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Old 02-13-2015, 06:07 AM   #2561
George_Apley
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Whoa.
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Old 02-13-2015, 02:05 PM   #2562
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Awesome map.

Change of subject, and this is not crazy. In London, often random lanes will suddenly become bus-only. Boston should do this pronto - patches everywhere for just buses, would speed things along so damned much.
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Old 02-13-2015, 03:10 PM   #2563
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Mass Ave sorta has that by Hynes Convention Center. The curb lane turns into bus/bike only. For a little bit.
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Old 02-13-2015, 03:31 PM   #2564
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

I have a question about bus lanes:
Does anybody know of an instance where a bus lane (with no curb or other separation from the rest of traffic) has it's own signal at a light, while adjacent lanes have to wait? Or, does anybody know why this could or could not work in practice?
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Old 02-13-2015, 04:07 PM   #2565
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

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Originally Posted by bigeman312 View Post
I have a question about bus lanes:
Does anybody know of an instance where a bus lane (with no curb or other separation from the rest of traffic) has it's own signal at a light, while adjacent lanes have to wait? Or, does anybody know why this could or could not work in practice?
They're doing that as part of the Casey Arborway project in JP. There will be left turn only lanes specifically for buses where they get their own dedicated signal. (Other traffic will be prohibited from turning left and will have to go further up to make a U-turn.)
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Old 02-14-2015, 12:23 AM   #2566
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
This was posted by my favorite Tumblr (Transit Maps)

I have never heard of this particular proposal but the idea was, in 1972, to take all the commuter rail lines and electrify them via catenary wires and connect them to the subway tunnels through downtown. There were plans on the books to convert the dying commuter rail lines into mass transit going back as far as the 1940s but I haven't seen something quite like this.

Apparently the Worcester-Back Bay service would be via Budd cars, or DMUs as we call them today. Interesting that service to South Station was only via Amtrak. Also the Red Line hadn't been extended to Alewife yet but this would have brought it out all the way to Ayer (!!!!)
I'm with Busses: whoa. That map is incredible.

I was looking at that southern Orange Line though, and thinking, well, gosh, with that many branches, you're gonna have hella low frequency. And then I realized, oh, that was probably the plan. Daytime off-peak frequency on the Orange Line today is 8 minutes. Taking that frequency on the central core, and dividing it up across four branches, that would mean that a train is coming every half-hour or so in the suburbs, which definitely could be made to work from a ridership and development perspective, though I shudder to think of the dispatching logistics.

This concept reminds me a bit of Metro-North and LIRR– both commuter rail systems that definitely take some pages from the Gospel according to Rapid Transit.

Realistically, what would be the challenges of converting, say, the Orange and Blue Lines to EMU service, hooked up to, and replacing, various commuter rail branches? Either as detailed in the map, or otherwise.
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Old 02-14-2015, 09:06 AM   #2567
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

It would be like BART, or maybe the Tokyo Metro that runs longer distance commuter trains on the same tracks as local subway.

BART operates 20 minute headways off-peak on the branches that combine into 5 minute headways on the central trunk off-peak.
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Old 02-14-2015, 02:25 PM   #2568
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
This was posted by my favorite Tumblr (Transit Maps)

I have never heard of this particular proposal but the idea was, in 1972, to take all the commuter rail lines and electrify them via catenary wires and connect them to the subway tunnels through downtown.
That was the Thomas K Dyer report for the MBTA "Plan for Acquisition and Use of Railroad Rights of Way". Among other things, it was proposing extensions of rapid transit as a cheaper alternative to building a North Station-South Station connecting link. It did not get into important details like how small profile rapid transit and light-rail equipment would interact with freight operations, and may have underestimated the costs of electrifying the suburban rail network. One major accomplishment of the report though was making clear that it was important for the MBTA to move forward with purchasing rights-of-way from the Penn Central and the Boston & Maine.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:25 AM   #2569
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

So here is my crazy transit pitch for 2035: Pave over almost all the rail lines (except for the intercity links) and connect the rail lines to the road system. Before the train people get out the pitch forks hear me out:

The upside of mass transit is that you can increase density because you don't have to find places to park all the cars. The downside is that you have to wait around for the trains and they only take you sorta where you need to go and if you have to change lines then you add a lot of extra time to your trip.

