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Old 05-24-2009, 07:01 AM
 
3,628 posts, read 9,034,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omaha Rocks View Post
I think one major difference is that flying from Chicago to LA will take several hours, whereas taking a train from and to the same places will take several days.

Most people can handle several hours...
True, but their comment sounded like a car is far superior in all travel situations thanks to "privacy" and "individuality." no wonder we don't talk to anybody anymore.
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Old 05-24-2009, 07:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supernerdgirl View Post
True, but their comment sounded like a car is far superior in all travel situations thanks to "privacy" and "individuality." no wonder we don't talk to anybody anymore.
We don't talk to anyone anymore because of Air Conditioning and we no long use the front porch to cool off in the evening after work.
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Old 05-24-2009, 09:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Houston3 View Post
Many many years a go we took a train from Houston, Texas to Portland, Oregon....... Never never again would I do that...It was the most boring and tiring three days of traveling ever...If you drive it at least you can rent a room for the night to sleep and you can stop and view the sights...
HSR is only practical for intercity trips of 400-500 miles or so. At that range they are very competitive with air travel. For instance the Acela Express, which is the only high speed Amtrak trainset, carries more than half the combined air-and-rail market between the terminal cities of Washington DC and New York. If intermediate cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia are included, Amtrak's share of the air and rail markets is about 75%. The northeast corridor also happens to be the most profitable Amtrak route. This is not a coincidence. HSR isn't meant for cross-country travel but for intercity travel such as Sacramento to San Francisco to San Jose to Los Angeles to San Diego or Tulsa to Oklahoma City to Little Rock to Dallas to San Antonio.
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Old 05-24-2009, 09:21 AM
 
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Our population density does not support HRS at the national level. It is a regional solution at best. Accordingly, let each region fund it with their tax dollars.

Amtrak is not a passenger rail service. It does not own its own track. I rode the Southwest Chief once. We were delayed for several hours because the freight train that had the right-of-way was having mechanical problems.

The security argument is valid right now because nobody rides the train. Even terrorists would not be caught dead (pun intended) on Amtrak. If they relied on it they would all show up late and miss the martyr party. If we ever do develop a large, popular regional rail system, you will be subjected to the same scrutiny you are now.

The primary reason I don't support funding it is because we simply can't afford to do it properly. A national, HRS that could replace 80% of air travel would cost $20 trillion dollars in infrastructure costs just to get started.

A half-a** system will cost a couple trillion, and will only serve to turn off the public.

There are some areas of the country where it makes sense. In those cases, let the citizens of those regions pay for it. They can recover their costs through local taxes and facility charges for out-of-state users. For example, if you are a resident of TX you might have to pay a small premium to ride the HRS from LAX to SFO.
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:05 PM
 
30 posts, read 49,956 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GOPATTA2D View Post
Our population density does not support HRS at the national level. It is a regional solution at best. Accordingly, let each region fund it with their tax dollars.
What is proposed is ten regional corridors, not a coast-to-coast connected network. Secondly, let each state pay for its own highways and airports. I can assure you the highways you use weren't exclusively funded by your state or region. The percentage that states pay for their own HSR network roughly equals the percentage states pay for other infrastructure projects.

Quote:
Amtrak is not a passenger rail service. It does not own its own track. I rode the Southwest Chief once. We were delayed for several hours because the freight train that had the right-of-way was having mechanical problems.
Precisely why Amtrak needs to have dedicated tracks. It receives such little funding that it has to lease tracks from freight companies. These freight companies primary purpose obviously is to move freight so therefore the Amtrak trains have to move onto the siding in order to allow the cargo trains to pass. Get passenger trains its own ROW and it's smooth sailing to your destination unlike automobile traffic and airport congestion.

Quote:
The security argument is valid right now because nobody rides the train. Even terrorists would not be caught dead (pun intended) on Amtrak. If they relied on it they would all show up late and miss the martyr party. If we ever do develop a large, popular regional rail system, you will be subjected to the same scrutiny you are now.
Here is a very good article about California's HSR security measure proposals, however it can be applied to HSR in general - California High Speed Rail Blog: Homeland Security Theater

Quote:
The primary reason I don't support funding it is because we simply can't afford to do it properly. A national, HRS that could replace 80% of air travel would cost $20 trillion dollars in infrastructure costs just to get started.
We're talking of a third option for regional travel or better yet a supplement to driving and flying, not a replacement. HSR would be an alternative for those who can't afford to drive or simply don't want to and those who find train travel more convenient than flying. Think about how that will relieve congestion on the highways and at the airports.

