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Andre Lot
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@Steve Sidner: I think that, much on the contrary, as soon as it becomes evident that deaths and serious injures plummet when the proportion of autonomous vehicles rise, there will be an enormous push for adoption of self-driven cars on safety grounds alone. These self-driven cars can easily avoid more than 95% of all road-related deaths that currently occur.
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I find this argument a bit confusing, but it goes in tandem with a stream of thought in the planning community that view autonomous cars (regardless of propulsion) as some Trojan Horse that could detract from larger goals (such as investment in transit and whatnot). Some 5 years ago, the suspicion revolved around the technical and financial viability of self-driven cars. Now that these seem to be a matter of 'when' instead of 'if', the arguments have coalesced around the evil autonomous vehicles can be as they would facilitate behaviors and choices dismissed as negative. One of the most naive assumptions, I think, is that people would just buy autonomous vehicles by the millions without a substantial shift towards non-ownership access. If you can have a combination of Uber-like (on-call, reliable and mostly prompt availability at the address you need) service that can be operated without drivers, costs would go down and the incentive for people to buy their own cars and let them idling 95% of the time would be lessened. I agree that autonomous vehicles are unlikely to be good substitutes for mass transit on major corridors, but they can be vital to provide mobility where, in current models, transit suffers, such as erratic errands outside central areas, late-night travel, last-mile connectivity much faster than walking/cycling without the need for massive parking garages at stations, taking children (that parents deem to young to ride transit) to choice schools outside the neighborhood and back etc. Even in cities well served by transit (think Berlin, Tokyo and London, for instance), trips that don't follow the usual axes are far slower by transit than car. Many people who live car-free end up facing a huge time penalty if they want to do the occasional shopping or park visit that is out of their way.
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You can have common fare mediums (likely a smartcard, possibly augmented by a smartphone app or other near-field communication device) without having to merge all entities. The challenge is to devise terms for monitoring passengers and dividing revenue accordingly. ------------- Many people refer to the Verkehrsverbund, but there have been some problems with the concept recently, namely in terms of regional transportation authorities wanting to prioritize regional/local uses for the railway network, which results in either a degradation of long-distance services, or the need for very expensive projects that separate rail traffic.
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Bike x pedestrian conflicts on a short sector over access to the bus stop is much preferable than bike x bus conflict while both types of vehicles are racing each other (bikes overtaking bus at stops and bus overtaking bikes when running). It's really a no-brainer. Netherlands and Denmark use the layout of raised bus stops with bike lanes crossing to their right (between stop and sidewalk) extensively. It is much, much more safer, objectively and subjectively, than the way it is usually done in North America.
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They don't need to time lights for traffic, they need smart traffic lights that recognize buses (or light rail if that was the case), and then adjust accordingly. This is the solution extensively used in places with heavy and dense transit surface traffic like Amsterdam or Zürich.
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@Wanderer, if you read local newspapers (such as the Mountain View Voice), you'll realize that it isn't about race, but more about a resentment about "overpaid tech workers" of sorts, that guide much of the opposition to new housing. There is resentment towards the "transient" nature of many of them, and the fact their presence drive shifts on the commercial landscape of the town. There is no particular racial component to that, and it is not even about poor-low skilled moved in, as much as it is a strange dynamic of "I'm an educated professional, but I can't earn as much as techies, so I don't want them moving into my town and changing it".
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I've read several pieces on the issues of development projects in Silicon Valley. I suspect that the opposition is less driven about real concerns about traffic, or any desire to see transit implemented together with new housing projects, as much as it is about keeping the "wrong" people (age, occupation, political inclinations, child status) from moving in and "changing the characters" of the place.
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@Jim Moore: the sort of micro-detailed over-planning of neighborhood design of Dutch cities is just completely unacceptable for North American local political cultures. It would never be possible to implement without deranging into the worst forms of patronage and favoritism like it can be seen in places like San Francisco or New York. @bw: I don't think chains have anything to do with that. In other countries with heavy presence of chains like Switzerland, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, there are different patterns of spatial distribution of supermarkets even if 3-4 chains completely dominate the business. @Ben G: I call your bluff on your statement, respectfully. If you can walk 5.5 miles to a market and come back carrying packages as if it is nothing, then you belong to a tiny minority of super athletic people who don't sweat while virtually running back and front, or then you have a lot of disposable time such that you can waste 90-100 min walking as if it were nothing, consider the average speed threshold that starts to exert the body on a jogging pace.
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@Reality Check: your critique is unwarranted regarding CASHSR. The project has been designed exactly as you said it should - with service specifications in mind, including maximum travel time between SF and LA, general route comprising cities to be served etc.
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LOS is a useful tool for designing, planning and managing controlled-access freeways and expressways, which serve different purposes than local streets. The problem is not the metric per se, but the context in which it is used. Any metric that one picks up will have some shortfalls. A project that kills most activity on a given small area and displace most residents will severely reduce VMT ot PMT. Tearing up all high speed transportation links (airports, fast trains, highways, all paved roads) would obviously slash them as well, while throwing us back to 1820. LOS is particularly useful for non-urban freeways, sectors where medium and long distance traffic dominate and bypasses, where free flow is important and no transit project can, within reason and without radically changing lifestyles and spatial organization, reduce the demand for road traffic.
