Elon Musk Calls Transit Expert “An Idiot” and Says Public Transport “Sucks”

Megalith

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The Tesla CEO went decidedly low-brow in an exchange with transportation experts this week following reports of comments in which he called public transport a “pain in the ass” and suggested the subway was a great place to bump into a murderer. Critics pounced on Musk’s description of shared transit as an unpleasant safety risk, arguing that his views were elitist, and that his vision of individualized transit is a pipe dream.

Musk said that “public transport is painful. It sucks. Why do you want to get on something with a lot of other people, that doesn’t leave where you want it to leave, doesn’t start where you want it to start, doesn’t end where you want it to end?” Musk further said that using public transit meant rubbing shoulders with “like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer… that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”
 

Merc1138

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Yeap, completely agreed.

If I were to take public transit to work, it'd be approximately 90 minutes travel time(nevermind that I have to work around the public transit schedule) when I could drive there in 25-30. Even in some of the worst traffic it's still only an hour long drive.

Then considering public transit, the seats tend to be uncomfortable as hell(the ones I'd be stuck sitting on for an hour and a half).
I don't want to rub shoulders with some smelly bastard that hasn't showered in who knows how long.
I don't want to tell the same hobo "no I don't have any change for you" three times on the same train.
I don't want to hear someone else's crappy music.
I don't want to sit on a seat that some hobo possibly crapped on the night before.
Any delays in public transit make the commute even longer because you can end up missing a transfer between busses/trains prompting another 30-45 minutes even if you only missed one.
Can't actually carry much of anything with me to and from work(so there goes the idea of going shopping right after work, instead I would need to head home drop off my work stuff, head back out again possibly using public transit and then still being limited in what I can carry on a bus.

I used to commute using public transit for almost two years, rates pretty high up on the "worst experiences ever that don't involve someone being killed". Getting to work and getting my bike on the train with crowds was always a pain in the ass, getting home late at night... yeah that's cool minding your own business while a hobo takes a leak on the seats at the opposite end of the train car.
 

Aireoth

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After a decade of public transit, my wife and I specifically bought a old and small home close to our work (30 minute biking range) just to avoid public transit.
 

Makaveli@BETA

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After a decade of public transit, my wife and I specifically bought a old and small home close to our work (30 minute biking range) just to avoid public transit.

This I moved close to work for the same reason.

I can now walk in to work in 15 mins.
 

dandirk

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I personally loved the subways in Munich and Vienna.

Smaller and probably not nearly as crowded as NY or Chicago I would assume.

Stations seemed to be pretty much 2-3 blocks from anywhere and trains came often enough to not really need a schedule. Stations were underground for the most part to help with the cold (which sucks about the trains/buses in MN).
 

stephen2002

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Public transit in a lot of areas really does suck. Some time ago I lived near a large city on the east coast of the US with a bus stop right nearby. When I needed to go into the city I would check the bus. Every time the comparison was something like 25-35 minutes by car or a 1.5-3 hour journey involving multiple line switches, some long walks between stops, and more walks to the final destination. I think I'll take the car.

I suspect the future will be centrally owned small self-driving vehicles that do point-to-point work. You subscribe or pay per ride. These small vehicles could be combined with dropping you off at a hub to get on a larger vehicle like a van or bus to reduce congestion for popular routes. Another small car would be waiting at the next hub to bring you to your final destination. "Hubs" could be dynamically created by demand.
 

TheOne5

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Yeap, completely agreed.

If I were to take public transit to work, it'd be approximately 90 minutes travel time(nevermind that I have to work around the public transit schedule) when I could drive there in 25-30. Even in some of the worst traffic it's still only an hour long drive.

Then considering public transit, the seats tend to be uncomfortable as hell(the ones I'd be stuck sitting on for an hour and a half).
I don't want to rub shoulders with some smelly bastard that hasn't showered in who knows how long.
I don't want to tell the same hobo "no I don't have any change for you" three times on the same train.
I don't want to hear someone else's crappy music.
I don't want to sit on a seat that some hobo possibly crapped on the night before.
Any delays in public transit make the commute even longer because you can end up missing a transfer between busses/trains prompting another 30-45 minutes even if you only missed one.
Can't actually carry much of anything with me to and from work(so there goes the idea of going shopping right after work, instead I would need to head home drop off my work stuff, head back out again possibly using public transit and then still being limited in what I can carry on a bus.

