More cars and more roads doesn’t seem like a very good option with all the problems that comes with it. But I’m generally opposed to huge subsides to keep mass transit systems solvent.
An ideal mass transit system would be self supporting from revenue it generates.
Now, I know that the energy component of subways could be greatly reduced by focus fusion. But is this enough?
I’ve searched for a cost breakdown of labor for the operators (train drivers, ticket sales) versus other costs. But haven’t been able to find it. It seems to me that we should be close technologically to being able to have driver-less subway systems. The shuttle train at the Orlando airport is driver-less, for example. Would this be enough to significantly change the balance sheet?
I rode San Antonio’s bus for several years back in the ’80s, when it only cost 40 cents. What I saw is a lot of people who needed the transportation but no way were going to be able to afford cars and insurance, etc. These were maids, gardeners, many speaking English as a second language.
The biggest reason public transportation won’t catch on with the masses in most US cities is that it isn’t convenient. How long do you want to wait for a bus in the middle of a Michigan winter? Hell, it’s 5 degrees out there as I write this. Try the bus in a really lousy system like Corpus Christi, Tx had in the early ’80s and it can take several hours to get across town. Each way.
I submit that public transportation needs to be subsidized to keep the economy’s lower paying jobs accessible to the people most likely to fill them. Electric buses and/or streetcars will be the best way to target DPF to eliminating those carbon dioxide emissions.
The public-transport-of-the-future that makes most sense to me is the PRT.
I can’t see why FF would encourage that specifically, aside from making electricity provision to the lines more distributed and practical, but the knock-on economic effects of cheap energy might make a lot of projects far more feasible.
The key advantage to the technology is that if you build the rails as elevated monorails, they don’t interfere with subterranean infrastructure and existing road systems. The downside is that people object to monorails near their windows, but I’m sure if you made them shiny enough…
Of course everything changes if we have cheap clean distributed power but…at the moment the environmental cost of building rail networks overwhelms the environmental benefits. It is also worth noting that for every 10% drop in road use you need a 100% increase in rail passenger journeys to make up the short fall.
Electric road vehicles (on existing road networks) are the answer for the foreseeable future. These would of course include mass transit systems (bus/road-train) and haulage (truck) as well as private vehicles. Recharging points (Focus Fusion powered naturally) with a 5-10 minute recharge time (Nanotech batteries perhaps) would make this a practical solution without massive infrastructure or societal change.
I am sure if energy, resources, and commodities become 10x cheaper due to FF we will see flying cars in a decade or two – no more rails and no more roads.
Alright, here’s a set of IFs for you:
IF FF reduces the cost of energy by an order of magnitude or so, then MagLev trains become noticibly cheaper to build and run. Even without the air evacuated tubes proposed elsewhere on the site, commuter rail lines for intra city travel could see a big increase in transit speed to up to 250 mph with pretty high acceleration and deceleration rates.
Now I live in the NW Philly Supurbs in a house I share with my brother, whose main office is in Cherry Hill NJ. He has to spend 90 minutes or more of every working day when he is not traveling to other company sites going between these two locations. There is no rail service from our local SEPTA station to Cherry Hill. Now if FF MagLevs were in place and there were a large regional rail network on a Japanese or European model, I suspect that my brother would be able to commute from our house to Cherry Hill in less than 25 minutes per day.
This is assuming you lay out a kind of “Spiderweb Grid” over the Philly area, with radial lines going out from the city center in all directions and encircling loops at about every 5 miles or so. If you added radial spokes at every circle, I think it would be feasible to have a grid that covers the whole of Southeastern PA, Northern DE and Southern Jersey with no point more than half a mile from a train stop. Employers or commercial real estate holders might find it economical to sponsor shuttle buses for the small gaps remaining. You could speed up line operation by having each train stop at only one in every 4 or 5 non-hub statios on its line, like this:
Where train A goes by at 8:05 and stops only at stations marked A and Hubs, train B goes by at 8:10 and stops at Bs and Hubs, and so on. The assumption being that nobody is going to want to go from Point A1 to point B1 by train, and if they want to go from A1 to B3 it is easier for them to change trains at Hub1 or Hub2 then for them to wait while the train stops at all points on the line.
At any rate, the point is my brother, and many many more employees in Philly, would probably pay to ride the rail lines in that circumstance since it is giving them a free hour of business or personal time every day, a $30 value in my brother’s case. Paying $5 a day for train fare is the economicly sensible option in that scenario, since the speed of travel is so much improved. That’s not all, because if you can get local freight onto these lines too, you have another revenue stream and the multiplier effect for clearing up traffic congestion gets even higher, since you can get more freight around the city faster with fewer operators. Plus there’s the postal and express package delivery business. You might even be able to make a buck by carrying cars with people in them.
Speed kills in business, EVEN with Bulk freight. If I can haul 500 containers from point A to point B at 150 mph rather than 25 then it means that I can do it in 6 trips with one engine and one engineer, reusing the same rolling stock 6 times. (Floating stock technically.)
I’ve done some napkin calculations, and I’m pretty sure that if you have can build a two story sealed tunnel with 4 freight lanes below and 5 express lanes above for less than $20 million a suburban mile, (the middle line is for emergency transit vehicles, police ambulances, repair crews and so on) then you have a self-supporting business in the post FF world.
