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Self-driving vehicles and public transport

Many people talk about autonomous cars so that you don’t have to drive by yourself and can use the time for something else, or that cab services became cheaper.

But what about public transport? E.g. driver-less trains already exist since decades and now their are experiments with buses too.

I know that trains just suck in the US. Except within city cores and a few places, transit is of very little use. A century ago the US had the best railway network in the world. The next 50 years were spend ruining it. Surely private cars are competition and while it was logical that rail services were reduced, like in Europe and Canada, their near-total collapse in the US was not inevitable.

Individual means of travel are kind of ineffective in terms of resource consumption, compared to collective means of travel.


… und, was willst du nun hier diskutieren :thinking:

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selfdriving e-scooters? :wink:


The decline of public transit in the US seems to reflect the rise in a kind of cultural misanthropy in America. An increasing fear, annoyance, and even disgust with other people that has reached extremes in the present. And this, in turn, reflects a rise in anonymity in society as traditional extended families and local communities were systematically destroyed as a threat to loyalty to state and company and the total reliance on the market economy for meeting one’s needs.

As automobile adoption expanded, drawing the middle-class and wealthy out of cities, cars represented a suburban lifestyle and middle-class identity, with public transit being associated with the poor left behind. This was reinforced by the willful mismanagement of cities and their infrastructures leading to their terrible deterioration in the 1970s. A common blunder of public transit management during the fiscal crisis of the era --and every economic downturn since-- was to reduce the level of service --number of stations and vehicles, deferring maintenance leading to a worse riding experience and frequent breakdowns, and cutting security leading to increased crime-- in order to reduce costs. But this only led to a death-spiral of declining ridership and income as the systems became functionally useless. Thus a general cultural image of public transit emerged that depicted it as dirty, crowded, ugly, dysfunctional, dangerous, and used only by the lowest of society. Indeed, this was long the image of cities in general.

Hell is other people. This sentiment is everywhere today, and especially online. Our culture is cultivating sociopathy because it has destroyed the skills and venues of socialization and the mechanisms of trust while reinforcing anonymity, even with the design of the habitat. Traditional communities commonly built trust through shared activity, functional and ritualistic. That’s the basic way trust works --it’s a confidence in the behavior of others built through mutual experience. And so in Europe you still see a vast assortment of seasonal ritual activities; festivals, parades, ceremonies, quirky public events of all sorts… Remnants of the social activities that were once critical to the cohesion of communities. Founded by the chronically anal retentive Protestants and Puritans, the US never really cultivated that kind of community activity --dancing, feasting, and music being considered sinful. We reinvented such things as ‘national holidays’, which were more about allegiance to the state and excuses for consumerism. So, even early on, we were pretty poor at community and it’s only gotten worse as we imposed very inorganic, militarized, urban development schemes, built ever-taller, more isolating, buildings, ever-more-isolated homes, ever-more elaborate technological buffers between us and any contact with other people.

So even though we had the necessary technology to automate transportation very early on (as demonstrated by many concepts for Personal Rapid Transit), in the context of public transit it had no hope of gaining traction culturally. We had to go to the ridiculous lengths of inventing a robot car to do it in a way that fully avoided that horrific possibility of human interaction. Indeed, electric vehicles tell the same story. We electrified public transportation in the early 20th century. But the virtues of that were overshadowed by the stigma of public transit and we literally had to wait until someone could make an electric car with the same range as a gasoline vehicle --thus likewise facilitating our misanthropic inclinations and the lifestyles built around them-- before it could be taken seriously.


i strongly recommand the film “who framed roger rabbit”. the film turns around the true story, how the public transit in l.a. was undermined by the automobile-and-highway-builder-mafia.

" And yet the core of Roger Rabbit is a surprisingly accurate depiction of the ways that developers, politicians, and business executives worked with companies associated with the automobile industry to undermine and finally destroy the streetcar system."


I doubt that. Americans are among the nicest people in the world.

Moscow and St Petersburg have metro systems that are among the largest and best in the world. Riding high-speed train in Germany feels like being on a spaceship. Yet, Russians and Germans are… well… known for misanthropy, kind of?

But it’s true that reduced services and declining ridership are self-sustaining problems and create a death spiral. A bus that comes every hour, stops that 22 PM and doesn’t run on Sundays is so bad, that everybody who can drive, cycle, walk etc. will do that and the bus will only be used by those who literally have no other choice. Meanwhile, this means that hardly anybody cares how bad the bus system is, because most people don’t use it anyways and those who do are grateful that they have at least something.

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Ein sehr gutes Buch zeigt auf, was sich alles anders entwickelt hätte, wenn es den dämlichen 1. Weltkrieg nicht gegeben hätte. E-Bahnen fuhren schon 1907 mit 220 km/h und die Lobbys hätten Autos und Flugzeuge nicht durchbekommen:

"Jahre 1973 große Luftschiffe den Himmel beherrschen, "

Also, I wonder, on the opposite: Why is gasoline/petrol so expensive in Europe? Has this to do with high taxes imposed on it, to fund public transport? And is this the reason Western Europeans want to shift to electric vehicles now?