Summary: Train wreck 1995 and a installation of a safety-first, CYA response that slows down the trains and does not increase safety.
Longer Summary: Train wreck in 1995. Maybe driver was asleep. Start installing new signals that not only automatically stop the trains when there is a train ahead (good idea and already in place), but also when going over 45mph. Trains used to go up to 55mph with no systemic problems. Drivers go even slower than 45mph because the train is automatically stopped when going faster (as you would want to do if there was a train ahead) instead of just giving a warning and letting the train keep going.
As more of the system gets these new signals, more of the system has slower trains. Thus the increase of delays that are labeled generically as "insufficient capacity, excess dwell, unknown" from about 20% of delays in 2012 to about 60% in 2017.
During the age of steam, express passenger trains regularly exceeded 55 mph. For example, during the 1930s the Burlington Zephyr regularly exceeded 85 mph. For example it made the Chicago to Denver run in 1934 in 13 hours rather than the 18 hrs it takes today.
A long distance train benefits from very high top speeds, because it spends a lot of time at those top speeds. Conversely, increasing the high speed of a subway train is subject to the law of diminishing returns, since the train has to comfortably accelerate and decelerate within the span of half a mile. With subways, the main concern is that every single train operates in pretty much the exact same manner WRT acceleration, deceleration, and speed, since the headways on subways can be measured in minutes, or even seconds.
Chicago-Denver, as a city pair, is so sparsely populated and so far apart that new HSR doesn't pencil out, nor does building it out incrementally (it's hard to justify KC to Denver or Omaha to Denver)
In today's world, HSR fills a very specific market niche; planes are much faster for long distances due to higher speed and small requirements for land acquisition, and cars are just as competitive for short distances due to the last-mile problem. So I don't think it's reasonable to connect every possible city pair in the US with HSR, but rather it's much better to just build strong regional networks of HSR that work on their own. There's no reason to build a continent-spanning HSR network.
High speed aside, in the UK, i think pretty much all inner and outer suburban main-line trains are electric or diesel multiple units (eg if you get a train from London to Cambridge that takes 45 minutes, that's an EMU). According to some random report i found on wikipedia , in 2011 there were 1248 locomotive-hauled carriages, 2892 DMU carriages, and 8046 EMU carriages. I could tell you a great many more particulars but suppose that you are tired of it by this time.
Aside from those it's freight and the sleepers isn't it?
Is there any protection system that allows the maximum speed to be exceeded with just a warning? Certainly all those I can think of (TPWS, TVM, PZB, or something more modern like ETCS) have a given maximum speed you're allowed to exceed by a small tolerance but nothing more (though, of course, the system may be isolated, but that's not allowed in passenger service).
The failing here sounds like it is setting the line speed to 45mph rather than anything higher.
Additionally, a simple case would be to have circuits which do, after a certain point in time, force slow (but safe) braking into the required velocity---I could see problems with robustness here due to the specific application, but at least in theory this should be possible (we all know the difference between theory and practice, though).
On the general case, this all seems a little weird to me since it seems like such a trivial problem (increase error bands, etc), but may have some deeper reasons that aren't explained in the article(?). It's quite difficult to tell since the primary sources are not provided at any point in time.
 I'm reluctant to accept this claim since most of these things aren't done in an analog way, anymore. Timing is a matter of figuring out empirical constants and programming them in directly, which, while not totally trivial, seems to have roughly the same difficulty (amortized over all of the lights that need to be put in) as doing the timing for a 'one-shot' light.
If something goes wrong? Stop the train. You can then figure out what went wrong and address it with no risk. Things shouldn't be going wrong, speeds shouldn't be being exceeded, etc.
If no train on the line moves, sure. But stoping just the one train won't improve safety, and was historically the cause of many accidents. I remember just the one in Shanghai in 201x. One train stopped, the following train hit it.
Rail segments (blocks) are supposed to be automatically locked off while a train is on that segment of track. No two trains can be on the same block at the same time. If a train stops, the signal guarding that block will remain red, ordering the next train to stop before it gets anywhere close.
Stopping a train anywhere should therefore always be safe, so the safety failing is with the train behind, not the one in front.
This kind of thing makes a huge impact on the quality of life for people living in the city.
The new Elizabeth line is apparently going to go up to 90 miles per hour, but that is probably only for when the train leaves London and heads out to neighbouring towns (it's essentially a subway line that also connects commuter towns to London).
I'd speculate, without evidence, that it probably has increased safety. But maybe it's just a bad tradeoff, compared to other options.
Besides--reduced capacity causes platform crowding which is dangerous and displaces passengers into other modes of transportation like foot or automotive traffic, both of which are more deadly per passenger-mile than the subway.