Quote:
There are some areas of the country where it makes sense. In those cases, let the citizens of those regions pay for it. They can recover their costs through local taxes and facility charges for out-of-state users. For example, if you are a resident of TX you might have to pay a small premium to ride the HRS from LAX to SFO.
Cool and why stop there? Let's turn all our highways into toll roads. Cross the border and pay a fee. Also, I haven't flown to a lot of cities either so why am I paying for their airports. Let the states fund it. There are many highways I haven't driven on so why am I paying for their construction and maintenance. Let the states fund it.
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Lakeland, Florida
6,684 posts, read 11,924,054 times
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I have never completely understood the complete dependence on the auto in the USA. For one thing there are huge amounts of people in this country, that cannot and should not own a car. They are not in financial situations to finance the car, maintain it and insure it. Yet this country both the gov't, and private enterprise have created this dependence on the car for its own benefit. Actually so have many Americans that feel they are to good to ride transit in cities. There are definitely reasons many large metro's in America have next to nothig for transit. Atlanta is one of them. Don't bring the riff raff from Atlanta into Cobb County among other counties there also with this type of mindset. Therefore rail has never been extended there where it needed to be 20 years ago.

In my opinion most of the opposition is as what I have stated. It is demanded we own cars in this country or we are forced to live in places like NYC and San Fran, DC, Boston, we all know the cities. Try living in Raleigh or Tampa, Orlando, San Antonio, Atlanta without a car. It is a life of being isolated from even a corner store in cities like that. No sidewalks half the time and nothing much for a bus let alone rail, except maybe Atlanta in its inner core area. Tampa in itself is a disgrace for its ignorance and lack of even the basic bus system. Just way to many Citizens feel that transit is beneath them and will only bring riff raff to their neighborhoods.

Yes America is a country that opposes rail and Amtrak development because the car is the almighty god here. Why else would all this stimulus monies be given to these auto makers. Keep us in our cars even if so many americans cannot afford them to begin with.

Im not thrilled with living in Portland, Oregon but at least there is sufficient transit here, actually there is an overkill of it here. America needs to wake up and develop rail systems, and get over itself.
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:49 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
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High Speed Rail in the US would be among the worst and most wasteful public policy moves in US history. At best US geography is suited for limited regional transport, mainly the Eastern seaboard. It is not a commercially viable enterprise nor anything resembling a substitute for jet travel.

I honestly cannot fathom the sheer economic incompetence one would have to possess to actually think that such a solution has any merit whatsoever in the US. The legal bills on such a project across so many jurisdictions, terrains, risk zones, etc. would be in the hundreds of billions alone.

Folks, with each step we take, it seems as though the "leadership" and its minions are hell-bent on dismantling what remains of the freedom and pragmatism of de Tocqueville's America one inane project at a time. The US does not consist of solely high density, self-sufficient population centers, yet it is being governed as such by Clinton-Obama Ivy Leaguers bent on proving themselves to their European counterparts.

Yet, at the same time, we are being misled by the opposite end of the moron spectrum, anti-intellectual yahoos whose penchant for extreme and colorful language hides their technical ignorance and xenophobia. They are equally guilty for the US to be in the position we now face.

Incredible, ignorant, and self-destructive.

In the face of such fiscal voyeurism, perhaps future American prosperity will not come from living under the stars and stripes, but from under an array of flags, each of which can better represent the diversity of our land with more freedom and responsibility from the fascism that has been steadily building from both the left and right. Decentralisation maybe the only answer, one that if it were to succeed would require more than one region to secede.
S.
P.S. Cascadia, anyone?
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Source post
jetgraphics - streetcars and high speed rail are two different systems.

JG: Velocity, yes. But have more in common than other modes of transportation.

The state of public roads in 1890 to 1910 was absolutely abysmal.

JG: True. Many were maintained by the adjacent property owners. Of course, the tax burden was absolutely abysmally low.


During the winter months in the north, entire roads were shut down and the only way to get from place to place was by train. That also occured during mud season, when many roads were just as impassible. There was no Federal subsidy of roads at the time, and the rails had an effective subsidy from the transport of mail and a lock on anyone who wanted to get from point A to point B. During that period, coal was king and dirt cheap to railroads.

JG: You are referring to the mainline RRs, not the 'lectric interurbans and streetcars. I read somewhere, that one could ride from Maine to the Rockies, on interurbans, and never use mainline (steam) RRs... which probably annoyed mainline RRs.


Was it an efficient system? Only within the range of some individual companies. As an example of how it really worked, the joining of systems at Essex Junction Vermont were PURPOSELY made to inconvenience the passengers, so as to deny traffic to the competing railroads. There are even mentions of trains approaching the terminal, the engineer seeing the competitor's train at the station, and backing the train away from the station until it departed, forcing customers to miss connections. THAT was American railroading.

