> traffic, no more congestion, roads and parking lots would
> only exist underground and cities would have more space
> for gardens, parks, buildings, and walkways.
Or, skip the tunnel building and just ban cars from major cities.
Building more infrastructure to "reduce traffic" only makes using vehicles more attractive. The amount of congestion is approximately equal to the amount of congestion the average person using the infrastructure is willing to accept, so making it less congested just means more people use the infrastructure until the limit is reached again.
The real answer to the problem is to simply ban all but buses and delivery vehicles - even then you can incentivize that they are electrically driven. Space increases and infrastructure maintenance costs are reduced, not increased.
The real golden use for TBMs is for efficiency - i.e. Go around some mountain or go straight through it? Go around a city or go under it? I imagine buildings sharing a service elevator down to the tunnel where delivery vehicles can offload to and send goods up (rather than Musk's idea of trying to lift a several tonne vehicle in some personal elevator).
Would likely make sense for all kinds of maintenance this way to, servicing water/gas pipes or electricity/internet lines for example could be as simple as removing a service panel from the side of a tunnel, rather than the terrible solution we have today involving digging up streets over and over.
I really don't get this desire to outlaw cars. I like walkable cities, but I also like the comfort and privacy of car transport. I live in a place (Germany) with good public transport. I used to live in cities with very good public transport. I still don't enjoy being squeezed in with thousands of other people. Does that mean that people like me have to be reeducated and/or forced to see the error of their ways?
> I really don't get this desire to outlaw cars.
That's not the point, it's that in this case the infrastructure cost to clean up cities is astronomical. Forgetting air pollution, noise pollution, deaths from traffic collisions, congestion - you also have to consider the shear infrastructural costs that _already_ go into maintaining road surfaces, traffic control, policing, etc. And that's without tunnel boring.
> I like walkable cities, but I also like the comfort and
> privacy of car transport.
I think we just have to look at the practicality of private transport in cities.
> I still don't enjoy being squeezed in with thousands of
> other people.
Perhaps this is where public transportation can be innovated on.
> Does that mean that people like me have to be reeducated
> and/or forced to see the error of their ways?
Most likely - it's simply the march of progress. As horses were mostly outlawed/discouraged from cities, I suspect cars will be too.
I think I will pass. If you outlaw driving in cities without a good alternative, I will just not live in a city anymore. But let me guess: you want to outlaw that too...
I think the point is indeed to provide good public transportation as a suitable alternative.
> I will just not live in a city anymore
And why not? That's an entirely legitimate choice
If your aim is "Reduce pollution caused by cars" then changing people from car-owning city-dwellers into car-owning suburb-dwellers might increase total pollution.
For example, if a family with one car turns into a family with two or three.
It could be managed by GPS trackers in vehicles, with the ability to charge different amounts in different locations and time of day (i.e. driving in cities or during rush hour should be discouraged), level of congestion, vehicle type (weight, length, self-driving or not), and selective emission controls (e.g. high polluters banned from city centres).
Fuel taxes are a simple, proportional way to target carbon emissions (effectively a carbon tax). However things like this should all be done with care (see gilets jaunes).
Just let people who don't want to live in density pay for the externalities of low density living (require EVs, higher cost for infra, etc).
I am relaying the science on global warming which indicates that if we continue down this path then we are absolutely screwed.
Density is not my idea. Density is what you get if you want (a) 7 billion people and (b) anything remotely resembling a sustainable society. If you also want a not dense society, then tell me which of (a) and (b) you want to eliminate.
If you're saying you want to ween us off of our rapidly worsening fossil fuel addiction then I don't know what to tell you but I do have several bridges to sell you.
Density might still have a chance in developing nations if they can avoid developing around the idea of the car; TBD.
We need to stop subsidizing suburban and rural living yesterday.
Unlikely. America has enough wealth that aside from coastal areas, life won't change that much unless agriculture collapses entirely.
> Electric vehicles are not going to fix much when our electricity is still mostly made by fossil fuels.
Coal is rapidly declining in use in the US for electrical generation. Natural gas will eventually be replaced by overbuilt renewables and battery storage (and EVs are a component of that). Electrifying transportation would be a huge step forward for moving off of fossil fuels compared to natural gas generation currently in play .
All of the above is possible without density or everyone moving to urban areas. American politics are built around equality of votes between dense cities, the suburbs, and rural areas. That is not changing in the foreseeable future. You're going to have to rely on market forces to drive out the remaining fossil fuels used.
Everyone can buy an EV or renewable power though to send market signals to ramp production capacity of both. Same with insulating your home and ensuring you're using as little energy as possible to condition your home spaces. And batteries. We need as many batteries as we can make.
Not only, it might be considered the precise sought after effect.
Cycle lanes, especially protected ones, are there to encourage cycling.
Of course it’s also totally reasonable to suggest that the harm to others is so small that it doesn’t justify the erosion of personal liberty.
Point being, the question warrants reasonable consideration rather than immediate dismissal.
Sure, but it takes quite a bit of negatives to override the obvious and glaring benefits of anyone being able to transport oneself, one's family, one's stuff, at a moments notice, to any destination, in (almost) any weather, at an average speed of 30-60miles per hour, all at an amortized cost of approximately 50cents per mile.
The willingness and readiness of some people to disregard the large personal, societal, and economic benefits of having functioning automotive infrastructure - in concert with other methods of transit - quite frankly bewilders me.
