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Are High Speed Trains the Transportation for the Future?

By astrid following x   2006 Dec 11, 12:49pm 16,433 views   137 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    


Paul asks:

For a new thread I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on transportation and how it impacts where we live. One thing I think about is if we could actually have REAL high speed rail in this country, perhaps that would open up more housing choice. It always blows me away when you can’t ride a train into the city center like when Amtrak drops you off in Emryville instead of SF. I thought at one point CA was leading the charge on this topic - http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/

#housing

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98   EBGuy   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:04am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

RC: First the northern terminus is Oakland…

Bruce: See. They always do this. Southern terminus is probably Burbank or equivalent.

Common folks, don't believe everything RC tells you.
http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/route/default.asp

99   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:06am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

20MPG is indeed nothing special

It is fine for me if it is better than 10mpg.

100   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:11am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

@Peter P,

The future:

1. Hover cars
2. Teleportation
3. Time tunnel

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!

101   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:14am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Human teleportation would be wonderful, though I think I'd wait until 2nd or 3rd generation technology to try it. After they've worked out all the really major bugs, like accidentally teleporting you into a wall, or "losing" body parts during transit.

102   Bruce   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:16am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

The route map looks just like the old Trans Europe Express.

The TEE dallied around the Benelux countries for a while, tarried at both Cologne and Bonn, passed through Switzerland like a streak, and then stopped at every chicken coop between the Italian border and Florence. Express cum local.

Case closed.

103   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:17am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Human teleportation would be wonderful, though I think I’d wait until 2nd or 3rd generation technology to try it.

I will NEVER trust human teleportation. There are serious philosophical problems associated with it.

I do want some teleported sea urchins though.

104   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:18am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

yes. of course, we all know that these would in all reality be limited use vehicles for things like snow patrols or emergency rescue or possibly some sort of limited executive travel option, as long as people were prepared to do all the pilots training. this thing is the equivalent of a single-engined cessna, with all the restrictions that go with operating a light plane. clearly you could not just back one of these things out of your suburban garage and take off (and land at the shopping centre 1 km away), as it's a little hard to do lane markings in the sky. and I think single-engined light planes are the most dangerous class of fixed-wing aircraft in terms of accidents?

I think the time is coming when there won't be many petrol-driven vehicles around anymore, and 20MPG (or 10) will be seen as an impossible resource hog, all ethanol and Avgas etc will have to come from organic sources, electric motors and hydrogen fuel cells will be all the rage, and so on...

105   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:19am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

“losing” body parts during transit

I am very sorry sir, we are unable to find your left kidney at the moment. It may still be in the quantum stream. Do you have a claim check, sir?

106   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:21am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

HARM,

I remember a friend showed me the Moller Skycar years ago. It's amazing that they've actually stuck with it and delivered on the proto-type! One of my big concerns is that unlike a rotary wing aircraft (helicopter) these VSTOL (Very Short Take-Off and Landing) gizmos have low intakes. Commercial and military aircraft operate in a very controlled environment. Even still they ingest the occaisonal "cotter pin" and b/c of the sheer RPM's quickly disintegrate. How will they work around that when landing in a parking lot or your own driveway?

Well there's a thought in dealing w/those pesky tricycles and skateboards when coming home!

107   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:22am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

apparently massive breakthroughs have been made in teleportation lately. star trek transporters can't be far away.

i might settle for teleconferencing for the moment. i'd be happy enough if they could do 3D hologram teleconferencing through increased bandwidth and processing capability...

108   speedingpullet   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:23am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

I am very sorry sir, we are unable to find your left kidney at the moment. It may still be in the quantum stream. Do you have a claim check, sir?

Yeah, I still have nightmares about 'Brundlefly'....

...though being genetically spliced with Jeff Goldbloom could be sorta cool....

109   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:26am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

this thing is the equivalent of a single-engined cessna, with all the restrictions that go with operating a light plane. clearly you could not just back one of these things out of your suburban garage and take off (and land at the shopping centre 1 km away), as it’s a little hard to do lane markings in the sky. and I think single-engined light planes are the most dangerous class of fixed-wing aircraft in terms of accidents?