Autonomous cars may just solve the problem of where to park in dense urban environments by not needing to park there and provide point to point transportation because they can drop you off anywhere, drive off someplace and drive other people around and then pick you up at a designated time later or on demand. And given a good network of roads they can adapt to changes and events more readily than transportation along a fixed line.

Autonomous cars would either not need a place to park during the day because they are being used as taxis or could just go park someplace out of the way in less densely developed areas or even drive back to your house and park in your driveway and then pick you up at work later.

Varying levels of taxis, rentals, leases, or ownership would give as much or more flexibility as there is today, but the rails lines which now sit unused most of the time because the trains only run intermittently would supplement the capacity of the road system and add more robust routing options which would give us one unified ground transportation infrastructure.

Given the existing nature of the rail lines I would say when they are converted to paved roads they should only allow autonomous electric or renewable vehicles to utilize them.

But I am talking about a point in time after autonomous cars are proven out on the existing roads and they become common place enough that the transition makes sense.

If autonomous cars prove capable in the next 10 and 20 years, then I don't see trains being anything more than a nostalgic waste of valuable rights of way around metropolitan areas or as mass transit between major cities in the 100 mile to 350 mile range.

Utilizing the train and subway networks as integrated parts of the road network will create additional capacity which would enable growth and more efficient and flexible transportation.

So that is my pitch... I think the big assumption is that autonomous cars will prove to be capable of sharing the roads with human drivers. But every preliminary milestone has demonstrated that progress is moving in that direction very quickly now with capable systems being tested on real roads now. So it isn't too premature to start planning for a future with autonomous cars on our roads because they are here now and will only get better and less expensive as long as computers keep following Moore's Law.

And yes I do realize that in the past decades futurists plans for autonomous cars have dead ended and some cities like Detroit suffered from poor planning (and corruption) because of a premature elimination of their trains, but I think that was mostly because the systems that were envisioned required some underlying complex control infrastructure such as embedded guide wires in the roads or something like that, while today's autonomous cars must be designed to just follow the rules of the road on existing roads.

Eliminating trains before autonomous cars are proven would be unwise.

But today's intelligent cars are being designed to follow the rules of the road using cameras just like a human driver would look at the road and just drive, so they shouldn't require any additional infrastructure or other extra improvements to our roads.

Planning for trains, in the 10 and 20 year time frame, still makes sense to me given the current needs and available technology, but 20 to 30 years from now I expect that the train networks might need to start being converted to roads. And I would expect that in the next ten years we should and would start evaluating that scenario.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:31 AM   #2570
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

No.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:39 AM   #2571
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangent View Post
Eliminating trains before autonomous cars are proven would be unwise.

But today's intelligent cars are being designed to follow the rules of the road using cameras just like a human driver would look at the road and just drive, so they shouldn't require any additional infrastructure or other extra improvements to our roads.

Planning for trains, in the 10 and 20 year time frame, still makes sense to me given the current needs and available technology, but 20 to 30 years from now I expect that the train networks might need to start being converted to roads. And I would expect that in the next ten years we should and would start evaluating that scenario.
Crazy indeed. Without even touching some of the unintended externalities of this proposal, I have to ask a more basic (somewhat leading) question: what is the point of using train right-of-ways? If you think about the existing right-of-ways in our built environment, 99.99% (just an estimate) of them are paved for cars. In your scenario, where the majority of public transportation is undertaken by driver-less cars, why not use this existing, paved right of way, and convert some of that to public-transit-only usage? Eliminating our non-automobile right-of-ways in the past has proven shortsighted, and having different right-of-ways for a variety of uses (rail, automobile, pedestrian, bicycle), has proven to be the best way to adapt to unforeseen shifts in culture and technology.

Therefore, I counter your proposal with a thought. Rather than converting the tiny amount of non-automobile right-of-ways we have, why not better utilize existing automobile right-of-ways for your fantasy?