The current discussion mostly centers on banning cars in cities or large agglomerations. In no city you'll reach average speeds even approaching 30 miles an hour - something around 20km/h is a more reasonable number to expect. That's btw. easily reachable with an electric bicycle or public transport. I can call a cab or a transport for larger goods at pretty much a moments notice, there's even car sharing services that have some parked in the street.
Also, you're disregarding that cars in cities have massive externalities - the current estimate for Berlin is that infrastructure for cars (roads and parking spaces) cost about 30% of the cities surface area at substantial cost to society (increased rent and building costs, maintenance etc) which is paid by the majority of people not owning a car. Not all of that could be recouped if private car usage is reduced, but substantial chunks could. Not to speak of noise and other pollution, risks of accident and injury etc.
So you're overplaying the advantages and disregarding the very real cost that other people shoulder for a minority driving.
Realistically, IMHO the switch from private transport will happen no sooner than there is a real, proper, easy to use at any time on a whim alternative that is same cost (ideally cheaper due to subsidies) than owning and using a car. Things are improving greatly, but we're not there, practically anywhere (apart maybe from Netherlands and Denmark, but even that not for many use cases). Proof - people driving everywhere.
1.1 mio cars in Berlin * ( 1.8 = size of household ) = 2 mio households own a car.
I think everybody would appreciate a city without cars as long as there is a sufficient cheap fast and comfortable transport (which is not a car) available. If it were the case for Berlin then there wouldn't be 1.1 mio cars there.
In general if there are externalities then it's better to impose taxes that amount to the cost of that externality (plus the cost difference between enforcing the tax and enforcing the ban) rather than ban. That way if people really really want/need to use something like a car (e.g. the are mostly disabled and commute in from a country house) they still can.
After all, cars, especially when moving just one person, heavily overuse shared and scarce resources like space and environment. It's all too fair that they pay a higher share to public resources.
Maybe you will still use your car, accepting to pay a higher price for it, but other people will switch, making the world a better place also for you.
Jokes aside, come see gas and parking prices in Europe.
That said, I believe that road space has different rules than housing space, so it is hard to compare them directly.
I am Italian and live in Belgium, in case this gives more strength to my argument. I also have a car and pay European prices for it. Of course, I try to use it as little as possible, which is good.
With current and mid-term-future tech, high-frequency bus- and smalltrain/metro-lines are much more efficient for city-plus-suburbia-scale mass-transportation. Depending on topography and climate, add (electric) bicycles and similar to the mix.
The problem is with bootstrapping: A high-frequency public transportation network is expensive, especially if the demand is low since everybody (who can afford it) is driving by car because the current public transport is bad because setting up a good high-frequency public transportation network is expensive, especially if the demand is low since...
To break this circle, we have politics and law - but of course only few cities want to outlaw cars.
My personal opinion: While I really like driving my nice, expensive car, I would actually prefer taking the bus; as long as (1.) it's not more expensive [easy] and (2.) doesn't affect my travel time significantly [difficult] and (3.) is as reliable as going by car. Right now getting to the office by bus takes 40m instead of max. 10m by car, is unreliable (missed connections add 15m and leave me waiting in 2 to 5 degC) and god forbid there is a chance of snow, then I'm stranded. I'm leaving out recent strikes, which shut down public transportation in my city for 2 weeks, because I think as much as people should have a good public transportation, the people WORKING in public transportation deserve a proper payment.
Trying to solve some problem should start from understanding it not from the assumption what everyone has the same lifestyle as you.
But you are right that there will not be a unique solution to the transportation problem. In warmer climate we already have (electric) cargo bikes that are nice for moving kids around in the city, but we'll need more innovation for colder climate and longer distances. And that was exactly my point.
For 30 years, I have heard from environmentalists that electric cars will need to have short range and shitty performance, but we have to outlaw ICE cars anyway for the greater good.
There comes Tesla and builds a car that is just objectively better in every metric than an ICE car. Now my next car when my 13 year old Prius gives up the ghost will be a Model 3.
For public transport it is similar. Offer me something that is better in every way than a car (on demand, point to point, with privacy), and I will happily use it instead of a car. A self-driving taxi fleet with dedicated right of way, as envisioned by the boring company, would fit the bill.
If the boring company plans don't work out, a high frequency electric bus system with dedicated rights of way would fit the bill, with something like trackless trams (http://theconversation.com/why-trackless-trams-are-ready-to-...) for the very high demand parts.
But don't try to sell me a tram as the best 21st century solution for transit and then try to outlaw all the alternatives...
For meaningful energy savings the transportation model itself has to change. Here is one example for Hamburg, Germany, showing over 80% decrease in CO2 emission by shifting to public transport: http://www.mobilitaet-in-deutschland.de/pdf/infas_Vortrag_if... p.18)
Also, have you looked at the energy consumption of light or suburban rail? It might look somewhat attractive if you assume that the rail cars are packed, but in reality where they often drive almost empty at night and during off hours, the numbers are actually pretty bad.
Electric buses are much better, but even they have the huge downside that they run according to a schedule, don't go where you want to go, and offer no privacy.
The energy source is an orthogonal topic. Public transport is far easier to convert to renewable sources because the number of stakeholders is usually in the single digits.
> Also, even a tesla is not 2500kg
A model X is 2500kg, a model S is 2100 kg.
> many people with family rarely drive with a single occupant.
For Europe, the average is 1.4 people per car: https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/occupancy...
> Also, have you looked at the energy consumption of light or suburban rail?
