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High Speed Rail: The Recruiters

by BruceMcF Fri May 18th, 2007 at 09:55:22 AM EST

NB. crossposted from the DailyKos, note UScentrism disclaimer in the body of the diary.

The big knock against high speed rail is, of course, that it does not run door to door. This is, of course, why the passenger air transport market is such a strategic target ... it is an existing fuel-inefficient mode of transport where everyone travels as a pedestrian. And a well designed high speed rail system will deliver the target market among pedestrian travellers from as close or closer to their origin, and drop them off as close or closer to their destination.

But those are not the only passengers that HSR will be catering to. A term I have heard railfans use for this type of activity is "recruiting" patronage, so, after the fold, I step through some of the important current, and potential, recruiters.

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UScentric Disclaimer

Note: This is a massively ... grossly ... UScentric piece from the massively UScentric Daily Kos. The point of posting it here is to collect additional ideas / corrections from the Eurotrib HSR community.

Note that throughout the diary, I smoosh the distinction between true HSR and the rapid Conventional Rail that I have taken to calling Express Rail. That too is UScentric, as legislation codifies anything regularly operating above 90mph (app. 145kph) as "high speed rail". However, given the station-side focus of this diary, that distinction does blur in the US, since new stations will have to be established for either Rapid Conventional Rail or true HSR.

So with that caveat, on with the show.

Ubiquitious Marginal Recruiter: Da Car

People today in the US normally get to the airport by car, so the first reaction of most people in the US when an airport-substitute becomes available is going to be to drive there.

This means that substantial parking will need to be provided in the vicinity of any outer suburban HSR station, for traditional park-and-ride use of the station.

However, we should never look at a fuel-efficient mode of transport, decide a strategic core market, and then stop there! A substantial benefit of high speed rail is that it brings rail outside of the inner-metropolitan core and through the outer suburbs, where a high speed rail stop can act as a support to a wide range of pro-Energy-Independence local transport.

In the balance of this piece, I am going to assume that about half of the eighth-of-a-mile zone surrounding the HSR station entrances will be devoted to the car ... access, egress, and parking. Often this will be two-level parking with covered walkway access directly to the station, making it easier for the individual park-and-ride users to avoid getting killed by the other park-and-ride users as they access and egress the station parking.

Hopefully, as the mode share of private vehicle use declines over the next two decades, some of the space devoted for car parking can be recaptured for a more intrinsically useful purpose.

Core Recruiters

There are a number of established transport technologies ... though not all of them established in the United States in this particular role ... that are inclined to act as very effective recruiters for a High Speed Rail station, because HSR provides them with an effective complement for the local transport services that they provide.

The five that come to my mind are walking, bicycles, neighborhood electric vehicles, local buses, and local rail (of all sorts).

Core Recruiter: Shanks Mare
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The first recruiter is the transport mode called "Registration 11" in Grenada and what by those running the railroads of Oz are mostly thinking of as "self loading freight" ... that is, pedestrians.

The appeal of pedestrians is that they are a core market. A very large number of the people who rely heavily on foot power to get around locally will have a strong preference for the train over any other form of longer distance travel ... so market penetration by the high speed rail service among pedestrians living in the vicinity of a high speed rail station will be very strong.

On the other hand, it would seem as if we could disregard pedestrians in outer suburbia, because nobody in outer suburbia lives within walking distance to anywhere ... ... well, at least, practically nobody (after all, a handful live in small towns that have been swallowed up by outer suburbia).

In urban settings in Oz, where more people are accustomed to walking a few blocks, the high intensity pedestrian recruiting range for a train station is taken to be about a quarter mile, with a lower intensity recruiting range of just over 0.6 of a mile (and, yes, I have done the conversion from metres for you).

A quarter mile radius gives an ideal circle of around 19% of a mile. At 640 acres per square mile, that is about 120 acres within the high intensity recruiting range. With half acre blocks, that's merely 240 households ... with area wasted on streets, less ... with one acre blocks, only 120.

As suggested in Retrofitting Outer Suburbia (dKos diary), the key step in building pedestrian traffic is in actually building places for those pedestrians to live.