Actually, it's designed to fly on radar and GPS-guided autopilot. No pilot's license necessary, and no input from passengers/drivers while in the air. The idea is, you taxi (on the ground) to a local airport or parking lot with FAA designated "skycar" area, punch in your destination and the autopilot software takes over. As such, it's definitely better suited for longer hauls, not short trips. This leaves a gap which highly fuel efficient ground models (such as the ones you listed) would be helpful.

110   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:30am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

there is the potential for responsible use of some sort of VSTOL car-plane in rural and remote settings, as SFWoman points out, although it would have to be air-traffic controlled somehow. (ATC stops you being brave and free and is therefore unconstitutional)

for instance, it might be a reasonable concept for a 'flying doctor' type service. but as soon as you have more than one of these things in an uncontrolled airspace, you have problems...

I would settle for an anti-gravity machine with no moving parts, as long as it can never fail and the force field doesn't give you cancer...

112   Doug H   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:30am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Speedingbullet sez:
"Because, like a dog licking its nether reigons, we do it because we can… "

You owe me one coupon for a free monitor cleaning.....damn.....I was eating a cracker when I read that. Bad enough to clean coffee off the screen but slimy crackers are going to take a while........

113   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:31am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

I would settle for an anti-gravity machine with no moving parts, as long as it can never fail and the force field doesn’t give you cancer…

Then we can just bend space-time and walk over.

114   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:36am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

One of my big concerns is that unlike a rotary wing aircraft (helicopter) these VSTOL (Very Short Take-Off and Landing) gizmos have low intakes. Commercial and military aircraft operate in a very controlled environment. Even still they ingest the occaisonal “cotter pin” and b/c of the sheer RPM’s quickly disintegrate.

I'm no expert, but I gather that the 4 rotary engines rotate upwards in preparation for VTOL, so the intake will always be skywards. This would (hopefully) reduce the odds of suctioning in the odd skateboard or loose debris in one's driveway. In any case, the takeoff & landing areas would most likely be an airport or actively monitored "skyport" --at least until the technology is proven.

115   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:37am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Actually, it’s designed to fly on radar and GPS-guided autopilot.

hmmm, sounds a bit sci-fi to me. too many accidents brewing there, I'm afraid. would it all run on MS-Windows to guarantee software reliability? not sure how noisy these things would be, either...

reminds me of a funny story from melbourne where some overpaid spoilt CEO type insisted on flying his helicopter from his rural retreat 40 km to the city. when his country neighbours objected to the infernal racket and unbearable elitism, he'd reply 'these are the motorcars of the future, mate!'. whereupon they got a court order and he now has to drive 20 km to the local airport to helicopter 20 km to the city... massive time saving...

116   Bruce   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:42am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

So would you rather have a skycar or a Tesla?

117   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:42am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

@SFWoman,

The difference would be you could take off from LOCAL airports, not just the big international terminals, and they would probably expand this to large, monitored parking lots as well (think Skyports at shopping malls, municipal parking lots, parks & recreational areas, etc.). As time went on and the technology proved itself acceptably safe to the public, I bet this list would expand greatly.

Taking off from one's driveway might even be a possibility one day, thanks to ultra-cheap reliable GPS. However, I doubt the FAA will go for this anytime soon.

119   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:45am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

So would you rather have a skycar or a Tesla?

A Tesla? One that duplicates you?

120   Bruce   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:46am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Oh yes I am...

121   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:50am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

@DS,

Noise cancellation technology is making great strides. Target noise level for Moller Skycar is around 65 dB, as I recall. If it's quiet (and cheap) enough, then perhaps those "country neighbors" might not mind so much...?

122   Bruce   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:51am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Peter P,

You might hate this one, then. Plus, no exhaust note.

123   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:51am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

@Peter P,

Excess weight is a liability in a flying car.

124   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 7:54am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Excess weight is a liability in a flying car.

True. And weight does not buy safety in the air anyway.

125   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 8:02am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

FYI: Moller offers public tours of the Skycar plant each Thursday. It's in Davis, so very convenient for all you NCAL folks.

126   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 8:21am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Somehow the concept of electric vehicles does not intrigue me.

I rather have 12 cylinders at that price.

127   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 8:41am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

When in the BA, I always try to take BART to the airport. I do the same for DCA. One big complaint I have for DC is that there's not METRO (DC's subway) extension to Dulles or BWI (where all the non-US Airway flights are).

