DEAD END: The Automobile in Mass Transportation by Ronald A. Buel

DEAD END: The Automobile in Mass Transportation

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From John Keats' crankily amusing ""arruga"" or protest (The Insolent Chariots, 1958) to the sustained blasts of some ecologists, consumer groups, and city planners, the American auto has often been viewed as a downright blight. Buel, a public safety official, has prepared an impressively comprehensive restatement of the major anti-auto positions. Though he notes that the auto cannot be considered the cause of our various ills, he does feel its contribution to air (and indirectly) water pollution, damage to land and regional cultural integrity, and financial and political exploitation is considerable. Buel devotes some hefty chapters to the corporate powers -- which profit from price fixing, government subsidies, and land grabs -- such as the oil companies, auto manufacturers, engineering firms, and the conclave of interests involved in repair and sales. As for the opposition's insistence that the auto is here to stay because people ""prefer"" it, he stresses that given attractive alternatives the public might prefer other conveyances. (But whether this would ever be true in lightly settled areas is a question he ignores.) Buel's solutions encompass a piecemeal approach to a partial phaseout; e.g. revitalization of old and construction of new transport systems (he discusses models of successful and unsuccessful new corridor and grid experiments); there is also a stimulating section on avant methods of mass transport (moving sidewalks, conveyor belt freeways) and rejuvenation of existing systems (dual-use buses, refurbished commuter trains, etc.). Although perhaps overly simplistic in his condemnation, this is a readable and exhaustive mounting of all the heavy batteries for those who wish to recharge before the next public freeway hearing.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1972
Publisher: Prentice-Hall