The “Transportation Cloud” is Coming

The “Transportation Cloud” is Coming

Many are familiar with “the cloud” – that imaginary place up there in Internet “heaven” where companies and people can access file storage, computing power, movies or music instantaneously – on demand – whenever they need it. The computer cloud has disrupted conventional computing: Companies no longer need commit to buying dedicated servers that they may only fully utilize a few times a year. People no longer need to buy bigger disk drives to store their email – we have services like Gmail that seem to offer endless storage for mails we never seem to get around to deleting. We no longer buy movies or music, instead we subscribe to on-demand services capable of instantly gratifying us like Netflix and Spotify The Internet cloud, while seemingly imaginary and ethereal has transformed the computer industry – and the number are staggering: Research firm IDC estimates that businesses spent over $100 billion on cloud computing in 2014 (Source: The Economist) Amazon’s cloud services report year on year growth of 90% Netflix is estimated to use 34.9% of all downstream Internet traffic during peak periods on North American Broadband networks, closely followed by YouTube with 14% (Source: Variety, Nov 2014) Just as “the cloud” has disrupted and revolutionized business computing, communications and media consumption – so the coming “transportation cloud” will have similar radical impacts on the world around us. What is the Transportation Cloud? The short version: think Uber, add car-pooling then throw in Google self-driving cars. The longer version – imagine next time you need to leave your house to go shopping, go to work, get to the airport you’ll...

How Many Riders Will SMART Really Have?

There has been a great deal of speculation about how SMART will reduce 101 congestion or greenhouse gas emissions. But these claims all pivot on the assumption that SMART will attain a certain number of riders. Previously the author has run figures and worked out that to breakeven on CO2 emissions SMART will need something north of 60 to 80 average riders. But how many riders will SMART really get? Could this be realistic? A Look at Other Hybrid Rail Ridership Numbers 2012 is the most recent national data available from the Federal Transit Administration; here is a table showing average train ridership for the four operators that reported “hybrid rail” data for that year. The New Jersey “River Line”, opened in 2004. This line is 8 years into operation before it attained am average of  as many a 46.8  riders. This line connects Trenton and Camden, going down the East Side of the Delaware River.  There are connections to New York City (long commuter rail) and Philadelphia which is pretty much right across the River. While stations along the River Line do not directly serve a major business district, New Jersey is this most densely populated state in the nation. (i.e. far more dense than Marin, so it would be near impossible for SMART to hit a ridership of 46.8). North San Diego County doesn’t go into the major city of San Diego, but it does serve the city center of Oceanside, population 172,000 – that’s over 3x the population of San Rafael, along with a number of other smaller cities and college campuses. It commenced operation in 1995 – 17...

The Supervisors Priority of Convenience: Climate Change

On December 31st 2014 the Marin IJ posted an article: Starting 2015: A Chance to Reboot Priorities that shared that the Marin County supervisors have decided “Topping their list are local priorities aimed at climate change”. My response – how very very convenient for a group of people with an agenda of rapid development and pet transit projects such as extending SMART. I ask, why isn’t one of the following the #1 priority: Dealing with the unfunded pension crisis Dealing with increasing traffic & congestion (an issue affecting the most people, with SMART Sonoma County is planning 25,888 new housing units, placing even more burden on highway 101) Drought (we may have rain now, but we are in a long term extreme drought) Dealing with / helping the  homeless If the #1 Priority is Climate Change Why Don’t Agendas Align With This? If climate change is indeed the supervisors #1 priority then we should expect the Marin IJ article and the supervisor’s focus to be about the #1 method of abating greenhouse gases according to Marin County’s own Climate Action Plan Update: Promoting the use of solar panels. However far better to tie the #1 priority to a “sounds right” we have to fight climate change to save the planet policy, and not mention solar panels. Why? Because then the supervisors can tie their favorite projects du jeur to priority #1 – climate change – and many uninformed sheeple will go along with it. Just look at the county’s own draft climate action plan analysis of how we can make the biggest difference to climate change and assess if they are...

UK to Invest $78 Billion in Roads

We’re told by Sacramento politicians, by county supervisors, by cyclists and transit advocates we need to accept high density housing near transit. We are sewn a story that we can be just as quaint as those progressive, green Europeans. Only here’s the reality check – the UK government just announced a $78 billion road building program. See if any of this  sounds familiar. Over here in the US you may have heard the same rationale made for investing in transit. Here’s what the UK Transport Secretary has to say on the matter: Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity…Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country. The British Government Transportation Whitepaper Read the British government white-paper. This is not some site run by a blogger, not some mere county, this is the British national government recognizing that if one sticks ones head in the sand and bets all the chips on transit, as they had done, it significantly inhibits economic growth and jobs. Excerpt – by the UK Secretary of State for Transport: We need to maximise every one of our economic advantages, and deal with every factor that holds us back if we are to succeed in the global race. Transport is one of the most important factors in making our country prosper. As a densely-populated island, we should benefit from being better connected and more compact. This government has already committed to a major transformation of the rail network. However roads remain the most heavily used mode of transport for people and businesses and we need to give...
Powerpoint Slides from Nov 13th Citizen Marin Presentation

Powerpoint Slides from Nov 13th Citizen Marin Presentation

Many of you have inquired about obtaining my presentation from the recent Citizen Marin event held on November 13th at San Rafael City Hall. Here is the presentation in both pdf and ppt format: Powerpoint Presentation (pdf) >> Powerpoint Presentation (ppt) >> Note: You may use the slides on websites and presentations on condition that you credit the source as follows: “Created by Richard Hall,...
Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

This coming Friday Caltrans is set to open up a new section of carpool lane northbound from Atherton Avenue/San Marin Drive exit to the Birkenstock warehouse, about 1.3 miles in length. This carpool lane will increase the capacity of 101 by 1,200 cars per hour – which at 1.67 occupants per hour (US DoT figure) and 3 hours of peak hour travel equates to 6,012 people getting where they need to go faster in that lane – not withstanding the additional congestion removed that speeds up the other lanes. This means $9m was spent helping 6,012 people = $1,497 per person Comparison to Bike Path ROI per Person Walk Bike Marin and the Nonmotorized Transportation Program identified three locations where $27.7m was spent to build bike (and pedestrian) paths. On average locations transport 53 riders an hour or 159 riders. This means $9.2m was spent helping 159 people = $58,071 per person This is 3,779% higher than the cost per person to improve 101 via a carpool lane. (although some of this was pedestrian so this gives bikes an unfairly low number) According to the Marin County Bicycle Coalition the total estimated cost for building Marin County’s complete bicycle and pedestrian network is over $100 million (Source). Comparison to SMART Here are the ingredient numbers. SMART will cost $1.2billion, at best using highly optimistic figures, it might transport 330 people daily. I’ll let readers do the math. Moral of the Story Our county supervisors and planners need to keep their eye on the ball and recognize that job #1 for dwindling, hard earned transportation funding is to move as many...