It's not a matter of want, but sustainability.
Americans want their open spaces? How much would they be willing to pay to have their open spaces? Well I'll tell you that when you create a system that spreads itself horizontally, the issue is not any one person, but millions all wanting the same thing. The US has become auto-dependent, which means that when the price of fuel rises, it directly impacts how the state functions.
With mass transit, you will also be dependent on energy; but those that use electricity are not bound to any single source to operate. I'm for clean energy, which is why I'm not in favor of coal; but I also recognize that the US has an abundant supply of it. That makes electricity a more favorable source of power for transportation than oil (gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel)
The best solution, however, is to try and promote pedestrian travel. That means having as many destinations within walking distance as possible, which means higher density. That can also be augmented by providing light rail to allow even more destinations to more people. That doesn't mean the automobile has to go, but it should not continue to be the dominant means of transportation.
An issue was brought about public transportation flourishing as energy got more expensive... When the energy crisis of last year hit, public transportation actually suffered badly because they saw a rise in demand while they had to pay even more for their fuel. Public busing couldn't expand in times when demand was at its highest because they didn't have the funding it needed for that to happen. When they didn't have the funding to expand, they became overtaxed and could barely afford to break even with their own high fuel prices. Light rail overcomes this more easily, but demands a set population density for it to work. Portland is the best example of an auto-dependent city that successfully integrated light rail for an effective alternate means of transportation. Even removing 10% of cars improves fuel economy due to reduced traffic congestion. That's why it works so well.
And in regards to the 'open space' issues... the whole point of higher densities is to provide fewer, larger open spaces so that it would make people feel more comfortable than on that 40 X 20 plot of land that is in front of every house for miles on end. It would be better to acknowledge that there are millions of others wanting the same things, so it is best to focus on creating a system by which everyone benefits instead of everyone vying for their own interests.
Last edited by Darth_Yuthura; 06-18-2009 at 11:49 AM.