So I have to ask, does it really make sense to build a light rail system in Detroit?
For those of you whose heads are exploding and whose first reaction is "WTF?", yes it's an incredibly illogical statement on several levels. But I ask you to ignore that last sentence (GM and the City of Detroit are not the same thing, I think we're all clear on that) and direct your attention to the first two sentences. Here she attempts to connect the GM Streetcar Conspiracy with the recent auto bailout, two things that have nothing to do with each other. And here I come to my final point regarding the GM Streetcar Conspiracy: its continued use as a tool for laying blame.

The above example shows how the GM Streetcar Conspiracy is often used to point the finger at GM, even when the players involved have long since died and the entity no longer exists in its same form. The GM that destroyed our streetcar systems and the GM that went bankrupt last year are two completely different entities, living in different eras and under different circumstances. And yet, people keep bringing up the GM Streetcar Conspiracy, as if the players responsible are still out there, having yet to face justice.

And this, I think, is why people love talking about the GM Streetcar Conspiracy. It's convenient to have someone to blame, to tell this story of corporate greed, then sigh and say "if only..."

Perhaps the real lesson behind this whole story is that you don't know what you have until it's gone. It's certainly easier to lay the blame at someone else's feet than to accept all the complex circumstances, and it's certainly easier than looking oneself in the mirror and asking if we as a people had something to do with this.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Frequency Mapping

UPDATE: Dan M., who commented below, has updated the ABQ Ride system map which addresses many of my concerns. I give my full thoughts at the bottom of the post.

Human Transit recently did a fantastic post making the case for frequency mapping. If you're not familiar with the concept of frequency mapping, it involves highlighting the frequent routes of your transit system on the map of the transit system. It's a great post, with plenty of graphics and some great writing.

So after reading it and seeing the directions for creating a frequency map, I thought I'd give it a shot. So here's my frequency map for ABQ Ride.
I used three categories for the routes - highly frequent routes which don't require consulting a schedule to use - the Rapid Rides and the #66. Then there's the all-day routes in green, which vary in frequency from 25 minutes (#5 and #11) to once an hour (#97 and #36), but all are similar in that you need to consult a schedule to use them, or you're likely in for a long wait. And then there are the orange dotted routes, which are the ones that run mainly during rush hour.

While I wouldn't want ABQ Ride to adopt this exact map (the labeling is a bit wonky), something like it would be nice - it really shows where the good routes are, which is the whole point of frequency mapping.


So, ABQ Ride has released a new system map, which can be viewed here.

Firstly, let me say that this map is a HUGE improvement over the last one. It conveys information much better than the previous one, thanks to the fact that it marks the routes much more clearly, the legend is simpler, and the color scheme makes it easier to follow a line. I also like the different shapes used to mark different kinds of routes. The use of the gray for the roads is also nice; much better than that black which mucked it up on the old map.

There are a couple of minor things that I would have done differently with the map. The first thing is that I would have made the 66 line thicker, to reflect its frequency. However, the fact that the 66 line is black on the new map mostly makes up for it.

The other is that I'm not sure why ABQ Ride insists on referring to the 151, 222, and 350 lines as local/all-day routes, given they run almost entirely during the rush hour. I wouldn't be giving them the same status as other local/all-day routes. It's a minor concern of mine, but it would be more reflective of its frequency.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lesson from Pittsburgh: How NOT To Color-Code Your System

Recently I was in Pittsburgh to see my family for a few weeks. Now, my family is currently living in the neighborhood of Beechview, which lies just within the southern reaches of the Pittsburgh city limits and is served by the regional light rail system called the "T".

As modern light rail systems go, the T is pretty old. These are gray vehicles from the late 80s, running on less-than-stellar track (the train often squeaks loudly). The in-traffic operation is similar to San Francisco's Muni Metro: the trains operate in a subway in downtown, then emerge and run in a mix of dedicated track way or mixed traffic with cars, with low platform stops in the middle of the street. Also similar to the Muni Metro, the entire system (save for the subway tunnel) is running on the remnants of a much older streetcar network.

