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Old June 15th, 2005, 06:03 AM   #61
hkskyline
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The US Census tracks how people get to work. For example, 2000 data show that 52.8% of New York City's labor force of 6,279,431 took public transit while 24.9% drove alone.
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Old July 6th, 2005, 12:55 AM   #62
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Rebuilding Ground Transportation in the U.S.

Unlike most other countries in the world, ground transportation in the US, outside of cars and trucks, is in a pittiful state. Our national rail service owns very little trackage, has poor quality trains, and is barely able to get by with the funding it receives. We barely have any infrastructure to build from, and what little there is of it, is controlled by frieght railroads which has more interest in doing away with passenger rail travel than in investing in it.

I believe that one of the key issues with Rail in the US is that the service is nationalized, while the tracks themselves are privatized. This would be like there being only one airline, government controlled, whicl private companies own all the airports and airspace and each provides it's own air traffic control.

So here is my challenge to you: Let's say the US finally decides it needs an alternative to air travel. Having nothing to start from, They are going to fund research into another transportation system. The goals are: something relatively near-future; reasonably economical; able to be turned into an effective nationwide network; flexible; will build Us leadership in this technology; increase ridership not from competing with current modes but offering new services; and drive the economy and bring down the cost of doing business.

So what would you like to see the US do? Research MagLev? Rebuild a new rail structure, perhas high speed rail? Maybe a monorail technology, or even something totaly new? What would the US get out of putting the moeny for research into this area?
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Old July 6th, 2005, 01:06 AM   #63
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Allright, I will go first.

I believe the US should put a lot of funding into developing a new mode of monorail/rail. I propose somehting along the line of a conventional concrete beam straddle monorail, but with steel rails embedded into the top and sides, wo that the vehicle runs on steel wheels as opposed to rubber tires.

While this sounds a bit fanciful, I think it is not a lot unlike the development of the jet and how the US became a leader in aviation technology. Right now there is very little going on in the Us in regards to both MagLev and Rail technology. However, we are watching our air transportation system crumble, and it si effectively doing a number on our economy, These transportation costs are adding up, and with the price of fuel skyrocketing, our economy can no longer afford to function with our current transportation systems.

Most innovations in transportation don't succeded because there is too much invested in current technology. The US, however, does not have that problem - we are not held back by having to integrate old technology. We also have the unusual chance to completely coordinate systems - we are able to connect our new transportation system to current systems - make sure it is accessible to airports. Able to integrate into road traffic - perhaps to provide an auo ferry service.

Revolutions in transportation are usually driven by the need for something better than what is currently available. The US is changing, and it is looking like now might be the time when we see the start of the next big thing in travel. Perhaps we need to identify it now and start developing it into an efficient, effective system.
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Old July 6th, 2005, 04:00 AM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudship
Allright, I will go first.

I believe the US should put a lot of funding into developing a new mode of monorail/rail. I propose somehting along the line of a conventional concrete beam straddle monorail, but with steel rails embedded into the top and sides, wo that the vehicle runs on steel wheels as opposed to rubber tires.
If you want something new and revolutionary, just go to Maglev.
Theoretically, and within a vacuum environment, maglev trains could run as fast as 8000km/h(5000mph) or more...

If you want to know more you will probably find something in the discovery channel page about dream projects: The London-New York maglev conection.
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Old July 6th, 2005, 11:52 AM   #65
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why do u need ground transportation?
The passenger doesnt care if the means of transportion rolls, flies or floas on a magnetic cushion.
In a large country like the us, it makes sense to fly-- in contrast to relatively small and dense populated areas like europe or japan or korea or the chinese east coast.....

keep on flying-- and make planes more economical and ecological.
And improve commuter rail.
Maglev is and will always be way too expansive-- everything else is to slow
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Old July 6th, 2005, 05:01 PM   #66
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^Yes, you're right, but ground transportation would work on US east coast, and california, as it works for europe for example.
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Old July 6th, 2005, 06:07 PM   #67
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Since the US is so uninterested in rail, I think massive research into Maglev, etc. is not going to happen.

What I would like to see (that is reasonable) is the privatization of the Boston/NYC/DC rail corridor. HST could serve this stretch very well. Unlike the Acela that we have now, a true HST system could rush passengers from Boston to NYC in under three hours. This will get people out of the airplanes. Rail doesnt make much sence elsewhere here for several reasons. The biggest is the large distances that are traveled. The train from NYC to LA takes three days versus 5 hours in a plane.

Another reason why rail would work in NE and not the rest of the country are the cities themselves. Cities in CA, FL, and TX are very decentralized and it would be difficult to locate the main stations. Afterall, if you get of a train in downtown LA you are SOL if you need to go elsewhere in the city. The east coast cities (due to their compact size) are not as suseptible to this problem.

