How to fix rush hour traffic once and for all?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by senttoschool, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. OVerLoRDI

    OVerLoRDI Diamond Member

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    In theory. Problem is to cost justify a train it has to service a lot of people. That means more stops, and soon your train advantage is quite limited.

    Plus you have to look at the whole commute experience. How long does it take to get from their house to the train stop that serviced them? How long does it take to get from the station they get off of yo their destination?

    Sf lrv is a lot faster than the surface buses, but they suffer from the plane unloading and loading problem to a lesser extent during rush hour. As a result lrv traffic actually gets congested through under Market Street during rush hour.

    The other issue is if your work requires you to have a car during the day, ie professional sales people. You could take a train to work but during the day most of your appointments are only accessible via surface bus, which basically crawls around the city.
     
  2. OVerLoRDI

    OVerLoRDI Diamond Member

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    All it takes is one accident and people will push back with serious determination
     
  3. KnightBreed

    KnightBreed Lifer

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    Don't worry about reducing traffic. The general populace is doing a good job reducing it themselves. With higher gas and car prices, people are driving less and less. Total miles driven has dropped to the same level as 1995. Car ownership among young people continues to drop. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are retiring in greater numbers and you know grandpa ain't driving at 80 years old.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/population-adjusted-vehicle-miles-2012-11#ixzz2DLsSBIKO

    The general trend around the country, especially among young people, is to move closer to their respective city centers. That's where the jobs typically are anyway. The interest in urban living is a real trend. It's a cultural shift.

    Whether it lasts long term remains to be seen, but building more freeways and adding lane miles to our already crumbling infrastructure is a horrible idea.

    What about pedestrians?
     
  4. EagleKeeper

    EagleKeeper Discussion Club Moderator<br>Elite Member
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    Only from Point B to Point C.

    It is impractical for a train from A->B and from C->D
     
  5. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Lifer

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    Cities are generally radial and have a compact downtown so C-> D should just be walking a block or two
     
  6. KnightBreed

    KnightBreed Lifer

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    That's definitely true for the first leg. The light rail around downtown Cleveland has several stops with moderate sized parking lots. You just drive to the lot and take the train into the city.
     
  7. Imported

    Imported Lifer

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    For me, trains are more expensive and less convenient.

    San Jose > Palo Alto = $14/day (or $179/mo) roundtrip on Caltrain and each way takes an hour. You could multiply this by two as I carpool with my GF too.

    Same trip costs about $4 in gas a day and takes 45 minutes.

    Not going to factor in the cost of the vehicle as I'd be making payments and paying for insurance on one anyways for the weekends, trips, errands, etc.
     
  8. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    No, they're not. I'm not quite sure you grasp the concept of the words 'computer' and 'smart.'

    There's the inbetween thing called 'programming' in which a human must account for every single possible variable that the computer may encounter and come up with an appropriate decision. You seem to think that this just boils down to stuff like 'if light is green then go!'

    Not quite that simple. You cannot get human perception, nor human reactions, flawed though they are, out of a computer.
     
  9. slashbinslashbash

    slashbinslashbash Golden Member

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    On the other hand, computers never get tired, never get drunk, never get distracted, never blink their eyes or take their eyes off the road to check the speedometer or mirrors. They can perceive things with LIDAR, infrared, wide-angle cameras 360-degree around the car, etc. that human senses cannot. They can follow the lane markers perfectly and follow the car in front at a precise distance (beyond human capacity).

    You are right, of course there are always errors in programming, or unforeseen situations which are not in the programming at all. In the long run, however, there are a limited class of problems that can occur on the road (inputs), and a limited class of things that a car (whether human controlled or computer) can do in response (outputs). The outputs are steering, brake, accelerator. Yes, there are a bunch of things that can go wrong on the road, but the majority of problem situations boil down to "something is in the path of the car and you need to avoid running into it, or if it's unavoidable due to other constraints, then run into it as slowly as possible".
     
  10. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    That last bit is really a great example, though- a computer is not going to be able to say 'well, it looks like I should go off onto the shoulder and risk scraping a guardrail/curb (lesser evil in general) rather than endure this massive collision that awaits me on the road.'

    It also wouldn't be able to make a decision regarding what would be the softer, more forgiving thing to hit, or what action would endanger nearby pedestrians the least.

    I know extremely well how bad your typical driver is. But my point was kind of that the driverless car would not have any leeway for mistakes. As soon as a 'robot' murders a child and leaves no one to blame other than the carmaker, people aren't going to want them anymore. And the manufacturers won't want to build them.
     
  11. SparkyJJO

    SparkyJJO Lifer

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    I also don't trust whoever would have control of the central "brain" that monitors/controls the cars. Yes, there would have to be a central brain to make everything work so perfectly as some of you claim it would operate, in order to synchronize everything.
     
  12. kache

    kache Senior member

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    Automated flying cars would solve all those problems. :D
     
  13. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Funnily enough, I think that's valid as hell. We might all be dead before it happens, but that's pretty much the only way I can see an automated car working. We'd still have normal roads for other stuff.

