[FoRK] LA Traffic - solution?

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Sat Sep 1 13:19:07 PDT 2012

On 9/1/12 11:54 AM, laurent oget wrote:
> 2012/8/31 Bill Kearney <wkearney99 at hotmail.com>
>> High speed rail seems to be going forward in California.  If it is truly
>>> fast, it probably is worth it because of the dual massive population
>>> centers and mostly unpopulated land in between.  However, it doesn't
>>> make sense to create a full train network beyond that. Efficient
>>> automated shared / multiplexed electric self-driving vehicles seem
>>> perfect and reuse the roads that are fundamental.
>> High speed rail doesn't really make sense at all.  There's really no
>> actual "NEED" for most of that travel.  Certainly not at a high speed. Too
>> much behavior is centered around traveling distances on a whim. They're
>> doing it now because they "can" not because of any real need. Certainly not
>> ones supported by realistic economic factors.  Take the artificial
>> cheapness out of it and you're on your way to drastically altering
>> behaviors.
>> Moves toward personal electric make much more sense.  They accomplish two
>> goals, one being breaking the habit of travel over unnecessary distances on
>> a regular basis.  The other being reduction/elimination of end-use burning
>> of fuels.

There are a lot of good reasons for goods and people to travel long distances.  While I agree that every day travel ought to be 
drastically reduced, co-working etc., more long distance travel has many benefits.

>> Commuting from distances greater than electric vehicle capacity would be
>> made even more obviously stupid than it already is.  The argument needs to
>> turn from "the cars can't go far enough" toward "it's stupid to be
>> traveling that far for anything other than an exceptional basis."  I don't
>> expect that to happen in the current generation of the population.
>> We've been spoiled by the artifical cheapness of traveling the wide open
>> spaces.  That time is rapidly approaching it's end.

Really?  Airfares are still cheap between popular routes (* to/from Las Vegas, SF<->Dulles/DC), with jets becoming ever more efficient.

We Were spoiled by the artificial (perhaps) cheapness of car travel when gas was $0.92/gal.  We don't seem so spoiled anymore.  
Right now, I can't understand how a lower-income could pay for any typical car travel anymore.

>> -Bill Kearney
> Even if you reduce the number of trips between places I believe there is
> still a huge economy of scale that makes high speed rail a huge win
> compared to anything individual between two urban centers. say LA-SF,
> Houston-Austin, or Atlanta-Charlotte. A train carrying 1000 people makes
> much more sense than 1000 cars, be they electric, even if they were
> self-driven. Even if everybody telecommutes the tracks would still make
> sense for freight, and once you have tracks, trains are not that big of an
> investment.

Freight rail has great economy of scale like container ships do. High speed rail ought to be somewhat similar, although probably not 
as efficient.  Previously proposed long distance vacuum tube ultra-high speed maglev or rail would beat everything handily.  Drop 
friction of the medium so you only have rolling friction or suspension and the efficiency would be off the scale with any speed you 


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