128   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 9:06am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

SFWoman,

There's no METRO in Georgetown or Potomac, but there are stops in Bethesda, near Chevy Chase, and in other parts of expensive NW DC. For a certain demographic, DC's public transportation is very good - all the federal workers are required to get to work 9-5 (or whatever hours they work) and that would be impossible if everybody drove to work.

Ultimately, the problem of public transportation as it currently exist is weighing the cost of having a suburban population density v. having something like NYC or Tokyo population density. Throwing money at public transportation means nothing they don't allow ugly high rise residential buildings to spring up where ugly low rise buildings currently sit. I support high rises and high population density, since that's much more energy and time efficient (and more convenient shopping/eating out) - but that would be quite a brainwashing exercise.

Actually, I support extreme population control...but that's just me picking a fight with Randy H.

129   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 9:40am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

I support high rises and high population density, since that’s much more energy and time efficient

I support high rises because I like elevators, concrete, steel, and glass.

Somehow I do not think wood is a good structural material.

Actually, I support extreme population control…but that’s just me picking a fight with Randy H.

The poor should not be encouraged into having children. The child tax credit must be reformed.

I do not agree with China's population policy though. Better people should be allowed (and encouraged) to have more kids.

130   Brand165   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 10:34am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Peter P says: Also, subway trains here do not look safe. There are too many weird people walking around.

In Germany, France and Italy, the polite guards with submachine guns tend to keep things clean. Although I took a 4 a.m. train from Stuttgart to Paris one morning, and there were some rowdy drunken skinheads on the platform. I did not really feel that safe.

Robert Cote says: The important thing to remember is that passenger rail transit is so undesireable that even the most ardent supporters are unwilling to pay anything close to the full amortized cost of this form of transport.

I tend to agree.

If you are a Western European, these sorts of things are built into your taxes. I would note that even monthly rail passes there are expensive compared to the U.S. monthly cost of a car. However, the European cost of a car is much higher to support their autobahns--consider the higher insurance, gas, tolls and registration fees.

131   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 10:40am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Brand,

On the other hand, things like air pollution and time wasted on the road are not considered by Americans either.

People are willing to pay much higher price for transportation if they're acclimated to those costs and "cheaper" alternatives do not exist. One of my cousin in Shanghai used to spend almost half his salary (back when he was starting) on commuting each month. You get used to it and just cut back on other things and mooch off of parents.

132   Brand165   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 11:07am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

People are willing to pay much higher price for transportation if they’re acclimated to those costs and “cheaper” alternatives do not exist.

astrid, you could argue that about anything. Human beings are incredibly flexible when it comes to rationalization and adaptation. Most people simply lack the self-awareness to truly analyze the different options available.

There is also the primate social mentality. If others do the same thing as I, then what I do must be the correct thing. We all pay 50% of our salary to... you name it: food, housing, transportation, attracting a mate... but it's okay because everybody else does it too.

133   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 12, 11:14am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Brand,

Yeah, I agree. That's why saying people won't pay $$$ for XYZ is a slippery slope. As long as the amount is less than 100%, any price is possible. Even 100%+ is possible, hence all this housing craziness.

"If others do the same thing as I, then what I do must be the correct thing."

Yeah, aren't we all living that! We all know someone who thinks paying 50%+ of take home salary on "owning" a house is a good idea.

134   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 13, 4:25am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

We all know someone who thinks paying 50%+ of take home salary on “owning” a house is a good idea.

suits the banks...

135   salk   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 13, 5:19am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Brand , dont forget about the real hooligans :the Arabs and Africans in France. Perhaps hundreds of Parisians were recently assaulted on public transportation by Arabs and Africans. Just like the US?

136   salk   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 13, 5:51am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Different Sean, thanks for the Oppenheimer link. A lightweight relative to the other physicists of his time (Teller, Szillard,etc). Lawyers responsible for the safety of citizens??? Please. Judges routinely release child molesters because of technicality or carelessness.

137   salk   ignore (0)   2006 Dec 13, 6:02am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Eburbed, I believe I qualified my comments with the Manhattan exception. But it is Giuliani's subway crackdown that led to the revitalization of Manhattan and its public transport. With that said, I refuse to take the subways-not secure enough for me. Only travel with car service or taxi in NY.

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