It might cost $30 Billion to build that Super SEPTA network I described above, but if you have 3 million customers doing as little as $1000 of gross profitable business every year, and remember they are all buying groceries that Super SEPTA is delivering almost to the doorsteps of their supermarkets in addition to $5 fares every business day (260 per year), then you make your investment back in 10 years.
As an aside to our Libertarian friends, how come you never EVER bitch about government subsidies to drivers, ie. Roads?
Sounds like a Plan, Duke. Might as well throw in the Bahston area and possibly the scenic coastal areas of RI and NH, if we can keep Amtrak from meddling.
The only flaw I see in the numbers is the need to average the trains’ speeds, since I don’t see 150 mph trains reaching anything near those speeds if the stops are 5 to 10 miles apart. Assuming they did, the changes in velocity could be a rush for us, and a lawsuit lurking in the background when somebody isn’t holding onto the overhead bar or ring when the brakes are applied.
1. The assumption is that inter metro traffic would be handled by maglevs going in evacuated tunnels where there is no wind resistance, thus having a cruising speed in the 1000s of mph. Thus New England and Metro NY would each have their own regional commuter networks and somebody interested in living in Portland, Maine but working in Wilmington would in theory be able to do so by piggybacking from the super-MTA to the super-AMTRAK via Boston and then leaving super-AMTRAK to pick up super-SEPTA in Philly.
Realizing Eric’s vision of an inter-city supersonic network means buying AMTRAK and partnering with Union Pacific and the other freight carriers, not that that would be a big expenditure to the FF patentholder or a major headache for congress, which I think would be happy to rid itself of the current AMTRAK.
2. Remember that deceleration is handled by the same magnetic impulse motors that do acceleration on a MagLev train, so the decelerating force is equal to and opposite of the accelerating force and spread out over the same time period. (Slightly less if you have air resistance.) You’d probably start braking a bit after the midpoint of the 2.5 mile journey.
Let’s imagine this metricly and make 5 km do the work of 2.5 miles. Let’s say that our train has a constant accelerating force of .25 G acting on it during its acceleration period. MagLevs by definition have no wheel friction so it is only a question air resistance, and we’ll factor that out for the sake of argument. The entire train thus accelerates 2.5 m/s every second. This means that after 30 seconds, it is going at 75 m/s, which is 170 mph for those keeping track at home. Unless I’m really losing my Physics/Calc teeth after all these years, The integral over 0 to 30 of 2.5x is going to be 1.25x^2 or 1125 m, or a bit more than a fifth of the journey. Cut the accelerating force to .10 G and it goes all the way out to a 70 second acceleration period of 75 seconds and a distance of 2812 m, which is about when you’d want to start applying the equal and opposite decelerating force.
So the question is whether a quarter or a tenth of a G is going to be enough to knock people off their feet.
Nobody is noticing my point:
0 infrastructure + great speed + individual freedom
Even the claimed energy usage is reasonable.
For urban and suburban transportation, nothing should beat a SkyCar.
Need something big moved, like 1000 tons of coal? Then trains are good I agree…
Still using open-source design process, simple materials, local resources, advanced nano-technologies with cheap and plentiful energy might retire the old
mine-move-process-move-manufacture-move-sell-move model. Just download the design and turn on your 3d printer.
What other resources you might need if you have access to sea water and plenty of cheap energy?
Quarter G sounds doable, Duke. I rode the bus for so many years that I unconsciously equated how a bus moves with how a maglev would move. My bad.
Skycars are going to be great until everybody has one. Something that Star Wars didn’t need to mention is where all those skycars park, flight plans, traffic control, etc. Moller had a great writeup in Popular Mechanics a few years back. Last I heard, he was having problems with FAA type certification. I like that workshop you’re describing, Breakable. Sounds almost like Ironman’s. I saw him build the new armor and thought “that’s how to prototype” (or mass produce/customize).
Aeronaut wrote: …Skycars are going to be great until everybody has one. Something that Star Wars didn’t need to mention is where all those skycars park, flight plans, traffic control, etc.
Sky parking lots 😉 . I am sure the problems will be solved when we get there… or not.
Maybe that’s why there’s so many high-rises in that movie…
The reason it’s being ignored, breakable, is that it won’t work unless you also have fully automated piloting software to fly these things. Otherwise instead of having a single roadfull of aggressive idiots in charge of 1 ton machines, you’ll have a skyfull of such morons.
It’ll take exactly one in sky collision where the participants crash on a house or school to outlaw the things.
Well this is what Moller is promising. And with DARPA Grand Challenge success
we can hope it will be achieved someday.
PS:Planes are still legal somehow even after 9/11…
Breakable wrote: Well this is what Moller is promising. And with DARPA Grand Challenge success
we can hope it will be achieved someday.
PS:Planes are still legal somehow even after 9/11…
Ain’t that amazing? 9/11 changed everything. Now it’s tacitly illegal to photograph anything that you want to improve, say a transformer yard and transmission tower. Maybe I can find the image on Google Earth…