Rezone the area around the rail station so that inside an eighth of a mile radius, half of it is mixed ground floor streetfront business, 2/3 floor townhouse residential. Rezone the balance of the quarter mile radius so that it is three story stacked townhouse residential. If a townhouse occupies an eighth of an acre, that is about 1,400 households in the quarter mile to eighth mile ring, surrounding about roughly 120 households in the eighth of a mile radius ... more than 1,500 households in an short walk to the HSR station.

Of course, the zoning does not create the buildings ... building pedestrian traffic will be an ongoing, incremental process, over ten to thirty years, once the zoning is in place, and as the price of energy continues to rise. But permit a suburban village to emerge around a high speed rail stop, and in the energy cost conditions we will be facing over the next twenty years, it will emerge.

It is important to ensure that access to the station is pedestrian friendly ... in part for the direct use of the station by local residents, and in part to maintain the connection between the station and the small commercial precinct surrounding it. This has to be built in from the ground up, and certainly warrants funding as an aspect of the station infrastructure itself.

Core Recruiter: The Bike
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To get improved mode share for cycle-and-ride transport, there needs to be infrastructure support. As was discovered in the first bicycle boom at the turn of the last century, effective bicycle transportation requires paved roads ... dirt or gravel roads are not nearly as ineffective. Luckily, most of outer suburbia is equipped with a suitable network of bike paths, connecting to each household in the area ... these bike paths are called "streets". So the infrastructure is already in place.

Some cyclists on arriving at the station will bring their bike with them on the train. However, others will require parking, and a generous amount of both cycle-post parking and cycle lockers must be provided.

The greater range of the bicycle means that it can provide a useful supplement to pedestrian traffic, even if only a relatively small share of the population adopt it. Taking 5 times the pedestrian recruiting range as the core bicycle recruiting range gives a radius of 1.25 miles ... the ring from  a quarter to one and a quarter miles is about 4.7 square miles, or 3000 acres. With half acre blocks, that is 6000 households.

Even without infilling, if bicycles can gain a mode share of 5%, then that adds 300 households to the self-powered recruiting range of the station, more than 15% on top of the core pedestrian households ... raising it to over 1,800.

Further, the effective range of the bike is dependent on the strength of the rider. Assuming the same 5:1 ratio for the outer recruiting zone, then the outer recruiting "ring" is 1,600 acress, or 3,200 households, plus, with half acre blocks. If 1% of transport mode share was taken up by these "strong riders", then that would push the effective non-motorized transport market to over 2,000 households.

Core Recruiter: Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
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This core recruiter is newer technology than the more than century old bike, and the Shanks Pony from as long as we have been around (how many millenia is, of course, is subject to some debate among the Republican Presidential candidates) ... but in the niche of getting around complexes, sprawling stadium parking lots, and similar tasks, it is a well established technology.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles have a substantial part of their niche defined by the National Highway Traffice Safety Administration definition of a "low speed vehicle":

low-speed vehicles (as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) are capable of up to 25 mph. Low-speed vehicles must have seatbelts, windshields, turn signals, headlights, brake lights and other safety equipment that golf cars don't require. NEVs are designed to be used in residential areas with low density traffic and low speed zones. With a top speed of 25 mph, low-speed vehicles can be used on streets with a posted 35 mph speed limit or less.

NEV's are street legal on 35mph or less streets, but unlike bikes are not normally legal to operate on higher speed avenues and highways. This makes it important to ensure that there is access to the train station via a network of 35mph routes.

The train station can encourage the use of NEV's by providing special parking close to the station for ultra-compact vehicles, and providing a charge station were a driver of a NEV can park&plug&ride.

Assume an average operating speed of 20mph, and a core recruiting radius of 15 minutes ... or 5 miles. With half acre blocks, that gives more than 100,000 households in the core recruiting radius. Turn 1% of those on to NEV's, and that is up to 1,000 additional core market households ... turn 5% on, and its up to 5,000.

Variety, of course, is the hallmark of a focus on high energy efficiency, since one-size-fits-all tends to be one-size-wastes-always. Also lying within this general niche are electric bikes and communities including a dedicated alternative path network for golf-carts.

Core Recruiter: Local Bus
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Of course, some people are not in a position to walk a quarter mile to the station, and we will be building up both cycle-and-ride and park-plug-and-ride use of the HSR station over a decade or more to get the types of mode shares described in those sections.

