US HSR Newsletter (Extract)

Since this is infrastructure week, and the nation is about to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, its extremely important to push our leaders to spend that money on the right investments that will actually improve mobility and solve our most serious problems, rather than waste it on unproven gimmicks and small fixes that will do very little in the end.

We heard this week the administration is “expanding the definition of infrastructure”, to include things like the Veterans Administration funding! While we fully support proper funding for our veterans’ care, Veterans Administration is NOT infrastructure, just like social programs are not infrastructure, they are social programs. The VA should be funded out of the defense budget, not the transportation budget! This kind of thinking will end up diluting what actually gets spent on real bricks and mortar infrastructure – the systems that move America, resulting in little change.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is the authority on infrastructure, what it is, the condition of it, and the amount of investment needed to fix it. They say our national infrastructure is at a D+ grade (almost failing), and that we need to spend $2 trillion on the base infrastructure, just to bring it up to safe levels, and additional investments on top of that to build for the future.

THIS IS INFRASTRUCTURE:  Roads, bridges, airports, railways, water and sewer pipelines, oil pipelines, the electric grid, dams, levees, waterways, ports, waste plants, and communications networks. This is the infrastructure that moves America and what everyone is talking about.

So if the definition of infrastructure is going to be “expanded” to include Veterans Administration and other social services, then the $1 trillion needs to expand to $3 trillion so we actually do fix our falling apart bridges, rail systems, water pipes, electric grid, etc. If not, all this talk will amount to very little actual results or improvements to our bricks and mortar infrastructure that keeps America moving forward. If we are not moving forward, we are sliding backwards!

HSR transports 20 times the capacity of highways,
10 times the capacity of aviation!
The time is NOW to pressure our leaders to finally lead on transportation investment!

They have been ignoring logic, facts, history, science, economics, global evidence, in-your-face proof, and stacks of reports recommending high speed rail!   There is no rational reason to be against this miracle technology giving Americans better mobility options.

2 very different future possibilities
America stands at major decision time for shaping our future. Right now, America’s future can go in 2 radically different directions, all depending on exactly what our leaders invest in today that will shape our tomorrow. Every investment has a major role in shaping the future we all deal with every day. Many of today’s proposed ideas will do very little to solve our transportation mess.

Rather than leaving it to chance, and the high probability we’ll get 50 more years of the same transportation mess we’ve had for the last 50 years, its important to decide first the kind of future we want, and then build that future step by step. In the end, American elected officials are working for the American people, not themselves, or their corporate funders, and should be held directly responsible for wisely investing (or wasting) public tax dollars.

The American people are fed up with excuses, distractions, and inaction! They are fed up with the same old promises and non-solutions year after year while their daily transportation continues to get worse. The people want high speed rail funded and built, and are ready to use it now all over America! They are tired of waiting and endless talk. Its time to get real and build!

  A.                                                         B.
   -Continued highway spending                                 -Rail investment at all levels
-Highway expansions                                              -National high speed rail
-Intelligent highways                                              -Regional metros
-Driverless cars                                                      -Local light rail and streetcars
PREDICTABLE END RESULT (which one do you want?)
  A.                                                        B.
  -Endless congestion                                               -Reduction in congestion with new alternative
-Continuous accidents                                           -Extremely high level of safety and mobility
-Increased dependence on fossil fuels                    -Significantly reduces fossil fuel dependency
-Increased national security energy problems         -Energy security equals national security

  -Increased carbon output worsening climate           -Significant and fast reduction in carbon
It’s rather obvious to point out – if we keep investing in A above, we keep getting the same predictable results, as proven out across America. Talking about reducing dependence on foreign oil, and solving congestion, and making our transportation safer is great, but then continuing to fund roads and cars just increases oil dependence, and makes congestion and our other problems worse. We need to move our chips to the winning side of the table, the B side!
It’s highly questionable to use public tax dollars on an extremely complicated and unproven technology to supposedly solve problems, when there are easier, proven solutions readily available that are being ignored, and even blocked. This could be considered irresponsible gambling with public dollars, especially at a time when money is tight, and real solutions are available.
Techno fantasy or Hi tech reality_
“Ultimately self-driving cars are a boondoggle of epic proportions. 
They show that many of the promises are hollow.”
The whole driverless car idea is really coming into question. After repeated crashes, intellectual property disputes, and technical issues, the problems are adding up. It looks like it will be decades, not years before you can ride one. In fact, the problems are mounting so fast some companies are overwhelmed, and pulling back their interest. There is no evidence whatsoever any of this will ever work as a system. The public doesn’t even want or trust driverless cars!

The recent fight between Google and Uber may portend far bigger changes to come. The conflict comes regarding the role of self-driving car tech. The self driving car (SDC) movement has garnered a lot of smoke, but not a lot of fire. Furthermore, despite multiple attempts promises keep vanishing, while problems keep mounting.
Fortune reported on the ongoing battle between the two giants. Underlying the whole situation is the fate of SDC tech. Google claims that Uber stole their proprietary info. This suit will eat up a whole lot of time and money, and exposes the weak foundation that self-driving car hype is built upon. Years have shown that such technology is more often than not a puff of smoke… repeated crashes, a fatality, and inconclusive testing way behind schedule.

Self-driving cars are a danger on the road. Don’t let the fancy videos and commercials fool you. Tesla, Uber, Google, and the others need a long time to work out their problems.

Current status of driverless cars

Everything about this concept is trying to mimic the the great advantages rail offers – high capacity, ganged vehicles, fast speeds, super efficiencies, safety, and reliability.

Rail does this in a simple robust way, using solid steel guideways and physically connected vehicles, and has been delivering high capacity, safe, consistent mobility for decades all over the world.

The driverless car idea is trying to copy that functionality with an unreliable, vulnerable virtual (wireless) guideway which has to be built with millions of antennas, radar units, etc everywhere. This inherently has thousands of reasons it will never work, and be subject to constant hacking, glitches, power outages, system failures, bugs, weather, nighttime, incompatible vehicles, and endless other problems. Unfortunately every one of those situations will probably result in car crashes – exactly what this is being sold to prevent!

It really makes no sense to waste time and billions of dollars of public money on something as experimental and inherently problematic as this, when we already have off-the-shelf robust solutions we can install today, knowing for sure they will solve our mobility problems once and for all. We don’t have time to gamble with America’s future experimenting with techno-fantasies and wishful thinking, or waste 15 years proving it won’t work. We need proven solutions today that can be deployed quickly across the nation!

Rail offers proven, super efficiencies unmatched by all other modes combined. Its highly advanced and in use all over the world, and is the #1 mode of choice everywhere it exists. Cars (with or without robots behind the wheel) will never be able to even come close to transporting the high numbers that rail does, or to ever match the speeds, safety, reliability, or efficiency of rail.