The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Advocating a paradign shift to tech controlled jitneys

The White Paper

We have gridlock in the Puget Sound region because eliminating it has never been the goal.

Our goals, from what I’ve heard have always been big independent projects. Even a “patch work” quilt is designed so that all the patches work together.

I propose that we, as a region make it our goal to eliminate gridlock by the year 2017, ten years from now.

The U.S. put together a space program and put a man on the moon within 10 years using far less computing power than many individuals have in computers sitting on their laps!

If we have constant congestion and gridlock 10 years from now, it is because “we the people” haven’t the will to eliminate it.

I encourage dialogue, hence this blog.

It’s up to “we the people”, not the lawmakers, commuters, businesses, etc. (Hint: all of the preceding qualify as contributing to “we the people”.) The degree of success is directly proportional to the input and usage of “we the people”.

We, the People declare it our goal to eliminate gridlock by the end of the year 2017, A.D.

I propose our Internet of the Real World extend from Everett to Olympia, with their outlying suburbs and the WA. State Ferry system.

I hope that most people will agree that with today’s model for transportation, we’d need double and triple level freeways. That’s one possibility.

I’d like to offer another option the Internet of the Real World for the Puget Sound Region.

Please note, unlike putting that first man on the moon, nothing I suggest is new, it’s all been done.

The Basic Internet Model of the Puget Sound Region for the movement of People and Goods, Safely, Efficiently and for People, Comfortably.

1 – Diverse and Dynamic:

Many small vehicles with dynamic routing and traffic controls.

I’d like to also allow for various types of vehicles from bus, van, car to cycle (manual and powered), foot, skateboard, boat, you name it. Why not horse (and buggy) where applicable?

The bulk will be shared taxis that allow for ease of movement and diversity of routing. They will be in constant contact for routing. Also traffic control will be under dynamic control to provide ease of movement.

Nothing new, other countries have been using shared taxis for decades. Shuttle Express is a shared taxi company. Their route changes depending on customers.

Ever hear of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? What happens when a train breaks down? What happens if there is an accident on the viaduct replacement? What alternatives are there?

2 – Safe, Comfortable, Unscheduled:

Do I need to comment on safety?

Unlike commuters, People have diverse schedules. People stop off at the grocery, to pick up/drop off kids, etc.

The Internet moves traffic at the users’ convenience, without preset schedules.

While many people promote the “stick” approach, I believe the system is much stronger if the “carrot” approach is used.

We want people using shared taxis and alternatives to the private vehicle because it’s much more enjoyable. The system works better when people use the system because they want to, they want it to work, they are proud of it!

The more people use the system, the more room for those people who for whatever reasons are not able to use it, like freight haulers. Even they will be using the central dispatch portion.

3 – Funding: the Private Sector:

We’ve been using the model for the past 37 years.

In 1970, Dee Hock, using a “chaordic” structure founded VISA International, that credit card company we see almost everywhere we go, in the world. People and institutions of every conceivable language, culture, currency, race, and economic and political persuasion, were linked together in a commonly owned, $1.25 trillion non-stock, for-profit organization in which owner/members simultaneously engage in the most intense cooperation and fierce competition. (Read the book Birth of the Chaordic Age, by Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, VISA.)

4 – Completion date:

Like the Internet, once we declare it open for business, it is constantly undergoing improvement while in use.

5 – Big government?

I would assume government oversight and cooperation, at least in the near term.

6 – The Future?

I could foresee driverless vehicles that dynamically connect and disconnect while en route. According to Ray Kurzweil, in his latest book Singularity, a car has already driven across the nation, driverless.

7 – Disaster?

I’m a firm proponent of disaster planning all along the way. In regular usage vehicles are constantly rerouted. What do we do when a major disaster takes many routes out of service or we lose our power grid?
Posted by atallshipsailor at 9:13 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Friday, February 23, 2007
The Internet Model

The Internet works on the principles of small, dynamic and 24/7. Our public transportation system works on the basis of large, static and only during “busy” times.

The Internet accepts traffic anytime, 24/7, breaks it down into small pieces that are then independently routed the fasted way. The routing is dynamic.

If we wish to eliminate gridlock on our roadways, we must get away from the independent, expensive and monolithic projects concept, which at some future time, say 50 years from now will magically link together and still maintain gridlock. For over a decade lawmakers have spoken of having a single ticket that will work in Snohomish, King, Thurston counties and the Washington State Ferry System. It is still a work in progress.

In essence, the Internet module consists of many shared taxis dynamically dispatched to move people and their goods 24/7 from where they are to where they want to go, safely, efficiently and comfortably. They may have to change taxis, but there will be no wait or a minimal wait, not more than 5 – 10 minutes.

Public transportation must be of the quality that people will WANT to use it.
Posted by atallshipsailor at 11:09 AM 0 comments Links to this post
A New Paradigm - Bringing the Internet to Our Roadways

Could it be we’ve had such a difficult time resolving the Seattle viaduct issue because we’ve known subconsciously there is something else? Yes.

Do we really want to invest so much of our resources in maintaining gridlock? No.

We’ve all gotten used to using an efficient, gridlock-free transportation network where we are routed to the fastest, not necessarily shortest, roadway, automatically.

Do we want to be remembered for imposing expensive, static 20th century technology into the 21st century? Or do we want to be known as helping to bring inexpensive, dynamic 21st century virtual technology to 21st century real world technology?

The multi county area from Everett to Olympia is a great place in which to bring the Internet model to our roadways.

The same technology that moves information in the virtual world WILL BE used to move people and things in the real world in the 21st century.

Will the state of Washington bring up the rear or the lead?
Let’s get together to get it movingThursday, March 1, 2007
Changes, New Paradigms

Changes happen.