I used to commute using public transit for almost two years, rates pretty high up on the "worst experiences ever that don't involve someone being killed". Getting to work and getting my bike on the train with crowds was always a pain in the ass, getting home late at night... yeah that's cool minding your own business while a hobo takes a leak on the seats at the opposite end of the train car.

Add to this in Detroit, the buses are overcrowded and will pass you up and break down in mid route. Also, most of the jobs are 25+ miles away where the bus doesn't go and a lot of jobs are site to site, so public transit is worthless.
 

Peter2k

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Ehh
That "pipe dream" comes from someone thinking he can compete with NASA
And he does successfully so

Is this the same critics saying building a battery farm in Australia in a few months is not possible?
 

DeathFromBelow

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Why is Musk being called low-brow over this exchange? I thought his response was far more direct and polite than the veiled insults about elitist projection the Idiot was writing.

If Mr. Idiot had posted some real data contradicting Musk rather than just rambling about elitism maybe he would have been able to have a productive discussion.
 

Makaveli@BETA

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why post facts when you can just insult the other guy because you can't beat his argument.

Mr. Idiot seems to have the reasoning skills of a teenager.
 

Merc1138

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Add to this in Detroit, the buses are overcrowded and will pass you up and break down in mid route. Also, most of the jobs are 25+ miles away where the bus doesn't go and a lot of jobs are site to site, so public transit is worthless.
Yeah, the bigger the city the worse public transit seems to get.

Checking right now it's a 25 minute drive to the office. If I were to take public transit...
16 minute walk to the light rail(because no bus)
14 minute wait on a bus
21 minute bus ride(at least it's only 2 stops)
Then a 23 minute walk to the office.

My old office that was actually slightly quicker to drive to(same freeway exit, just the other direction) via mass transit...
6 minute walk to the bus stop
5 minute wait
5 minute bus ride to station
14 minute wait
41 minute bus ride(only 5 stops)
1 minute walk(no, I'm not crying over 60 seconds of walking)
6 minute wait
14 minute lightrail ride
14 minute walk

That's an 1:46 to get to work. Getting home is 1:30. So it's cool to just waste 3 hours out of my day and $12 in bus/train fare, when I could have just driven there and back in under an hour using $4 in gas and not have to deal with the rest of the problems public transit has. Then as far as the idiot commenting about how that sort of thinking is "elitist" and for the rich or whatever, so that extra $8 a day I wouldn't have been spending on transit fare is around $168/mo. Certainly not a car payment(for a new car) but not everyone buys a new car every 5 years either. Then consider any additional transit fares for all of the traveling you CAN'T do on your own when relying on mass transit(plus time wasted), shopping, visiting family and friends, going to see a movie, going to the doctor, running errands, basically anything a normal person leaves their house for and suddenly having your own car isn't the realm of the elite and rich. And for any services that you can use to replace having to go out(getting things delivered like groceries, dinner, whatever) there's usually a fee getting tacked on in place of the public transit fare you'd have spent or gas driving to just get it done(without waiting on public transit).
 

viscountalpha

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Why is Musk being called low-brow over this exchange? I thought his response was far more direct and polite than the veiled insults about elitist projection the Idiot was writing.

If Mr. Idiot had posted some real data contradicting Musk rather than just rambling about elitism maybe he would have been able to have a productive discussion.

Generally insults that are personal come from lower intellect and lower brow people. They can't argue or even hold a discourse so they become crude and vile with their words. It's truly sad.


And public transit does suck. Rode it for like 8 Years and finally picked up a car. Personal transportation is the best.
 

SLee

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In most Europe cities public transport is great. On time, not crowded and takes you everywhere you want way faster than a car. It's US that's light years behind...
And yet Europeans still overwhelmingly use passenger vehicles to get around:

Modal_split_of_inland_passenger_transport%2C_2014_%28%25_of_total_inland_passenger-km%29_YB17.png


http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Passenger_transport_statistics
 

Khahhblaab

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....anything considered "mass <travel-transit>", is going to have some things that make it not the best way to get from point a-b. Subways, Bus's, Airlines are all places where throngs of people congregate to get somewhere. All of these places are places that people dont like. It goes with the territory. Complaining about them doesnt make real sense except to make some noise or as a stress reliever. I will complain about standing in line to cash a check. I never see a movie the first weekend that it is showing. Hate long lines. Funny thing, I dont complain about NYC's subways. Guess i'm used to a system that - on average - is safer then news reports. 1.7 billion passengers moved. About 88 assaults a year. Maybe a bit jaded :/
 

SamuraiInBlack

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I'm introverted and also hate people for the most part. Amtrak turned me off from public transit thanks to their horrible upkeep of their train going into Michigan from Chicago. I used to love riding trains. I still like riding on the Metra. But there is not enough money out there to have me go on a second 300 mile ride in a train car that smells like piss and despair.
 

