104-07 OTF354M battery powered National

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22 Replies to “News Roundup: Obvious Ideas”

  1. The Vegas self driving shuttle is interesting although it is just a .6 mile downtown circuit. Las Vegas has to be the most frustrating city in terms of transit. I am headed for another visit in a couple of weeks and I searched for their latest plans on developing something useful beside their current tourist monorail. It looks like they are going to expand it but the plans now are to expand to the Mandalay bay and a future NFL stadium??? and it looks like it will skip the airport.


    I can’t think of another city that needs a transit system worse than Vegas. I once spent an hour in an airport taxi line just to get stuck in traffic to go to the MGM. I tried the bus on another trip and was stuck in traffic over an hour to get downtown. The monorail isn’t used by locals because it only goes between casinos. It isn’t used by tourists because it doesn’t go to the airport or downtown. In a city with no hills, no water, straight streets, it should be easy to get an elevated light rail or even set aside some lanes for real BRT. I would even use a limebike from the airport to the strip if they could find a way to put in some PBL’s.

    The taxi lobby must be strong to stop any efforts to get something done. Or maybe the government can’t find a way to get casino money to pay for something. If airport transit should be for tourists then they should be able to fund this with some sort of tourism tax with the amount of people that fly in every day. Again…..frustrating.

    1. The headline of the Las Vegas shuttle says ‘revenue’ service but the service is actually free for riders. If it’s free, is it still ‘revenue service’? Maybe just call it ‘passenger service’?


      It also appears that the vehicle was completely stopped and the driver was slowly backing up, trying to get out of a tight situation.


    2. One trick you might want to try to avoid long pickup lines at the airport in cities that lack a decent transit system – follow the signs for hotel courtesy shuttles and get on whatever random shuttle comes first to whatever random hotel it takes you to. Then, use your phone to order an Uber or Lyft to take you from the random hotel to where you really want to go.

      I’ve done this trick a few times in Houston, and it actually works quite well. Generally, hotels don’t run airport shuttles unless the hotel is pretty close the airport, so it usually ends up not being all that much out of the way. And there’s enough hotels that the stream of shuttles in nearly continuous, even if the route serving any particular hotel doesn’t run more than every 15-30 minutes. Besides saving time, the scheme also saves money by eliminating the airport pick-up fee, plus the mileage to get out of the airport property (which is more than you might think – it’s a huge airport).

  2. To avoid a little confusion: The mention of the 150 engineering jobs seems to be downtown or maybe waterfront and not Belltown if the 1201 Western Ave address is where this office will be.

  3. For those in Belltown/LQA/SLU, SDOT is conducting an open house regarding transportation in the north downtown neighborhoods. It’s connected to the Key Arena MOU with OVG and the transportation improvements it requires. I attended the kickoff event, and it was focused on multimodal improvements to the neighborhood. Saturday’s event is all day, but you can attend all or part of it.


  4. “Westlake bike path: Better commutes for thousands, but safety risk for pedestrians?”

    Safety risk? The existing conditions were a sidewalk through a parking lot, with multiple, uncontrolled crossings of access points. This reeks of some anti-bicycle crusader trying to to stir the pot.

    “Just outside the deli on Friday, two bikes whooshed within 2 feet of a woman who walked into the 10-foot-wide path while looking at her phone.”

    This seems to be the case with most pedestrian “conflicts” I see. People blindly veering across the path at non-designated areas. Sure, I’ve seen people stopped, waiting to cross at designated areas and cyclists ignoring them. But if that’s a case against an extremely popular and useful cycle track, then we have a case against all roads because some drivers don’t stop for pedestrians waiting to cross at designated crosswalks.

      1. Not quite – Madison BRT isn’t fully grade separated, and it doesn’t have bus-only lanes east of 12th. But along the BRT continuum, yes it sorta like that.

    1. Madison BRT won’t be swooshy or driverless. And it will have trolley wires, won’t it?

      But still, we could call that Chinese thing a Superbus or Robobus or something. We can tell people that “bus” is just a b and a Latin -us suffix, it doesn’t mean bus as in poormobile, and maybe if the last syllable is unstressed, people won’t notice it. We could even give it a SLUT-like nickname like SuperBS or RoboBS.

    1. Isn’t this what already exists in Seattle’s 3rd Ave during peak? Cars can drive on 3rd, but only 1 block at a time.

      1. Yup. Still relevant, though, as the city considers the One Center City plan to make those restrictions all-day.

    2. Hence why the placement of the tracks in the center of the street is so important, its much easier to convert to an effective transitway in the future if not at the initial build out.

  5. “At the sound of the first droning of the shells we flash backward, in one part of our being, a thousand years. By the animal instinct that it awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious; it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness. One can not explain it.

    A man is walking along without thought or heed. Suddenly he throws himself down on the ground and a storm of fragments flies harmlessly over him. Yet he cannot remember either to have heard the shell coming or to have thought of flinging himself down.

