Autonomous vehicles, planes and high speed rail

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Submitted by no_such_reality on April 10, 2016 - 7:58pm

Looking twenty-ish years down the road, will automous vehicles kill commuter trains, high speed rail and planes for regional travel?

California's high speed rail,plan is essential San Fran to San Diego with dozen other stops.

As automous vehicles take over will they replace regional flight?

If auto drive crs take the ride to San Fran, Phoenix back to 4 or 5 hours, will you bother hassling with an airport?

Is there any reason to take HSR?

Submitted by ucodegen on July 27, 2017 - 5:52pm.

spdrun wrote:
(1) Electrify the railroads.
(2) Build new lines in the medians of interstates when possible. Grade separation already exists.

While potentially a good idea, one problem here is the center support for bridges. The medians also provide run-offs for errant cars. Other problems include standard bridges/overpasses are not rated for the higher loads imposed by trains.
spdrun wrote:

(3) I think 80mph is legally possible for passenger trains with level crossings. In this situation, design the trains to accelerate as fast as possible to 80mph and the signaling system to keep them at max speed.

They are currently capable of much more than 80mph. Higher accel would require much more horsepower - cause traction problems. There are signalling mechanisms that are better than current, but most rail is fighting requirements for them to be installed/standardized. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cab_signal...
Continous cab signalling on coded track circuits might be the best option. If 'internet' gets added to trains, could augment with second signal path of Transponder/Wireless.
spdrun wrote:

(4) Or design "lethal" level crossing systems. Go around the gates, you'll find a spike strip like the "severe tire damage" device in parking lots waiting once you've gone through the crossing. If going around level crossing gates costs people a set of tires and a tow, fewer people would do it.

Need to make sure it is after last rail. Problem is two idiots going around, first idiot gets tires blown and stops in middle of road, causing second idiot to be trapped on track. (I can't count the number of times I have come across idiots on the highways/transfer ramps who stop right in the middle of the road/lane when there is a problem instead of nursing the vehicle to the side - using momentum if need be). Maybe traffic cams that photog cars that go around the rail - tickets start at $1000 per offense and go up on repeat offenders.

Submitted by no_such_reality on July 28, 2017 - 11:34am.

It's still basically the cost, quality, time triangle.

Energy efficiency is only one aspect of costs. Infrastructure is a much bigger aspect of the cost. Roads are expensive, rail is expensive, airports are expensive.

In major cities, existing light rail/subway is awesome, New York, Athens, Tokyo, get everywhere. Los Angeles, meh, it's getting better. San Deigo, improving. Orange County, non-existent.

More importantly, the interconnects between the three counties in what is essentially one giant metroplex are basically non-existent too. LA light rail works good for getting downtown and sort of to the LAX office areas, otherwise, not much near any of the stops except near the expo line.

Train travel from say Santa Ana to San Diego or Santa Barbara, expensive. Current mileage reimbursements puts driving pretty much on par with the cheapest ticket. More than one person and driving is far cheaper.

I've repeatedly tried to plan short day/weekend trips to near region areas and it's just not practical with train. Too expensive, too slow, too inflexible.

I wish the five county area would get their collective sh*t together and create a regular running connector that essentially express trains from the Santa Fe staion in San Deigo to Irvine/Santa Ana to LA Union and build out their infrastructure to support off of that model. Once in LA Union you can hit the light rail, dash buses and get around. Santa Fe has some options.

I still can't put together a decent trip from Santa Ana to the San Deigo Zoo.

It's sad to say, but LA seems to be doing the best job of it.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on July 28, 2017 - 2:56pm.

no_such_reality wrote:

It's sad to say, but LA seems to be doing the best job of it.

I agree and that is so pathetic.

On the whole, the American people has no concept of public transport, so the established behaviors dominate. They are stuck in a post war mentality where residences should be separated from businesses and cities built for the car, with plenty of parking spread in a garden style setting. Imagine walking under the weather with a carry-on suitcase to a bus station 2 miles away to catch a bus that is not on time, to transfer to light rail that is 30 min delayed.

One day we will wake up without any of the tech that's being developed abroad. China's first bullet train went into service in 2007. Now, they're on the second gen and exporting their technology and management experience., a very valuable 21st century industry that will earn them billions.

Anyway... I give up. If Americans want to stay stagnant, nothing that can be done. As long as humanity as a whole progresses, all is good.

Submitted by Hobie on July 28, 2017 - 3:48pm.

Freight is the rail profit center not people. HSR is not a business model but a political one.

I haven't seen any real studies accurately estimating ridership between LA >SF. ie. who would be traveling and how many trips, frequency. We already can get a pretty reasonable number based on airline trips/day.