The question here is, “What is the relationship between train speed and safety?” My guess is that the risk has a bathtub curve to it. At low speeds, certain factors dominate, the dangerous effects of reduced capacity. At high speed, other factors dominate, like crashes. This type of curve is found in many different types of systems. This curve exists in automotive traffic, where both high-speed and low-speed drivers are known to be dangerous, and speed limits that are either too high or too low make the road more dangerous. With an actual study, you could try to measure the curve. Perhaps you would find a large, flat area where changes in speed have small or even negligible effects on safety.
Kind of like the negligible effect on safety that wearing a pillow on an airplane would have.
But we don’t know the answer to the actual interesting question, do we? We don’t know what the exact effect of speed on train safety is. We know that train safety is very different from car safety—I was just looking at some statistics comparing them. But here we are, dodging the real question and complaining that an analogy isn’t realistic enough.
15 years ago the MTA was caught maintaining two different sets of books - one internal that showed the agency had a surplus of cash and another set of books for the public which showed the agency as being "cash strapped" and needing to raise fares as a result. See:
The culture of this agency is rotten and its corruption endemic. It's hard to believe it's capable of producing anything other than it's current broken state.
It might be more accurate to compare the single-ride fare then with the single-ride fare at the time the photo was taken, which was either $2.00 or $2.25 (the price changed in 2009, I think).
Huh? How are you going to increase revenue if no one is paying more.
Twice as much for worse service.
How does one realistically reform something like this?
Slowly and methodically.
Create legislation that prevents construction firms from making campaign contribution and MTA employees from taking jobs as political consultants. This is probably the largest source of corruption, graft and waste.
The MTA's Board of Directors is predominantly controlled by the Governor of the state. The Board of Directors has long been a political dumping ground. Residents - the people who depend on the train have almost no say. Residents should have representation on the board of directors even if its a only a handful of rotating seats. Having people on the board who actually use and depend on the train would provide an instant feedback loop.
I think you also need to implement a rotating independent oversight committee whom the MTA must be beholden too. One that is democratically elected. The oversight committee should have real teeth though perhaps with veto ability in certain instances.
And yes as someone else mentioned you probably need to fire a whole bunch of people.
The MTA would be much better off if the appointed representative of the county was replaced with the actual elected executive of said county (so county executives, borough presidents, mayor/council speaker/what have you, etc.)
I don't believe it was ever under Mayoral control. The current governance structure came under then Gvernor Nelson Rockefeller.
But anyway Nassau, Suffolk, Westcheste, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam counties each get to appoint a board member. That's nearly a third of the 17 total seats. Beside Wescheter and Nassau counties none of those counties even border any one of the 5 boroughs.
That's 5 votes by people who most assuredly do not ride the subway to work and maybe not at all. As such it's hard to believe they would ever have NYC residents best interests at heart.
The distinction to make is that the counties and the City get to recommend the appointees for their slots to the Governor. It's a formality most of the time, but the Governor or State Legislature could tell the mayor or county executives to "try again".
As far as that last point, it's important to understand why the MTA was created in the first place; its primary mission is to dole out the goodies from the State and the tolled crossings to its subsidiaries. What they know about the system is at best, secondary to the job, since they are, by and large, not the people who run the system. That's why they appoint chairmen and agency presidents and all that.
The LIRR, the Metro North and NYC Subway system are completely independent lines, with completely separate payment systems, completely separate citizens as their majority riderships and they don't share any tracks. They are completely separate concerns - the LIRR and Metro North serves the commuter belt people that most likely have a car or two in the driveway. The NYC Subway's majority ridership are people that have neither a car or a driveway at home.
They are non-contiguous in every way. The only thing they share is a bloated org chart.
So yes, the idea that someone from Duchess County who drives a car to work and has most likely never ridden the NYC Subway to get to work is making "informed" decision about whether or not to address the problem of overcrowding on say the 456 line is perhaps the height of "irrationality."
If anything the problem with regional transit systems in the US is that they are far too provincial and federated, leading to all sorts of overlapping and wasteful things. For example the fact that the Port Authority and the MTA don't get along means I can't take a fucking train to any airport in the most important and densest city in the country.
Or stuff like how they didn't bother to connect the 4/5/6 line to the PATH system during WTC reconstruction despite the fact that they are compatible, and they apparently had over three billion dollars to light on fire.
Or stuff like how the PATH train runs to Newark and inexplicably stops a mile or two short of the airport despite the fact that NJ Transit/Amtrak right of way runs right there down the exact same line.
The idea that separating LIRR from Metro North from the Subway and creating yet another set of competing bureaucracies is going to somehow help things is delusional, and a fundamental misunderstanding of how NYC area politics works.