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2014 on california topples a tyrant at Human Transit
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Something that stroke me on the revamped plan is that the light rail didn't become a focal point, with many bus routes duplicating parts of the light rail lines. Isn't that a waste? If you have a good light rail line, why bother still running parallel buses? Shouldn't all buses that run parallel to light rail (especially the red line) be just truncated at the first/last common stop with the light rail?
Toggle Commented May 13, 2014 on houston: transit, reimagined at Human Transit
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The entrenchment of status quo beneficiaries is really a problem. The few people who have a lot to lose (like having a stop in front of their building being moved two blocks away) have a lot of incentive to be vocal about it, whereas the majority who will benefit a bit is not organized around that. I think that system-wide reorganization initiatives focused on general outcomes is still the way to go, rather than piecemeal fixes. If someone proposes a new system with a new network where average travel time will decrease by x minutes, it is easier to sell that vision to the public, and to be cast those few complaining about losing 'their' bus stop, 'their' direct route or something like that as over-entitled complainers that are losing an advantage that is not and should not be guaranteed to them.
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2014 on how to make buses more useful at Human Transit
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@Anon256 (and fellow commentators on him) Unmanned train operation (UTO), which is the most advanced stage of automated trains, are a bit more complicated because most train systems start from a baseline paradigm that allows tighter limits than that of road vehicles, where visual human input is, so far, almost the only way of assessing the course of action. Trains are not driven on basis of visual reckoning of other trains, at least not heavy rail, subways etc. Only mixed-traffic trams and streetcars are usually that 'dumb'. Subways, heavy trains, high speed trains cannot possibly be operated at such speeds on that basis of 'see and be seen. Just take a look at the speeds train travel, their braking distances and so on. Add to that the fact trains are, by their very nature, fixed on running over their tracks (they can't swerve to avoid an imminent collision, for instance). Trains also have a much steeper failure threshold than road vehicles. They are incredible safe and reliable while on track, but derailment is often a catastrophic event, while road vehicles deal with different stages of grip, skid and drift. Now modern train operation is already heavily automated: automatic breaking if a red signal is violated, speed limiters, controlled acceleration and what else. These ATO/ATP systems rely on modern signaling that, for virtue o the specifities of rail, need to be fit into the infrastructure. You cannot rely on trains-talking-with-trains on busy systems like subways, unless you want to slash capacity. When you move towards a fully driverless train, you need precise platform alignment control. The final step (removing the operator) is not really the most difficult one: installing proper automated train operation systems are. Upgrades to driverless operations also ensue much higher safety and, often, increased reliability and sometimes capacity, as trains are no longer subject to fixed blocks, but dynamic signaling that keeps them as close as possible.
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@Transit Riding Transit Planner: going beyond the immediate Tri-Met issue at hand, I think the ideal system to lower costs of low-income transit-dependent riders is to have weekly and monthly passes that are significantly cheaper than the sum of 2 one-way fares (which can then be raised and made more stringent).
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Is OPAL the Portland equivalent of the insidious and evil Bus Riders Union from Los Angeles? Beyond what Jarrett pointed on this piece, I think there are serious shortcomings to the "social service first" approach to transit management. Once you go down that route - which requires a certain mentality -, there is a greater risk that other inefficiencies creep in, such as the adoption of circuitous low-ridership routes that don't increase coverage but provide one-seat rides (which start being more coveted as network reliability decreases).
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Appropriate maps depend on the layout of the city. This is the most recent schematic map for ATM. It includes the local stations of suburban trains (S-lines) as well http://www.atm-mi.it/it/ViaggiaConNoi/PublishingImages/ReteMetroATM_feb2013.jpg As the map stands, it does a terrible job on informing passengers about best connections due to geographical compression.
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Some mistakes are often made and repeated among the urban planning/city issues online community, and this post, the content referred by it and some comments are no exception. First, I don't understand why so many people call states with smaller populations as "rural". If you take a breakdown of percentage of total population of states living in a metropolitan statistical area > pop. 500.000, you'd see that Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada etc. all have a larger (not smaller) concentration of population around medium and big areas. That Denver, Phoenix or Salt Lake City don't cut it into some stereotype urban utopia doesn't mean the population dynamics of those states are not heavily linked to bigger agglomerations. Moreover, if local cooperative management freed of strings pulled by the federal government were any solution, we'd not see the plethora of conflicts between different jurisdictions of any metro area, be them agencies delivering integrated services that refuse to cooperate altogether (rail system in New York metro and Chicago metro), race-to-the-bottom between different jurisdictions to get each other business with dysfunctional tax cuts (Kansas City, MO vs. Kansas City, KS), or the mess created in places like Detroit metro, the vicious regional politics of Bay Area on pretty much anything etc. I actually think federal government has an important role to play, if not in micromanaging things like construction of housing projects, at least enforcing some standards nationwide. ADA compliance would be very unlikely to be implemented on places like NYC or Chicago if it were left to regional governments under the "wheelchair people can't use subways, giv'em para-transit instead)".