Now in terms of operation, the trains operate basically like a very big bus - the fares and the fare collection system is pretty much the same as the local buses (save for a few "raised platform stops", which have fare booth attendants - NOT machines) and it serves mostly the same clientele as the bus system. And until recently, it had numbered routes, like the bus system:

(Ignore the "44L" line - the one in lime green. This is an old map and that one was disbanded long ago.)

Basically, the light rail system is two main lines which head south from Downtown - one which goes through Beechview, the other through Overbrook. From these, there are a few branch lines - the 52 line (marked in orange on the map above) which goes through a neighborhood near Downtown (this one only runs during rush hour), a branch to the South Hills Village mall, and the line south to the suburb of Library. The 42C and 42S lines cover the same ground, with the 42S going further because of the limited demand at the southern end of the line. The 47L and 47S lines cover mostly the same ground, with one line going to Library (again, limited demand) and the other going to South Hills Village with the 42S, to connect the area to the residents of Overbrook.

It's not the simplest system in the world, but once you understand it you know where each route goes.

Then, as part of a recent "restructuring" of the system, spurred due to budget cuts, Pittsburgh adopted a color-coded system for their light rail network. I don't have an image of it, so I'll link to the PDF route map they have on the website.

Take a look at that map. The 42C and 42S has been replaced by one line, the "Red Line". The 47L and 47S are now the "Blue Line". The 52 is now the "Brown Line". Simple, right?

But now scroll to the bottom of the map. The Red Line apparently has limited service to South Hills Village. So some of the trains go to South Hills Village...but not all of them. And the Blue Line inexplainably splits, with some trains going to South Hills Village and some to Library...but which ones go where? Whereas before we had a numbered route and I knew where that route went, because it went there every single time, now we have a line which doesn't always wind up in the same place every time.

Obviously, there was no "restructuring" of the system. These are the exact same routes we had before, but now in harder to understand form. And that's what irks me about this so much - the whole point of color-coding a system is to make it EASIER to understand. Not harder.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Carfree in... 'Couver?

And to complete my trip chronicle here, I give you...Vancouver.

And wow, what a town! The sheer concentration of such high densities is astounding, especially when you realize Vancouver's population is less than 600,000 (the metro area is over 2,000,000, but the density is still pretty crazy). I guess what's astounding is how Vancouver maintains a pretty consistent level of really high density over a fairly large area - even New York City and San Francisco, though overall denser, tend to concentrate their highest densities in certain neighborhoods.

Vancouver's place as a multi-cultural city shouldn't be underestimated. As demonstrated by the large number of cargo ships in the bay, Vancouver's port is a bustling place, which makes sense: if you're shipping stuff from Asia to Canada, where else would you have a more ideal port? This probably also has something to do with the large number of Asians (and those of Asian decent) I saw in Vancouver, just as it did in San Francisco and Seattle.

The sheer number of parks on the Downtown peninsula is pretty crazy as well. In addition to the huge Stanley Park (which you likely saw in those aerial shots of Vancouver if you were watching the Olympics), the entire waterfront on both sides of downtown is essentially one large park, punctuated by the occasional very attractive park reaching in from the waterfront. Then there was the occasional park or square within the urbanized area...and that's just Downtown. I'm not even counting all those big parks in south Vancouver.

And while I'm on the subject of open space, can I just mention how awesome it is that the waterfront path is broken down between pedestrians and cyclists? And it's marked very clearly, so there's little confusion where people belong. This was particularly helpful around the tip of the peninsula within Stanley Park, where there's narrow space to work with and a lot of people, so keeping such a rigid framework really allowed the traffic to flow well. Bicyclists can try to share the road with cars, but anyone who's walked around UNM knows they don't mix well with pedestrians. What isn't this model more frequently adopted? Are we afraid that delegating sidewalk space breeds resentment?