Finally there is the matter of cost. If I want to go to NYC (from Boston) I could take the bus (cheapest and fastest), drive my car (as fast as the bus but a little more expensive), fly (a pain in the ass with check in and getting to and from the airports), or take the train. The train ticket is the most expensive option and the tickets themselves are as unflexible as plane tickets. So to recap Bus (fast, flexible, $15) or train (fast, inflexible, no hopping on the next one in the US and will cost over $100) No wonder rail is a failure in the US.
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Old July 7th, 2005, 07:47 AM   #68
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Train is a problem because it's NOT fast, it's just a slow as the bus. Boston to New York is about 250 miles or 400 kilometers, and the Acela Express (when it was running) took 3 hours. That's an average speed of 83 mph, or 134 kph, which can be blamed on old infrastructure, lots of curves, and rails that are so close to each other the tilting mechanism can't operate without smashing into passing trains.

For comparison, the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto is 500 kilometers, but takes a little over 2 hours, making it much more competitive than bus, and competitive with air. The only way to get people to use Amtrak in the Northeast is to build new track that can allow the high speed train to actually move at high speed. If Acela can get from Boston to New York in 2 hours, it can actually compete with the 4 hour bus and 1 hour plae ride, and gain passengers.
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Old July 7th, 2005, 10:48 AM   #69
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Maybe they can invest in maglev monorail system replacing the heavy rail or light rail systems, they have a new line in Japan that opened not long ago.
I wonder if it's cheaper than heavy rail or light rail since it doesn't use any wheels and it just floats on magnets.
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Old July 7th, 2005, 04:52 PM   #70
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Outside of the BosNYWash area I don't see the point. Truth be told Americans aren't big on any form of public transit. Car is king economically and more importantly socially.
Use the money to improve urban transit itself, you will get a lot more bang for the buck.
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Old July 7th, 2005, 05:24 PM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sequoias
I wonder if it's cheaper than heavy rail or light rail since it doesn't use any wheels and it just floats on magnets.
No, it's more expensive as it's still a new tecnologie.
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Old July 8th, 2005, 12:49 AM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssiguy2
Outside of the BosNYWash area I don't see the point. Truth be told Americans aren't big on any form of public transit. Car is king economically and more importantly socially.
Use the money to improve urban transit itself, you will get a lot more bang for the buck.
What about Chicago - Milwaukee, San Francisco - Sacramento, LA - San Diego? I think that all these corridors make sense. Hopefully if Bombardier gets its JetTrain in order it could really reduce the capital costs. In terms of priority local rapid transit does make more sense. I guess the goal is to someday be able to travel anywhere without driving a car.
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Old July 8th, 2005, 07:25 AM   #73
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Bleh, Bombardier will never get anything in order.

Getting any new rail infrastructure out of San Francisco will cost a ton due to geography (unless they use existing BART track).

Is Milwaukee that large of a city? High speed rail mainly targets business travelers, everyone else can afford to take an hour or two longer for less than half the price.
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Old July 8th, 2005, 08:51 AM   #74
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silly question.

what incentive does the US have in resurrecting passenger rail transport? Much to the dissappointment of environmentalists who have decided to wage war against the freeway, the fact is Americans don't really miss public transit. The pinnacle of public transit was sometime during the 1920's. That was when public transit was the primary method of travel...other then walking. However a "little" company called Ford changed that.

There have been numerous attempts to implement a high speed rail HSR system in the US. In California the proposal was placed on the ballet twice if my memory serves me correctly: once in the 1980's and another in the 90's. Seeing that the greenies like to push this idea every 10 years I guess we're due for another ballot initiative pretty soon. If history is any measure the idea will get shot down again.
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Old July 9th, 2005, 01:04 AM   #75
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Passenger HSR right now would only be economical in the Northeast from Washington DC to Boston with stops in DC, Baltimore, Philly, Newark, New York, Providence, and Boston. The northeastern cities, while more car-oriented than European cities, are the only cities in the US as a whole that truly have large areas designed for mass transit, and the linear alignment of this corridor makes HSR an absolute necessity in the long term. The vast majority of the rest of the routes in the country, save a couple in California and a couple out of Chicago, lose tremendous amounts of money and are just not economically feasible for HSR, even with massive government subsidies. That money is better spent on improving existing urban rail networks in the nation's biggest and most urban cities.