Technology is changing our lives and changing all the time.

Our paradigms change.

Many of us firmly hold to the belief that everything must be ordered, controlled and predefined. That defines who we are. For many of us, that belief system just doesn’t work.

Our world is changing. We are moving away from that well-ordered society. That is a major source of conflict in our society currently.

Many areas of the world, including the Puget Sound region have maxed out on building new and larger roads. Building more will destroy our lifestyle. And the more we build the more we will need to build.

It’s time to move from a well-defined, scheduled public transportation system that works for the few to one that works on demand for everyone. From a public transportations system for those without cars to one that car owners will want to use. It’s time to introduce a little bit of chaos.

We will move from the old paradigm to the new. We have been covertly moving there. We will get there.

Would we pay for a new hi-tech computer only to have it delivered 10 - 20 years from now?

The question is, do we want to continue to invest in the old technologies for the next several decades while we continue to move toward the new? Or do we want to consciously invest in the new paradigm and technologiesFrom Big Bus to Small Shared Limousines

My main focus is on surface alternatives for the movement of people.

In the 21st century, I believe dynamic and flexible is the key.

My main area of focus is on moving from a bus/public transportation system for those unfortunate not to be able to afford a private vehicle, to a public transportation system preferred by those able to afford a private vehicle.

Initially, like all technology, it will be expensive and crude. As the technology improves, it will be available to all segments of society.

I see the basic public transportation system consisting of computer dispatched "shared limousines".

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Mobility and Greenery

Within 20-25 years our city landscape can look much greener, if we choose.

My main focus in mobility lies with public transportation.

The world that will be is not big inflexible structures that dictate mobility, but small vehicles with dynamic routing and serve at the pleasure of the users.

I thoroughly enjoy riding trains. It’s a great way to go from Seattle to Los Angeles, and points in-between. On that type of travel I can adjust my schedule to enjoy the train ride. It doesn’t work in the urban area.

It is too late to begin building train systems. Putting in the tracks is a very costly proposition and takes a long time. The Sound Transit plan is for 20 years. We can’t wait that long.

The value of any form of public transportation is diminished with the ability to access it, i.e., how do I get to the train then to my final destination? How am I adversely affected by the train’s schedule?

If I have to drive to a “park and ride”, sometimes known as “park and vandal/steal” it’s not truly public transportation, I still need to drive my private vehicle, which may be needed at the other end of the trip.

To regain mobility in the Puget Sound Region, as well as other areas of the world, we will see changes in how we think about public transportation. It is happening, you might say it is in the air we breathe.

The role of government is not to be the sole provider, but to help regulate the movement industry as far as safety, environmental concerns and accessibility for every person.

Unless we are willing to continually build to “ease” congestion, public transportation must become the preferred mode for those who can afford to own and operate several expensive private vehicles.

At this time I see those two major paradigm changes as not only necessary, but they will happen.

My purpose at this time is not to discuss alternative modes of transportation, but what will be the major portion – small, shared vehicles, computer dispatched, eventually computer driven, and computer routed to pick up people at their door and drop them off at the destination. They will probably have the ability to self-couple and un-couple, forming ad-hoc “trains”.

I understand some big businesses are at the early stages of this for their employees now.

Like any new technology, the first implementations are expensive and crude and for those who can afford the luxury. As technology improves, the price comes down until it is affordable virtually by all.

My preliminary draft is intended as a place to begin discussion:

Government teams up with any business willing. I see companies like Microsoft coming in on the ground floor, to begin this service in limited areas around the workplace. Microsoft is ideal as there is a lot of money both at MS and the nearby area, and the primary business of MS is computer technology.

The companies separately and jointly design and begin using computer programs for dispatch to shared vehicles equipped with GPS transceivers. Initially, the drivers will receive instructions through wireless communication.

Communications to and from the vehicles are accomplished through current cell and wireless Internet companies.

Government installs transceivers in all traffic control devices so that they will give preference to the shared and emergency vehicles.

Major paradigm changes:
Public transportation must become the preferred mode for those who can afford to own and operate several expensive private vehicles.

Public transportation is moved to the private sector with government oversight.

Private businesses compete against each other in a cooperative manner, their lives depend on it.

This region is abundant in financial wealth, not only through business, but also through the people that live, work and play here.

Traffic congestion and environmental concerns impact everyone that lives, works, plays or visits our region.

I hope we would be able to find grant money to offset any tax increases.

The User:
People within the test areas will telephone or use the Internet to call in for service. They will give beginning and destination locations, number of people and any special accommodation such as wheel chair, bicycle, groceries, and pick-up or drop-off time request.

I recommend beginning in areas with a strong financial base as it is imperative that those who have transportation alternatives prefer public transportation. The area around the Microsoft campus is ideal. They currently have an on-campus shuttle service and they and their neighbors have financial resources. And I believe they enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology. And it goes without saying, Microsoft is about computer technology.

My guess is that within a year of acceptance, we could begin a limited demonstration project two years at the outset.

Just a dream?
At the moment, yes.

Very! Except for dynamically controlled traffic control devices, all the necessary technology to begin is here, much of it in place. We just need to begin dialogue.

Recommended reading:
Birth of the Chaordic Age by Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA, International. (In 1970, banks around the world, all competing against each other cooperated to form what was the largest ever international company for the exchange of value.)

20-25 years from now, we will not be needing large parking lots at all the shopping malls, much of that space can be converted to parks, green areas.

They accommodate the user unlike today's public transportation.

Eventually, all traffic control, traffic lights will be computer controlled in order to keep the traffic flowing efficiently.

The East side would be a great place to begin, as there is money there as well as congestion, and Microsoft already has begun using computer dispatched shared limousines to move its employees around the campus.

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