Yes exactly those people vote in those instances. The key word being vote - i.e they have a say and can research the candidate before casting a ballot. The context here is positions where people CAN'T vote because those MTA board positions are political appointees. Ir'a apples and oranges. Your comparison makes no sense.
>"Or stuff like how they didn't bother to connect the 4/5/6 line to the PATH system during WTC reconstruction despite the fact that they are compatible"
Except you are wrong those are actually connected via the Dey Street Concourse. See:
>"The idea that separating LIRR from Metro North from the Subway and creating yet another set of competing bureaucracies is going to somehow help things is delusional, and a fundamental misunderstanding of how NYC area politics works."
No its quite simple, if infrastructure passes through multiple counties its under the purview of a state agency. I its infrastructure that falls within a single county or just the 5 boroughs then it should be a city specific agency.
Lastly I have actually worked in NYC politics so I'm pretty sure I have a firm grasp of how NYC politics works.
It's interesting that you choose to make statements like that without knowing anything about a person's professional background. So an opinion contrary to your own constitutes delusion and indicates that someone misunderstand how things work? Is that correct? That seems like a pretty fool-proof prescription for an echo chamber.
That's flatly untrue. People don't vote for FAA administrators or USDA policymakers, they vote for representatives who pick civil service people and so on. The MTA governance isn't strange or unusual, that's my point.
> Except you are wrong those are actually connected via the Dey Street Concourse.
Well yes, the lines are connected if you get out of the train and walk. By that definition all transit lines in the country are connected.
But we could have had a subway that runs from Grand Central to Newark: https://newyorkyimby.com/2014/09/the-port-authoritys-missed-...
I mean in Europe they can figure out how to run fast trains through three countries in an hour or two. But I have to transfer three times to get to the airport. Our way of doing this sucks.
> No its quite simple, if infrastructure passes through multiple counties its under the purview of a state agency. I its infrastructure that falls within a single county or just the 5 boroughs then it should be a city specific agency.
But.... what if you don't want the infrastructure to just fall within a single jurisdiction. That's the entire point I'm making. I want transportation infrastructure to be planned out and integrated on a larger scale. I want to consolidate the various agencies. Having MTA and PA and Amtrak and NYC DOT and NYS DOT and NJ DOT and so on makes for insane schizophrenic policy. Your idea that the subways and regional rails should be split into separate agencies makes that worse not better.
Without the regional integration, we would probably never get things like the Freedom Ticket; utilizing commuter rail lines as de facto subways, even premium ones, is much preferable to the much more expensive option of duplicating existing corridors.
However, if I remember correctly, they're unionized, which is why this hasn't happened yet.
If you'd like to see a fine example of how changing the management and the management philosophy can turn a place around, look at NUMMI. There's a This American Life episode with extensive worker interviews: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/561/nummi-2015
Then turn around and realize basically every large institution humans have ever built relies on shady, selfish, behavior and stop caring about reforming individuals since thousands of years of policing have done jack and squat to remove the behavior from the species.
Seriously, this forum is the worst for overlooking relevant variables (human biology and contemporary culture as a whole) for their trite commentary, usually rooted in nothing more than culturally acceptable bullet points.
Hundreds of years of the same sort of thinking. Still happens.
If you don't, well, in China, sucks to be you.
And this isn't even getting into the longer term prospects of the very real danger of the efficiency and scale of China starting to eat into the core economies of other nations as they move away from simple manufacturing and beginning moving up the value chain, as we are now seeing.
I wasn't really that worried about China as they are automating extremely quickly and have shown no better ability to utilize the displaced people any better than anybody in the West--see the recent layoffs in steel and coal in China along with the corresponding strikes and protests.
Now with Xi Jinping being President for Life, I'm even less worried. Xi Jingping will regard striking and protesting workers as a threat to his power and he will suppress them. This will break what little feedback there is in China between the working class and the ruling class and the decisions will become increasingly unmoored from external reality.
If I were TSMC, I would start moving fab lines out of Taiwan.
China doesn't see it this way. And the only thing keeping China from steamrolling both Taiwan and Hong Kong are the fact that it would decimate the economies and businesses there.
However, once you have a leader more worried about his power rather than being beholden to the working class, that is no longer an obstacle.
Second of all, and this is probably something that was brought up in your high school civics class, the advantage of a democracy is that the overall quality of a government will be the average of all of the people in it. Speaking metaphorically, you can roll N dice and average the results together; doing this repeatedly, you'll notice that as N goes up, the resulting averages will follow a normal distribution more and more closely. If you have enough dice, you can assume that you'll hit the middle of the curve most of the time, instead of having to worry that you might roll a 1.