Merc1138

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I'm introverted and also hate people for the most part. Amtrak turned me off from public transit thanks to their horrible upkeep of their train going into Michigan from Chicago. I used to love riding trains. I still like riding on the Metra. But there is not enough money out there to have me go on a second 300 mile ride in a train car that smells like piss and despair.
I don't think that's an issue of being introverted, I'm pretty sure most people in general have an aversion to sitting in a tin can that smells like piss.
 

nilepez

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Elitist or not, public transit does suck.
Not if it's done well. When I go to NYC, I'm all about the subway. It's cheap, fast and convenient most of the time. When it's not, there's Uber, but I don't think I've used Uber or a Taxi in NY more than 2x in my last 3 or 4 trips there and at least one was a cab ride to the airport.

OTOH, in most places public transportation is terrible.
 

Kdawg

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smelly people, 50-70% more time wasted.

If you tally up, you'll have wasted years of your life on public transit.

time is money. time is precious

and yes, it is a pipe dream. Elon is laying pipe everywhere through his Boring company
 

MrTryfe

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....anything considered "mass <travel-transit>", is going to have some things that make it not the best way to get from point a-b. Subways, Bus's, Airlines are all places where throngs of people congregate to get somewhere. All of these places are places that people dont like. It goes with the territory. Complaining about them doesnt make real sense except to make some noise or as a stress reliever. I will complain about standing in line to cash a check. I never see a movie the first weekend that it is showing. Hate long lines. Funny thing, I dont complain about NYC's subways. Guess i'm used to a system that - on average - is safer then news reports. 1.7 billion passengers moved. About 88 assaults a year. Maybe a bit jaded :/

Pretty much on point. The US systems could be much better, that goes without saying, but the nature of public transit brings with it pros and cons. Musk's comments are full of hyperbole.
 

Krazy925

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If only BART wasn’t literally a shit hole where you could get stabbed in a phone robbery I’d care to use it more.

Uber is the happy medium if you want to drink but avoid the unwashed masses.
 

snowcrash

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Public transits in America do suck and is not safe. However, Elon's comment really drives home the phenomenon ever since Trump was elected president and that is the disappearance of filtering. His view is only possible for those with high income. The rest of the population has to make do with what is affordable to them. As population continue to grow with lack of jobs to accommodate the increase, we are going to hear more and more of this type of comments: the rich and the poor showing disdain for each other publically.
 
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Musk's traffic tunnel ideas are very much a pipe dream. An elevator would need to be extremely heavy-duty to lower and lift multi-ton objects quickly and would break down a lot. Getting cars into the tunnel would take too long and there would be massive bottlenecks at the entrances. A traditional underground ramp to a tunneled freeway is just the same old 20th century idea that's never worked well, and usually not at all. The only difference from Boston's Big Dig is better drilling equipment, which is not enough to make the idea workable.

Musk is very much wedded to the c1950 idea that there is some magical formula or road design where everyone can drive a gigantic metal box around, which is not surprising considering he is the CEO of a company that sells gigantic metal boxes. Most people acknowledge that traffic sucks in their city, but they blame the local government and assume there is a better way to design roads so that it does not take forever to get through a commute and find parking. The truth is that no one has found such a solution because it does not exist. Car-based transit requires more road and parking space than any city can ever build. Cities like Los Angeles have hit the limits of sprawl and are still nowhere near the point where all the traffic can flow without creating jams and bottlenecks. Attempts to remedy the issue by expanding roadways (like the recent 405 expansion) cost billions of dollars and do not reduce congestion, but only incentivize more people to drive and at peak hours.

The upshot is that auto-centric transit models only work in areas of low population density and only with massive subsidies from high-density areas because the infrastructure does not generate enough economic activity to pay for its construction and maintenance. In fact, driving in general requires massive taxpayer subsidies to work, to the tune of about $1.20 per mile. Since the average vehicle is driven about 15,000 miles per year, that's $18k per year per driver! You can trot that out the next time someone says public transit is too expensive.