Another thing that HSR depends upon is fairly decent and/or extensive rail networks within the cities that HSR serves. When you arrive at the station, your first thought will not be to rent a car to get where you need to go. That's another $150 down the drain for just one trip. You want to be able to transfer to a city rail network such as MBTA, Metro, or MTA. Thus the Northeast meets this criteria once again. The only cities outside the northeast with rail ridership and coverage anywhere near the level it needs to be to support HSR are Chicago and San Francisco. But their problems are that they are urban islands in the middle of parts of the country that are anything but: St Louis and Milwaukee, for as urban as they might be compared to many other cities, do not meet such criteria. And out west, LA is pathetic for a metro its size and too decentralized (LA's decentralization would not be a factor if it had population densities more like Asian cities).
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Old July 9th, 2005, 04:36 AM   #76
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I guess what I am trying to say is that conventional thinking, and trying to apply conventional technologies, obviously won't work. But there is a chance to start fresh with something new - anot only new technology, but new layouts and structure.

For instance, it has always been tought of, and even here, that it's autos OR planes OR something else. I see a real chance to combine modes. An example - airports are often located far away from the city. And there are a lot of small airports that really can't support much air traffic. These types of locations would be great for an airport connection. And I am talking more than say an hour away. A small city, which really can't support it's own airport but which is perhaps four or five hours from a major city. Likewise, there may be three other cities just like it all a few hours from each other, but each not biug enough to sustain itself. They could build a central airport, and connect them by some kind of high-speed transit system. So you drive to your own city station, and then go to the larger hub airport. Why not have checkin at the station instead of the airport? Could hte airlines themselves run smaller train type vehicles?

I also think that you could really effectively combine auto and rail trasnportation - some kind of long distance ferry system, but which moves much faster than driving. So you have a 10 hour drive - you drive an hour to the station, load your car onto the train, and take that to an hours drive from your final desitnation, drive off and drive the rest of the trip. You still have your car but don't have to do all of that driving.
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Old July 10th, 2005, 12:21 AM   #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rail Claimore
...........
Another thing that HSR depends upon is fairly decent and/or extensive rail networks within the cities that HSR serves. When you arrive at the station, your first thought will not be to rent a car to get where you need to go. That's another $150 down the drain for just one trip. You want to be able to transfer to a city rail network such as MBTA, Metro, or MTA.
..............
Bingo! I think you just hit the nail on the head. You can build the fastest train in the world but if the train drops you off in the middle of nowhere and there's no reliable and cheap means of continueing your trip then what's the point? I am glad that the HSR plan got killed twice in California. Had it been passed it would of been a white elephant. So what if a HSR was built that could take you from San Francisco to LA in 2 hours? Once you get to LA you'd have to rent a car because as we ALL know LA was built on cars/freeways not transit. You might as well just make the 6 hour drive with your own car. HSR will never become viable in California.

Some transportation agencies are now taking a different planning approach. Instead of looking at planes, trains, buses, and cars as independant modes of transport the new idea is to integrate everything. The new theory is that each one effects the other so to create an effective transport network then all modes of transport have to be designed so that they all compliment one another. For example a train station might be built at the airport or a train station might literally be built at a freeway on/off ramp. This makes transfering from one mode of transport to anther much easier.

This idea might sound nice from an engineering stand point but it will never be fully implemented in the US. In the US, each mode of transport is regulated by a different government agency...each with their own vested interest. The likelyhood that each agency will simply give up some of their power and hand it off to some super transportation agency that will coordinate everything is laughable. That and to "integrate" everything a new agency must be created (read more taxes).

Last edited by odegaard; July 10th, 2005 at 12:30 AM.
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Old July 10th, 2005, 12:31 AM   #78
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So what is the difference between air airport and a train station? If you fly to LA, you still are faced with the same situation.
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Old July 10th, 2005, 01:40 AM   #79
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Quote:
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So what is the difference between air airport and a train station? If you fly to LA, you still are faced with the same situation.
That's why most people drive and not fly between SF and LA. I don't have any stats but my gut feeling tells me at least 80% of all the people who make that trip do so on the freeway.

If you're going solo then flying might be better. But if you're going in a group then, hands down, splitting the cost of gas amongst your fellow road trip buddies would be much cheaper then everybody buying their own airplane ticket. What is more dear?: time or money? In this case money wins.

There is also an issue of demand. There's enough demand to fly airplanes between northern and southern California but not enough to run a HSR. A train can have 4 times as many seats as an airplane and also depart every 5 minutes. If you can get people out of their cars then a HSR would work....but that's not going to happen in California.
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Old November 21st, 2005, 05:23 PM   #80
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The other USA Metro systems

I am interested what others think about "the other" Mass Transit systems in the United States. CTA, BART, DC Metro, LA Metro, etc...

Also, how does BART or DC Metro compare to CTA and LA Metro. The only unbiased criteria would be connectivity, accessibility, coverage, and service frequency. It would be helpful to have the residents of the cities offer their comments and criticism. It is safe to leave out New York from the comparisons because it is unrivaled leader of the pack.
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