    But had he not abandoned himself to the impulse he would now be a heap of mangled flesh. It is this other, this second sight in us, that has thrown us to the ground and saved us, without our knowing how. If it were not so, there would not be one man alive from The English Channel to Switzerland.”

    – Erich Remarque “All Quiet on the Western Front”

    Ok, Bruce. Let’s have a posting on who or what you’re welcoming. In heavy moving traffic in general I feel a lot more comfortable alongside a double-botton (two trailer) semi. Than with same road-space’s worth of civilian traffic.

    Part of it’s my years driving articulated buses, and some smaller trucks, but I know exactly what a trucker is going to need to do, and exactly when. And professional courtesies like blinking my headlights when I see a trucker ahead needing to get into my lane.

    But a million times more important, the truck driver know’s even more about what I’m likely to do. But what we both have in common is that we know firsthand how to handle our machines and “read” what the other driver’s going to do because we’re all humans.

    Which creates a set of life and death reflexes that nobody can send digital, because we’re not even aware we have them. Let alone to explain them to a machine. Right now I’m in a coffee shop in Tacoma, after two hours of traffic whose only distinction from Hell was that none of us would’ve spilled a cup of coffee left open on our dashboards.

    Throughout the day, from 9AM in Port Townsend to now after a hair-raising traffic evasion between here, the Sound, and Dupont, I didn’t sense, let alone see one close call amid some heavy traffic at up yo 60, where maybe a hundred drivers at a time had to make the exact right move to avoid a parking-lot sized crash.

    Only “close one” was my own attempted lane change to get out of the Must Turn Right one from 12th to Union (in Tacoma!) would’ve been perfect- inserting my car into a full moving lane at about 25 mph, except that traffic in that lane slowed, again smoothly, and I my reflexes were too tired to account for.

    I swung smoothly right, made the turn I didn’t want to, and half an hour later, here I am. Nobody lurched, nobody even blew their horn. Main reason nobody can code that situation is that none of us could tell the program second by second what we were seeing, planning, thinking, and, to the microsecond, telling our machines.

    Well, you’re right about one thing. When upcoming flick I’m crowd-funding called Invasion of the Overlords starts casting, we’ll know whom to hire for the treasonable human who glues on six more arms and tries to join the aliens. Who, having started out on eighteen wheelers on their own planet, where the Grand High Risk Manager empties a blaster into anything with an empty left front seat.

    While using his other fourteen arms to operate his Freight Liner’s two dozen manual transmissions. Now THAT’s why throughout the galaxy, the only beings planning automated road vehicles are the ones that made a Reality Show (some things don’t translate) creator their Supreme Commander.

    But humans’ ultimate victory will be the spectacular battle-scene when the fate of the Universe depends on whose fighter- I mean motor- command will be able to execute the semi-wingover bringing SR 101 into I-5 into a swarming, lane-weaving river of 60 mph traffic in a howling pitch-black 6AM rainstorm just below the cliff holding the Dome of Evil.

    Not really fair, because since all thousands of us have been doing it every morning for so many years we can do it in our sleep without even turning over in bed, I mean our seats. Care for a dog-fight, (you’ve got to have an RAF nickname like “Pip” or “Chip” or “Snoopy”) just be careful you don’t put your computer into sleep mode to save battery.

    Over to you.


  6. Bruce, sorry I just got at the article after website forgot I’d reached my limit. Because there’s no way the transportation industries’ takeover by greedy, dangerous idiots (well, they could play them on TV) is at all funny.

    No traffic on the highways between cities? Just because everybody in Pierce and Thurston Counties drives like there isn’t doesn’t make it true. Though might be okay if all the private car traffic was also automated, and made out of crash proof metal, with movie screens for windows.

    That way, neither car passengers nor truckers would even have to make each other nervous, since one, they couldn’t see each other, and two, nobody’d get hurt if they collided. Might help to cushion them like dodge-’em cars. Which used to have this terrific overhead like an electrified window screen under the whole ceiling of the carnival ride venue. At least they didn’t “throw poles”.

    Have really had it with whole spate of high-pressure sales-by-inevitablity campaigns. Almost as bad as for drones, except you don’t even need a shot-gun to take care of one of those. Just a slingshot and a ball bearing, or another drone trailing a net.

    Just because now that the world is full of jet fighter planes there’s a fall-off of executives, that doesn’t mean there isn’t another campaign to help the mechanically un-needed on the horizon. Another high-stakes player here. The insurance industry will be able to charge so much money to insure these trucks it won’t care if anybody healthy buys insurance at all,

    Real reason to suspect un-seriousness is real-life possibilities missed. Since every automated thing with train wheels or tires can run safely on a fully reserved right of way with strong barriers, no reason automated cross country trucking couldn’t also.

    Unlike idea of any vehicle in mixed traffic without a human being in the seat, hands on the wheel, foot on accelerator and brake. But better idea for urban driverless running: On intrusion- proofed trackway:


    Though I’d prefer to see these go by on the SLU line, and also drive it.


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