Plus, what do you think airlines will do if the rail magically becomes competition? Lower prices, to keep passengers. I haven't seen this discussed in the rail argument.

Next, HSR in SD would have some serious engineering challenges through hills in the current proposed inland route. Not gonna happen.

San Diego can't even get its act together for a train direct to the airport or even the fairgrounds.

Submitted by no_such_reality on July 28, 2017 - 3:56pm.

lol. I live 3 miles from a train station. I can walk a half mile take two buses and spend 45 minutes to get there which isn't synced to any train. Or I can walk about 55 minutes due to intersection crossing. I can drive there, right around ten minutes which I've done plenty. I should bike but part of the route is a little hairy

Around the world the studies all show the same, ridership massively drops when the start point is more than 500 meters from a pickup spot

We don't need HSR, we need interagency cooperation and coordination.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on July 29, 2017 - 10:28am.

no_such_reality wrote:

We don't need HSR, we need interagency cooperation and coordination.

I would agree with you, all else being equal. But HSR will work very well in conjunction with changes in urban planning to accommodate future population growth. We just have to change urban planning patterns.

Why can't we overlay a more European/Asian development model on top of what we have so Americans have more future housing and transportation choices?

Submitted by no_such_reality on July 29, 2017 - 2:28pm.

FlyerInHi wrote:
no_such_reality wrote:

We don't need HSR, we need interagency cooperation and coordination.

I would agree with you, all else being equal. But HSR will work very well in conjunction with changes in urban planning to accommodate future population growth. We just have to change urban planning patterns.

Why can't we overlay a more European/Asian development model on top of what we have so Americans have more future housing and transportation choices?

We can, I think the most interesting properties to acquire as a landlord are the new developments along the light rail through LA's south central core that is integrated commerical, retail and living sitting on or adjacent to rail stop.

The HSR in Cali is a feel good pork barrel, IMho, it should literally be Downtown San Diego to Anaheim, skip Anaheim if you need to and go LA, to Oakland. Existing right of way and planning should do all the regional stops. But it should be get on in LA or Anaheim and get off in San Diego like 20 minutes later and get on in Anaheim and get off at the Oakland Bart station 1.5 hours later without a bunch of BS stops along the way for stations that were justified with ridership numbers that rival Penn Station today.

Submitted by Hobie on July 30, 2017 - 7:35am.

This is just what I mean - need marketing research data. Accurate projections of why people would be travelling between point A and B. Business, pleasure? How often. What cities.

Once you have that data and apply the 'last mile' issue we can talk.

Until then its all OPM (other peoples money )not real world business thinking.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on July 30, 2017 - 2:36pm.

Hobie wrote:
This is just what I mean - need marketing research data. Accurate projections of why people would be travelling between point A and B. Business, pleasure? How often. What cities.

Once you have that data and apply the 'last mile' issue we can talk.

Until then its all OPM (other peoples money )not real world business thinking.

By this definition we would never have built the freeways or Hoover dam.

If you wait until the demand is already there, then you're not investing and shaping the future.

Anyway, I'm sorta OK with your thinking. If rural areas have no economies of scale, then there's no need to nvest where there are few potential users. We can forget about them. High speed Internet to the boonies? Why bother investing $ millions per user?

Anyway again, China is building the Silk Road of the 21st century. Let's hope that 25years from now we don't have to buy Chinese train technology. It would be interesting if Chinese expats came here to manage our rail systems.

Submitted by no_such_reality on July 31, 2017 - 2:28pm.

Ah, Brian must you troll on even this?

That's such an intentional baiting strawman it's sad.

Anyway, neither Hobie nor I said they don't need to be built. The plan needs too be there. In fact, it's the kind of planning China did with the 4x4 and now 8x8 HSR backbone that needs to be done.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on September 21, 2017 - 12:19pm.

China’s high speed train. The largest network in the world built in about 8 years.
China is very high tech now, with cashless mobile payments, car sharing, etc...

https://youtu.be/hS4lqdw1sq4

Submitted by Myriad on September 22, 2017 - 8:19pm.

The problem of mass transit in CA is that our low density and distance increase the cost considerably. Neighborhoods prevent building high rises and other high density developments.
Then our transit tries to self-fund which is difficult if the intent is to keep prices low.
For example, UTC could do really well if a transit hub was clustered around a set of 20-50 story high rises with commercial, residential (affordable/mid/high end), retail, restaurants. But it requires a mentality set change in people choosing to live in apts vs houses. But if you can't build anything and in enough quantity, the cost for space (housing/class A office space) becomes too expensive to do much.
Just came back from Hong Kong where a local told me that with a population of 7 million, the MTR transit company has 5+ million ride journeys/day. Basically, few people try to drive to work because it's too costly (time & money).

Submitted by FlyerInHi on December 18, 2017 - 10:31am.

