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Old Posted Apr 12, 2020, 2:46 AM
Urban_Sky Urban_Sky is online now
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Montreal
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Originally Posted by lio45 View Post
Exactly what I think too. That's why I made sure to mention that I enjoy listening to NPR on the Sherbrooke-Montreal drive.

Driving to LĂ©vis is much more of a chore, as it's outside the broadcast range of NPR. In a driverless car, I'd be able to read... would be a pleasant time - comfy in a seat, with a good book and hot beverage.
If you own a smartphone and you are smart enough to not rely on Apple, chances are good that your phone can play the same FM stations as your car radio. In fact, I have eagerly tuned in to AFN (American Forces Network) from my Siemens C45 when I still lived in Germany (so more than a decade ago) and wanted to practice my English (as this was the only English radio station):

I've never heard of being able to get radio through my phone. How's it work?

You can easily turn your phone into an FM radio if it has an embedded chipset and the proper circuitry to connect that chip to an FM antenna. All you need is an app like NextRadio, which lets you tune into the signal, and something to act as an antenna, such as headphones or nonwireless speakers.


Which devices can get FM?
Many phone makers, including Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola, have enabled FM radios in the chipsets. FM radio app NextRadio has published a list of devices and carriers that support its software, and you can download the app here. Once you've downloaded it, the app will discover the activated chip.

The one big name missing from the list is Apple.

Originally Posted by scryer View Post
A proper intercity train transportation strategy in 2020 would actually include driverless trains which would make a driverless cars obsolete. A proper intercity train transportation strategy in Canada would aim to reduce domestic air travel. Personally I think that it is totally on the government as to why the second largest country in the world doesn't have a convenient intercity train network. Perhaps the airlines are in the HOC's coffers?
We are still far away from driverless trains on non-segregated railway networks (unlike the Vancouver Skytrain or certain Metro networks like in Torino/Italy), but just installing ATP (Automatic Train Protection) to get rid of the second locomotive engineer would reduce labor costs significantly...

Driverless cars are just not there yet when it comes to any kind of transportation strategy. Right now, they can only go at lower speeds (like <50km/hr, IIRC). Besides, you would need driverless cars to go 100km+ to attract more ridership for a route like Calgary > Edmonton and I am not confident that driverless vehicles would ever get to that level without being compared to train services.
You are touching the key issue which prevents the widespread implementation of driverless cars: they can communicate efficiently with each other and therefore predict each other's movements, but they are clueless when it comes to predict the actions and reactions of a human driver. As a result, driverless cars will be limited to speeds where the breaking distances are rather short and that indeed means <50 km/h, unless there was a road infrastructure which was dedicated to automatic cars and this is highly unlikely to happen given the high economic cost of duplicating a meaningful road network for automatic cars and the high political cost of banning the owners of non-automatic cars (which represent some 80-90% of the electorate in any developed country) from existing roads. This is the same reason why High Speed Rail has succeeded, but Hovertrains or Maglevs have failed, just like the Hyperloop will inevitably fail (even if it ever managed to overcome all the technological challenges, which still look insurmountable): because HSR was able to offer much faster travel speeds on dedicated rail infrastructure, but still use the conventional tracks of the legacy rail network, while Hovertrains, Maglevs or Hyperloops rely on every meter of their route to be built to their specifications.

That does not mean that driverless cars will fail, but they will only be suitable for trips which don't require high speeds, thus trips on urban or suburban roads, such as:
  • Short commutes to work.
  • Short trips to school, shops or for errands.
  • Short trips to visit family and friends.
Luckily (for manufacturers of automatic cars or the programmers of their software), these trips account for the vast majority of the average car owner, which means that the dramatically lower operating costs of an electric car will still be a strong incentive to ditch their conventional car completely and to cover the few trips which would require Highway speeds (or higher) with car rentals, taxis, trains or planes.

However, the most dramatic effect of driverless cars will be that it allows the like of Uber to lower their costs that owning a car (even an electric one) will become a luxury which is pointless for the average household (a bit like owning a caravan for the 1-2 camping trips you do per year). The car in the garage will be replaced by a "Mobility as a service" provider, which you will be able to book like an Uber and which will arrive in the size you require (i.e. small car for trips alone or a van for family trips).

This will completely destroy the status of the car as the by-default mode of transport and drive people towards planning their travel chains with the modes of transport which best suit their needs. And given the slow speeds driverless cars allow, they will preferably use them to access the next transit station: People will book with their App the train departure they want catch and the App will tell them when their driverless Taxi will pick them up. In order to reduce costs further, the Taxis could pick up on the way other passengers for the same train (just like UberPool). Tranist would be limited to frequent rail or (very-limited-stop) bus services and driverless Taxis would pool and shuttle passengers between the transit station and their homes.

Therefore, I strongly believe that driverless cars are a massive opportunity rather than threat for public transit and intercity trains, especially if the authorities exploit the data generated by driverless cars to introduce congestion pricing for using congested streets (which will strongly discourage the demand for driving all the way from the suburb to downtown)...
Disclaimer: I am employed by VIA Rail. However, the opinions expressed here are my own and VIA is in no way liable or responsible for their content. Comments and figures posted by me here should be treated as the work of an enthusiastic University student currently researching part-time on related topics and not in any way be linked to my employment at VIA Rail.
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