Yes, and I've even linked a source showing that energy used per passenger mile is 8 times higher with cars :)
Edit: That light rail is more efficient also makes sense if you look at weight and capacity of trains: The local commuter trains around here have a weight of about 105t, so about 50 teslas. But they fit up to 500 people. Power is 2400kW - you can transport 500 people for the power equivalent of 10 Tesla model S. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/DB-Baureihe_423
It is also about twice as big as a typical European car. Even a model 3 is on the big side. The most produced electric car by tesla is the model 3, which is much lighter. 1611kg, not even that much heavier than my Prius.
> For Europe, the average is 1.4 people per car
For the people (families with young kids) that are most in need of a car, the average occupancy is much higher.
> Edit: That light rail is more efficient also makes sense if you look at weight and capacity of trains: The local commuter trains around here have a weight of about 105t, so about 50 teslas. But they fit up to 500 people. Power is 2400kW - you can transport 500 people for the power equivalent of 10 Tesla model S. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/DB-Baureihe_423
So light rail/commuter rail is more efficient than an electric car when you assume that the car is single occupant and the light train is fully packed. That is a way of tipping the scales, but not an honest argument.
Trains are never fully packed except maybe during rush hour. Besides, traveling in a fully packed train is horrible. I know, I frequently have to take Munich public transport with exactly the 423...
But obviously they are dwarved by the single commuters, or else the average wouldn't be 1.4 persons per car.
> So light rail/commuter rail is more efficient than an electric car when you assume that the car is single occupant and the light train is fully packed. That is a way of tipping the scales, but not an honest argument.
Let's look at the numbers again. To not disadvantage the car, we assume 20% capacity, which is the minimum possible for a car.
A single instance of the named train at 20% capacity accomodates 100 people while needing 2400kW. A single Tesla at 20% capacity accomodates 1 person at lets say 175kw if it is model 3. That is 24kW per person for the train and 175kW for the car. A factor of 1:7.
To reflect the real world data, we'll assume 1.4 persons per car from the souce above, which would mean a capacity of 28%. The train equivalent is 140 persone, meaning a factor of a bit more than 1:7 in favor of the train.
In my area the actual train during communiting hours is at least 70% occupied, BTW.
I'm not trying to win internet points here; there just is no way around the fact that electic cars are not in any way a meaningful solution to our climate problem.
Well, 1.4 persons per car is already quite a bit higher than your original claim of "at least 2500kg of material to move 1 person".
> Let's look at the numbers again. To not disadvantage the car, we assume 20% capacity, which is the minimum possible for a car.
Yes, OK, let's look at some actual numbers about kWh per 100 passenger km, averaged over all times and not just rush hour. Here is something I could find: https://www.forschungsinformationssystem.de/servlet/is/34223...
So a subway car or a commuter rail car gets 12.5 kWh per 100 person kilometers. That is still better than a tesla model 3 of 160 Wh / km or 16 kWh / 100km. But not by much.
If you assume 1.4 people on average, you get 11.4 kWh / 100km / person, so basically the same.
And if you have 3 or 4 people, the model 3 is significantly more efficient than the average commuter rail.
> In my area the actual train during communiting hours is at least 70% occupied, BTW.
But trains also go outside commuting hours. That is the whole problem with a system that has large units and is not on demand.
> I'm not trying to win internet points here; there just is no way around the fact that electic cars are not in any way a meaningful solution to our climate problem.
Neither am I. I was doing back of the envelope calculations about what it would take to do a battery powered commuter rail for the relation I frequently use, and was genuinely surprised how inefficient commuter rail is on average.
We can also take into account the cost of accidents, which we could probably assign an energy value to avoiding.
The past 100 years of history have made it abundantly clear that cars are made completely unaffordable to the middle class, most of them will be on the road with only one occupant. A rare few will have two.
For some reason, families rarely have to commute to the same place, and lone drivers aren't super keen on carpooling with strangers.
Wait, what? I can think of many metrics where Teslas are not "objectively better" than ICE cars, one of which is price. Why buy a Model 3 when you can buy a used Prius or Corolla, and spend the money you save on energy saving measures around your home?
If you live someplace where you take the shared tram for the vast majority of trips, then what you propose can work for the few trips where you the tram doesn't work. How often do you really need the private space? If it is all the time you have agreed to forever live in suburban sprawl, with potentially long commutes.
I still don’t enjoy the global mean temperature getting higher and causing flood and famine, but I guess your personal comfort is more important.
I think what the poster wanted to say is that cars are abused, and just like any other abuse or addiction, it should be regulated.
But USA have a problem regulating dangerous stuff: gas, cars and guns.
There's a climate change coming and people in USA really are still debating if it's a "personal freedom" issue?
We are 7 billion, they are 300 millions, I think it's time they understand what good citizenship means...
The goal of building new transportation infrastructure is to provide more transport services and to reduce congestion.
As a matter of fact, there is huge latent demand for transportation services, so when you build new roads etc almost all of the benefit comes as more usage of transportation, and congestion doesn't go down.
But the fallacy you're committing is ignoring the fact that that extra transportation is a benefit. People wanted to take those journeys!
By the way, if you want to reduce or even eliminate congestion, there is a very easy way to do it. Charge for road use. Modern technology makes this feasible!
Questionable. Suppose people only need to take those journeys because they live far away from the city or their job. These people only live far away because roads made suburban development convenient. Were it not for the roads, the people would live in denser development and may not need a car for most regular activities live shopping, socializing, or work. The roads induce their own demand.
>Charge for road use
Agreed, but the average Joe with fight you tooth and nail. Suggesting roads and a parking space is not a constitutional right attracts passionate and irrational resistance.