JG: Mainline RRs were notoriously competitive, and uncooperative. WW1 federal takeover of RRs was necessary to improve efficiency.

As for streetcars, those were powered by a combination of hydropower and coal fired steam. In point of fact, the electrification of many parts of the country was based on the introduction of electricity by the transit companies.

JG: And many Amusement parks were subsidized by the streetcar companies to encourage use of the streetcars on weekends. Some companies even sold the waste steam for heating cities... those evil private enterprisers charging money for WASTE steam. [sarcasm flag off]


Efficiencies were horrendously low, because 600 VDC overhead lines have a maximum effective range of about 8 miles before the line losses get too great. Since the early trolleys were strictly DC, and generation was DC as well, any longer distance involved the use of rotary converters and other equipment.

JG: CR4 - Blog Entry: Electric Streetcars and Trolley Technology

Powerhouses ran high voltage that was stepped down to 600 VDC. And DC was often preferred over AC because of capacitive losses. Today? Probably either high voltage, low freq. AC or DC would be used, tapped off the "grid".


Now on to passenger miles per gallon - In your first cite, I found this:
"Dissenting opinions

In the United States it is claimed that Amtrak is no more efficient than private car trips over 75 miles, and intercity bus service is 3 times as efficient (consumes 1/3 as much energy). References are given but I have not looked them up yet (they are not something you can find in your neighbourhood library). I think it likely the discrepancy can be explained by the following factors:

* the calculation is comparing actual current usage, not the potential for each mode; a mostly-empty train is certainly not more efficient than a mostly-full bus ..."

I hate to beat a dead horse, but there is debate, and then there is debate with understanding. I'm fully aware of the tilt technology you mention, which was abandoned in the U.S. because of problems. I'm also aware of Talgo trains, high voltage and low voltage systems, etc., etc. None of what you cut and pasted changes the basics of human behavior. The accounts of passenger miles per gallon are sanguine at best, and I'm afraid that a lot of those figures you use are outright lies used to promote rail passenger travel to an unsophisticated and unquestioning audience.

JG: Please state which figures are lies. And which sites. Perhaps the author would like feedback.
I used figures from a Canadian engineer, who had no hat in the American ring. The other data, from a German engineer, was to show that the USA would not be able to implement HSR, as Europe and Asia did, because of current FRA regs, track geometry, and the parameters suited for heavy slow cargo. Personally, I would like to see ultralightweight cars on segregated high speed tracks - which should boost efficiencies even more. The FRA requirements for car weight are medieval.


When I took Tri-rail as an example, I went for the basic info and did the math, rather than blindly accepting massaged figures which even your cite notes are disputed. I stand by my figures.

JG: You may stand by your figures, but did you figure in the end of the Age of Oil?

Further, as I do in just about all debates, I held back additional ammo. In this case, high speed rail and trolleys, etc. do not exist in a vacuum. Every station has a dedicated parking area for park and ride, as well as a drop off point for kiss and run. So, for the incoming commuters, the entire commuter mileage of the trip to and from the departure station is totally ignored, as is the cost of parking, impact of the parking lot, etc.. Figure an average drive of at least a couple miles to and from the station, double that if it is a drop off and pick-up, add the energy costs of building and maintaining the parking, etc., etc...

JG: Under current conditions, the automobile centric implementation is awkward. When a dislocation in petroleum supply occurs, that system will grind to a halt.
I maintain that a comprehensive electric powered rail system, featuring all forms - HSR, mainline, interurban, streetcars, funiculars, etc, will be necessary for the remainder of the century.


In short, the real TOTAL COST figures and expenditures of energy are grossly under-reported. While we are talking about electric power, let us remember that there is an energy cost in getting the fuel to the power plant, inefficiencies in generating the steam, inefficiencies in the turbines, inefficiencies in the generators, inefficiencies in stepping up the power for transmission, inefficiencies in line loss, inefficiencies in the step down transformers, inefficiencies in the "fuel" wires and contact system as well as the inefficiencies of the traction motors themselves.

JG: The "Total Cost" (in money) fails to include the costs associated with consuming a finite resource to the point of exhaustion, and bestowing lack, or worse, upon our descendants - who may be desperate in need. Current electric power generation is skewed toward fossil fuels because the economic system is focused on short term profits, and corporations can legally avoid consequences of long term harm. But of all the potential fuel sources and power sources, "Alternative" sustainable energy favors electrical power, and electric trains mesh well with that. If a new biofuel, super battery or ultra capacitor technology can trump wire delivery of electricity, autonomous vehicles will be viable. However, the automobile / road paradigm cannot easily scale up with an increase in passenger load, as many major cities experience "rush hour" gridlock.

