The Future Is Cars, Because Trains Suck

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NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
490
Location
MI
Yeah sure, cars are great. Until you get stuck in heavy traffic during rush hour on the Chicago Skyway watching the CTA Red Line run laps around you on the Dan Ryan.

And the whole “trains don’t take my to my house/coffee shop/work” routine: seriously? That’s a bit of a ridiculous expectation. I love my car and I love driving, but if I’m able to take Amtrak, then I’m taking Amtrak.

If anything, I fully believe that Americans are becoming too dependent on cars to the point to where we’re losing our connection to society around us. Everyone wants to be in their own car instead of using public transport where they’re forced to *gasp* BE AROUND OTHERS. Frankly I think if we spent less time isolated in our cars and more time in common situations, then we’d be in a far better place socially.
 

sttom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
811
The future is cars!...Let's hope the self driving electric car revolution we are promising actually does bend the space time continuum and gets here like 5 minutes ago like we made people believe!

Besides my sarcasm, trains are far better forms of transportation than driving everywhere. Even if my car can take me to work and Starbucks, depending on where I am going I might have to pay for parking at the other end. The reason I have never driven into San Francisco is because traffic is a nightmare and parking is ridiculously expensive, assuming I go anywhere with parking that is. As cities become more important, we will need more trains since parking is effectively a waste of space compared to apartments, offices and stores once the local economy starts developing.

Not to mention that traffic is a big dead weight on out economy. Trains help reduce that. Or that people (mostly my generation) are giving up cars for other forms of transportation. A lot of bus companies are springing up with new buses to help with the demand. Amtrak really should have a plan for that, but I think the leadership (or at least the marketing department) is primarily of one age group are mindset. Which would explain why Amtrak constantly thinks of plans that tinker around the edges rather than a bold expansion plan. At this point, Congress will screech at anything, better to go big or go home...
 

tonijustine

Train Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
84
Location
Indiana
I just got back from vacation. I took the Cardinal to WAS, picked up a rental car and explored Fredericksburg and Williamsburg. On our way home (returning on the Capitol/ Hoosier State) GPS told me it would take 2:45 to get from Williamsburg to downtown DC. We left 3:45 before our appointment, which we then missed by 30 minutes because of ridiculous traffic along several points along I-95 and in DC in mid-day (not rush hour). I’ve often wondered how there can be enough patronage on the auto train to justify it...one day on only a small segment of I-95 showed me the light.
 

fillyjonk

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
511
"The future is cars" except if you're a single person like me traveling some 700 miles to see family, and you don't want to fly (or there's not an airport near but there is a train station)....the train is much better. I can get up to my parents' in 16 hours (mostly overnight) on Amtrak, it would take me (at least) 2 full days driving and an overnight stay somewhere (plus driving around St. Louis and crossing the Mississippi river bridge, and I know at times that's congested like whoa).

Again, this comes down to a "it may work best for YOU but that doesn't mean it's across-the-board best for EVERYBODY)

I mean, I like my car, I need it to get around locally. But for trips more than a few hours? Gimme Amtrak.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
628
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
Yeah sure, cars are great. Until you get stuck in heavy traffic during rush hour on the Chicago Skyway watching the CTA Red Line run laps around you on the Dan Ryan.

And the whole “trains don’t take my to my house/coffee shop/work” routine: seriously? That’s a bit of a ridiculous expectation. I love my car and I love driving, but if I’m able to take Amtrak, then I’m taking Amtrak.

If anything, I fully believe that Americans are becoming too dependent on cars to the point to where we’re losing our connection to society around us. Everyone wants to be in their own car instead of using public transport where they’re forced to *gasp* BE AROUND OTHERS. Frankly I think if we spent less time isolated in our cars and more time in common situations, then we’d be in a far better place socially.

You are right and any medium to large city around the country is horrible to drive most of the day.
 

cocojacoby

OBS Chief
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
599
Location
Boston & Florida
How about Motor Trend?

Latest issue (May) has an article about turning the unfinished California High-Speed Rail project into an American autobahn with autonomous vehicles running at 120 mph!

To pay for it the author suggests that plenty of people would pay a $100 toll to use the roadway since that is about the same costs as a plane ticket and you wouldn't have to deal with the TSA and other airport hassles. It would cut the present drive in half and you would also have your car at the end of the ride.
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
490
Location
MI
How about Motor Trend?

Latest issue (May) has an article about turning the unfinished California High-Speed Rail project into an American autobahn with autonomous vehicles running at 120 mph!

To pay for it the author suggests that plenty of people would pay a $100 toll to use the roadway since that is about the same costs as a plane ticket and you wouldn't have to deal with the TSA and other airport hassles. It would cut the present drive in half and you would also have your car at the end of the ride.
People don’t have to deal with the TSA on the Skyway and they’ll have their car at the end but they still complain about the $5.60 or so it costs to use....

Edit: I forgot about the “cut the present drive in half” part. Yes it’s possible that would be an appeal to many (more like a probable actually) but I doubt anyone would be willing to spend $100 a toll.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Messages
13
We priced out driving vs taking the train and the train was cheaper. And we both get to enjoy the scenery. And there's no arguing about route - do we follow my husbands gut or the GPS which is always a 'fun' time in the car....
 