Meanwhile, the first resort for providing an alternative to cars in outersuburbia is bus service. From personal observation, this is presently very heavily biased toward a mix of college, very low income, and wheelchair riders, but our experience in the US seems to have been that bus ridership can shift toward the mainstream as gas prices hit unaccustomed levels.

And it is in this respect that local buses and a HSR station can often be the best of friends. Part of the very successful re-introduction of commuter rail to Perth, Australia, was a system of short local bus routes tightly integrated to the service schedule at the local rail station. For some reason, people that would not dream of getting on a bus to go shopping will not blink twice at hopping onto a bus for a five minute ride to the local station.

I'm not sure why the stigma associated with riding the bus is so easily waved off with, "I've got a train to catch". This may be mysteriously connected to the psychology in which someone over the age of 30 riding a bus to get downtown is a failure (to specialized Maggie Thatcher's famous turn of phrase), but a fifty year old in a suit and tie will readily hop on a downtown free circulator bus in distinctive livery to get to a lunchtime eatery.

On the one hand, the local bus has a greater top speed than the NEV ... but on the other hand, there is scheduling leeway required if it is going to arrive reliably in advance of the departing train. So as a rough guestimate, I'm happy to take the 100,000 houses in the radius of the LEV, and aim for a similar 1%-5% mode share in people who would use the bus to reach the HSR station.

Core Recruiter: Local Rail
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A major advantage of local rail is that it can often share the HSR station, allowing on-platform transfers between the HSR and local rail. Local rail that does not run on standard rail can normally be integrated comfortably with dedicated transfer stations.

Of course, one of the benefits of local rail is that the local core recruiter net surrounding the HSR station can be replicated around each of the stations of the local rail system:

  • Each can be zoned for a donut of higher density stacked townhouse housing surrounding a mixed commercial/residential core
  • Each provides the center of a wider ring of cycle-friendly access to the station
  • Each provides the target for NEV's in the vicinity
  • Each provides an traffic driver and interchange anchor for a system of short, local bus routes.

Of course, the Route Matrix Revolution (dKos diary) applies to local rail at the HSR stop as well. If one local rail line is along the corridor that is carrying the HSR, then the HSR station is a natural location for another local rail to intersect from a different line of travel. The local transport centers focused on a local rail station can radiate out from the HSR station in multiple directions.

New Recruiter Technologies

Of course, these are just established technologies. There are a number of new transport systems coming down the pike that could serve as effective recruiters for HSR stations, but there are three that I would like to single out for mention.

Pluggable Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Regular HEV's gain two advantages from the battery-electric component of their drive train. The first is the greater efficiency of running combustion engines at a steady pace, and second is the energy recycling from recapturing energy while breaking that can be used again when re-starting.

Pluggable hybrid electric vehicles also gain from the greater energy efficiency of all-electric traction and from the cost savings available when buying electric power off-peak ... but only for the portion of the journey that takes place on stored electric power.

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This means that if the normal drive to the station and back, plus sidetrips, falls within the normal all-electric range of the PHEV, the HSR station offers a natural complement to reliance on the PHEV for local driving. Just as with NEV's, this can be extended further and made sticker by providing park-and-plug-and-ride parking, in which the HSR user would pull in, deposit funds or leave an authorization for the electricity stored by the car, and head off to catch the train.

Aerobus

I have mentioned the Aerobus system previous, in Retrofitting Outer Suburbia. In essence, the system involves laying light rail on suspension cable, with the vehicle consisting of a passenger compartment suspended below an enclosed pod that contain the motors and wheels. This allows for a suspended vehicle with capital costs similar to a light rail vehicle installed into an already available right of way.

This system never got beyond pilot test status in the West, but its cost advantages and the relative simplicity of crossing water with the Aerobus has won the company two contracts in China ... one in a "Three-Rivers" urban setting, and another to connect an island city with the neighboring mainland.

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This is an especially appealing option for providing a local rail system that cuts across the HSR corridor, where there is no suitable Right of Way available. Individual pylons about 600 feet apart provides for the lowest capital costs, but if there are tricky clearances, its possible for individual pylons to be up to 2,000 feet apart.

Running an Aerobus system across a rail corridor would allow an Aerobus island platform to have direct ramp / stairs / escalator and elevator connection to two or more rail platforms underneath. Since it is common for major employment centers like Hospitals, Universities, Shopping Malls and Office parks to be located at some distance from existing rail corridors, and an Aerobus system can provide service closer to the door than the average car in the parking lot.