There is a massive campaign that promotes the idea of light rail and high speed rail as being an environmental savior and a wildly efficient transportation system. If you sit back and think for a minute, you realize that it is neither, and the sheer scale of most projects dictate governmental control or subsidy at the expense of the taxpayer. When Tri-rail has a ridership of 30 to 50% more than expectations and STILL runs in deficit mode, something is inherently wrong with the model.

JG: The operative issue is "government". Government is not the optimum agent for providing services. In fact, it should be limited to securing rights, and little else. But thanks to the confiscatory taxation via socialism, the government controls much that it shouldn't. In all the projects for light rail and HSR, no politician is willing to forgo power by simply offering ZERO tax liability to the rail companies and their employees instead of taxpayer funding. Invariably, the politicians and bureaucrats mess up a "good thing". Remember, an elephant is a mouse built to government specifications. Or like the "Space Shuttle", which was changed from a lean, mean passenger vehicle to a clunky "space truck".


If you look back through history at the records of the railroads, you come across bankruptcy after bankruptcy and failure to pay off bonds almost as a given.

JG: And back through the history of automobiles, you see bankruptcy after bankruptcy, as car companies go out of business.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categoryefunct_motor_vehicle_manufacturers_of_th e_United_States

Rail is efficient for heavy cargo. It can be efficient on a time vs. money basis for transporting goods from the west coast ports to Chicago and the east coast. It is NOT good in the current configuration for transporting people, compared to what is possible using newer technology.

JG: Current configuration, as applied in the petroleum / automobile U.S.A. is about to change... for the worse.
In nations that didn't have cheap and plentiful oil, their urban development and transportation systems favored electric rail. My point is that since we import 70% of our oil, and probably will import even more, we are swiftly destroying ourselves when we could have incrementally shifted, starting in the 1970s, to a rail based land transportation mode. Such is the "benefit" of short term profit mentality.



I'll give you an example of why rail travel is not practical for professionals. Say that 1 day out of 100 a rail system has a delay of 2 to 4 hours over a 250 mile corridor. That is being way conservative. Now, say that you as a top executive have a meeting at the other end of that corridor, and that meeting will be the determining factor for a million dollar deal. Do you take a 1 in 100 chance that the train will be late that day and the meeting will be canceled? Or do you take a transportation system where you have some personal control over your own fate and arrival time? Senators and vice presidents who are sure of their jobs may ride the rails, but the CEOs and presidents choose other transport.

JG: Before economical air transport, business professionals often took "sleeper" trains, arriving at their destination in the morning. And when finished with their business, took a "sleeper" back - thus avoiding the expense of accommodations. It was slower than air, but as long as you slept through the ride, it wasn't a total waste of time.


I personally love trains. I have at least 300 hours of video tape and DVDs of trains. I have the original railroad commission reports for the state of Vermont for the later part of the 19th and beginnings of the 20th century, and details on every railroad and trolley that ever existed in that state and some that didn't but were considered. The historical society uses me as a reference. I'm not against trains, but I am against using the wrong tool to get a job done.

The early days of the industrial revolution and the communists LOVED to treat people not as individuals, but as members of a group that could then be easily controlled and scheduled. The success of the free enterprise system was created by breaking out of that mentality, and seeing the value of the individual and his or her strengths and needs. Herding people into smelly clots of obnoxious crowds whose sole reason for existence is to be going in the same direction in an efficient manner is demeaning and dumb. It also plays into the hands of fearmongers who will then want to strip search each traveler for weapons, drugs, pornography, and unapproved water bottles. High speed rail + intense security = slow speed travel. Convenient trolleys plus security = inconvenience.

JG: Methinks you are combining the observation that 75+ years of national socialism have made most Americans into sheeple, with anachronistic arguments. On one hand, you are advocating the benefits of free enterprise (and competition) and denounce the consequences of the competitive mainline RRs, who would build parallel lines to nab market share from rival lines, among other foolish practices.
If you have data that shows of a more efficient transportation system, NOW, that can replace 70% of the cars on the road (saving us from importing oil), I am receptive. Or that can move ever growing number of passengers per unit of surface area and end gridlock, I am receptive. Or that can operate sustainably for generations, I am receptive. Or that doesn't emit toxins and pollutants, I am receptive.


INDIVIDUAL use of a high speed corridor resolves almost all the issues of MASS transit.

JG: I disagree. Here's a compromise: public corporation (non-profit) owned and operated electric rail rights of way (like public roads), but privately owned and operated electric trains - even privately owned coaches. Rail / Road hybrids might be one way to resolve all the points raised. Trolley buses can use overhead lines, why not the family hybrid?