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,715
Typically and traditionally, driving comes with car ownership. Although I realize this may well be changing, with car sharing schemes and such, the vast majority of cars are still individually owned. So typically you need to make a considerable investment, the salary of several months at least, and are then you are lumbered with that investment for years. Typically this means you chose a car that does a bit of everything but is perfect at nothing. It's big enough for the whole family even though its actually rare for the who family to go anywhee all at the same time. It's big enough to stow oodles of shopping although most trips are non-shopping etc. It's fast enough to go really fast although most of the time you're just driving at a fraction of that speed in sluggish urban congestion. In other words, investing in a car is investing in a bloated overkill that desigtned to be a jack of all trades but a master of none. Compare that to travel on trains and transit where you typically pay as you use the service rather than having to pay a massive sum in advance or be lumbered into a leasing scheme that you cannot easily opt out of. And then on a train you get to chose the price, class and quality of the service depending on how far you're travelling, how much you want to spend and how much comfort you need at that moment. And then even if the train is margibally slower than driving, the time you spend there is more productive as you can work or read or just relax.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2015
Messages
2
People like to claim that "cars are flexible." And the claim has some truth. But the whole truth is not so simple.

Cars require an extraordinary amount of terrestrial space. They are extremely inefficient in terms of landuse. People who attempt to drive in urban areas are faced this this problem every day. Because "cars" require so much space, they become immobilized when travel demand is high. And when they are "immobilized," or stuck in traffic, they are inflexible and extremely inefficient. Cars are most efficient in terms of space when traveling at relatively SLOW speeds. The myth of "flexibility" is exposed.

Public transportation, especially rail transport, is inherently efficient in terms of space. Rail has the "flexibility" to transport far more people at HIGHER SPEEDS than "cars." Public transportation is flexible in terms of capacity and speed.

IMAGINE if we treated roadways the same way we approach Public Transportation. When a scheduled bus or train is operating under 10% capacity, detractors of public transportation claim that it is "too expensive," and service needs to be reduced. The more infrequent and inconvenient public transportation becomes, fewer people ride it.

NOW, let's use the same approach to roadways! Most residential streets and rural roads "operate" WELL BELOW 10% capacity! Once we eliminate those feeder roads and rural highways, most drivers will not be able to access major corridors. As driving is reduced, eventually all roadways will be eliminated.

We need all modes of transport. Each mode, highway, rail, aviation and waterway transport can provide an important role in creating mobility. But we fail to use each mode to meet the demands each can best meet, and our transportation system fails.

I find it ironic that so many of the "improvements" made or sought in highway transport (metered freeway access, hybrid and electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles, intelligent highways, multiple trailer trucks) are characteristics that have long been, or easily incorporated, in railway transport. The bottom line: we are expending much effort to make roadways perform more like rail transport. There is a MUCH easier and faster way to implement these improvements: Increased investment and reliance upon railway transport!!!
 

TinCan782

Engineer
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
3,332
Location
LAX
People like to claim that "cars are flexible." And the claim has some truth. But the whole truth is not so simple.

Cars require an extraordinary amount of terrestrial space. They are extremely inefficient in terms of landuse. People who attempt to drive in urban areas are faced this this problem every day. Because "cars" require so much space, they become immobilized when travel demand is high. And when they are "immobilized," or stuck in traffic, they are inflexible and extremely inefficient. Cars are most efficient in terms of space when traveling at relatively SLOW speeds. The myth of "flexibility" is exposed.

Public transportation, especially rail transport, is inherently efficient in terms of space. Rail has the "flexibility" to transport far more people at HIGHER SPEEDS than "cars." Public transportation is flexible in terms of capacity and speed.

IMAGINE if we treated roadways the same way we approach Public Transportation. When a scheduled bus or train is operating under 10% capacity, detractors of public transportation claim that it is "too expensive," and service needs to be reduced. The more infrequent and inconvenient public transportation becomes, fewer people ride it.

NOW, let's use the same approach to roadways! Most residential streets and rural roads "operate" WELL BELOW 10% capacity! Once we eliminate those feeder roads and rural highways, most drivers will not be able to access major corridors. As driving is reduced, eventually all roadways will be eliminated.

We need all modes of transport. Each mode, highway, rail, aviation and waterway transport can provide an important role in creating mobility. But we fail to use each mode to meet the demands each can best meet, and our transportation system fails.

I find it ironic that so many of the "improvements" made or sought in highway transport (metered freeway access, hybrid and electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles, intelligent highways, multiple trailer trucks) are characteristics that have long been, or easily incorporated, in railway transport. The bottom line: we are expending much effort to make roadways perform more like rail transport. There is a MUCH easier and faster way to implement these improvements: Increased investment and reliance upon railway transport!!!
Consider just how much your car (or any car) is actually in use (or not used). On a typical workday, My car is used, perhaps 30-45 minutes - overnight in the driveway; all day in the Metrolink parking lot! My wife's car about twice that amount of use! On weekends, if we don't do some sightseeing, not much more use. I'll still keep the cars and, I'll still keep using the train. If I'm on the train, the car is in the parking lot at LAUS!
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,819
Location
Baltimore. MD
If Motor Trend and Car and Driver really want to freak out, they should consider that the the future will involve "Mobility as a service" with shared autonomous electric vehicles optimized for riders. Kind of like a robot Uber/Lyft with a safe driving cycle. In other words, bo-o-ring. Frankly, I'd rather ride the train for an intercity ride rather than be crammed into a car sized vehicle driven by a robot.
 
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