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Re: [carfree_cities] ULTRA (was Misconceptions about traffic and congestion)

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  • J.H. Crawford
    Hi All, ... Basically I m opposed to overhead systems because they re ugly and intrusive, and probably noisy as well. ... Everybody who s every drawn one of
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 12, 2004
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      Hi All,

      Bill said:

      >This forms the basis of the ULTRA, (Urban Light Transport) system.
      >The system can best be described as an automatically controlled
      >personal taxi system running on its own guideway network. Access to
      >vehicles is at frequent stations located around the city. At these
      >stops passengers would request a vehicle, if one were not already
      >waiting, and select a destination which would be recorded on a smart-
      >card. They would then board their own ULTRAcab, swiping the smart-
      >card through a reader to let the central computer know their desired
      >station and that they were ready to leave. The passengers could then
      >sit back and enjoy the ride as the ULTRA system takes them to their
      >destination by the quickest available route...'
      >
      >I'd be interested in seeing an appraisal of this by Joel or other
      >carfree_city professionals.

      Basically I'm opposed to overhead systems because they're ugly
      and intrusive, and probably noisy as well.

      On the site, they say:

      >Surely the visual intrusion of overhead tracks will be significant? - Visual intrusion is very significantly reduced compared to all past and present systems, but remains one of the single most significant issue associated with the system. We are proposing the use of a single 1.5 metre track, less than half the width of a single lane of road, and thus of considerably reduced scale.

      Everybody who's every drawn one of these things has underestimated
      the width of right of way that is required. How do people get out
      when they break down? Can they really span the proposed distances
      with such slender beams?

      >Present estimates indicate that only about one single lane track for every six current roads would be required to serve an urban area, and that each of these tracks would be of the order of one-sixth of the cost of the equivalent road.

      This is very sophisticated technology. I simply can't imagine
      it costing less than a road to build. The capacities claimed
      are based on technologies that have yet to be demonstrated.
      Very short headways (around a second) are required, and the
      difficulties with buffering, crash avoidance, merges, etc.,
      are major. While it is possible that this can all be made to
      work safely, I don't think it will be done at costs below
      conventional rail, and it will have neither the capacity nor
      the efficiency of rail. Also, handicapped access to the stations
      will require expensive elevators that are also obtrusive.

      Also, interchanges are rarely depicted, but if a full-way
      junction is required, the sky is going to be full of concrete
      for a long way around (think of a highway interchange, albeit
      with only one lane per direction). I see that the ULTRA proposal
      is based on partial interchanges, which helps a lot, but then
      routing becomes more complex and a fair bit of wrong-way travel
      will commonly be required and will also tax system capacity.

      >The use of existing transport rights of way for the infrastructure is an important contributor to minimising visual intrusion.

      They basically want to run these down existing streets, for
      the most part. The stations will be much larger than usually
      claimed, as there has to be room somewhere to buffer empty
      vehicles, and stations are where you need the empties.

      The claimed factor-of-ten reduction in pollution and
      energy consumption is very hard to believe, as these appear
      to be rubber-tired and have greater frontal area than a car.

      Some of these system (I don't know if this includes ULTRA)
      have claimed very high operating speeds and accelerations
      on the order of 0.5 G, which is high enough that people
      probably have to be strapped in. Unless acceleration is
      very high, acceleration and deceleration distances are
      long except for quite slow speeds, which basically means
      doubling the track for quite a distance either side of a
      station.

      They claim:

      >The system will be designed to cope with normal levels of rain, snow and ice.

      In Bristol, the "normal level of snow" would be about zero.
      What happens when a foot of snow falls on one of these
      systems?

      Finally, some of the cost savings appear to be based on the
      assumption that some of the distance will be travelled at grade,
      not on elevated right of way. I do not believe that automated
      vehicles can be operated on accessible tracks except at low
      speeds due to safety reasons. Either the track would have to
      be fenced off, blocking off pedestrian access to a huge degree,
      or operating speeds would have to be kept very low. (There is
      also the concern about access to the relatively high voltages
      that are used for propulsion.)

      In short, I have always thought that this is a technology that
      will be much less desirable than people think and that will cost
      a lot more than expected. I don't see any compelling advantages.

      Regards,








      -- ### --

      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
    • Steve Geller
      ... This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit if they have any choice. We just don t like to sit close to strangers. It s not
      Message 2 of 14 , Jul 12, 2004
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        >Oddly enough I've just come across this site :- ADVANCED TRANSPORT
        >GROUP Transport for the Future NEW! Advanced Transport Systems'
        >Website. They happen to be based in my city, Bristol. see
        >http://www.aer.bris.ac.uk/atg/ultra.html
        >Seems to be basically a monorail or urban light rail concept but
        >with car-sized cabins rather than multi-person compartments. A big
        >selling point they claim is that 'No-one is required to travel with
        >another passenger.... '.