The Amtrak derailment is shameful considering that it’s old “proven” technology.
Back in 2007 people were poo pooing China saying they could never safely build a HSR network. Well they proved everyone wrong with their own technology that they are exporting around the world.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-g...

Submitted by FlyerInHi on December 18, 2017 - 10:39am.

The Economist has an interesting video on how free electricity could revolutionalize transport and the world. They had a series of articles on the energy revolution. Good luck to coal.

https://youtu.be/JmzEjg8SpI0

Submitted by FlyerInHi on February 11, 2018 - 8:48pm.

If the maglev happens between D.C. and Baltimore, Baltimore would be a great place to invest in real estate.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tra...

Submitted by FlyerInHi on February 14, 2018 - 9:46am.

I love the idea of free public transport that Germany is exploring. There is a lot of innovation around the world. And in USA we may be left with second rate transport.

When Americans are old and struck in their suburbs with nothing around, they will have nobody to blame but themselves.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worl...

Submitted by The-Shoveler on February 14, 2018 - 11:48am.

Autonomous vehicles will likely kill most Public transport as we currently know it.

Will autonomous vehicles kill commuter trains, high speed rail and planes for regional travel?

Yes IMO.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on February 14, 2018 - 1:49pm.

The-Shoveler wrote:
Autonomous vehicles will likely kill most Public transport as we currently know it.

Will autonomous vehicles kill commuter trains, high speed rail and planes for regional travel?

Yes IMO.

I don’t think so. Autonomous vehicles will be addition to transport options that will free up real estate.

I’m putting my money in city centers and suburban areas like UTC, Mission Valley, even Temecula mall. In the future more people will want to live near the restaurants and retail showrooms. Only the regional malls with critical mass will survive.

If you go to Vegas check out the new lotus apartments right in Chinatown. rents are $1100 for a studio $1700 for a two bedroom and $2400 for three bedroom. More expensive than houses in summerlin, a good suburb with good schools.
That is what the techbro demographics want because they can uber everywhere in 10 min.

Shoveler, what do you think of the Internet encouraging densification even though telecommuting is a viable option?

Submitted by Ribbles on February 15, 2018 - 9:19am.

I think Shoveler might be right, and here's why - a very common scenario in the future will be privately-owned autonomous electric vehicles that stay busy giving rides while the owners aren't using them. The income that it would take to cover the car payment and electricity would be ridiculously low - at a wild guess, a handful of rides/day at 25-50 cents/mile. That's bus pass territory for the lowest income brackets. There would need to be some regulation, because there may be far more cars available than customers. I can see a market for small vans with routes decided by computer, though - a few people from my Temecula neighborhood going to the same area in San Diego, for example.

I would personally prefer a ride to the bay area in an autonomous car (mine or someone else's) over flying or high-speed rail (and I mean actual high-speed rail, not the joke currently under construction).

More predictions: California will raise gas taxes so high that most people start buying electric, but the roads will continue going to shit, so they'll need to enact a mileage tax on everyone, which of course they will promptly spend on something other than roads. Even some gearheads will realize that many all-electric cars are so fast they don't need that flat-plane crank V8 anymore, and go to the dark side of silent running. They will be mocked by the rest of us even as we lose to them in drag races. Uber and Lyft drivers will be out of a job. Internal combustion engines will be outlawed in LA and SF first, maybe shortly before (20 years?) human drivers are outlawed in the entire state - which will also reduce that bay area trip time to 3-4 hours at the speeds allowed when there are no distracted monkeys at the controls. First responders will have the only vehicles with steering wheels. Many traffic lights and stop signs will be removed, as they aren't needed with a linked network of autonomous vehicles. It will be interesting to see how they handle pedestrians in those situations - the cars would stop for them, but that would mess with the efficiency of traffic. Maybe foot bridges/elevators in the metros. Gas stations will be converted to charging stations, with the only functional gas pumps found near race tracks, which will eventually be the only places a real, breathing motor is allowed to run. Towed there by a self-driving electric truck, of course.

Submitted by spdrun on February 15, 2018 - 11:38am.

Electric cars are great.
Autonomous cars phoning home, spying on people, recording, logging, data-mining, slicing, and dicing their trips are a fucking awful idea.

As far as pedestrians -- there need to be better means than "footbridges and elevators" to address the issue before lights and stops go away. Imagine how many crossing points, lights, stop signs there are in the US as a whole, then imagine the cost of bridging each one.

Frankly, let's hope that North Korea orbitally smacks the HQs of a few firms working on this self-driving shit before it gets lobbied into existence. Or just hacks them into the stone age.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on February 15, 2018 - 11:31am.

very interesting Ribbles.