    I don't think the laws of physics will ever allow that to happen, though. Doesn't seem at all possible to keep any kind of vehicle in the air without consuming gobs more energy than it would take to propel the same thing along the ground. Without substantial airspeed-generated lift, at least, and that's not part of the 'hovercar' dream.
     
  14. kache

    kache Senior member

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    Well, technically the gravity pulling us to the earth is an energy. At the moment we oppose it, so the energy requiement is very high, but once we actually know how it works we could divert it, cancel it, or simply eat it (which means staying in the air wouldn't consume energy, but would create it). :D
     
  15. ElFenix

    ElFenix Elite Member<br> Super Moderator<br>Off Topic
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    the problem with bus service is, as one republican politician here put it to me, that white people won't ride buses. or, as another politico around here said, people only ride buses when they absolutely have to.


    and as for the question, i was asking you and giving you an example to determine if you're interested in infrastructure spending. roads are infrastructure spending, and the vast majority of them are not tolled. the question for any infrastructure spending is, 'will spending X dollars to save Y amount of time for Z number of people per day be worthwhile?'
     
  16. slashbinslashbash

    slashbinslashbash Golden Member

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    Yes, that is a good point, people are a lot less forgiving of "accidents" when they are not committed by a fellow human. That could be a significant factor in adoption, but then again, look at things like auto-pilot. Really, most commercial airline flights are 95% automated. Even the takeoffs and landings in good weather. Airplane accidents happen.... often they are the fault of the manufacturer. Settlements happen, things move on. The convenience of air travel mitigates the risks for most people. Still, there are some people who will not set foot on an airplane. I pity those people.

    With regard to the curb/etc. vs. collision decision scenario:

    1) I question the ability of most humans to make that kind of snap decision correctly. If there is truly enough time to make that decision and weigh collateral damage like pedestrians, then there is probably enough time to brake to a stop or slow down considerably. (Consider: pedestrians are not usually found in high-speed areas where it takes longer to stop.) That brings me to the next point:

    2) The computer can judge distances, stopping time, etc. better than humans, as well as make assessments without the human delay time of ~1-1.5 seconds of seeing something in the road, processing it, and putting the foot on the brake. In the case of a large, static obstacle in the road, a LIDAR-equipped car could see it and start braking in milliseconds. Shave off at least a hundred feet or so from the total braking distance... which in a lot of situations would make that whole "shoulder vs. collision" decision unnecessary. A car travelling at 60mph is moving at 88 feet per second. Braking distance for an average car from 60mph is roughly 160 feet (being slightly conservative). Any added time before braking translates into a lot of distance (possibly doubling overall braking distance), and getting rid of that delay may be enough to mitigate a lot of problems. Even if it's not a case of being able to simply come to a stop before hitting the object, you will be hitting the object at 20mph instead of 80mph, or driving onto the shoulder at 30mph instead of 60mph. So the damage will be a lot less either way.

    3) The sharing/networking aspect is not to be overlooked here. Other cars on the road will be equipped with the same equipment and will be able to see the same obstacles; and if they are involved in a collision, they will immediately transmit that information to all vehicles in the area. (There is already ample precedent for stuff like this: look at the Waze smartphone GPS app. People running Waze transmit their traffic info (based solely on vehicle speed, as determined by the GPS sensor) and receive the same from other Waze users. It's all crowdsourced in real-time so that people can know where traffic is before they hit it.) So, in our future scenario, if there's a dead deer in the road, all cars within miles will know about it as soon as the first vehicle happens across it. They will all re-route and know how to avoid it... change lanes, move 2 feet to the left, whatever. Yes, there will still be the initial confrontations.... where the deer walks onto the road out of the darkness. That is unavoidable right now, and it may continue to be unavoidable in the future (although LIDAR and infrared sensors should be able to detect better/farther at night than the human eye can see). But even so, the sharing/network aspect will also mitigate a lot of problems.

    So overall I think a very good argument could be made that overall safety will be considerably improved, especially when the numbers get large enough that the network effect starts kicking in. (Waze claims 30M users, and apparently that's enough that people are getting useful traffic data in locations where it matters, i.e. areas big enough to have traffic at all.)
     
  17. wirednuts

    wirednuts Diamond Member

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    yes, they will. situational awareness will be MUCH higher then any human can do. this is not a decision about who should die or not, its just the decision that will cause the least impact- EXACTLY what a human does. and cars will be able to determine what are people and to avoid them at all costs. its already happening, pay attention!
     
  18. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Lifer

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    If you paid the true cost of the highway, it would probably be more than the train. For some reason we expect public transit to make a profit, which we don't expect of roads or even airports.
     
  19. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    wired, see slash's post for an example of how to disagree. He makes excellent points. I was aggravated when I posted yesterday because of all the 'duh autodrive will be standard within ten years, it's already been invented' type of posts. There's just no thought in that; parroting an opinion does not make me agree with it, even if it was in Popular Science or Car and Driver or whatever else.

