U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Great Debates
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 05-23-2009, 08:36 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,520 posts, read 11,972,763 times
Reputation: 3820

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by texdav View Post
We are having enough trouble keeping roadways maintained and really don't need another rmassive unprofitable transit system IMO to pay for.Any rail system needs to pay for itself. If you look our highways are paid thru taxes on users such as gasoline tax. The amtrac system is not paid the same way.I thnik that in many areas light rail that pays for itself would work.Airlinhes and airplanes is what put teh death nail in railway passenger travel because price got to be reasonable in aitline travel especailly considering the time saved.
No transportation system in the history of civilization has ever paid for itself. Our highway system is not fully supported by user fees (gas tax) as the Federal, state, and local governments are required to use more and more general revenue every year to subsidize construction and maintenance.

California is going HSR all-out because its cheaper for them to build the rail than it is for them to expand the highway system to carry the equivalent passenger traffic.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 05-23-2009, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,851 posts, read 51,316,975 times
Reputation: 27706
Simply put, MASS transportation of any type is only suitable under certain conditions. INDIVIDUAL transportation is more flexible and time efficient for most people. High speed rail is only dressing up a pig. The issue isn't the difference between rail and roadway, and never really has been. Take a look at the declines in bus and air travel over the same period. Bus travel reached a peak in the 1950s and then slid, with bus stations becoming dirtier, ridership going down, and routes being canceled. The peak for air travel was earlier than what you would think based on ridership figures alone. Do some research about the China Clippers that were just starting pre-WWII. Check out the way passengers were treated on the dirigibles. Those late 1930s were the glory years of air transportation.

Cars (and even bicycles to some extent) usurped the popularity of railroads early on. Peak trackage was approx. 1914 and the first practical automobiles were just starting up. The situation now is even more loaded towards the car.

The idea of high speed transport is alluring, and mass transport seems like a proven technology. However, there is little reason why individual capsules cannot be run on high speed energy efficient lines, with the energy source being supplied by the roadway or trackage. MASS transit implies restrictions on package size, departure and arrival times, and attempts to serve only the greatest number of potential passengers. Individual transportation doesn't have those restrictions.

We already have cars with cruise controls able to "follow the leader" in virtual trains. We already have successful fully self driving vehicles. We already have the technology to make cars like the Aptera that are hugely energy efficient. About all we are lacking is a standardization and automatic safety checking system. Otherwise, there is no reason why an ultralight elevated or enclosed railway for individual cars, with a fixed speed of 100 mph isn't possible or practical. Cars using it would have to have a prescribed wheelbase and tires, standard electric motor and contacts for track power, and a basic computer system that would take control going on the high speed line, and relinquish it in the exit ramp or parking area.

Rehashing a 19th century method of transportation is just reverting to horse and buggy days. There USED to be high speed rail. It didn't work out, without huge investments from governments, and still is financially an unstable model.

I've also learned something since refusing to fly commercial airlines. High speed transportation, in most instances, is simply not a good idea. It promotes urban sprawl, it gets misused by business, it homogenizes unique places into a McDonalds, a Burger King, a chicken franchise, a car dealership, and a WalMart. If you refuse high speed transportation, except in absolute emergencies, you suddenly find yourself living on the earth, where distance has meaning, and local is good.

Citrix and other companies have virtual conferencing, webcams abound, and 95% of all the rushing around is just wasted time.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 09:09 AM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
8,293 posts, read 22,461,476 times
Reputation: 3869
^ That's very interesting, Harry. Thanks!

I think one of the main problems - at least in the United States - is that we are so accustomed to individual independence that we're not willing to wait even 5-10 minutes for the Metro Bus to show up. We'd rather drive our car somewhere. And so far, we've been able to afford to.

We don't need to travel as much as we do. But since we can afford to, we do.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Finally escaped The People's Republic of California
11,110 posts, read 7,353,623 times
Reputation: 6183
I watch the Amtrack Trains go by at work, 3 engines, 6 cars and 10 passengers. Rail transport seems to be for freight not people, The goverment does'nt subsidize stagecoaches anymore why trains.....
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
13,117 posts, read 9,205,456 times
Reputation: 8988
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Rehashing a 19th century method of transportation is just reverting to horse and buggy days. There USED to be high speed rail. It didn't work out, without huge investments from governments, and still is financially an unstable model.
It is a fact that steel wheel on steel rail technology was developed and implemented in the 19th century. However, the laws of physics that recommended its use have not changed. It still is the most energy efficient land transport system.

Fuelishness

Things we know or expect to happen:
[A] Fossil fuels will cease being cheap and / or plentiful.
[b] Energy derived from non-fossil fuel sources is still more expensive. But that may change as [A] gets worse. But at least sustainable sources of energy won't suddenly run out.
[C] The most viable sustainable form of energy is electricity - derived from solar, wind, water, and so on.
[D] The most energy efficient form of land transport is steel wheel on steel rail (low coefficient of rolling resistance).