Now when it comes to mass transit, Vancouver's big player is SkyTrain, their subway/elevated rapid transit system. Jarrett at Human Transit has often raved around SkyTrain - it's an automated (meaning driverless) rapid transit system, which Jarrett describes as like those "that shuttle between airport terminals. SkyTrain is the same principle, at a citywide scale." In that post I just linked to, Jarrett goes into detail about the benefits of driverless transit systems, so what I'll add here is that the lack of a human being driving the vehicle went completely unnoticed. The operation was so smooth that the question of who's in control never crossed my mind. SkyTrain is really a terrific system, though beyond it's age, the fact that it's driverless, and the city it's set in, there didn't seem to be anything particularly extraordinary about it compared to other metro systems. I feel like the truly extraordinary elements about it are those behind the scenes; those we don't necessarily notice just by riding it.

Then there's the bus network, which is lovely. Although I only got on one bus line - the 99, which connects the SkyTrain system to the University of British Columbia campus. This is a limited bus line which uses articulated buses, much like our Rapid Ride system. Though the 99 didn't run on electricity, many Vancouver buses do.

Even the buses are polite up here!

Now, something I noticed about the 99 line was their interesting boarding system. This sign explains it well:

This is a very popular line, and a LOT of people get on these buses. What this boarding system does for the time is nothing short of a god-send - it combines quick boarding without investing too much money into infrastructure, by which I mean the fare machines, of which I saw none - tickets could be acquired from SkyTrain or any other bus, so anyone transferring is already set. It's an honor system, which means once in a blue moon someone will come by to check if you paid your fare. It's so efficient, I think ABQ Ride should seriously consider it for Rapid Ride. Currently, there are two things that really hold up the speed for Rapid Ride buses - one is getting stuck in traffic, which would require dedicated lanes to get around, which are a major infrastructural investment in this town. The second is loading. This could go a long way towards solving that second issue...

I hope you enjoyed these last few posts - I know I did!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Carfree in Seattle

UPDATE: My huge thanks to BusBoy for reporting this post to the Seattle Bus Chick. I highly recommend both blogs.

My next stop after Portland was Seattle, the center of business in the Pacific Northwest.

Now, I had always heard that Seattle had a lot going for it - Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, etc. - but I had never realized just how big it was. I found myself thinking of Chicago when I was approaching it and immediately after exiting the train; the buildings, the crowds, all quite a shock after being in laid-back, moderately sized Portland.

Now I suppose it's natural that Seattle and Portland, being the two largest cities in the Pacific Northwest, would be frequently compared. Indeed, on the way up to Portland I heard someone describe Portland as a "smaller Seattle." Immediately a woman sitting next to him, who until that moment had stayed out of the conversation, starting piping up about how Portland was much more progressive than Seattle, that they have a larger light rail system (how much do you want to bet that she's from Portland?). For people who live elsewhere (including here in New Mexico), I've heard the same comparisons.

But what I realized pretty quickly after arriving is that Portland and Seattle are nothing alike. Seattle has water everywhere; Portland has just the river. Seattle has hills, and the street form which has to conform to that or battle it. Portland doesn't. Seattle has a large port and industry (and the remnants of industry) all around, Portland has virtually none. Seattle has business - lots of business. And it has the skyscrapers and development that comes with that. Portland has little major business - the major businesses in Portland are the Oregon-based ones, not national ones. In short Seattle's natural setting, it's port, it's urban form, all this made it ideal to become the economic powerhouse of the northwestern part of the nation.

I say all this not to harp on Portland. I say this to show the danger of comparisons - those who go to other cities and come back to Albuquerque and say "Oh, why don't we have a (insert urban amenity) here? They have it, we should have it too!" are often failing to understand the differences in history, culture, urban environment, and the role those two different cities play in the world economy. It's one thing to say we should have something because it will improve this city; it will do this, this, and this. It's quite another to say we should have something because someone else has it, which essentially became Martin Chavez's go-to line when it came to defending the modern streetcar and the downtown arena, and it's become a habit for quite a few other people (skyscrapercity forum members - I'm looking at you).