All other things being equal, without the roads people simply wouldn't have a place to live at all and would have to live and work somewhere else. See e.g. the SF Bay area for an idea of how bad things can get housing-wise.
But really the problem is that local laws artificially constrain the supply of housing. However it's not fair to blame that on road-building. The solution to a lack of housing is to build more houses (it's astonishing that one has to keep repeating this over and over and over again)
charging for road use is the only way to decrease congestion. Neither building roads nor closing them will reduce congestion.
Traffic congestion follows a pareto principle. The marginal congestion impact of the last 10-20% of cars is very high, so if you can charge a small amount to remove 10-20% of the cars, you get a big decrease in congestion.
You can even give the money raised back to people as a dividend.
Frankly, cars are the most efficient means for individuals to travel - they may result in poor traffic flow on some single links, but otherwise they have huge benefits.
It is also worth noting that banning cars will affect the poor the most negatively. While poor people use cars less as a percentage of their population (about 9/10 the percentage of the amount that the rich use them), there are far more of them. Poor people are often the ones who have to manage multiple cases - a family and a job, a few jobs etc and often are unable to love near their workplace, or to find a (decent) job near their suburban homes. All of this means that the value of a car is much higher for them, as it can be the means for them to manage their more complex life scenarios efficiently (see "Disrupting Mobility" for more details - it's a great book)
This amount depends on the level of inconvenience of other methods of transportation. Building huge freeways does not simply add infrastructure for cars, but deteriorates the quality all other methods of transportation, and adds huge parking lots. Building underground tunnels with self-driving cars does not create these issues, so should not be judged the same way.
It's easy to say "ban all the cars", but in reality we need to find a compromise with the majority of people who want (or have to) use cars. And for that it is important to remember why we want to reduce the amount of cars, not because we hate cars, but because we want more people to be able to reach their destination more efficiently. We already have some tools for that, and some cities (like Amsterdam) use them efficiently without banning the cars outright. Tunnel with self driving cars is one more tool to improve lives of the people, and rejecting it simply because we do not like cars does not help anyone.
Car owners are actually the minority in many large cities, especially in the dense parts. (>75% of all households in Manhattan don’t own a car according to https://blog.tstc.org/2017/04/21/car-free-new-york-city/)
Disclaimer: i live in a city not in US, i do not own a car (although can afford it), and use uber occasionally.
Self driving cars can skip parking lots only if we vastly more tunnels. There is only so much space in 3d.
Trouble is people in major cities quite like having cars to get around, especially if they are not in the central bit and you need them to vote in such changes.
We're fairly close to being able to have a 24 7 driverless transport system though with trains a bit like London's DLR and driverless taxis like the present Waymo one's going around Phoenix, though maybe electric and limited to 15 mph and short journeys. Something like that I could go for.
Wow, it's so fascinating to read on HN about the major societal issues that are caused by limitations of organizing lives in modern society. Whether it's the housing market or transportation, the issues seem to be exactly the same whether it's on the US West Coast, in continental Europe or my 5-million home country Norway, and we seem equally unable to democratically solve them.
We may have some relevant observations to offer regarding transportation. Norway has actually gone through with some of the anti-car policies that have been suggested in this thread. In our "major cities" (>300,000 people), major public transport developments have been financed by massively increasing the road tolls in and around cities.
The result is that we have better inter-city rail transport than ever, but the cost of commuting by car has increased ~$2500 per year per car, on top of the already extreme car taxes in Norway. Electric car sales are 30% of total due to reductions in these taxes and fees. Congestion has almost disappeared.
The downsides: Housing prices in walking distance of public transport are up ~30%, a single-person car commuter pays ~$8,500-$10,000 in annual car TCO. Tax hits low-income families the most, because these can only afford to live outside the city and away from public transport, meaning car ownership and associated costs. The road fees must often be paid when only driving to or from the nearest store, or to the kids' soccer practice.
This has spawned a political counter-movement called "The People's Movement, No To More Road Tolls" which got up to 17% of the votes in the local elections this year. This party only has one key goal, to reverse the policies described above. Since we have a system of proportional representation, this party will have good chances of cooperating with other parties in their key goals in order to curtail many anti-car policies.
Just some observations on "the voices of the large minority" regarding suggestions of democratically making car travel expensive in and around cities. We have done this because we have democratic majority for it, but there are consequences that would require changes in other policies (e.g. constructing more housing to prevent the prices from jumping 30%), policies for which there is not democratic majority. And these impose bigger costs on such policies than what you'd think. I don't even own a car; in isolation, this is good for me because it prevents most middle-class people from saving and hence makes me relatively more powerful. But someone gets screwed over here, and they won't feel so good about it.
So it's not just a peachy bed of roses.
This is true only for places where there is more latent demand for transit than physical space to build it (e.g., a lot of big cities without good transit alternatives).
It is not a law of physics. You could go to a small town in North Dakota and build more roadway than can ever be used and, in doing so, permanently remove gridlock.
Efficient tunneling would let you do this in three dimensions, so it would expand the types of places you could do this.
Alright, a little unfair, but Musk’s vehicle tubes can be used for mass transit too with electric mini-buses shuttling people around. Buses and taxis are traffic too.