Side note: I do not agree with this proposal at all. But it is fun to indulge and point out some of the ways to improve upon it.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:42 AM   #2572
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeman312 View Post
Crazy indeed. Without even touching some of the unintended externalities of this proposal, I have to ask a more basic (somewhat leading) question: what is the point of using train right-of-ways? If you think about the existing right-of-ways in our built environment, 99.99% (just an estimate) of them are paved for cars. In your scenario, where the majority of public transportation is undertaken by driver-less cars, why not use this existing, paved right of way, and convert some of that to public-transit-only usage? Eliminating our non-automobile right-of-ways in the past has proven shortsighted, and having different right-of-ways for a variety of uses (rail, automobile, pedestrian, bicycle), has proven to be the best way to adapt to unforeseen shifts in culture and technology.

Therefore, I counter your proposal with a thought. Rather than converting the tiny amount of non-automobile right-of-ways we have, why not better utilize existing automobile right-of-ways for your fantasy?

Side note: I do not agree with this proposal at all. But it is fun to indulge and point out some of the ways to improve upon it.
+1
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:47 AM   #2573
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Driverless or otherwise, cars will never be able to feature the same capacities as virtually any other form of transit. Even if you only proposed touching the commuter rail, you're still going to need to find a way to transport 3000+ people from stations like Beverly and Salem, where there is already a ton of road congestion. Just to get to the ROW you would sit in traffic for quite some time as a hundred podcars fight to get on the one lane ROW at once.

If you're really interested in somewhat legitimate applications of what you're talking about, I reccommend you check out personal rapid transit. They aren't ripping out rail ROWs or anything, but it's a similar concept of utilizing personal podcars to get around. (More or less)
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:48 AM   #2574
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Example of the capacity problem you'll run into...

http://streets.mn/wp-content/uploads...ike-vs-bus.jpg
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:40 PM   #2575
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

If you thought Green Line reliability sucked NOW...
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Old 02-20-2015, 12:41 PM   #2576
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

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Originally Posted by MBTAddict View Post
No.
+1
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Old 02-20-2015, 03:49 PM   #2577
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

To think that autonomous cars are going to be some sort of magical solution to current traffic issues, and especially that they will ever be able to get anywhere near the efficiency of a (properly funded and functioning) rapid transit solution, is insane.

I mean, just physical space demands alone are crippling. At its imagined tiniest, a podcar will still take up exponentially more space than a standing human. The crush load of a green line trolley is what, around 220? So instead of a single 72' vehicle, you're talking around a thousand linear feet of space, assuming each podcar is about 5' long. And that's if they can dock with each other. If you need a stopping distance gap between each, you're quickly looking at a half mile of vehicles, to accommodate the same amount of people as a single green line trolley. And I specifically chose the green line, because they are the worst at maximizing space.

Then there are inefficiencies. Steel on steel is incredibly efficient because of the lack of friction and minuscule contact surface. Rubber on asphalt is abysmal in comparison. Huge energy waste.

And maintenance. Millions of engines, suspensions, fluids, inspections, tire changes, charging cycles, etc wasted instead of a few select vehicles stored in a proper facility.


Auto-drive may become a thing in our lifetimes. On highways over distance perhaps even within the next decade. But to think it has anywhere near the ability to replace mass transit is asinine.
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Old 02-20-2015, 04:08 PM   #2578
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

What I'm looking forward to is high-frequency automated buses. The reason people like rapid transit is because it is usually provided at high frequencies (better than every 10 minutes, preferably every 2-3 minutes). So you can just show up and be guaranteed to be on your way shortly.

Expanding the high frequency network is expensive because drivers are expensive.
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:56 AM   #2579
tangent
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeman312 View Post
Crazy indeed. Without even touching some of the unintended externalities of this proposal, I have to ask a more basic (somewhat leading) question: what is the point of using train right-of-ways? If you think about the existing right-of-ways in our built environment, 99.99% (just an estimate) of them are paved for cars. In your scenario, where the majority of public transportation is undertaken by driver-less cars, why not use this existing, paved right of way, and convert some of that to public-transit-only usage? Eliminating our non-automobile right-of-ways in the past has proven shortsighted, and having different right-of-ways for a variety of uses (rail, automobile, pedestrian, bicycle), has proven to be the best way to adapt to unforeseen shifts in culture and technology.

