And for those curious about bus racing…
How close are we really to a robot-run society (Fresh Air podcast)
Host Terri Gross interviews the NYT’s John Markoff about his new book on robots. Much of their discussion involves self-driving cars and some of the robot-like technology already available that leaves some of the driving up to the car. For example, adaptive cruise control slows down a car to avoid other cars ahead on the road.
Not in the interview, but something I’m curious about: what will robots role be when it comes to transit? Although I know there are some automated people movers in the U.S., will there ever be such a thing as automated transit buses and trains? Or do buses and trains retain their human drivers — and all the amazing, adaptive thing humans can do — even if/when cars become increasingly automated?
What about other jobs at transit agencies? Robot fare inspectors? Robot janitors? Robot — gasp — bloggers? Hmmm. Actually, maybe a robot has a better chance of staying awake at transportation funding panel discussions 🙂
A pair of rather pointed letters in response to last week’s LAT story about sexual harassment on the Metro system. From Paul Zimmelman:
There should be a police officer at every station to eyeball potential troublemakers. A security guard should be on each train walking it from end to end. The cameras are nice, but who is watching the video?
Metro’s response to the LAT story is here. The LASD has said they don’t have the staff to patrol every train and bus.
Not a transportation story per se but ponder this: five million left between 2004 and 2013 and about 3.9 million arrived from other states. Still, California’s population grew because births outpaced deaths and foreign migration. The current number is about 38.8 million residents according to the Census Bureau bean/peoplecounters.
Imagine what traffic would be like in many parts of the state if more people remained here! Or imagine the demand for transit. The Bee article makes the case that losing residents harms the state’s economy. The cynic-who-resides-within-me wonders if dispatching residents elsewhere is perhaps sound transportation policy for the time being.
According to the nifty graphic in the Bee, Texas was the biggest recipient of departing Californians with four other Western states — Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — also serving as primary landing zones. Vermont, btw, dispatched/exiled the fewest number of its residents to the Golden State.
Ah, one of our favorite subjects: the Summer Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee — after choosing Boston as well as the first guy chose the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones — now wants L.A. to compete with other international cities to host the Games.
But first the City Council must consider whether going forward could mean putting taxpayers on the hook for any cost overruns. From the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti: “Connie Llanos, a Garcetti spokeswoman, said the mayor “is confident that after a thorough vetting from the City Council and community members, everyone will agree that the potential for economic, civic and cultural gain will far outweigh any risks of agreeing to a financial guarantee.”
We’re obviously keeping an eye on the issue here because transportation is a huge issue when it comes to the Olympics. The five Metro Rail projects under construction are all scheduled to open by 2024 and LAX officials have said that their people mover between airport terminals and the Crenshaw/LAX Line could be complete by 2023.
If L.A. was to be awarded the Games (a decision that won’t be made by the International Olympic Committee until 2017), the question is what other (if any) transportation improvements could be made to our area? Would some transit projects be accelerated? And what about the Purple Line Extension, which isn’t scheduled to reach Westwood until 2036 under the current long-range plan? That’s significant as UCLA would host several events according to the committee overseeing L.A.’s bid effort.
Stay tuned — much shark jumping still to come on this one, people. One other semi-related factor: Metro is considering an update to its long-range plan and a potential 2016 ballot measure, although nothing has been yet decided.
And from the Dept. of Infrastructure…
Leaving Desire (New Yorker)
While I was away from most computing devices last week, the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed. This article from the New Yorker, originally published in Sept. 2005, takes readers aboard a rescue boat in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. It’s a short read by New Yorker standards but suitably informative and heartbreaking. It’s still hard to believe this could happen in an American city.
Things to read while sitting/standing/stuck on transit: A father takes his two sons on a road trip of American ballparks and discovers that the Giants’ Buster Posey handles a simple autograph request like a — what’s the Yiddish word? — giant tuchus.
Things to read while sitting/standing/stuck on transit 2: NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast tackles HBO’s mini-series, “Show Me a Hero.” It’s a smart discussion about the mini-series that looks at the city of Yonkers’ fighting a court order to build public housing in mostly white neighborhoods.
I’ve only seen the first two of the six episodes. It’s good stuff, which is what you would expect from David Simon, who oversaw “The Wire” and the under-appreciated “Treme,” about rebuilding efforts in the aforementioned New Orleans.
Like those other shows, “Show Me a Hero” tackles local government in a way that is unusual for television or the movies. As far as I can recall, most TV shows on local government focus on police and the courts (“Parks and Recreation” being the obvious exception). It’s nice to see something different and the writers of “Show Me a Hero” have obviously been around local politics and, more importantly, local politicians. If you can snag some HBO time, watch it.
Categories: Transportation Headlines