Today’s Headlines

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  • John Murphy

    Ah… this is precious.

    “Here’s what I don’t get. The high-speed rail project is
    projected to be completed by 2029. Business Insider estimates there will
    be 10 million cars with self-driving features on the road by 2020.
    By 2029, when high-speed rail may or may not be a reality,
    we could all be buzzing around like George Jetson in self-driving
    vehicles. And at that point, who is going to want to drive to a train
    station, pay big bucks for a ticket and fight crowds to ride a bullet

    Nobody will want to ride a bullet train, it’s too crowded!

  • Flatlander

    Yeah, not like we’ve ever overestimated how quickly a new technology will be mass-adopted before.

  • John Murphy

    Just look at the last sentence – where he implies nobody will want to ride the bullet train because there will be too many people riding it. Yogi would be proud

  • Jeffrey Baker

    What are we going to do without Jerry Brown? He really gets it done.

  • jonobate

    Yeah, he doesn’t get that it will be more like an airline than a commuter train. You’ll buy your ticket and be assigned a seat in advance. No fighting through crowds, however popular it may end up being.

  • John Murphy

    No – he just doesn’t get that if it is *crowded* that implied that people are *using it* – but he says *nobody* will use it.

  • thielges

    I noticed that cognitive dissonance too. He didn’t have the finesse to place his conflicting thoughts into two different speeches. He went all-in and put them in the same sentence.

  • david vartanoff

    Some of us just plain prefer to be on a rain rather than in a car. As long as the SDVs are still carrying 1-2 persons they will still engender gridlock unless we are smart enough to simply refuse freeway entry when traffic clogs up. The backup of little toy cars waiting for space on the perfectly flowing freeway will be comedic to watch from the window of a fast moving train.

  • John Murphy

    If the SDV is pimped out, it will be super expensive. If it’s not pimped out, it will only be nominally less painful as you pull over in Salinas to go to a hot nasty In N Out burger and get in line for the bathroom. A train is much more set and forget because you have a bathroom, and for a long distance train presumably some form of concession. Even the simple ability to stand up and walk around is really worth a lot – it’s valuable on a plane and a plane has to be small enough to launch into the air, the walkable space and seat room on trains is just more.

    The only way a SDV becomes as good as a train is when you effectively make the pods as good as a train – by removing the steering wheel, putting the seats inwards facing, etc…

    When the grapevine freezes over. the SDV is now subject to the capbility of rubber and stopping distances, in fog even very good cameras will have distance limitations requiring slower speeds (even if the cars are all part of a good system you still have to consider animals/trees/etc… that might enter the roadway)

    A good fixed line train that can get you close enough to take a pod car a short distance will be far more preferable.

  • p_chazz

    “More like an airline”– does that mean passengers will be subject to being patted down by TSA and long delays due to mechanical problems?

  • p_chazz

    What a private vehicle has over a train is that you can come and go as you please. You don’t need to rely on a schedule and you aren’t subject to long delays when the train breaks down. A private vehicle also takes you from point to point. No need to arrange some form of last mile transportation from the train station to your destination.

    With a private vehicle you also have privacy. You can turn the music up in your private vehicle and you aren’t subject to young children running up and down the aisles or overhearing loud conversations about taking Mom to the foot doctor as in a train. Driving itself can be a drag, which SDVs eliminate. I think that SDVs will be strong competition for HSR

  • John Murphy

    “What a private vehicle has over a train is that you can come and go as you please. You don’t need to rely on a schedule and you aren’t subject to long delays when the train breaks down.”

    Interesting. My co-workers who commute from SF to Santa Clara – on the days they take the train, they leave whenever they feel like it subject to the restriction that there are trains every 10-15 minutes.

    On days they drive, they have to leave before 7 AM or wait until after 10 AM because otherwise they are “subject to long delays”. Not “when the train breaks down” – every… damn… day….

  • John Murphy

    Your assertion also overlays “how things work today” with the changes that will occur as we roll out self driving cars. Self driving cars will all roll out fully electric, but battery technology will not yet get you from SF to LA on a single charge. HSR will be connected to catenary, a car will have to “pull over” (whatever that means – in the age of all SDV that could be just the shoulder of I-5) and recharge for 30 minutes+.

    Also – you presume that an auto company that produces a self driving vehicle will sell you one. I doubt it. Far more profitable to sell rides, not cars. Selling cars requires an entire sales and advertising infrastructure – selling rides requires programming an app. In that model, short distance trips are attractive, long distance ones not as much.

    We’ll see, this is just speculative debate right now, neither of us has the real insight into the eventual consumer who is 20-30 years our junior.

  • jonobate


  • p_chazz

    Commuter trains and long distance trains are two different things; the latter doesn’t have the frequency of the former. Both are like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When they are good, they are very, very good. When they are bad, they are horrid.

  • p_chazz

    I presume that battery technology will develop a longer lasting battery, and I think that auto companies will sell and lease cars, since they already have a sales and advertising infrastructure.

    In fact, I don’t drive a car (never learned) and take trains and other forms of public transit to get where I need to go. Perhaps that is why I am a transit realist and not a starry-eyed advocate. There advantages to a private car, something to consider when you are standing on freezing-cold platform waiting for your train, while the electronic sign flashes “delayed”.

  • John Murphy

    Tesla does not advertise, and they have no dealers.

  • p_chazz

    Tesla sells directly from Tesla stores, in those states that allow it.

    “Every month, and often more frequently, a new story appears about the state-by-state battle between Tesla Motors and auto-dealer lobbyists.

    “In some states, Tesla is permitted to sell its electric cars online, deliver them to customers, and open as many Tesla Store showrooms as it wants.

    “In others, many or all of those activities have been forbidden under state laws newly altered to make it illegal for car companies to sell cars to retail buyers, requiring all vehicles to be purchased through a third-party dealership.”

  • John Murphy

    Given the recent path of history – what do you predict…

    1) It gets easier to sell online
    2) It does not

    If you choose 2 – your status as a dinosaur is once again confirmed.