Internal combustion engines, on average, only use 25% of the energy of their fuel to move. The remainder is lost as waste heat. (Yipes!). Even vaunted hybrid electric vehicles are still energy wasters. To compound matters, stop - and - go travel wastes energy via braking (heat) and acceleration.

Won't the 35.5 MPH goal save us?
NO

We know there are six principles for efficient surface transport:
a) reduce the frontal area per person;
b) reduce the vehicle’s weight per person;
c) when traveling, go at a steady speed and avoid using brakes;
d) travel more slowly;
e) travel less; and
f) make the energy chain more efficient.

An electric powered train / tram / streetcar meets a, b, c (*regenerative braking recovers energy), and f. And we'd rather be able to ignore d and e.

An electric traction motor efficiency is between 85 - 95% (depending on configuration, etc), in contrast with Internal combustion engines (roughly from 25% otto cycle to 50% diesel cycle). In addition, electric powered vehicles do not need to carry their fuel, saving on weight.

In short, we need to acknowledge that electric rail is our only viable alternative to deal with the demise of the Age of Oil.

On the other hand, why are we wed to the idea that only public funding can resolve the problem?
Instead of giving public funds, grant zero tax liability to transit companies and their employees. Private investors will flock to invest in electric rail, in all its forms: mainline, urban, interurban and so on.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 12:32 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
10,336 posts, read 9,982,800 times
Reputation: 9090
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetgraphics View Post
It is a fact that steel wheel on steel rail technology was developed and implemented in the 19th century. However, the laws of physics that recommended its use have not changed. It still is the most energy efficient land transport system.

Fuelishness

Things we know or expect to happen:
[A] Fossil fuels will cease being cheap and / or plentiful.
[b] Energy derived from non-fossil fuel sources is still more expensive. But that may change as [A] gets worse. But at least sustainable sources of energy won't suddenly run out.
[C] The most viable sustainable form of energy is electricity - derived from solar, wind, water, and so on.
[D] The most energy efficient form of land transport is steel wheel on steel rail (low coefficient of rolling resistance).

Internal combustion engines, on average, only use 25% of the energy of their fuel to move. The remainder is lost as waste heat. (Yipes!). Even vaunted hybrid electric vehicles are still energy wasters. To compound matters, stop - and - go travel wastes energy via braking (heat) and acceleration.

Won't the 35.5 MPH goal save us?
NO

We know there are six principles for efficient surface transport:
a) reduce the frontal area per person;
b) reduce the vehicle’s weight per person;
c) when traveling, go at a steady speed and avoid using brakes;
d) travel more slowly;
e) travel less; and
f) make the energy chain more efficient.

An electric powered train / tram / streetcar meets a, b, c (*regenerative braking recovers energy), and f. And we'd rather be able to ignore d and e.

An electric traction motor efficiency is between 85 - 95% (depending on configuration, etc), in contrast with Internal combustion engines (roughly from 25% otto cycle to 50% diesel cycle). In addition, electric powered vehicles do not need to carry their fuel, saving on weight.

In short, we need to acknowledge that electric rail is our only viable alternative to deal with the demise of the Age of Oil.

On the other hand, why are we wed to the idea that only public funding can resolve the problem?
Instead of giving public funds, grant zero tax liability to transit companies and their employees. Private investors will flock to invest in electric rail, in all its forms: mainline, urban, interurban and so on.
Sounds good to me. But how does one get away from that pesky love affair?

I mean, really, come on! I 'need' my Ford F95000 10WD pickup with tandem duals on back, 832 unused horsepower, an empty 9000 cubic foot bed, 11 empty reclining seats, and empty head in the driver's seat. And, as a bonus, it's safer in an accident. Oh, and it also has a cup holder.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,556,197 times
Reputation: 35864
Quote:
Originally Posted by sukwoo View Post
No transportation system in the history of civilization has ever paid for itself. .
How many people's private cars "pay for themselves"? Most Americans are paying around $600 a month for car payments, gas, insurance, maintenance, etc, and at least half have two cars, so double that. That's $20 a day per driver.. Could you and your spouse get where you need to go on public transportation, supplemented by taxis when necessary, and an occasional rental, for $40 a day?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 12:53 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
10,336 posts, read 9,982,800 times
Reputation: 9090
Truthfully, I do appreciate the freedom that autos provide. But at the same time I find them to be somewhat of a blight. Look around you. Everything is centered around auto transportation. It’s basically an eyesore. There has to be a better way. Not only that, but a more cost-effective way.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 02:00 PM
 
30 posts, read 49,873 times
Reputation: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cali BassMan View Post
I watch the Amtrack Trains go by at work, 3 engines, 6 cars and 10 passengers. Rail transport seems to be for freight not people, The goverment does'nt subsidize stagecoaches anymore why trains.....
High speed rail such as California's would definitely have to be on dedicated lines. Freight and passenger rail share track due to the cost of constructing an exclusive ROW for passenger rail. That would change if Amtrak was receiving proper funding. For instance, if Amtrak had the monetary support it could lay dedicated track lines for the Acela Express which would free it from FRA restrictions which limit its top speed to 150mph. This would allow it to travel 200mph reducing delays, travel times, and increasing service frequency. Also, I'm perplexed why people refer to rail as a "19th century" mode of transport. High speed bullet trains are a completely different animal when compared to the passenger trains of the 19th century. Highways date back to the 30s. I wouldn't exactly refer to that as modern.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-23-2009, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,851 posts, read 51,316,975 times
Reputation: 27706
It is a fact that steel wheel on steel rail technology was developed and implemented in the 19th century. However, the laws of physics that recommended its use have not changed. It still is the most energy efficient land transport system.