And tunnels cost a lot of money anyway and aren't built overnight
* Has very high overhead costs
* Forces people into public transportation oriented life schedules
* Is unfriendly to those with disabilities
* Is unfriendly to those who do shift work
* Is a MASSIVE disease vector
* Only effectively serves densely populated areas and makes living in regional areas hell
Autonomous vehicles carrying 1-4 passengers each on direct point to point routes have none of these issues and come with a number of bonuses like flexible demand/supply management and off-peak secondary purpose uses such as carrying deliveries.
Ban public transportation. Stop wasting resources on a dead-end non-solution that literally doesn't work anywhere in the world. People keep pointing to Japan as the shining example of mass transit done right, but none of those people have ever been on a peak hour Tokyo train rubbing crotches against each other and barely able to breathe while station staff help physically stuff people into overflowing carriages.
Go all in on self-driving infra. It's the next 'car'. Mass transit is this generation's 'horse'. We've had a hundred years to get mass transit right and after all this time we've definitely proven it just can't be done.
> Forces people into public transportation oriented life schedules
In my city almost all busses run at 10 minute intervals and the trains to other cities run at 15-30 intervals. Whenever I go somewhere I just go to the station and the next one will be there shortly.
> Is unfriendly to those with disabilities
Every region in my country is legally obliged to have transport available for the elderly, disabled or chronic sick. My grandparents can order a free taxi-like service with trained personel and accommodated for wheelchairs etc.
> Is unfriendly to those who do shift work
Agreed, at night not much runs here, but there are other options available (nightbus, taxi).
As for the "massive overhead", I dont quite understand. The concentration of passengers and required infrastructure should lower overhead, economies of scale and such. You mention the situation in Tokio but to me that sounds like they need more public transport, not less. The trains there transport 40 million people every day . In contrast, there are only around 4 million cars in Tokio. I dont think there is physically enough space to fit an additional 10-40 million cars, even if they drive themselves.
As shown in the article, the current tech is really good. It just takes time and the biggest problem are the stations, track and power. These car tubes that Elon is proposing are terrible. We need a faster way to put up full metro systems.
Also tech has the perception of being hard, inflexible. Just ask anyone who had to contact Google for customer support. Tech billionaires are not known to be easy to sue either, at least compared to a bunch of city-council bureaucrats. See the first paragraph of this article as an example of how tech CEOs are portrayed in the media versus city government bureaucrats:
Framing it as a people problem is simply asking for interference by third-party interests, which is one of the main factors currently preventing accumulation of sufficient political willpower to build metros. It may be a cheap, unethical hack in the sense that the state avoids having to exhaust political capital/use controversial powers like eminent domain in exchange for having private interests build poorly thought out transportation infrastructure. At the end of the day there is an unfulfilled need for transportation infrastructure. A poorly thought out one is still better than nothing.
I know it's boring (derpa derpa), but adding congestion pricing, mass transit is likely a better option.
Getting rid of cars should be the goal, not encouraging them: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pjatbiavDZYC&oi=...
Or, skipping the commute altogether with remote work.
Viewed from a different perspective: we have so little capacity that most journeys are never taken.
I agree that in general mass transit is much better than cars. But tunnels do remove many of the arguments against cars: pollution (both CO2 and tire abrasion) can be easily filtered, noise is blocked by solid rock, tunnels can be crossed without knowing they are there, they don't interfere with pedestrians, don't reduce building density, don't create artificial barriers. Cars are still incredibly dangerous, but Elon's sledges would solve even that. Cars still take up a lot or room both in transit and when parked, but most other disadvantages are reduced or eliminated by putting them in tunnels.
You can argue for an economical benefit, but it's very hard to argue that they are larger than the costs.
Is this actually a practical limitation? You could go a mile deep, and pack the tunnels way more densely than roads on the surface (since we don't need to put buildings in between the roads).
I have never seen this done. Questions: How? And if it's so easy, why don't we do it?
If they really liked it they will learn to drive well
We could also say that people like alcohol or drugs, but the truth is that it is addiction
That's why they are heavily regulated
I don't see how that follows.
While it's true that building more roads doesn't always reduce traffic, the bit that most people miss is that even if induced demand fills up the new capacity, in the new equilibrium more people are able to use the road, so there's more utility being gained.
Put another way, at the margin there's a lot of latent demand that is unfilled. If you were to keep building roads, then at some point you'd meet all of that latent demand and traffic would go down. The fact that increasing supply also increases demand is not necessarily an argument against building more capacity; you could actually use it as an argument _for_ building a lot more roads.
(Of course, without dynamic pricing it's really hard to figure out whether it's actually worth building more capacity; you could build a new road at a shared cost of $100 per new driver per month, when they would only choose pay up to $10 per month to drive instead of do what they did before. Dynamic pricing models tend to be unpopular though, particularly as they can be construed as a regressive tax-like burden.)
Subways face similar problems to highway interchanges - passengers have to rejoin the flow of (foot) traffic. This is easier than with cars, since people are smaller and most of them can use stairs, but the cost of stations ends up being the larger portion of cost, not the cost of tunnels (which can be built more cheaply using cut & cover than they can with boring machines anyway). I'd like to see Musk throw his resources behind cheaper ways to make stations, instead of a problem that's better solved by digging a ditch.
In a way, Minecraft is that game. At least when I played it couple years ago, I spent most of my time building metro tunnels.
This is the key assertion, and it is unsupported.
- heat extraction will become a bigger problem
- debris extraction too
- cost of parts, cost and speed of logistics like transport and installation of the machine will be worse
- small number of exotic large TBMs will scale worse than large number of small TBMs in manufacturing cost and operating experience
- I've seen elsewhere (citation missing) that small borers move much faster than large so any costs that scale with time will be worse.
