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GO Transit Electrification (Metrolinx, Proposed)

Kraylin

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GO electrification is a bad idea. This is because the concept of GO Transit as a whole is obsolete. It is no secret that self driving cars are close to being ready for deployment. Self driving cars will disrupt the transport market and eliminate the need for transit as we know it. GO Transit will be the hardest hit. Why would you take the train to Toronto when you could hail a ride in a driverless car for cheaper and arrive sooner? The benefits that self driving cars bring, including a reduction in congestion, increase in road throughput and improvement in general mobility make investing in transit a fool's errand. It would be better to take the money spent studying and constructing GO electrification and invest it in Waymo to ensure early access to the technology.
You cant always do nothing while waiting for the next big thing. Well you can but you shouldnt. Self driving cars are 10 years away imho and wide acceptance is potentially even further.
 

AndreWW

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GO electrification is a bad idea. This is because the concept of GO Transit as a whole is obsolete. It is no secret that self driving cars are close to being ready for deployment. Self driving cars will disrupt the transport market and eliminate the need for transit as we know it. GO Transit will be the hardest hit. Why would you take the train to Toronto when you could hail a ride in a driverless car for cheaper and arrive sooner? The benefits that self driving cars bring, including a reduction in congestion, increase in road throughput and improvement in general mobility make investing in transit a fool's errand. It would be better to take the money spent studying and constructing GO electrification and invest it in Waymo to ensure early access to the technology.
Even if self-driving cars become mainstream, public transit will always be able to transport more people in the same amount of space. 15 seats in 3 cars won't have more throughput than 47 (or 81) seats in a single bus.
 

Woodbridge_Heights

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Self driving cars will have greater effects on parking demand. If your car can drive back home while you work at your office and then drive back out to pick you up than massive parking structures become unneeded.

But in terms of road capacity, etc, etc. If your car is now making 4 trips instead of 2 (am to work, am to home, pm to work, pm to home) than that places greater demand on our road infrastructure. Sure this can be mitigated with car sharing schemes where multiple people are picked up and driven to work/destination in each day but even that requires coordination with staggard hours. Plus you lose personal ownership of your vehicle that way, and the north american desire to own an automobile is not dieing anytime soon.

What im curious to see is how covid affects working patterns. How many more will be working from home coming out of this pandemic and what effect will that have on demand for office space.
 

Allandale25

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GO electrification is a bad idea. This is because the concept of GO Transit as a whole is obsolete. It is no secret that self driving cars are close to being ready for deployment. Self driving cars will disrupt the transport market and eliminate the need for transit as we know it. GO Transit will be the hardest hit. Why would you take the train to Toronto when you could hail a ride in a driverless car for cheaper and arrive sooner? The benefits that self driving cars bring, including a reduction in congestion, increase in road throughput and improvement in general mobility make investing in transit a fool's errand. It would be better to take the money spent studying and constructing GO electrification and invest it in Waymo to ensure early access to the technology.
 

rbt

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GO electrification is a bad idea. This is because the concept of GO Transit as a whole is obsolete. It is no secret that self driving cars are close to being ready for deployment. Self driving cars will disrupt the transport market and eliminate the need for transit as we know it. GO Transit will be the hardest hit. Why would you take the train to Toronto when you could hail a ride in a driverless car for cheaper and arrive sooner? The benefits that self driving cars bring, including a reduction in congestion, increase in road throughput and improvement in general mobility make investing in transit a fool's errand.
You can model this.

Start with a software implementation of the ETCS (European Train Control System). You only need to worry about the moving block envelope since in the model you can assume perfect safety and perfect communication. You can even use a standard train acceleration/stopping curve since we manufacture trains for human comfort rather than being limited by technology. After that, apply it to a grid of 2 lane streets which would represent downtown traffic. I think you'll find most streets are not nearly as inefficient as you speculate. Capacity boosts are going to improve mostly due to rule adherence (not blocking intersections on a red light) rather than tighter tolerances.

Reducing tolerances in highway driving will require substantial overhaul of vehicle ownership and maintenance. You cannot have 10 vehicle trains on the highway relying on a private maintenance efforts. This really only happens with single fleet ownership; so Hertz cars might form trains and Google cars might form trains but you'll not see a mix of Hertz and Google cars in the same train until Government implements frequent (think airplanes) mandatory inspection/maintenance of vehicles. The liability in those situations is crazy in a crash.

Those videos with dots rushing past each-other through lights without stopping only work if you assume zero risk of component failure. Add in safety tolerances (see automated train and automated flight systems for examples) and you get a very different picture.


Also, electrification of vehicles in general is going to change the roadway maintenance model. Government fee by distance is a very likely implementation in the future; and you can assume some time-of-day congestion component will rapidly be standardized in most world cities. So, sending your vehicle home for the day isn't going to be a free trip; potentially far from it.

