[FoRK] LA Traffic - solution?

Gordon Mohr gojomo at boxbe.com
Thu Aug 30 13:43:56 PDT 2012

I can recycle my own old bits on this topic if they're still relevant, 

I still think the following, as I wrote to FoRK over 10 years ago, is 
the mass-transit-obsoleting solution due to arrive in urban areas soon, 
helped along by Uber/Lyft/Side.cr/GoogleAutomatautos/etc.

First, a vague sketch from August 2000 in my comment about proposed 
light-rail in Austin <http://www.xent.com/FoRK-archive/aug00/0627.html>:

It's a disgrace that so many Austin tech bigwigs are putting
their names and money behind light-rail.

If it passes, we'll spend a billion dollars to tear up existing
high-traffic corridors and lay down fixed routes on which, some
time in 2008, glorified buses-on-tracks will run. It's the ultimate
low-tech, inflexible, high-dollar solution -- a circuit-switched
transportation megaproject.

We should instead be using cheap computing and communication
technology to get maximum efficient use out of the roads --
packet-based transportation markets.

Eliminate trips with telecommuting and ecommerce; eliminate
rush-hours with congestion pricing. Instead of rails, lay down
smart roads with privileged access for dynamically-routed and
creatively-billed buses, shuttles, and smart cars. Have people
enter their desired destination on location-aware handheld
devices -- and then let multiple bus/van/taxi services bid for
their ride, offering shared routes and transit-time guarantees
based on real-time demand and traffic information.

The same local VC types funding the pro-rail campaign will also
fund, over the next few years, startups which make rail obsolete
before construction completes.

And then in November 2001 a bit more detail about the 
"dynamically-routed and creatively-billed buses, shuttles, and cmart 
cars" in this message 

<yodelling refers-to="conan o'brien bit">
  In the year 2000...

Everyone will get, essentially for free, a handheld
communicator with GPS, voice, browsing, and instant-

When you want to get someplace outside of walking
distance, you will enter your desired destination on
the device.

Within a few seconds, a number of options will be
presented to you, with prices and guaranteed arrival
times. For example:

     (walk two blocks to catch)
     pickup in now+5 minutes
     one transfer
     destination arrival in now+23 minutes
     $1.50 [click here to purchase]

     (pickup at your exact location)
     pickup in now+6 minutes
     one extra stop to drop off other passenger
     destination arrival in now+17 minutes
     $3.00 [click here to purchase]

     (pickup at your exact location)
     pickup in now+7 minutes
     destination arrival in now+12 minutes
     direct nonstop
     $6.00 [click here to purchase]

You will have about 30 seconds to choose, or
else the options will refresh. By the time you choose,
Vince's Vanagon may have already been diverted a
block preemptively in expectation of your choice.

If you miss your contractual pickup, you still pay.
If the ride misses its contractual delivery time,
your ride is free.

Every motor vehicle on city streets' position will
be tracked to the meter. Every vehicle will pay
a usage fee proportionate to its use of the roadways
and the extrernalities of delay it imposes on other

There will be no traffic jams: the slightest hint of
one will cause road-prices to rise until it disappears.
There will only be accidents when the open-source
driving-code makes rare grievous errors.

It's packet-switched market-priced mass-customized
transit. I think we'll see its beginnings in urban
areas in a few years -- with certain zones and roadways
limited to such advanced-routed vehicles. It may
become the only way to travel around those same areas
in 15 years.

Of course now you'd have to expect that in addition to YELLOW CAB, 
VINCE'S VANAGON, and CITY BUS you'd also have UBER, LYFT, and GOOGLE 
AUTO-AUTO as dynamically-listed options. And while it won't likely be 
mandatory in any central cities by my original 2016 date... it might by 

- Gordon

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