        This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
        if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
        It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
        in large vilage-like groups.

        There's a vehicle similar to the ULTRA being developed in
        the San Francisco area. It's called the Cybertran, with about 20
        people per car. It too will operate like a self-service elevator/lift.
        One pushes a button for the destination and software
        decides where the intermediate stop will happen.
        It's a very good idea.

        Some of the transit vehicles in San Francisco have single seats
        in a few places. The commuter train going south has single seats
        in the upper level.

        I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
        seats were singles?
      • T. J. Binkley
        ... I m always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who don t like to sit next to strangers would do themselves a tremendous service to get out of
        Message 3 of 14 , Jul 12, 2004
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          >This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
          >if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
          >It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
          >in large vilage-like groups.
          >
          >...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
          >seats were singles?

          I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
          to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
          out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
          while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
          choose it.

          Reading a book on an empty train car is a delightful experience, but a car
          full of people is usually much more interesting. Those who like to "people
          watch" from a distance are shortchanging themselves.

          -TJB
        • Steve Geller
          ... I ride buses a lot, but I can t say I choose being close to strangers. I just put up with it as part of bus riding. The aversion to strangers is very
          Message 4 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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            > >...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
            > >seats were singles?
            >
            >I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
            >to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
            >out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
            >while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
            >choose it.

            I ride buses a lot, but I can't say I "choose" being close to strangers.
            I just put up with it as part of bus riding.

            The aversion to strangers is very real. You must have seen people who
            will sit in the outer of a pair of seats, making it difficult for
            someone to get into the other seat.

            I do enjoy "people watching". It's one of the big upsides
            of transit riding.
          • Doug Salzmann
            ... Amen. Ditto, etc. I think the stranger avoidance tendency is a behavior based upon learned attitudes and expectations ( people you don t know are
            Message 5 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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              On Mon, 12 Jul 2004, T. J. Binkley wrote:

              >
              > >This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
              > >if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
              > >It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
              > >in large vilage-like groups.
              > >
              > >...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
              > >seats were singles?
              >
              > I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
              > to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
              > out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
              > while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
              > choose it.

              Amen. Ditto, etc.

              I think the "stranger avoidance" tendency is a behavior based upon
              learned attitudes and expectations ("people you don't know are
              dangerous"). It had better be -- six-headed-for-ten billion humans
              are not gonna be able to live in private bubbles.


              -Doug



              ---
              Doug Salzmann
              Kalliergo
              Post Office Box 307
              Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA

              <doug@...>
            • gregb88@comcast.net
              ... But aren t we always forced to encounter strangers anyhow? In supermarkets there s people behind you and in front you lined up for the cash register. In
              Message 6 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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                Doug Salzmann wrote:

                >On Mon, 12 Jul 2004, T. J. Binkley wrote:
                >
                >
                >
                >>>This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid riding transit
                >>>if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to strangers.
                >>>It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't live
                >>>in large vilage-like groups.
                >>>
                >>>...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if most of the
                >>>seats were singles?
                >>>
                >>>
                >>I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those who "don't like
                >>to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous service to get
                >>out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other" once in a
                >>while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many people
                >>choose it.
                >>
                But aren't we always forced to encounter strangers anyhow? In
                supermarkets there's people
                behind you and in front you lined up for the cash register. In classes
                at school and college, meetings at work, large social functions, it's
                likely you'll have to sit next to a stranger... Not to mention
                restaurants and bars....

                >>
                >>
                >
                >Amen. Ditto, etc.
                >
                >I think the "stranger avoidance" tendency is a behavior based upon
                >learned attitudes and expectations ("people you don't know are
                >dangerous"). It had better be -- six-headed-for-ten billion humans
                >are not gonna be able to live in private bubbles.
                >
                >
                > -Doug
                >
                >
                >
                >---
                > Doug Salzmann
                > Kalliergo
                > Post Office Box 307
                > Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA
                >
                > <doug@...>
                >
                >
                >
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                >
              • Erik Rauch
                That cars are the most inefficient form of transport is hardly disputed, but what is seldom appreciated is how little driving it takes to bring the downsides
                Message 7 of 14 , Jul 13, 2004
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                  That cars are the most inefficient form of transport is hardly disputed,
                  but what is seldom appreciated is how little driving it takes to bring the
                  downsides of car transport. The statistics on gasoline consumption per
                  capita in different countries
                  (http://swiss.csail.mit.edu/~rauch/misc/gas_gdp.html) are revealing in
                  this regard.

