re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr (Those latter things were consequences of raising interest rates, not additional actions that need to be taken.)

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Addressing the other points in your post, while it's true that we know the technology works, the problem is that we also know there are a bunch of alternative technologies that are likely to be even better, so going "all in" now has a decent chance of producing a worse outcome (possibly much worse) than an approach that puts the decisionmaking and risk in the same (preferably distributed) hands.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr In my view the best approach by far is to push *away* from the thing we know for sure is bad and let people decide on their own what they think the best alternative is. The best way to do that is with a carbon tax.

...

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism The problem is that you need to make alternatives accessible and available.

If carbon taxation pushes everything out of availability, and progressive redistribution of the carbon tax isn't sufficient (you need to watch for things like developers increasing close-in housing costs in response to carbon taxes purely because the market can bear it, too, as this hits lower income people the hardest), then you need to subsidize, which means you've gotta pick winners and losers.

Also, I'm not aware of any technologies that look more promising than battery-electrics for personal car-based transportation - yes, there's hydrogen, but that's been a fossil fuel industry boondoggle for decades.

Mass transit also needs to be subsidized in every case I've seen, and mass transit systems can't just be given to "the market" to decide, you have to actually choose something and do it.

And, really, we don't have time to wait for better technologies to come to fruition, we need to go all-in on mitigation *now*. We have eleven years. Once the crisis is resolved, we've got time to rethink things in better ways.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism @zeh (Also, to be clear, I'm not saying that personal electric cars are the answer. They're *an* answer that is palatable to a wide swath of the population, but that should be deployed alongside improvements for low-speed vehicle infrastructure for electric-assisted low-speed vehicles (bicycles and scooters being among them), as well as widespread mass transit with frequent service intervals.)

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism I agree that battery powered cars appear to be the best choice, for cars. What we don't know is what kind of battery or charging system is best. If we picked CCS chargers and lithium ion technology, we'd be stuck with a system where charging takes at least 10x as long as fueling. Long lines at charging stations, etc.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl You also assume that once a car is in service, that's it.

*Especially* if you move away from the current American-style of consumerist capitalism, retrofits become practical.

Better batteries come along? Install them as retrofits when the batteries stop meeting peoples' needs.

CCS is too slow (although really it has lots of headroom beyond what the batteries can take now, and a lot of time spent charging is below the peak)? Retrofit a new connector and charge system.

And, focusing on those issues is also not considering that aggressive deployment of high speed electric rail greatly reduces the need for large amounts of energy on board private cars, or fast charging...

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Retrofits are possible but costly with the car itself. Also with the charging system, though to a much lesser extent. Keeping cars for longer and primarily buying used and refurbished does let you amortize the cost of a retrofit over a longer period. Higher interest rates would push us toward that ;-)

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr
(untagging zeh since they've jumped off the thread)

HSR is a good target for investment because the technology is mature.The challenge is building it in such a way that it will actually be useful to people. California's project died because it would have been so expensive and slow it wouldn't have had any ridership, and it was politically infeasible to subsidize it sufficiently to fix the ticket price issue.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism And that's almost certainly generous given that early estimates in such projects are always overly optimistic by a large margin. This is where centralizing certain powers helps a lot; it makes no sense for local communities or even counties to be able to block transportation projects that benefit the entire state.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid
@dazinism @bhtooefr
Thinking a bruit carbon tax without a functioning alternative risks becoming another way to extract money from the poor. Cigarette tax didn't (afaik) have a material impact on smoking, what did was advertising bans and labeling regulation. Unfortunately "don't burn gas" is more complicated than "don't smoke", people need to get to work, and many of them would much appreciate not being slaves to their car, but "transport on tap" needs to be solved.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @bhtooefr
Autonamous cars are a huge deal in this direction. Once the owners of cars become institutional and people pay for simple access, lots of problems become tractable:
* Businesses (unlike people) do behave as rational economic actors so even without carbon taxes, they will optimize for efficiency.
* If you can access a truck when needed, you don't need to buy one "just in case", you can go to work in a 1 seat car.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @bhtooefr
* If you don't have to figure out parking, taking a little car from your home to a train station and then taking the train to work becomes possible. You don't even get your suit wet in the pouring rain.