Rail/Bus

This vehicle, being developed in Japan, functions on the same principle of track maintenance vehicles that can get around track breaks by driving on the road. It has rubber wheels for running on the road, and steel wheels for running on the track. A short access siding would normally be the only new infrastructure required. title=

This, of course, can get over the passenger home side of the "door to door" equation, allowing a service that a passenger could book to stop in front of their house, to be let off directly at the HSR station platform. It is also appealing for small towns that have grown away from their original rail-orientation ... instead of bringing a new rail line to the people, bring the people to the existing rail line.

On-call mini-bus (UPDATE)

This core recruiter was brought to my attention by das monde, who diaried on it on 31 January in A transport service to reduce CO2 emissions.

The On-Call mini-bus combines the conventional Dial-A-Ride with an on-call taxi service. The conventional dial-a-ride simplified the logistics of the process with notional routes served by the dial-a-ride service and lead times of a day or longer. The On-Call mini-bus uses modern logistics mapping and GPS tracking technology to create the bus route on the fly, in response to demand.

From the user perspective, the next available service or service with a target pick up time will be available from mobile phone or internet, or by conventional telephone ... and the bus service can automatically inform the user of when the service will be picking up by SMS or email.

Your Turn

Now I throw the floor open. What are your ideas for effective Recruiters for HSR system ... and, yes, irrespective of my framing of this as a hypothetical outer-suburban HSR station, you can place your HSR station where you like ... in the middle of downtown, in a traditional cross-roads small town, or even, if you wish, in a tunnel station underneath the main terminal building of the international airport. ... just give me a heads up so that I know that you are shifting context on me.

Poll
What is your favorite HSR recruiter
. Walking 0%
. Bicycle 46%
. NEV/EV (two, three, four wheel) 0%
. Local Bus 7%
. Local Heavy Rail 0%
. Local Light Rail 30%
. Aerobus 7%
. PHEV 0%
. Rail/Bus 7%
. Other (describe below) 0%

Votes: 13
Results | Other Polls
Display:
lls I can say is, sure hope we see HPR in the US soon! Especially in the West...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 10:59:19 AM EST
I hope that someone enjoys this.

I guess its now after 6pm, Paris time. I'll be out the balance of your evening, and be back around Paris Midnight to catch up with any comments.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 12:22:12 PM EST
Great work; I'll thoroughly read and comment your piece later today.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 08:21:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This was good.

I think recruiter technology depends on what kind of trip you are doing. If you go on a holiday for two weeks, then leaving your car at the train parking can get costly and/or risky. Buses/trains are an option if they run fairly close to your home and have space for luggage, otherwise cabs are quite popular.

For shorter trips, were you only have a back-pack or handluggage (to speak in airplane terms) trains and buses are very attractive, especially if they park very close to the station, leaving you to walk only a short distance.

But bikes should of course not be neglected. There is a lot of parking space for bikes at my closest trainstop, and it is heavily used. But I think that is mostly commuting bikes.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 01:12:04 PM EST
But bikes should of course not be neglected. There is a lot of parking space for bikes at my closest trainstop, and it is heavily used. But I think that is mostly commuting bikes.

My gut instinct is that for multi-day trips, if the person bicycled to the station, they are more likely to be taking to bike with them. But overnighters and same-dayers, those can be parked and mingle with the commuter bikes without really being noticed.

Mind you, if I was doing an overnighter, I would prefer a bike locker. When I did overnighters to Sydney to teach in evening school, I brought my folder with me, not to ride in Sydney but just to have the freedom of return destination station when I came back.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 02:08:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's very discouraging for cyclists to have to disassemble the bike to transport it on the train or bus.

BART (light rail around SF Bay Area) has interoperated with bicycles very effectively by allowing cyclists to wheel bikes right onto the train in selected areas of the car;  Caltrain has a car dedicated to cyclists on each train, with suitable tie-downs and nearby seating so we can keep an eye on our bikes.  Most metro bus systems in the area have front-mounted bike racks carrying 2 or 3 bikes.