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Isn't this just the way politic administration in general works - the aspirations of any giving cohort are only met with very serious considerations when such cohort is on the 2nd half of their lives. I think that is the rule rather than the exception. What is the exceptional are circumstances like post-WW2 Europe, when the carnage of war suddenly set aside the "old guard" and gave rise to politicians that had grown with 2 world wars and a major global depressions as their major references in life, something that shaped the following 30 years of European politics until 1973 at the earliest. Acceptance of women in the military had become stronger since the cultural shifts of the early 1970s, especially after the move to an all-volunteer force. Yet, it took at least 2 decades for a big push in the military to get woman into serious, dangerous and live combat positions in large numbers that don't make then an 'oddity'. While we are at it, isn't one of the great political stories of this time how the youth generation that brought tectonic shifts to sexuality, pop culture and social norms in the 1960 later swung back towards more conservative policies (especially economic ones)? Generally speaking, it is not a matter of having a couple of "Gen Xs" or "Millenials" in power that would make a difference. It takes a longer time to the point where the majority of people on top political offices, social leadership positions, academia and especially economically powerful offices (CEOs, high managers, consultants) spouse a certain trend or attitude for it to get a significant shot of getting into laws and effective change, especially if it contradicts with an existing paradigm.
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@Ben: I don't think free (at point of use) health care is a good comparison to free transit. Most people will avoid using health care even if its marginal cost is zero (and I bet elective procedures/services like cosmetic plastic surgery, or gym memberships, are not free)
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I think there is a clear distinction between two different issues: (1) lower patronage services that are effective network feeders (2) inefficient routes/services that detract from network cohesion and efficiency As buses use road infrastructure already present, it is very tempting for transit managers to engage in (2). Particularly in US, there is this obsession with one-seat rides and all sorts of gimmicks for transfers. I understand and up to a point accept the logic of "coverage service" if it is meant to pull people from its catchment area and feed them into some major frequent service (be it rail, trams, buses...) What I cannot accept is the idea we need the "LA Bus Riders Union" paradigm: as much one-seat rides as possible, damned be travel times, God forbids one has to transfer. If we pull a map of bus networks of large American cities, we'll easily see the mesh of thinned-out routes running on parallel streets (on grid-based cities) and stopping as closely spaced as possible. It would be much better to consolidate routes and services in places like Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta.
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I think that conflicts over streamlining of the transit route network (when you don't cut whole areas out of it) are usually born as proxies for other problems. The most obvious case are cities that maintain circuitous routes with plenty of overlapping due to lack of free transfers. Los Angeles was a good case of that with its insane and asinine bus route design aiming to offer as much "one-seat-ride" as possible, even if it meant bad schedule of the overall network.
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One of the problems with whole "high-urbanism" contemporary conversation is that, at least on its mainstream circles, it seems to attempt to ditch all the hard talk on numbers, measurable outcomes, costs etc. It is a mindset that extends beyond transit, by the way.
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@Joe Busman: your argument has a flaw that is common to many transit activists (or activists of any infrastructure-related cause): overemphasizing the role and importance of the topic you are keen on advocating on economic development. While the argument about certain costs of sprawl infrastructure building is one up for discussion and serious consideration, it can't, alone, explain economic development. Let's take an extreme case: if you built 200 miles of subway lines in Detroit in 3 years, for instance, and nothing else changed, that wouldn't make Detroit a place booming in terms of economy or population just because of its flashy transit.
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I understand the rationale of Jarret's argument on accessibility being different than mobility. Yet, if we are talking about transit being an option that substitutes individual car mobility, isn't geographic accessibility an important feature still? From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, people could still find their "resources" close to home given the appropriate land planning, but isn't providing quick access to other places people don't necessarily "need" to go an important feature of any transportation system that aims to take market share from cars for purposes other than commuting? Using a smaller scale comparison: people could theoretically take vacations only at the closest beach, ski resort or wooden mountain. Yet, many travel across the globe just for sake of seeing something different, "clinching" another country/park to their list etc. On a metropolitan scale, people could theoretically live only limited-transportation lives where they patronize the pub that is 3 blocks away all the time, take their children to the playground 10min walking from home all the time, attend a church (if that is the case) that is necessarily the closest to home and even try to participate only on charities that actuate on their walking radius. But is that necessarily a goal? After all, history of transportation is one about widening horizons and slashing time distances.
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@free transit: that argument is misplaced. It assumes that front-door, driver-supervised boarding with individual validation is the only possible way to collect fare on buses. I could point to at least 10 big cities where fare collection is done with proof-of-payment and all-doors boarding, sometimes with multiple touch-based validators on-board, sometimes with validators on stops, sometimes relying on a system where 3/4 or more of users have monthly passes they just carry with them. @Jack Horner: the marginal cost of additional riders is set to zero (or almost zero) only to the extent the current service can take in more passengers without requiring more vehicles/routes in place. When you have "charity-based networks" in big cities, e.g., systems that operate a skeleton service aiming to provide last-resort mobility for citizens who can't afford other ways to travel, the quality of service might be bad enough that it will not attract a big number of passengers even if the service is free.
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