The problem, of course, is the question "what's the alternative?" No one likes taking the bus, and with spread-out cities the distances are too long, and you would need an impractical number of buses and routes. The answer is bicycle infrastructure and mass transit agencies that assume people will have bikes. It is not feasible to send a bus within walking distance of everyone's house in a city like my hometown of Stockton, CA, but you could easily put a major stop or station within cycling distance (about 4 miles) and have physically separated bike lanes that can move 50 times the traffic density per lane. Even if most people keep driving, everyone who switches to bike will mean one less car causing traffic jams, adding wear and tear to the roads, and increasing the burden on the health care system, which means a nicer and cheaper place to live for everybody. People who cannot afford to drive would still be able to get around, leading to a better economy with fewer people trapped in food deserts with no practical way to get a job, which means fewer people who need government assistance. It also means fewer drunks on the road and drivers not having to share the road with slower bicycle traffic. The only people who don't benefit are auto manufacturers and oil + gas companies, which is why our governments keep pushing car-only transit models that have failed miserably for 7 decades. Personally, I don't think it's worth it for everyone to suffer a dysfunctional transit model just so that a couple of industries can make a higher profit.
 

viper1152012

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Ridden public transit for many years and sure the conditions suck but when you have over 300,000+ people in a city built for 50,000 it's the only way to make it work.

No, not everyone can have a car and drive it to work.
 

DF-1

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I saw Musk saying that this story is nonsense on his twitter, too lazy to link it.
 

scan13

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And yet Europeans still overwhelmingly use passenger vehicles to get around:

Modal_split_of_inland_passenger_transport%2C_2014_%28%25_of_total_inland_passenger-km%29_YB17.png


http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Passenger_transport_statistics

Have you ever been to Europe? Of course people drive cars, but if you don't have one it's a none issue, you can get literally everywhere using public transport easily and a lot of people use it. Partly due to high gas prices, but often it's just more convenient, especially in bigger cities. Internet statistics are just that, statistics, they don't reflect real life very often.
 

Mav451

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I'm rather curious on how a "Ph.D. in theatre arts and humanities" ended up in transit planning, particularly with his own firm at that. It's an impressive, if not a curious career path. I'll withhold further judgement until I've given his publication a read.

*Update - Walker has two senior associates on his staff that actually have multi-modal planning experience. That's a relief, considering a Ph.D in the humanities has nothing to do with transit expertise lmao.

Jeff Novich throwing a tantrum and closing his position in TSLA is also quite hilarious. Yet another virtue-signaler in 2017, sacrificing capital gains for the sake of moral authority :p
 

BloodyIron

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It seems a lot of people don't understand how far ahead the game Elon is playing relative to current reality. They think he's just criticising as an outsider, but don't even realise, he has been one of us for plenty long enough to see all the shit we deal with.

He just wants to take humanity to a whole new level in as many regards as possible.

It's like composing a beginner StarCraft player to a S tier Korean player. They're nowhere near in the same league, country, and plane of existence.

I just wish I could help make humanity awesome at the same level Elon is. I just don't have the means. :( Working on it...
 

Aireoth

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Have you ever been to Europe? Of course people drive cars, but if you don't have one it's a none issue, you can get literally everywhere using public transport easily and a lot of people use it. Partly due to high gas prices, but often it's just more convenient, especially in bigger cities. Internet statistics are just that, statistics, they don't reflect real life very often.

That is some mental gymnastics to make statistics irrelevant.

I think they are quite relevant, they show that mass transit is failing to provide a valid alternative to cars, even in Europe where the system is much improved compared to the north american system. Given means people will take their own car, which means the experience needs to be improved. I think thats Musk's point.
 

westrock2000

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In most Europe cities public transport is great. On time, not crowded and takes you everywhere you want way faster than a car. It's US that's light years behind...

There is definitely a social stigma attached to public transportation in many parts of America. There is also the ingrained idea of personal freedom and social status that a car brings. It's a tough sell in America, but future generations could warm up to it.
 

westrock2000

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It seems a lot of people don't understand how far ahead the game Elon is playing relative to current reality. They think he's just criticising as an outsider, but don't even realise, he has been one of us for plenty long enough to see all the shit we deal with.

He just wants to take humanity to a whole new level in as many regards as possible.

I just wish I could help make humanity awesome at the same level Elon is. I just don't have the means. :( Working on it...

I see what you did there. Elon is an extra terrestrial. It's obvious once it's pointed out :greyalien::blackalien:
 

Burticus

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I think if you could eliminate the homeless and the criminals from trains/mass transit it might be more popular. But hiring cops costs money so forget all that nonsense.
 
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