Amtrak and Greyhound however -- booooo, hissssss -- require bikes to be broken down and boxed for transport as luggage.  This strongly discourages use of these two carriers to extend cycling range, except by lucky owners of folding bikes who can disguise them as luggage.  In fact my local Hound office will not even let you wheel a bike into the station -- they insist bikes must be left outside, at one of the most theft-ridden bike parking systems in town :-)

Rail systems which allow roll-on bicycle transport with good security, are enormously more attractive than airlines with their $100+ punitive fees for transporting a bicycle and their disassembly and boxing requirements... this is a point on which rail can really get competitive with air...

If bikes are to be left at the station instead of accompanying the traveller, then security is essential:  theft is every quoditian cyclist's nightmare, and no one is going to leave a well-loved and/or valuable bike in an insecure location.  I have seen some horribly insecure bike parking at many local businesses and the result is, predictably, that cyclists either don't patronise that business or switch to pedestrian or (more likely) automotive travel to go there.

Just a few random thoughts... boy, do I wish we had decent HSR.  A good run from San Jose to Seattle on the infamous Coast Starlight is over 24 hours, with the train on sidings making way for fast freights many times during the trip, and average speeds around a pathetic 40 mph.  A bad run?  could be hours late.  Same issues from San Jose/SF to LA/ San Diego:  a major urban corridor crying out for high speed interurban express rail, and instead we get one of the slowest trains in the US.  I think I've written about the reasons for this "would embarrass a Bulgarian" rail line in a posting long, long ago...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 03:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most metro bus systems in the area have front-mounted bike racks carrying 2 or 3 bikes.

That is the best feature of public transportation in California. It should be imported to Europe.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 04:10:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a folding bike that I used to commute in Oz, partly because if it was raining at night, I could take the bus or a cab home instead if I wanted, but mostly because it meant I never had to lock up the bike outside. I parked it under my desk at work, it rode in a shopping trolley if I was in the supermarket, etc. If I had the over the shoulder bag they make for that folder, I would have been in even better shape.

On the inter-city electric between Newcastle and Sydney, there were occasional hooks to hang a bike, but the advice was to stay with the bike, and since they were in the entry vestibule, without seating, that would have been an uncomfortable 2+ hour journey. The folder, however, fit in the overhead luggage rack, so I didn't have to worry about it.

Roll-on-roll-off bicycle carriage is an obvious competitive advantage that rail can offer ... but we also have to raise the number of transport cyclists, so that there is a market advantage from being able to offer RORO cycle carriage.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 07:52:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i live in a college town that lies on an old rail line, and that laid the foundation for a citywide network of dedicated bike paths back in the 60s. the vast majority of the city's 60,000 residents (with an overlap of 35,000 undergrads, some of whom live in town and some of whom live on campus and thus outside city limits) are within a 20 minute bike ride of the train station or the university (which is the largest employer in town).
as far as i can tell, the biggest obstacles to radically reduced transport energy use are 1. the ingrained resistance to the idea of a dense downtown, 2. the relatively expensive and infrequent train service to the 2 regional urban centers, and 3. the inadequate transportation networks at the other end of the train line.

it has always seemed to me that the solution lies in building up the downtown area closest to both the university and the train station for higher density (3-4 stories, commercial at street level, housing above), running more trains on the line at subsidized rates, and trying to encourage the urban areas to get their acts together with light rail, buses and the like.

but the very idea that high density is contrary to the suburban dream makes things difficult. the fact that the only people who tend to vote in city politics are homeowners, who are currently bought into the low-density status quo, hasn't helped much.

even low-speed rail, if run more frequently and on-time, would make a huge difference in commuting patterns. people are paying attention to gas prices, and every new train they put on the line fills up to capacity very quickly. high-speed rail, as the state is talking about to connect SF, sacrament and LA, would be brilliant, if they can get it past the oil barons.

our problems are eminently solveable, if we're willing to step outside the confines of the way things currently are. it is that lack of imagination, hostility to anything new, that holds us back.

by wu ming on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 03:27:32 AM EST
A general note: I would stress somehow that developing all but the first option is worthy of consideration all on its own, not just as recruiter for HSR.

Now let's go over this point-by-point.

Da Car:

I have one additional consideration. If parking lots be used, why not use existing parking lots? Two possibilities come up: closed malls, and -- well -- existing airports. Given the more progressed exurbanisation in the USA, this might even make some sense there.