Anyway, I'm done moralizing. To the actual transit...

Seattle's new star for public transit is the recently opened Central Link, a light rail line which operates in a subway through downtown before emerging south of the stadiums and running out to the airport. And to be honest, as a visitor the only real use I got out of it was to go the airport (and the neighborhoods along the way didn't seem that dense, so I can't say how many commuters it serves). But it's just one line; when other lines are built (and my understanding is that they're already under way), it will be a very valuable addition to Seattle's transit system.

But for now, the real movers and shakers of Seattle's transit system are its buses. Its insane number of buses - an incredibly complex network of routes that provide very thorough coverage of the city. And the buses are actually quite nice - fairly comfortable, pretty clean, with many running on electricity. But here's the thing I found difficult about Seattle's bus network - it's not very intuitive to people who don't know it. As I said, the network is very complex, and no route really stands above the others to tell you "Take this one!"

To make matters worse, the transit system is really a combination of several transit systems - Sound Transit operates the light rail along with some buses. King County Transit operates the Seattle buses. Other counties operates their own buses into Seattle. The state operates the ferries. I don't even know who operates the South Lake Union streetcar. And neither Sound Transit nor King County Transit offers a day pass, or a multi-day pass, which is really the saving grace of a carless tourist. What's a poor guy who knows next to nothing about the city to do? In my case, I found myself walking a lot more often, because I trusted my feet and my eyes over the sixteen bus routes at the stop which lacks a proper map of the system. That plus the fear of making a mistake and not having enough exact change to remedy it.

So I've gone over the Link and the buses, which leaves one mode of transportation missing: the streetcar.

The South Lake Union streetcar is basically a copy of Portland's streetcar, with a couple of differences. The first is that the Seattle line is much shorter than Portland's - short enough that I really didn't bother getting on because walking wouldn't be much longer. The second is that Seattle's streetcar is actually slightly faster than Portland's, because the stops are spaced a little further apart and the street the streetcar operates on is a major thoroughfare, so it needs to go a little faster to keep up with the traffic. Again, the impact on private development seemed pretty clear. South Lake Union was a booming neighborhood, albeit a little inactive at the northern end, probably due to the recession slowing development activity down.

But here's something I noticed - the picture above shows a streetcar and a delivery truck. What the picture doesn't show, from this angle, is that the truck is actually in the streetcar's way. I had heard of this happening in Portland, but this is the first time I got to observe it. The delivery truck parked just a little too far out into the street for the streetcar, and the streetcar was stuck. Fortunately, the driver of the delivery truck was still there, and was able to move his truck out of the way in under a minute, but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if the streetcar operator got out and the driver had already gone inside and was nowhere around. How long would it take for a tow truck to show up?

In's hard to summarize Seattle. It's an awfully big city, and two days barely gave me enough time to start absorbing it. I wouldn't mind having a little more time to dig deeper into Seattle. But as any anthropologist will tell you, initial impressions are very crucial and that's what I've offered here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Days in Portland

Two weeks ago, I took a 10-day trip up the West Coast, visiting the Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC. It was a pretty awesome trip, and I got to see an entire side of this country (and another country) that I hadn't before. So I wanted to share some thoughts on some of the places I went to; the things I learned about these vanguards of urban planning.

So I thought I'd start with Portland, the city often cited as the gold standard of city planning...

Being an urban planning student, I had heard a lot about Portland. Being an urban planning student interested in transportation, I had heard even more about Portland. After all, the proposed modern streetcar for Albuquerque a few years back was directly influenced by Portland's system. So, it was exciting to finally see this city I had heard so much about.

Firstly, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed Portland. The atmosphere was delightful and the people incredibly friendly and laid-back. Indeed, I found myself eagerly chatting locals up. This is when I discovered that, in spite of their friendliness, Portlanders are a proud people. Several people I spoke to said things about Portland that would make the convention & visitors bureau grin - they were so obviously pleased to be Portlanders, to the point that a couple of people I spoke to barely seemed to be able to comprehend a world beyond Oregon.

