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> Heck, even SF Muni runs in autonomous mode in the subway, it's only run in manual mode on the streets.

That's a bit of a stretch. Muni and BART use automated train control. SFMTA went with Alcatel/Thales' awful SelTrac system that the Docklands Light Rail uses while BART uses its own monstrosity. Both systems have human operators at all times because neither system is reliable enough to run unattended.

SFMTA used to show which modes trains inside the tunnel were running in. They also used to publish detailed daily service reports that revealed just how bad things were. At one point, > 50% of trains were unable to enter the tunnel in auto mode as the VETAG transponders had a roughly 100% failure rate. For many years the trains themselves would destroy the trackside inductive loops as well, periodically disabling the train control system. Instead the MTA chose to sanitize the reports, and eventually stopped publishing the information at all.

The great irony is that Muni's train control system was so inefficient that drivers would routinely drop into manual mode upon approach to the last underground system without even so much as a heads up to the dispatchers. And then, in 2009, one of the drivers passed out and ran his train into the train parked at the platform. Instead of requiring drivers to pass a health check like the FAA does for pilots, the MTA simply forbade manual operation in the tunnel. From the pictures, that driver was easily 400 lbs and Muni only cares about drugs and color blindness. Net result: 5-10 minutes got added to each outbound trip.

BART, of course, has its own maladies -- if you've ever had to wait for the train to be repositioned before the doors open you know why they still keep their drivers around.

At this point, IMO, neither humans nor automation alone can solve the transit problem.

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