In Europe, following an idea of cross-modality I'm not sure I'd subscribe to personally (also see nanne's diary), theree are a number of high-speed rail stations at airports. I list them for you for future use, you may Google them:

  • extant: Frankfurt-M/Flughafen, Flughafen Köln/Bonn (both on the Cologne-Frankfurt ICE line), Lyon-Satolas (on the Paris-Marseille TGV line), Aéroport Charles-de-Gaulle 2 (on the Paris-circling Interconnexion line)
  • in construction: Malpensa airport (Milan-Turin line in Italy), and at Barcelona's El Prat airport (Madrid-Barcelona-French border line)
  • extant for conventional railway, future HSL connection: Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands is one end of the to-be-opened Amsterdam-Antwerp line, and the station at Brussels's airport will be used by high-speed trains in the future, once it gets a connection towards Antwerp (Project 'Diabolo'); the airport of Graz will be on the Koralm line in the misty future (Graz-Villach, Austria).

Shanks mare

The key sentence in what you wrote is:

It is important to ensure that access to the station is pedestrian friendly ... in part for the direct use of the station by local residents, and in part to maintain the connection between the station and the small commercial precinct surrounding it.

The pedestrian 'market' of a high-speed station is negligible. However, I guess it is a psychological effect, people have less inclination to travel to/from 'dead places'. A station where you always see other people walking through, or shopping or drinking coffee, a station that is connected to its surroundings, both feels more comfortable and safer. I believe some of those out-of-town high-speed railway stations built for political reasons (Haute Picardie on the TGV Nord, or station Montabaur on the Cologne-Frankfurt ICE line) also suffer from such a lack of integration.

The Bike

Since on bikes, people can at least sit and don't get tired from just carrying their own weight, I think the bike drawing radius should be calculated based on travel time. With a generous 10-mph speed and 15 minutes maximum travel time for the core radius, I'd calculate with a 2.5 mile radius, double yours.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

I'm not against them per se, but note that these vehicles would be best for shopping and such, if one wants to travel without carrying much anyway, I'd prefer good mass transit.

Local Bus

Thanks for the interesting observation about the behaviour of travellers in Perth!

Here the core point is integration, as you emphasize in the next point. I'd say ideally, local busses have the same range as bikes, but carry lazy people and carry people in all weather. So buses are sufficient in cities up to 50,00-100,000 -- which is well below what one aims for with high-speed rail. So buses are best as feeders for higher-capacity mass transit, e.g. local rail. As such, they enhance each others' passenger numbers. What I write also involves that in large cities, instead of long bus lines across the entire town with distant stops, there should be shorter ones with frequent stops.

One last important note: we have considered downdown local buses, but buses with longer routes (but, capitalising on gaps in thesettled areas, also longer stopping distances and higher top speed) are just as good as feeders in exurbia. In Europe, the revitalisation of some branchlines near major cities involved re-arranging countryside bus lines, with dramatic positive results.

Local Rail

Here I would have liked if dKos readers had been given an idea of the differences between the various local rail systems, though that may warrant a whole new diary. Light rail, subways and elevateds, suburban rail, and various combinations/enhancements of the previous like light rail changing over to heavy rail when leaving town, light metros, RER-type connections. Which is best for a city depends on its size.

Pluggable Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Park-and-plug-and-ride, that's an idea!

Aerobus

I am sceptical of this. In particular, I am sceptical about low infrastructure costs. The capacity, especially if single-track, is limited. If running above highways, stations can't be integrated with the city. If running in a city, unlike when above an already noisy highway, noise emissions can be a problem (you can't build shielding walls). And from what I know about railway catenaries, I really wonder how they manage vertical swings and traverses of attachment points at pylons.

Rail/Bus

This idea has been tried several times in various forms over the last half century, and was always abandoned, not only for technical but economic reasons. I remain sceptical. The problem as I see it is that a rail/bus, instead of just uniting the advantages of the two modes, also carries over negatives. Such as: it is too lightly built for rail use but heavy (->more fuel use) for road use, the railing device introduces extra possibilities for breakdown and higher maintenance needs.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 02:31:07 PM EST
Extras:

  • Bikes: high-speed stations could actually create their own rent-a-bike systems. There are such systems in various European cities, including Vienna and Lyons, the latter was covered by diaries on ET. Storage won't be your problem anymore.