And yes, one of Portland's points of pride - true pride, you could see it in their faces - was their public transit system, which they were quick to boast about. In the visitor's center at Pioneer Courthouse Square, I overheard a man take the local pride in TriMet to the next step: mocking the public transit system of other cities. Namely, Seattle. He said to a fellow visitor, and I quote:
Here in Portland we have four light rail lines, a streetcar, an aerial tram, and a fantastic bus system! But in Seattle they've only just opened their first light rail line!
Somehow he seemed to have forgotten Seattle's new streetcar line, it's ferry system, and it's insanely extensive bus system which, no offense to TriMet, seemed far more extensive than Portland's bus system.

At this point I was starting to wonder how much of the hype about Portland was due to Portlanders themselves. However, I was still impressed with much of what I saw in Portland. I loved the water fountains in Downtown, the fact that there were a number of public restrooms scattered around Downtown, the large amount of park space in the center of an urban area, and the pedestrian-friendliness of the whole area. Another thing that struck me was the sheer number of bicyclists in Portland - a walk along the waterfront afforded me a view of the city's many casual cyclists, as well as a number of bicycle vendors - a new concept to me - who were taking advantage of the Rose Festival crowds to sell things like ice cream sandwiches and snacks.

But what of the public transit system? What of the MAX light rail, or the very influential Portland Streetcar?

Let me start with the Streetcar. Firstly, let me say that it's impact on development seemed pretty clear. If you're in Downtown, you can see the buildings generally get taller around 10th & 11th Avenues, where the streetcar runs, as the residential density gets higher. That, not to mention to huge amount of new development in the Pearl District and South Waterfront (although judging from the amount of vacant land surrounding the South Waterfront, it looks like the recession has slowed the excitement down here) looked like clear signs of the impact the streetcar had on private development.

But as a mode of transportation, as an actual means to get around, I found the streetcar surprisingly frustrating to use. There were a few separate times during my stay there where I'd be walking in Downtown and I'd plan to head south or north, and I'd think "Hey, the streetcar goes there and the stop is nearby, I'll just take the streetcar!" Then I'd walk to the stop and the LED arrival sign would tell me that the next streetcar wouldn't come for another 10 minutes. 10 minutes? Screw that, I'm walking. And sure enough, I would get to my destination faster just by walking than if I had waiting around for the streetcar to come. Portland's downtown is decently sized, but it's not that big.

When I finally did get on the streetcar (I had walked down to South Waterfront and now wanted to get up to the Pearl district) I found the cars wonderfully comfortable and spacious, but the ride felt at times ridiculously slow. It's true: buses, even local buses, are faster than these things. It must have taken a good 25-30 minutes to take the streetcar from the South Waterfront to the 12th Ave/Northrup stop (just a couple blocks from the "Go by Streetcar" sign) in the Pearl. It's not that far.
Comparatively, I found the MAX light rail system a delight to use, even just for getting around downtown (which is exactly what I used it for on several occasions). You see, though the stops are further apart, the lines overlap in downtown, so two lines with service every 15 minutes means you get service about every 7-8 minutes (the trains are in their own lane of traffic, so this overlap principle works for them where it doesn't for Albuquerque's Rapid Ride). This was one of the things that held the MAX above the Streetcar, even when the Streetcar should have been ideally suited for the task of just getting around downtown: the higher frequency meant it wasn't as much of a commitment to stand and wait for the next train. It was faster, and because of it's dedicated right-of-way there was greater expectation from riders that it would arrive on-time, as illustrated when an alert was sent out over the train's intercom system that, due to river traffic which raised the bridge, the trains were unfortunately running 5 minutes late.

I found many things to enjoy in Portland and I think it's a model for urban planners for good reasons, although there were certain things I found to be much overhyped. The Streetcar, though obviously an effective development tool, didn't convincingly prove me it was such a great transportation mode.