Emissions regulations have shown that if you push businesses, they do find creative solutions. Even without any carbon tax, EVs are interesting just because emissions control kit is becoming more and more expensive to produce...

Follow

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @bhtooefr
And when you think about what is involved in owning a car, it's actually pretty shit. First you have to get your license, then you buy one:
* If it's new, you make payments and if you're fired from your job then it will be repossessed.
* If it's old then it might break down and if you can't get to work you'll be fired.
* If you don't have one or it doesn't run, you can't get a job.
I think people would *love* to move to an OPEX model.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @bhtooefr @dazinism This is the exact vision behind Uber AFAICT, and it's pretty clear not needing to pay a driver makes the economics work, once we can make autonomous cars work (which I suspect will be longer than we think). Car ownership even in the suburbs will plummet as soon as the cost of ride services drops below TCO of a car. It already is for occasional use, but not for the daily commute.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @bhtooefr @cjd Of course, reducing the cost of riding around in a small passenger vehicle will make mass transit all the more unattractive by comparison, which will increase traffic. Which is why I think we need to be careful about how it's deployed. The market-based approach would be congestion charges to encourage people to use the car to get to transit instead of straight to their destination.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid
@bhtooefr @dazinism
Mass transit will be cheaper, which will play into the thinking of many daily commuters. But mass transit also needs to be competitive. Living in France (carless in fact) I can tell you that the SNCF behaves just like any other monopoly. So I'm partial to vans, buses, and trains indeed, but there needs to be choice.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @dazinism
Also if one of these smart companies can figure out how to remove all of the friction of moving from a car to a bus or train with shopping bags and 3 kids, they can offer a "car ride" on train infrastructure and pocket the difference...

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @bhtooefr This seems to describe Personal Rapid Transit pretty closely. And PRT works even without autonomous cars, though it doesn't solve the issues associating with owning cars, parking, etc. With autonomous cars, the main advantage the PRT "tracks" provide is allowing for much smaller batteries and less charging infrastructure and providing a dedicated lane for AVs "automatically".

...

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @dazinism @cjd Of course, you can do all of these things with a regular paved road by embedding inductive charging coils in them and only allowing AVs. The only real difference between such infrastructure and PRT is that you'd be using a software "linkage" among vehicles and a wireless power link to the road rather than physical linkages between cars and a physical "track" to provide power and guidance. You'd still use tires for traction because they're quiet.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @bhtooefr Incidentally I had a PRT vs AV debate with a PRT advocate almost 20 years ago. I'm pretty sure I thought we'd have AVs long before now, so maybe he was right then. But PRT is an example of an infrastructure decision that could end up being a pretty bad one, due to AVs in this case.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @dazinism @cjd Oh now that I think of it said PRT advocate is here!

@nocleverhandle what's your take on PRT vs alternatives these days?

@clacke @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism PRT == automated guideway transit with small vehicles. The vehicles are summoned at stations, the guideways are closed to everything but those small vehicles. There’s been fully-automated PRT systems in service since the 1970s at least. Higher infrastructure cost to deploy, but it can be done with technology that demonstrably 100% works today.

“Autonomous vehicles” means autonomous cars on the roads, a much much much harder problem to solve, but using existing infrastructure.

@bhtooefr @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism Right, PRT implies rails or something close to rails. Is there any point to non-autonomous PRT today then?

@clacke @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism The “PRT vs. AV” debate being posed in this thread isn’t between a hypothetical “non-autonomous PRT” and autonomous PRT, it’s between autonomous PRT and autonomous cars on roads.

@bhtooefr @cjd @clacke @dazinism I was thinking of PRT systems where the cars could be driven on roads as well, which solves the last mile problem. I can't find mention of such an option on the Wikipedia page, so maybe it wasn't as common a proposal as I'd thought. That's why I was thinking about the combination of the two technologies.