                  Hong Kong has the lowest per capita gas consumption among rich countries
                  -- a factor of 25 lower than the U.S. Yet Hong Kong is anything but a
                  carfree paradise. Residents of have to put up with much of the noise and
                  physical degradation that cars cause in urban areas, even though hardly
                  any of the residents get around by car -- and Hong Kong has chronic
                  traffic congestion.

                  http://www.bennenk.com/Maleisie/images/Thumbnails/19960822-28_Hong_Kong_Victoria_small.jpg
                  http://desires.com/2.0b3/Travel/Hong_Kong/Images/traffic.gif
                  http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/mag/2003/02/16/images/2003021600680801.jpg

                  Even cities in Bangladesh, which has the lowest level of driving of 122
                  countries, have to put up with a significant amount of annoyance from
                  cars, even though driving is a factor of 900 (!) lower than the U.S. In
                  the capital, Dhaka, only 5.9% of trips are by motorized transport of any
                  kind including buses. An aerial photograph of its downtown is revealing
                  (http://www.cs.ndsu.nodak.edu/~farooq/dhaka.jpg). It has wide streets
                  filled with what look like cars, but on inspection most of the
                  "vehicles" turn out to be bicycle rickshaws and pedestrians:

                  http://www.pat.hi-ho.ne.jp/paku/tabi/castella/pic/bangladesh/dhaka.jpg

                  But still, the bicyclists and pedestrians have to put up with the noise,
                  wide streets and lower quality urban design caused by designing for
                  universal automobile access.

                  And yes, Dhaka has congestion, too:
                  http://www.hellobondoo.com/pic/contents/bigjam.htm

                  The lesson, of course, is that it is foolhardy to permit cars in dense
                  urban areas. You get much of the downside of car transport with almost
                  none of the benefit.


                  (data on Dhaka from http://www.eng-consult.com/pub/dstar.htm)

                  On Thu, 8 Jul 2004, Karen Sandness wrote:

                  > Very true. Take Tokyo as an example. At times, the arterial streets and
                  > freeways of Tokyo can resemble parking lots, so car fanatics point to
                  > the congestion and say, "See, transit does NOT reduce congestion!"
                • hcfdave
                  Another aspect of this is that autoholics enter a completely altered state of conciousness when ... behind the wheel ... They can forget about everything
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jul 15, 2004
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                    Another aspect of this is that autoholics enter a completely
                    altered state of conciousness when ...'behind the wheel'...
                    They can forget about everything except their immediate
                    vdeo-game mentakity, which the various fad technologies in
                    newer cars accentuates. Often you hear autoholics say. "Yeah,
                    my commute is therapeutic!"
                    No matter that this ...'therapy'... all too often ends in murder and
                    suicide, spews incredible amounts of deadly poisons into the
                    air, and makes thae city virtually unlivable for everyone else! (as
                    well as causing global warming and sucking the earth dry of
                    ever-scarcer resources.
                    Cars indeed ...ssssSUCK!! (the lifeblood of the earth, as well
                    as ssSPEW!! poisons into it!...)
                    DaveS (nocarsdave@...)

                    (written in reply to the following and others...:
                    > >>>This is another of the popular reasons why people avoid
                    riding transit
                    > >>>if they have any choice. We just don't like to sit close to
                    strangers.
                    > >>>It's not "pandering" to accomodate this; city people don't
                    live
                    > >>>in large vilage-like groups.
                    > >>>
                    > >>>...I wonder if transit would get a whole lot more popular if
                    most of the
                    > >>>seats were singles?
                    > >>>
                    > >>>
                    > >>I'm always baffled when I hear comments like this. Those
                    who "don't like
                    > >>to sit next to strangers" would do themselves a tremendous
                    service to get
                    > >>out of their comfort zones and rub shoulders with the "other"
                    once in a
                    > >>while. After experiencing this sort of thing for a while, many
                    people
                    > >>choose it.
                    > >>
                    > But aren't we always forced to encounter strangers anyhow? In
                    > supermarkets there's people
                    > behind you and in front you lined up for the cash register. In
                    classes
                    > at school and college, meetings at work, large social functions,
                    it's
                    > likely you'll have to sit next to a stranger... Not to mention
                    > restaurants and bars....
                    > >
                    > >Amen. Ditto, etc.
                    > >
                    > >I think the "stranger avoidance" tendency is a behavior based
                    upon
                    > >learned attitudes and expectations ("people you don't know
                    are
                    > >dangerous"). It had better be -- six-headed-for-ten billion
                    humans
                    > >are not gonna be able to live in private bubbles.
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > -Doug
                    > >---
                    > > Doug Salzmann
                    > > Kalliergo
                    > > Post Office Box 307
                    > > Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA
                  • T. J. Binkley
                    ... Real, yes. Misguided, sad and ultimately pathological too.
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jul 15, 2004
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                      >The aversion to strangers is very real.

                      Real, yes. Misguided, sad and ultimately pathological too.
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