  • A Swedish kind of death mentioned taxis. Car-sharing is also an option.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 02:34:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have this proposal (promoting here not for the first time), which would fit the recruiting role naturally. It is a kind of shared taxi (or "spontaneously" routed bus/van) transportation. Service to big rail hubs could be made very comfortable to customers, and implementation would not be hard. It would require just a road access for passenger drop off or collection, and some directing/assiting personell at the station - and no parking lots at the station!

A regular-routed version of the service could conveninetly connect the big station with hubs of local transportation, parking lots and other "recruiting" points.

by das monde on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 05:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I will have to edit it to include that.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 11:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't that how airport shuttles operate in the US?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 11:22:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the sense of the scheduling both origin and destination, this is closer to conventional Dial-a-Ride service ... the advance is providing the service on-call, rather than with (in this county) one to seven days notice and limitations in days of service for some outlying areas.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon May 21st, 2007 at 06:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ummm, whenever I flew in the American South West airports had dial-a-ride for arrivals, and I never felt it was a problem to have to arrange your shuttle ride for departure ahead of time (the night before was usually sufficient).

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 05:35:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The target here is to leverage off the HSR to support local transport alternatives, and the day ahead is on factor the reduces the penetration of dial a ride transport.

But the airport shuttles ... which are often private commercial operations ... do underline the fact that Americans get out of their cars to get on a plane, making it one transport task that allows us to sidestep the hegemony of the car.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 11:12:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can imagine that in many places airport shuttle busses work almost the same way - though it is far from standard, and you have to learn the system of each new place. But this is a right analogy to start with. The idea could be (and should be) applied broader and gradually improved. An aggressive promotional/incentive push may cut a lot in carbon emissions, congestion and parking space eventually.
by das monde on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 03:30:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If parking lots be used, why not use existing parking lots?
... certainly, through possibly, for example, with a second deck added to a conventional flat US lot. With suitable streetside infilling development its quite possible to provide a lot of parking without interfering with the functioning of the local zone as an outer-suburban village.

While I would very much want to see an HSR station situated beneath the main terminal of every main hub airport ... O'Hare, Midway, Pittsburgh from where I live in Northeast Ohio ... that is to allow people to avoid the nightmare of the airport parking lot ... so, for instance, if Pittsburg Airport has a station, that would in in addition to the two outer suburban and the urban station.

The pedestrian 'market' of a high-speed station is negligible.

It is around the high speed station alone ... though bear in mind that UScentrism note, this is directed generally at both actual HSR and "Express Rail", defined loosely as everything between the US legislative high speed definition and real HSR ... its the pedestrian market around each dedicated-corridor transport system that integrates directly to the HSR station that allows it to gain noticable traction.

Here I would have liked if dKos readers had been given an idea of the differences between the various local rail systems, though that may warrant a whole new diary.
... yes, it would. Indeed, one might even say it does. I'd recomend it if you write it, double promise, double swear.

Aerobus

I am sceptical of this. In particular, I am sceptical about low infrastructure costs. The capacity, especially if single-track, is limited. If running above highways, stations can't be integrated with the city. If running in a city, unlike when above an already noisy highway, noise emissions can be a problem (you can't build shielding walls). And from what I know about railway catenaries, I really wonder how they manage vertical swings and traverses of attachment points at pylons.

All Aerobus is double tracked, with the headways determined basically by the section length, with one vehicle operating per section per direction. They have the same capacity as a light rail or monorail system ... roughly a quarter the capacity of a heavy rail system, which is a very good fit for a trunk system in most of outer-suburban US. Its also a good complement to a conventional 120kph heavy rail line.

I don't understand the question of noise emissions ... what noise emissions? Electric motors driving steel wheel on aluminium track in an enclosed nacelle does not generate a lot of external noise. The first generation of the system, which ran directly on suspension cable, would have been noiser, but that was

At the pylons the track is fixed to the pylon rather than resting on the suspension cable.

This is not a recent technology, its a technology that ran into the lack of funding for public transport infrastructure in the US, and has been recently revived to serve the new demand in China. It was brought from its early trial versions in Switzerland, Germany and Canada and brought to full scale development to win a place as one of the three finalists in the US DoT 1992 $30m award for development of suspended transport systems ... but the award was never actually funded.

To my mind, the highest priority in running over highways is getting across the damned thing, but note that in the US, most newly established large office parks and employment centers are located in a ring around the city, accessed via the Interstate Highway (so-called) "bypass", or "outer loop". So an ability to easily cut back and forth across the highway can be very handy.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 03:26:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand the question of noise emissions ...