Therefore, I counter your proposal with a thought. Rather than converting the tiny amount of non-automobile right-of-ways we have, why not better utilize existing automobile right-of-ways for your fantasy?

Side note: I do not agree with this proposal at all. But it is fun to indulge and point out some of the ways to improve upon it.
Besides the assumption that autonomous cars are going to prove to be viable. The other assumption is that they will be popular and available at an attractive cost compared to alternative modes of transportation including public transportation and therefore train ridership will go down.

I agree it would be shortsighted before the capability and demand was proven out to start planning on ripping up tracks. But I think if ridership goes down significantly over the next 30 years then those rights of way would need to be shifted over to car use to reflect the public need. They would become valuable express lanes since they are already designed to avoid street level crossings in many areas.

The prediction is that autonomous cars/buses/taxis will become standard features on practically all cars and that that will enable people to travel and commute and share cars in ways that are far different than today. And especially when it comes to car sharing and autonomous taxis I believe the cost will eventually make it competitive with mass transit, but far far more time efficient for riders. So much so that rail demand will go down, especially outside the dense urban core. Why would you walk/drive to a train station when you could have your car drop you off and go park someplace or go off an be tasked by an Uber type service to defray some of your car cost? The idea of parking your car at a commuter rail station so it can sit around all day is very inefficient. Yes, use does increase wear on on the car, but if compensated it would compare favorably to just letting a large capital expense sit in a parking space.

At the very least I think that would mean first the elimination of commuter rail outside the city and then it becomes a question of whether those rights of way are better as recreational bike paths or if the express road capacity is needed to make routing options more robust and adaptable to accidents etc.

Which is the overall reason you would standardized on a paved road for most if not all of your transportation network. To gain adaptability in routing through the network and around obstacles or traffic. Having incompatible ground transport networks limits adaptability and potential efficiencies.

I think the more interesting part of the discussion is on whether autonomous cars would be capable of replacing the capacity of trains efficiently and cost effectively, especially in the dense urban core which would be challenging.
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Old 02-21-2015, 11:36 AM   #2580
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

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Driverless or otherwise, cars will never be able to feature the same capacities as virtually any other form of transit. Even if you only proposed touching the commuter rail, you're still going to need to find a way to transport 3000+ people from stations like Beverly and Salem, where there is already a ton of road congestion. Just to get to the ROW you would sit in traffic for quite some time as a hundred podcars fight to get on the one lane ROW at once.

If you're really interested in somewhat legitimate applications of what you're talking about, I reccommend you check out personal rapid transit. They aren't ripping out rail ROWs or anything, but it's a similar concept of utilizing personal podcars to get around. (More or less)
So, in my scenario the station wouldn't be necessary and the one lane ROW from the former train tracks would only be one of the route options as basically an express route. So the question becomes can you transport the same number of people as you could before, or more.

Trains have a great capacity, but run infrequently, especially on the commuter rail line. So I think you would have to model it a bit more but using some rough numbers I see a commuter rail train configuration has a max of about 1400 passengers and runs about once per hour and alternatively I see that a single lane would have a free flow capacity of about 1,800 pcphpl (passenger cars per hour per lane). So that is vehicles per hour per lane. If those cars were fully loaded with passengers then the per passenger goes up, but I suppose you could also theoretically run more trains.

So capacity looks to be pretty much a wash on the commuter rail line, but what you get is flexibility in the road network and the ability to route around obstacles. And as long as you have sufficient shoulders and efficient towing then the system as a whole isn't as vulnerable to breakdowns as you are with trains.

And from the travelers perspective waiting an hour for a train versus scheduling a pick-up at their home or within walking distance at a time of their choosing should be factored in several places as a win for the autonomous cars.

I think the math and the modeling gets more difficult to see a clear win if you get into the subways which run more frequently and it wouldn't be as easy to incorporate underground tunnels into the road network. But I think it would be good to work that through with different scenarios.
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