The physics haven't changed, and for certain purposes, trains are wonderfully efficient. For others, they are not.

<snipped>

Internal combustion engines, on average, only use 25% of the energy of their fuel to move. The remainder is lost as waste heat. (Yipes!). Even vaunted hybrid electric vehicles are still energy wasters. To compound matters, stop - and - go travel wastes energy via braking (heat) and acceleration.

Most trains operate from power derived from internal combustion diesel engines that power electric generators that then power electric traction motors.

HowStuffWorks "How Diesel Locomotives Work"
"A huge locomotive like this uses an average of 1.5 gallons of diesel per mile (352 L per 100 km) when towing about five passenger cars." Note that this is not miles per gallon, but gallons per mile, and at current speeds. The drag from high speed operation would degrade this figure significantly.

So... that would be the average size of a tri-rail train in south Florida, a conveniently flat area. At off-peak times there might be as many as 100 people on a train. Say they were each taken 20 miles. 30 gallons of diesel used, with a paid engineer and a paid conductor, plus a paid security guard (there are more than that but whatever). 2,000 passenger miles and 30 gallons of diesel. That works out to .015 gallons per passenger mile or 66.66 miles per gallon.

Now lets use the real world Tri-rail as an example of overall fuel efficiencies.
The corridor is 72 miles long, and on a weekday there are 25 trains northbound, 25 southbound. Source: South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) (http://www.tri-rail.com/schedules_fares/ntm_wday.asp - broken link)

50 x 72 = 3,600 miles. 1.5 gallons per mile means 5,400 gallons.

How many passengers?
"Patronage on Tri-Rail is currently around 10,000 riders per day. "
Source: On Track On Line - Trip Coombs Riding Tri-Rail
In 2008, due to the gas price situation, ridership peaked at 17,000. However, the system suffered a $80 million operating loss during this same year.

How many PASSENGER miles are actually used each day? We can estimate that each passenger uses half the system, but twice a day, so we have 720,000 passenger miles as a rough guess. That gives about 133 passenger miles per gallon during the weekdays. Not bad, on the face of it.

However, the use of fixed size trainsets dictates that the system is woefully inefficient at times. Check out the photos on this page and count passengers. SAMPLING THE NEW TRI-RAIL DMU You could drive those passengers in a couple of Hummers and get better mileage per gallon.

We know there are six principles for efficient surface transport:
a) reduce the frontal area per person;
b) reduce the vehicle’s weight per person;
c) when traveling, go at a steady speed and avoid using brakes;
d) travel more slowly;
e) travel less; and
f) make the energy chain more efficient.

An electric powered train / tram / streetcar meets a, b, c (*regenerative braking recovers energy), and f. And we'd rather be able to ignore d and e.

An electric traction motor efficiency is between 85 - 95% (depending on configuration, etc), in contrast with Internal combustion engines (roughly from 25% otto cycle to 50% diesel cycle). In addition, electric powered vehicles do not need to carry their fuel, saving on weight.


You are sort of on the right track. The weight per person (item b) only works in some instances. Even light rail vehicles are heavy.

What is always left out of the analysis of rail systems are wait times and unscheduled delays. In one of the links cited, a FOUR_HOUR delay was being apologized for by the transit company. Another link cites a "16 minute layover." Then there are the constant start stops of commuter rail, which slow them enough that on a good day of traffic, cars can pretty much stay abreast of, or even beat a commuter train to a destination.

Consider instead, my proposal of a guideway that operates at a FIXED speed of 100 mph. Cars entering or exiting are taken from the main guideway before decelerating, leaving the travel from one end of the guideway to the other unencumbered by stops and slowdowns. The entire 72 mile Tri-rail corridor could be traversed in 45 minutes instead of two hours. Cars computer controlled to travel in packs would effectively reduce the frontal area. A weight restriction on cars could easily match the weight per passenger mile of the commuter cars and engines.

Now consider that the individual owners of the vehicles would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep, eliminating both equipment costs and employee costs. Tolls would be collected electronically, and because of the small footprint of such a system and reduced noise, it could go where no trainset could go. A glorified streetcar or passenger train wouldn't stand a chance against it on a ridership or economic basis.

As I said before, MASS rail transit is outmoded for most situations.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Great Debates
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top