- risk-wise: a portfolio of small borers will have less risk than an all-eggs-in-one-basket gamble. a broken part delaying a big machine incurs more cost than ona smaller machine.
unless your project requires a single enormous bore I think you would prefer to use the smallest you can get away with.
The author does not seem to have any relevant experience, so I'm not going to take this on his authority; he's a programmer who has done scheduling software on metro projects and is working on an MBA. Interesting summary of types of machines though!
1. Are any of these TBM considered state of art? I dont see any tech inside those TBM that could not be done 10 years ago other than the cost of the machine. We are entering new Space Race era and yet some fundamental stuff still looks very, should I say "traditional".
2. Why cant we build even bigger TBM? Like Double the current diameter. Or Bigger TBM that are Rectangular rather than Circle.
3. The biggest problem with TBM is that they are slow. Even if we had made them 10 times faster I would still consider them very slow. Surely there could be technology that improve on it?
4. Are there any reason why we dont use TBM for small pipes, ( like for electricity or fibre optics, )
You've probably seen them on the side of the road, looks something like a big skid steer with a stack of pipes on the side. It's much more practical to put a person running a piece of construction equipment on the surface than trying to miniaturize and automate a TBM.
To use the equipment, a mini-excavator digs two small holes for the entrance and exit 20 to 200 yards apart, the HDD rig is rolled up, and a 10 foot length of 2" pilot boring drill rod is pushed in. The HDD rig connects this to the next pipe in the stack, and is able to rotate (with extreme torque), push (with limited force), pull (with extreme force), and pump fluid through the drill rod. A locator walks around with a receiver that can measure the position of the tip of the drill underground. On smaller installations, the tip of the pilot drill is slanted, and to go "straight" you need to continuously rotate the drill, or you can bias your pushing and turning to move with the slanted tip aimed in one direction and go up, down, or sideways. Bigger ones have downhole motors and steering tools that can use hydraulic pressure from the mud being pumped through the pipe to cut harder soils or go farther with less friction.
When your pipe is pushed through and comes out the exit hole, you attach a back-reamer to the drill head, and pull it backwards to enlarge the hole (pulling additional drill rod, installed at the exit pit, behind it). Finally, attach the conduit, fiber, water or gas pipe, or whatever you're installing and pull it all through. Then you make your exit hole an entrance hole, fill in the original, and install a junction box to connect the two segments.
It's simple, cheap, effective, and proven technology for utility-level scale - there's probably one of these working somewhere within 10 miles of you right now. Unfortunately, it doesn't scale up to TBM size.
Cut-and-cover construction is an order of magnitude cheaper. You don't need TBMs unless you're going really deep, or there are things on the surface that are really expensive or disruptive to work around.
That maintenance is needed because of how much material has to be cut, not by how long it's sitting there, so going faster means going through more material and wearing down the tools faster. You'd have the same total amount of time spent maintaining it (assuming going faster doesn't wear the tools down even faster, which is iffy). So just digging faster runs into Amdahl's law; you speed up a portion of the process but the total gains are less because the other parts are fixed.
(And, as others have said, yes there's a faster way; cut and cover.)
Yes, a lot, but not all:
> In December, the TTC bought a banner ad on the Tunnels & Tunneling International website, to list for sale four tunnel-boring machines it used to dig the 13.5-kilometre twin tunnels for the Spadina subway extension to York Region. The TTC had bought the machines in 2009 from Lovat for $58-million. Today the TTC has stored the machines at the Keele Valley landfill site. The machines are nearly good as new, the TTC says. “The TBMs are generally considered to have a useful life of tunneling of approximately 20 kilometres,” reads a TTC tender document. “At the completion of this project, they would have been used between 2.5 and 3.2 kilometres, or approximately 10-15% of their useful life. Accordingly, the TBMs will be capable of significant additional tunneling on other projects.”
If you want to excavate a rectangular tunnel, you want a roadheader.
It's really surprising to me that in 2019 the limiting factor in a billion/trillion dollars industry like transit is something that could be solved with a better conveyer belt.
To ask OP's question another way: many areas of technology and engineering have improved rapidly over the last decade or three. Have TBMs been keeping up?
You sound like Elon Musk. "This problem seems easy. Clearly all existing TBMs suck so we'll just build a better TBM!"
Slow is not a problem. A few meters a day sounds slow, but if you are going long distances you can scale by buying more TBNs putting them in a line and having each meet up to the next. Assuming you have the money. In practice the cost to build a tunnel is high enough that you probably can't afford to scale up too much that way.
This would be impractical for most real-world projects. First, digging the access pits to get the TBM in and out are a significant fraction of the project cost - access pits are really expensive, and require a big space, so you don't want to dig more of them than you have to. Second, you're normally digging a tunnel (rather than building on the surface) for a reason: you're going under something. That something might be a body of water, it might be a mountain, or it might be a dense city full of valuable real-estate that you didn't want to disrupt with a cut-and-cover operation. Either way, it's going to be really hard to dig an access pit right in the middle of it.
Of course for mountains and large water bodies you are correct. The English channel left some TBMs in the middle so they could get done faster - at much higher expense.
What I'm picturing from your statement is two TBM drilling towards each other like ---> <----.
Which would require the digging of a third hole where the TBM "drill heads" meet. After every TBM dig, the drill heads are left at the end of the tunnel b/c they are bigger than the new tunnel (as the head digs the tunnel, workers install support structure to prevent a collapse, so the just drilled tunnel is smaller than the being drilled tunnel). A 3rd dig would be required where the two TBM drill heads meet to retrieve them and connect the tunnels. That's a lot of $$$ :/
In most projects it's called a station.