This depends on the speed of the system, but aerodynamic noise can be significant. The cable itself may radiate noise, too.

At the pylons the track is fixed to the pylon rather than resting on the suspension cable.

At higher speeds (say 30 mph) That will lead to 'bumps' when the train is changing from cable to fixed way, exposing the cables to sharp changes in stress, and the train will continually go up and down.

Overall, I don't want to be too much of a sceptic, let's see if this technology stands the test of actual use, in China or elsewhere.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 04:08:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its already stood up to the test of actual use, in Zurich, a ski village in Canada, and Mannheim.

It seems that some of this is a FAQ, since on their site they say:

C) Pylons

The Pylons support the Suspension Cables as the Suspension Cable is laid into the top saddle with some freedom of movement on rollers.

Conversely, the lower saddles on the pylons are fundamentally a short segment of a fixed rail to hold down the cables which support the rails between pylons. The rail supporting cables are pre-loaded by the vertical hanger cables, which in the absence of a vehicle, keep the cable supported rail in an arch above the horizontal. The rail supporting cables remain uninterrupted at the saddles as they are placed underneath the fixed rail segment similarly to the manner described at the stations. The vehicles make a smooth transition through the tapered ends of these short segments of fixed rail on each side. The short fixed rail segments are pivoted at the center to adjust to asymmetrical loading, as when there is a vehicle on one side of the pylon and none on the other.

I presume that all means something to someone who knows something about using suspension cable.

As you can see from the picture, there is a main suspension cable from which is suspended the two pairs of tracks resting on their supporting cables.



I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 04:39:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
   Here I would have liked if dKos readers had been given an idea of the differences between the various local rail systems, though that may warrant a whole new diary.

... yes, it would. Indeed, one might even say it does. I'd recomend it if you write it, double promise, double swear.

Hey, we could even team up! What about: I write an outline and my part, you add your knowledge of what is in Oz and North America and possibly redraft my text for impact/terminology/concept, and you post it to draw your established dKos readership?

(On the low side: I'd work slow, whenever I have the time, probably can't do it in one go.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 04:12:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure ... indeed, you could do a preliminary diary here, to draw more widely on the Eurotrib rail community, and I take that, amplify it with comments and what I can pull together from the US and Oz, and post to dKos.

I try to get a HSR diary up toward the end of the week or Saturday (barring one fast paced week when Uni was on Spring Break), if you need a week or two to get going that's fine.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 04:44:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rail/Bus
This idea has been tried several times in various forms over the last half century, and was always abandoned, not only for technical but economic reasons. I remain sceptical. The problem as I see it is that a rail/bus, instead of just uniting the advantages of the two modes, also carries over negatives. Such as: it is too lightly built for rail use but heavy (->more fuel use) for road use, the railing device introduces extra possibilities for breakdown and higher maintenance needs.

If it was anybody but the Japanese, I'd suspect much the same thing. And, indeed, the previous versions of rail/road vehicles I saw were far more complex beasties, with two separate drive trains and with the rail trucks raised and lower on hydraulics.

This seems to be a much more direct beast, with the road wheel and rail wheel as an integrated unit and the Roll-On-Roll-Off designed into a specialized siding. Call the signal center to get clearence, get a green light to go onto the siding, and away you go.

If you read the article, the main economic appeal to JR Hokkaido is that it costs 1/4 as much as their  conventional passenger rail set ... and while it obviously does not have anywhere near that capacity, a large number of JR Hokkaido's routes are carrying fewer than 500 passengers per day, so it allows them to maintain frequency at a lower capital cost per vehicle.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 03:36:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But JR Hokkaido might soon find that switching to normal bus is even cheaper. This was exactly the experience of the German railways in the fifties-sixties, when they ran a number of different design actually functioning 'Schi-Stra' dual-mode buses.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 03:58:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in their terrain they won't. Those rail bridges are there, and they are not going to be replaced by road bridges anytime soon.

Just as, in the US, the main advantage would be when there is a lightly used rail line that can be used for an express run, free of traffic congestion and traffic lights.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 04:27:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, I posted a Google video in the Open Thread you may want to use in the future...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 19th, 2007 at 04:17:50 PM EST


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