Big picture wise, the 1980s were the heyday of the suburbs.
So why are we seeing a return to the city and the widening gap between urban properties values and less urban real estate? All of that despite cheap communications that theoretically allow people to live further apart. Remember when long distance phone calls were super expensive even between Downtown SD and Del Mar.

My theory is that the Internet and social media give people more knowledge and therefore the desire to live in the "best areas" of the world. Kinda like how branding and aspirational marketing work. That's why lot of cities in the world build vanity projects to create buzz and put themselves on the map.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on February 15, 2018 - 12:20pm.

5G controlled monorail that's cheaper than subway systems.

Pretty cool
https://technode.com/2018/01/08/huawei-g...

spd, did you read about how the NYC subway is now plagued with delays?

Submitted by Ribbles on February 15, 2018 - 12:46pm.

spdrun wrote:
Electric cars are great.
Autonomous cars phoning home, spying on people, recording, logging, data-mining, slicing, and dicing their trips are a fucking awful idea.
I think it's inevitable. There are too many drivers in the U.S. who aren't smart enough or skilled enough to be in control of a two-ton vehicle. The number of lives saved will be staggering - and that statistic will be far more visible than the sinister side, which will be downplayed by both politicians and manufacturers. California will be on the forefront, and I'll have long since left for Idaho.

Submitted by spdrun on February 15, 2018 - 1:42pm.

Fortunately, the US generally lacks respect for life when guns and cars are involved -- they're emotional, not rational issues. If gun control is any guide, it will fortunately be a slow painful process. The lives lost in obstruction of progress are worth the slowing of the degradation of privacy -- life in an absolutely safe, controlled society isn't worth living.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on February 15, 2018 - 4:07pm.

sdp, I suppose you'd rather live in poverty rather than enjoy all the modern tech.

theoretically, tech allows us to do more with fewer people so humans can enjoy more leisure and intellectual enlightenment

example, 5G tech can alert if your bus is late. You don't have to wait for hours for a broken down bus to arrive. Then your boss fires you or sends you home for being late. That's the life of poor people in USA where public transport sucks.

Submitted by spdrun on February 15, 2018 - 4:32pm.

Tracking buses where fares can be paid for with (anonymous) cash or cards re-filled with cash: not evil.

Tracking ALL vehicles which are tied to an identity: evil.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on February 15, 2018 - 5:46pm.

Data warehousing and mining is separate from the tech.

For example using IoT, location and intelligence, smart networks can alert people on the platform of late train. But people not intending to ride would not be alerted.

People who don't reside on a certain floor will not be allowed access if riding alone in elevator. Or receive an "area restricted" alert if they get off on the wrong floor. If they don't depart with 5 min, the security office is alerted and the appropriate camera feed displays. All without the need for humans to do anything.

New tech can also enhance privacy and security. My brother dated a bank teller in college. She looked up his number and called him. *Gasp* invasion of privacy! That was the old days with old computers. But today, CSRs cannot just browse customer info. They need to make contact with verifying info before accessing the data. There is an electronic trail that wasn't there with old technology.

Now, you can't ask the cop or the county clerk to tear up your buddy's citation. There is an electronic trail.

Submitted by spdrun on February 15, 2018 - 5:59pm.

Nah, we ticket, fine, and jail too many people. Being able to slip a cop something to "fix" a problem is a good thing. My morals are fundamentally third-world.

Submitted by Hobie on February 16, 2018 - 6:25am.

Ribbles wrote:
I think it's inevitable. There are too many drivers in the U.S. who aren't smart enough or skilled enough to be in control of a two-ton vehicle. The number of lives saved will be staggering - and that statistic will be far more visible than the sinister side, which will be downplayed by both politicians and manufacturers. California will be on the forefront, and I'll have long since left for Idaho.

Not thrilled with autonomous cars, but would agree it is will happen. No one has discussed this yet but self driving cars is actually a very plausible way to reduce congestion. If each car identifies its destination, then it can pick and sort out what freeway lanes to use all the while of keeping speed more constant and efficient.

Submitted by Ribbles on February 16, 2018 - 7:51am.

Traffic would be a lot smoother. I don't think I'd be entirely comfortable riding in a self-driving car unless all the other cars were self-driving, too. No computer will be able to anticipate the stupidity of some human drivers, and that starts with understanding unwritten rules of the road, like staying away from beaters. If someone is middle-aged and spent their whole life making choices that resulted in them driving a 30-year-old dented Cavalier, they're more likely to be dangerous. The same goes for monster trucks - many of those drivers seem to be blissfully unaware that their vehicles take much longer to stop and they tailgate anyway. Would the software know to move over a lane? Maybe that will be a patch.

Haha - "Dad, can you pick me up?"
"Sorry sweetie, maybe later. My car is updating."

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