Occasionally you'll have dive sites that are not at/near stations, but not that often.
Sure you can improve the traditional TBM, but are theses improvement are needed?
Most of us here come from the software world, where sure improvement are costly (still less than in the physical world), but they can also target a huge market for a pretty cheap price.
Who actually need it to be 10 times faster? It takes already a pretty long time just to put in place a project, would it matters if you just saved a few months because the tunnel was bored faster? Sure in some situation, 10 times faster could be useful, but would theses situations be ready to pay the cost to develop that? Why not buying 10 TBM instead? That would even be more flexible.
We do. It's called a directional drill.
It's not logical, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. Let him do his thing. Who knows?
Underground LRT (aka "a subway") are electric vehicles that travel in tunnels. In what sense is replacing a subway with an electric car that runs on rails "ground-breaking"?
> Driving is not just an air pollution and climate change problem — turns out, it just might be the largest contributor of microplastics in California coastal waters. [...] Rainfall washes more than 7 trillion pieces of microplastics, much of it tire particles left behind on streets, into San Francisco Bay each year — an amount 300 times greater than what comes from microfibers washing off polyester clothes, microbeads from beauty products and the many other plastics washing down our sinks and sewers.
"Rubber is also considered plastic, both natural (isoprene) and synthetic (styrene butadiene)."
The issue with competition, you see, is that someone has to lose, and it sure as hell isn't going to be the winner - until it is.
I'm not sure what you mean by "illogical"; the idea of landing rockets has been around for 50 years. The issue is the technical challenges, and the cost. SpaceX have demonstrated that they have solved many of the technical issues, but haven't demonstrated that it's actually worth reusing rockets.
I suspect the same thing is true of digging tunnels. We have the technical ability to do it, but it isn't economically viable.
What would demonstrate that it's worth it to you? Aren't their reused rockets significantly cheaper than the competition already? Or is there some catch here?
Are they? Have they re-used their rockets commercially, outside of testing? I was unaware of that, but I don't follow it very closely.
Did they not ditch the idea of re-using the second stage, as it proved too expensive? If so, that demonstrates there's sometimes a gap between targets and reality.
SpaceX milestone of using a Falcon 9 four times: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/11/spacex-returns-to-th...
I'm not in the industry so I could be missing something (e.g. it sounds like there's a lot of competition in the light-lift market, cubesats and that kind of thing). But it seems that on heavy lift, SpaceX is dominating on price, and that seems to be largely down to reusability.
This would be an iterative process. First, figure out how to successfully recoup the rocket. Second, see what issues exist with the integrity of these rockets, and work to fix those. Try reusing. Find more issues, fix those, etc. Eventually/hopefully, profit?
At the very least it could've shown cost calculations for these tunnels. If they are as attractive as portrayed we would've had many more of them.
Single lane, 12 feet wide, 12 feet tall. Requires a tube 17 feet in diameter. Or 54.3 feet circumference. Two of those is then 108.6 feet.
A tube that can carry two lanes, 12X2 = 24 feet. Diameter is 26.8 feet or 84.3 ft circumference.
The perfect tunnel transports people horizontally in a very narrow tube.
First order analysis says there is no saving by using two tunnels instead of one. When you consider 4 one lane tunnels vs one tunnel with four lanes of tunnels, the four tunnel solution is worse.
Hanging off the back of the TBM is all the machinery to move all those heavy items around. Including the machinery for laying more railroad track behind the TBM.
Self-driving electric muck cars, segment cars, etc, might replace that temporary rail infrastructure. That's something Musk's company could address.
The back end of the process seems to get less attention than the front end. Most of the length of the TBM is devoted to material handling, though, as is the rest of the tunnel all the way back to the entry. A big fraction of the cost is in moving all that stuff around.
(I'm wondering about steam explosions when hitting ground water, which is not unheard of. But...NUKULAR!)
(Lacking cheaply mass produced super-conductors here)
One thing lost in the debate is if the costs are lowered it will also increase the number of cities where a subway is possible financially. I see cities spending huge money on dedicated bus lanes. The bus companies adore it but I'm pretty certain that the return on investment is abysmal.
They tried to implement it locally and the grass roots groups put up such a huge fight the politicians withdrew support for it.
As far as the cost of the stations I wonder if anyone has given thought to using 3D concrete printing? Admittedly it would be easier if you excavated from the surface as opposed to widening a tunnel but I still think it has the possibility of losing costs.
If that is true, then Elon is betting on the wrong horse.
Someone else has made the bet for bigger tunnels and they're using a PR agency to push back. PG called out this tactic a few years back:
People shut up about electric cars over hydrogen when electric proved itself. Note that back when this started there were many hydrogen naysayers who pointed out all the problems the hydrogen proponents have faced. The electric car people got lucky that lithium batteries advanced to where they could work - 20 years ago this wasn't a given to battery experts.
One note: new cut and cover projects tend to actually use cover and cut: first the walls are built underground (often piledriven), then the top is covered with a concrete plate, then the Earth dug away from below. This minimizes the surface disruption.
I mean, a lot of subway projects are specifically planned to follow a main road simply because cut and cover is cheaper.
First, all utilities have to be mapped out, then any basements shored up.
Then once the cut and cover is in progress, all utilities have to be re-routed, during, then replaced after the tunnel is cut.
Then, the disruption of having major transit ways shut for n weeks.