Last edited by jetgraphics; 05-24-2009 at 02:47 PM..
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Prepperland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimrob1 View Post
I have never completely understood the complete dependence on the auto in the USA. For one thing there are huge amounts of people in this country, that cannot and should not own a car.
Major factors then :
[] U.S.A. was the world leader in oil production for most of the 20th century.
[] Economics favored "cheap and plentiful" local oil.
[] Politics and taxation.
[] Destructive competition. (ex: Canals were bought up and destroyed by Rail companies. Urban rail companies were bought up by bus companies, and their rights of way were destroyed. Each successor eliminated previous competitor.)

Now?
[] Peak oil production was in 1970s, and we've been importing more ever since, despite the millions spent by the "Department of Energy" (whose mandate was to REDUCE America's dependence on imported oil).
[] Economics no longer favors oil. But DC still thinks we need to "save" the Auto industry - at our expense. Politics and taxation are still a problem.
[] Inflation has raised the cost to restore lost rail rights of way or build new ones - but what other option do we have?

America's history has three major transition points in transportation:
1. The water transport age (the canal boom, 1790-1860)
2. The rail transport age (1830-1950) (the rail boom killed off many commercial canals)
3. The oil fueled transport age, 1920 - 2015 est. (which killed off electric urban rail, and much of passenger heavy rail)

My guess:
4. (2015 - ?) Electric rail transport age

Unlike other parts of the world, where transportation systems were built and operated for centuries, the U.S.A. is a "baby" by comparison. And with short sighted policy, promptly destroyed that which preceded each transition, leaving no alternative.

I like to imagine what the U.S.A. might have been like, if the Age of Cheap and Plentiful Petroleum didn't wipe out rail, and if the railroads had not destroyed their canal and river based competition.

MAP of canals and navigable waterways
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Old 05-24-2009, 04:25 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Jetgraphics, excellent touche on the number of auto manufacturers that have failed. Well played.

I like that not only because it is a good response, but because it shows you are thinking and doing more than cut-n-paste.

When you get right down to it, we really only have one area of disjuncture. I am of the opinion that individual transport vehicles can ultimately be more efficient on an energy and time basis than any vehicle designed for mass transport.

We both agree that a (preferably low friction) guideway with a system of control, and the ability to impart electric power is the basis of an ongoing practical system. I'm even ready to admit that a prototype of the style of system I'm advocating failed dismally. That was the baggage handling system at Denver International.

Ultimately though, a lot of the failure there was simply a lack of functional standardization. Mass transit has similar problems, but we have a clear resolution in the internet model, where packet switching allows a massively complex system to function.

So our basic question seems to resolve around the weight per passenger.

Here is current light rail trolley technology:
North American Light Rail Information and News Site
"Empty weight per car: 109,000 pounds
Vehicle Capacity per car
Number of seats: 72
Design load:
Crush load: 261
Wheelchair capacity: 4

Figuring the number of seats plus wheelchair spaces, we get a comfortable capacity of 76, or 1,434 lbs of equipment per passenger. Current curb weight of a Prius is 3042 lbs and a seating capacity of 5, giving a weight per passenger of 608 lbs. Interesting. I discount "crush" loading because regular use of that will almost always result in reduced ridership with the notable exception of places like the major metropolitan subways, where there are no good alternatives.

Now, the engine on a Prius looks like it is 88 Kg or 194 lbs. We could dump that. We could also downsize the battery to a much smaller size. If we design a cab for 2 people instead of 5, we could also lighten some other components and get weight down in the 1000 lb range, or weight per passenger at about 500 lbs.

Design speed of the trolley is 55mph. A Prius can easily beat that.

So, we have a weight advantage with our stripped and modified Prius. Based on your list, that is a good thing.

We can use computers and tailgating technology to eliminate frontal area issues, as well as having a single unit frontal area that is about 1/6th the size of the trolley. So we can meet or beat that requirement.

With a guideway, we can use steel on steel and electric pick-offs. We meet that requirement.

The cost per car of the trolley is $2.67 million. Cost of our modified Prius without an engine should easily come in at under $35,131 (2.67 Million / 76 passengers.) I'm thinking a cost of $15,000 would be more than adequate. This is looking better and better.

Replacement costs could be spread out over years rather than hiving a 2.67 or 5.34 million expense (the trolley comes in sets of two).

What do we have now? We have a mass transit system that is more flexible, lower cost, more energy efficient, based on a small modular component system, that eliminates a dedicated (texting) employee driver.

Sounds much better to me.
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