By far the most likely long-term implementation of self-driving vehicles is going to be the last mile. High capacity trunk lines (GO trains have 10x automated highway capacity at 2 minute frequencies simply due to tighter people packing) will have more value than ever.

Musk's tunnel solution looks great until you realize he achieved the low price point by eliminating difficult bits like emergency exits; that's only legal with extremely low capacities like 10 people per tunnel at a time.

It would be better to take the money spent studying and constructing GO electrification and invest it in Waymo to ensure early access to the technology.
Canada Pension Plan is one of the primary investors in Waymo, second to Google IIRC.
 
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rbt

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Amazing how often futurist urbanism actually attempts to hold back immediate improvements and practical solutions lest they somehow obstruct something beyond the horizon.
They simply have a theoretical ideal model of the technology in mind rather than taking time to actually understand the technology limitations, risk tolerance of occupants, and lessons learned within other automated transportation systems.

The practical model for transporting people is very different than what might be achieved within an unmanned factory or mining type setting. Efficiencies for vehicles with contents you don't care about can be very high; that doesn't apply to human transportation though.
 
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Bureaucromancer

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Honestly I even agree that the odds are in favour of self driving being a thing sooner than later, and it WILL substantially change the BRT/rail equation once we have self driving buses. But this is a case of possible future systems vs solutions today.

And I agree with everything above about self driving cars actually having a host of issues around worsening congestion in some use cases, not increasing road capacity substantially in any near term shared use scenario and ultimately being an incredible enabler for last mile more than a practical replacement for true high capacity transit corridors.
 

mdu

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I almost got into an argument on Reddit with someone who thought New York should tear all their track out and replace their trains with self driving Tesla buses.

Never mind the fact that trains have higher capacity, higher efficiency, lower maintenance, don't have to bring a battery along with them, ...
 

lenaitch

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This type of discussion always reminds me of the Popular Mechanics magazine articles that we'd all be moving around in flying cars by now. Anything that I have read predicts that fully autonomous passenger vehicles are a long way out from general, year-round adoption.
 

Wm Perkins Bull

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True level 5 autonomous cars is going to be hard because of too many variable paths, reaching level 4 for buses would be a lot easier because you would be programming in defined paths, so it doesn't need to worry about routing. Also, as most of the cost of a bus is the driver, the cost to run buses would plunge.

I almost got into an argument on Reddit with someone who thought New York should tear all their track out and replace their trains with self driving Tesla buses.

Never mind the fact that trains have higher capacity, higher efficiency, lower maintenance, don't have to bring a battery along with them, ...
If their argument was that for new transit, focusing on buses would be a better value proposition because of self driving vehicles in the future making operations much cheaper, that would be reasonable. But ripping out a rail system for Tesla buses is insane, the cost to change it over and have the same capacity would be cost prohibitive. Maintaining a rail system is a lot easier than building a new one. Likewise, if you have trolleybuses, then maintaining and extending it using battery trolleybuses and expanding the wiring system as needed probably makes sense, even if building a new trolleybus system would not make sense.
 

Bureaucromancer

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True level 5 autonomous cars is going to be hard because of too many variable paths, reaching level 4 for buses would be a lot easier because you would be programming in defined paths, so it doesn't need to worry about routing. Also, as most of the cost of a bus is the driver, the cost to run buses would plunge.
One of my pet theories on level 4 and 5 is that streetcars and light rail are one of the best testing grounds possible for a lot of the trickier aspects of them, and should be feasible a lot sooner than autonomous taxis or whatever true self-drive rolls out as first.

Imagine the effect if Toronto were able to set streetcar frequency without regard to operator pay, even with no other changes.
 

Wm Perkins Bull

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One of my pet theories on level 4 and 5 is that streetcars and light rail are one of the best testing grounds possible for a lot of the trickier aspects of them, and should be feasible a lot sooner than autonomous taxis or whatever true self-drive rolls out as first.

Imagine the effect if Toronto were able to set streetcar frequency without regard to operator pay, even with no other changes.
Yes, Rail would be the easiest thing, imagine if someone could make something like the Scarborough RT, but more modern and self driving.

Autonomous rail vehicles aren't a game changer because the costs are mostly capital, so it isn't saved, whereas for buses, the cost is mostly the operator with low capital costs. This means the Total Cost of Ownership of autonomous buses would drop substantially, especially since this would be paired with electric motors simplifying maintenance (reducing mechanic needs).
 

robmausser

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something like the Scarborough RT, but more modern and self driving.
Jesus H Christ man, do your research! This is embarrassing. Not just for you, but the fact that Ontario spent billions in the ICTS UDTC program and people in this city don't even know that it used one of the most revolutionary self-driving technologies at the time, in 1985!
 
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