Lastly, there isnt a machine to do it. The TBM is pretty efficient labour wise.
Deeper tunnels for longer distance transport do not have any of these limitation.
As soon as you don't need to break the surface, the cost drops significantly, and the speed of build, planning and after care increase dramatically.
I wouldn't characterize cut and cover as a mild disruption to car traffic - it's a shorter duration of disruption than tunnel boring, but a block at a time will be completely shut down.
It quickly is cheaper to tunnel than to make plans for each thing you need to work around to cut and cover.
You could be shot out of one rail gun in San Francisco, glide for awhile, fall to the earth and caught by a “reverse” railgun in San Jose.
It'd be cheaper and safer than planes since no need to carry fuel or an engine on board, and could have an emergency parachute incase something went wrong.
Or maybe I've been dreaming about Kerbal Space Program projects too much lately. (I'm fully expecting to be flamed and jided for this)
For personal drones, we could consider using railgun tubes to accelerate vertically and then glide. Without considering drag, a 100m vertical railgun could lift a craft to about 300m. With a 50-1 glide ratio, you could get to 15 km from launch without further propulsion.
If shot from a Burj Khalifa height at 2g, you'd accelerate for 9 seconds to 176m/s and reach a height of over 2000m in less than 30 seconds... allowing a glide of over 100km.
In addition to nanotube cables, we'd also need to develop ways to mitigate the acoustic and electrical vibrations in the cable. Might be a way to generate electricity and dampen at the same time.
Edit - the US navy rail gun apparently produces 60,000 G, humans black out around 10.
You might just about be able to do SF to San Jose with a glider and winch launch if they improved the tech 3x or so. Longer cable etc.
In ideal conditions linear acceleration to Mach 2 at 5, 10, even 20g is fine. But, if you want to go much faster the limits are reduced significantly. The Soyuz for example can hit 8.5g’s for about 60 seconds in some situations which adds up to ~Mach 14.6 and is a rather extreme situation.
If one day we start using this in the civilian aviation, this is probably one of the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to lowering aviation emissions.
Edit: Also reminds me of a rather entertaining failure mode for UK AGR nuclear plants - but that's another story.
I actually like the Hyperoop model for transportaion the best, since the my understanding you would have the least energy losses.
My idea is still more economical to prototype; which means I'll be first to the important step of courting investors; and of course after that who cares if the idea ever happens or was even possible to begin with.
On the way down the vehicle would be going the same speed it went up at - so you're talking about plummeting ballistically towards the ground at 300 m/s. Even assuming you can steer perfectly, what happens if something goes wrong with the receiving railgun? You've got no way to abort and go around, and no time to do... well, anything, really.
Parachutes for vehicles the size of a passenger aeroplane are not practical. A few very small planes have emergency whole-aeroplane parachutes, but they're not to be relied upon. The German army experimented with parachuting a light buggy with two soldiers in and gave up after several failures. And even if you had a working parachute, it still requires a skilled operator and a safe landing zone - what if you hit power lines, or trees, or buildings?
Unfortunately that was actually the least wrong thing about lmm’s comment. We’re not launching a rock, it will not come down as fast as it goes up. And I don’t know what the mixup is around a “receiving railgun”.
Long story short: make sure you have corrective gliding maneuvers as part of your imaginary system;)
Changing weather patterns could also do serious damage, and you would need pretty big landing areas all over the place as well.
Good idea though!
Laborers excavate at the bottom while new bricks are laid incrementally forming the casing at the top. The whole column of bricks slides down as a cylinder whenever progress is made at the bottom.
I've long wanted to dig a well that way, it's gotta be surreal to be at the bottom digging away with a little shovel and seeing a towering column of bricks move as one to fill in the progress.
It can't be terribly safe :)
Yes, and the whole staff seems a lot more theorical than the rest, the approach can only work in a subset of terrains and for relatively short shafts (if you exceed certain lengths or in many terrains the attrition between the shaft walls and terrain will stop the sinking).
Usually in tunneling projects ventilation shafts are dug "traditionally" (if rather short) or by "raise boring" (if longish).
Some related videos:
He digs wells by hand. Very scary videos.
just with prepoured concrete blocks instead of bricks.
This seems inefficient.
I somehow doubt such things could happen today considering the superstructure foundations under a lot of our modern buildings.
Now what you do when those lasers hit a high-water-content sediment and cause a vapor explosion, loss of integrity of surrounding rock and flooding?
At 60+ years, only a couple are commonplace or in effect, mostly the inducement of sprawl.
Virtually all the rest assume vast amounts of free power which never materialised. The automation examples are only now, and with great difficulty and challenges, appearing.
Litho-annealing / vitrification remains a fantasy. Lasers serve as alignment aids, not boring mecganisms.
Any idea who commissioned/ contributed to this?
We all know it's very popular to love Elon Musk. But it's generally more attractive to one-up those who do and hate Elon and his "fans".
As a disclaimer: I am in the wagon of "please leave this guy alone so he can do his thing, whatever it might turn out to be".
And I do not see any value in this article.
Booring Co. is about creating rich network of very small tunnels _to solve urban traffic,_ whereas article only talks about creating huge tunnels for longer distance transportation.
Article seem to be making a comparison while things it compares aren't in the same category nor does they try to solve the same problem to begin with.
Incoherent and poorly thought-out", if not straight clickbait.
What I got out of the article was definitely not an "anti-Musk" vibe. Not even super critical of the Boring company approach. It was more of a "modern marvels" type of article.