...

@dazinism @clacke @cjd @bhtooefr PRT seems like it could potentially deliver on the failed promise of monorails: cheap elevated guideways. Monorails are big and you can't walk on the guideways, so being able to evacuate means you need a lot of ladders or walkways along the side, so the infrastructure is not much cheaper. With PRT you could potentially climb over or around the cars and walk on the guideway, just like on an elevated freeway.

@bhtooefr @cjd @clacke @dazinism That means you can have a guideway that's barely larger than a pair of cars and space the emergency ladders/stairs farther apart, assuming elevated guideways, which I think is usually what you want.

Though there is a huge advantage to sharing infrastructure even with dedicated lanes, since you can just expand as you cut into normal car travel.

@dazinism @clacke @cjd @bhtooefr (There are also structural reasons monorail tracks are expensive, and the vehicles are more expensive. So the only real advantage is noise because they run on pneumatic tires, but there are lots of different guideway and vehicle configurations that can use pneumatic tires.)

@freakazoid
I spent a good few years working modifying vehicles to run on biofuels & trying to encourage decentralised biofuel production. Became very aware of transport issues, alternatives, energy requirements & thought about it all a lot

Its not hard to imagine better systems but theres a number of massive & influential industries (roads/oil/auto/finance) tightly tied to the existing model. This heavily influences the political will to push for alternatives

@clacke @cjd @bhtooefr

@freakazoid

I attended government consultation events packed with representatives from the established industries, pushing heavily for their interests

I think the finance around autos is very important. After a mortgage its the biggest debt many folks have (although college/uni debt has also become huge)

The implications of changing from this amount of personal debt would be huge

The transport inefficiency in our societies is huge. People travel long distances to…

@clacke @cjd @bhtooefr

@freakazoid

…another town (sometimes even country) to do a job, someone else from that town does the same the other way. Same with goods. Its all daft. You'd think that economic efficiency would stop stuff like this, but it doesnt, its common

@clacke @cjd @bhtooefr

@dazinism @freakazoid @clacke @bhtooefr
I seem to recall someone saying that nobody thinks about skype as a green technology, but the possibility for telecommuting which it created has had a massive impact on energy consumption. People still need handshake and eye-contact, it's part of trust and collaboration, but this doesn't necessarily have to be every single day.

@cjd @bhtooefr @clacke @dazinism Zoom, Slack, email, Jira, and Confluence reduce my commuting by 20%. I'm planning to work only remotely after this job; I have a standing offer for a job where the office is much farther away but I could work from home most days and on days I went in my drive would only be a few miles because I could take light rail to the train.

@dazinism @bhtooefr @cjd @clacke Low interest subsidizes the capital cost of cars to an extent. Long commutes are an effective wage reduction. I think they don't go away because voters (i.e. the people who actually vote, donate, and campaign for politicians) won't allow them to. By which I mean they don't allow the construction of new housing or mass transit.

@clacke @cjd @bhtooefr @dazinism As for goods going long distances, that's subsidized by exchange rates, fixed international postage rates, the governments of export-dependent countries, and the US government through stupid tax laws (which I think 45 may have fixed?). Also ships don't have to pay motor vehicle fuel taxes (or many other kinds of taxes AIUI). Not sure about international cargo planes.

@dazinism @bhtooefr @cjd @clacke I think this is why a carbon tax is ideal. It lets us shift things gradually and "naturally", and we'll naturally start with the lowest hanging fruit, which is probably the truck fleet and other fleet vehicles, because the infrastructure is more centralized and biodiesel can run in unmodified engines.

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @clacke @dazinism
My personal opinion is that we need a new "interface" which is neither butt-on-seat nor rubber-on-pavement. Some interface between a transport pod which carries passengers or cargo and the car/train/boat/mag-lev/hyperloop which carries it, then a sort of router which switches pods on and off of different transport. This would change the economics of running (for ex) a train line, because it can directly pull commuters off of a road.

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