    I'll still say: If you consider the details, it seems pretty clear that said opinions, no matter who publishes them, are crap.

    Again, the big problem will be the lack of tolerance for not just failures of the system, but any computer-made decision that leads to something bad. Even if nine out of ten people would have had the same thing happen; maybe even something worse...there still will be issues if popular opinion (hell, even unpopular opinion) deems that it is possible that the accident (more specifically, a death) could have been avoided.

    What happens when a drunk/speeding/doing-anything-bad driver plows through a kid that steps out in front of him? Yeah, he's fucked. Doesn't matter if anyone, in any state, at speed close to the limit, would have unavoidably struck the child. '*** that motherfucker; he killed a kid because he was drunk.' (or whatever wrong thing he was doing)

    A human completely within the realm of the law is likely to fare better.

    But a computer? It's not human; there will be no forgiveness. You generally need someone to blame for accidents. If there is no one but 'I, Carbot'...what will people say? 'Well, the computer made all the right calculations. Turns out that kid deserved to get splattered.'

    I just don't see that.
     
  20. _Rick_

    _Rick_ Diamond Member

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    In fact there are plenty of proponents of "free" to the user public transport. A purely tax-powered system would enable more spontaneous usage. (An alternative might be a post-paid or pre-paid card system, with no/low sign-up fees)
    Public transport is something tha advances all of society. Even those that take the car save money and time when other people are taking the public transport (as roads are less congested), so they are clearly obligated to chip in. In fact moreso, because taking public transport can be more of an inconvenience, than taking the car.

    This is of course something that many drivers don't believe in, that they should pay others to take public transport. But they benefit the most from it.
    That is also, why a truly private entity can never design and run a public transport system. It has to be tax funded and municipality owned.
    The actual service and maintenance can be done by private enterprises. The rolling stock and track should be in public ownership.
    You also want to have standardized equipment across the country, so you can swap rolling stock, keep contracts cheap and easily adapt improvements that work well in similar environments.

    The problem with the US, is that you need an integrated public transit system for it to really show its strengths. This means that the intial outlay for a successful system is going to be immense - and adoption will likely take a moment.


    Re computer cars: A computerized cars will most likely be able to avert accidents, by adapting to the situation in such a way, that no dangerous situations arise.
    A well engineered system will stop the car if it is unsure of whether it is safe to procede. A sudden obstacle does not appear out of nowhere. Whatever put the obstacle in the cars way is clearly at fault.
    I can't imagine a case where a well-engineered computer controlled car can end up in an accident, that is caused by "the computer". Either the system wasn't well engineered - in that case it's the manufacturers fault, much like any other system that fails due to faulty engineering, or the system has a mechanical fault - which can happen in a real car as well, with the same consequences. Otherwise external influences are at work, which cannot be protected against.

    What do you expect an airplane in terminal approach to do, when there is suddenly an object in its way? The autopilot would probably follow ILS, as there is no forward radar ranging, and crash into it, unless the pilot choses some evasive action. But that object is probably some guy in his light airplane with the radio out - it's not like the pilot can do much, if he spots the other guy's intention too late.
    I've never seen anyone blame a computer, it's always the engineers fault. And rightly so. Yet we design and run in production systems that are much more complex than self-driving cars. Most guided missiles these days are fully autonomous. We trust them...
     
  21. Imported

    Imported Lifer

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    I pay enough in taxes where I don't care if public transportation makes a profit or not. I'd be all for public transportation being cheaper, but when there's a $20/day difference I'm not going to be inclined to spend more to get somewhere slower.
     
  22. Ferzerp

    Ferzerp Diamond Member

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    And there is what many people conveniently ignore. They see the potential for clear roadways and assume it's faster. Think of airports, but on a smaller scale. The transit time is short, but the time spent futzing around, or going somewhere totally unrelated to your final destination takes up a huge part of the time. Years ago I visited some, not well off friends in Seattle. They used the bus, so I figured, ok, I'll not rent a car, and see how this goes. It took so freaking long to get *anywhere* that it was just nuts.

    You can say "well that's not optimal mass transit" and to you, I say "no true Scottsman".
     
  23. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    It's sort of like saying you should fly instead of drive because flying is quicker. The flight itself is certainly quicker, but the "trip by plane" may not be.

    I haven't checked lately, but I remember a while back that driving from NC to PA to visit relatives was a wash as far as total time, driving vs flying, and a train was substantially slower than driving.
     
  24. Ferzerp

    Ferzerp Diamond Member

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    All mass transit trips have a baked in delay on the front end, and on the back end that is mostly unrelated to the distance you're traveling. For flying, it's faster to drive if it's a 4 or 5 hour drive (especially if you aren't a frequent flier comfortable with cutting your arrival to the airport far closer than most are).
     
  25. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    Yeah for me the airport is about 40 minutes away, and I should be there ~1 hour early, so I've already lost close to 2 hours, "flying" before I get to the airport.

    Back closer to 9/11/01, they wanted you there ~2 hours early.