Your a theoretical should be discarded.
It's interesting how many people on HN seem to believe they are fortune tellers and mind readers now. Personally, I am speculating, but it sounds like all you guys know that I'm wrong.
I've continued to be mostly right for the last decade, I think I'm going to stick with my predictions rather than those of people who don't take too kindly to disagreement.
A benevolent dictatorship cannot exist et alia because a person cannot live for ever and I simply don't know how you could assure that the transition from one benevolent dictator to another when the first one ceases to be competent. For instance, let's presume that Xi Jinping is the perfect president of China. When he dies or retires or becomes too ill to govern, will the PRC be able to select a new perfect president to replace him? or will they choose someone who is inclined to serve their own interests and was able to benefit from Xi's time? This is the ultimate problem of a benevolent dictorship: it cannot assure state continuity and stability beyond the effective lifespan of the dictatorship.
People also tend to become more habitual as they do something for a long time. Politeness and friendships limit them from being able to introduce policies that will benefit the country at the expense of those who have their ears. So it's possible that a governing style which served the state and the country well for many years will need hard revisions. Periodic changes in governor (as democracies have) mean it's more likely the incoming team will be able to retain what is still fresh and discard what is now stale, and they will be connected with different people and therefore not too worried about upsetting some of them. (I think this is a good part of what's wrong at the moment: major parties around the world are connected too much to the same interests, so a change of government doesn't result in as much upset as needs to happen. Votes will gradually transfer from the establishment to the anti-establishment parties. They will be able to upset the entrenchment, but it remains to be seen whether they will do so in the interests of the nation or the interests of an alternative elite.)
As for your last sentence, I think I misunderstand it. I disagreed with you and straightforwardly stated my opinion, and then it seems that you attacked me: it reads like you're accusing me of not being able to handle disagreement. I don't think I attacked you. Perhaps you would clarify it, or highlight the place where you think I "don't take too kindly to disagreement".
Agreed, this is why a dictatorship is generally not a wise idea. I certainly cannot assure a transition to another benevolent dictator, but what's interesting if you peruse the comments here, the overwhelming sentiment of people is that they can assure that a successful transition can not and will not happen, ever, full stop. As you may have noticed, I often have a bit of an issue with self-proclaimed mind-reading, future-telling, and other supernatural capabilities. You would expect this sort of thing among the general public or on Reddit, is it too much to ask for a higher standard on HN? It would seem so.
As for my last sentence, admittedly I'm guilty of taking out my frustrations with HNers in general (for the above stated reasons) on you, in response to your absolutist stance (No benevolent dictatorship has ever existed); perhaps no major nation in recorded history been led by a purely benevolent dictator, but if we had access to a truly omniscient being to settle this disagreement, I'd happily throw down a $100 wager that many truly benevolent (to the best of their abilities) dictators have led smaller, less famous groups of people on many occasions throughout history. Perhaps I have too much faith in humanity at its best.
I can quibble with this just a little. A truly benevolent dictator will recognize how harmful dictatorship is and will immediately remove himself from it.
Maybe we're playing semantic games, but Americans worship their leaders in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't think it's necessary for me to limit my statement in order to participate in your religion.
Yes, you can fire everyone in China, throw them in a work camp, take their property for the greater good, etc.
Funny thing happens when you walk all over people that way for the "greater good" ... a few people at the top, who define what the "greater good" is, tend to become extremely wealthy and powerful. The society becomes lopsided. The peasants become frustrated. Then there's violence.
Not that the people at the top are idiots. They understand this.
Since there are credible allegations of crime, is there an inspector general? There should be. If not, bring in the fraud squad and investigate the hell out of them. They'll leave.
The whole concept of ”bad things happen to good people for no reason” is extremely hard to bear. Somehow this reminds me of people who believe the right diet will protect them from cancer, the right prenatal care from birth defects, etc.
Look, let's say a Tesla, oh, just as a random example, careens directly into a clearly visible truck because its cameras can't distinguish white trucks from bright sunny skies, killing "my daughter Susie." In this hypothetical, this is a truly autonomous Tesla, and overall, these truly autonomous Teslas are less crash-prone than the human average.
As Susie's dad, my argument is that this accident was caused by Tesla. Yes, Tesla may have also saved some other people, under different circumstances, circumstances which are harder for humans to deal with and easier for cars to deal with. So what? That doesn't change the fact that Susie was killed by their product misbehaving in a way that a basically competent human driver wouldn't have. It's not like Tesla previously saved Susie's life, and at least she got to live longer than she would have in the counterfactual -- it's not like all the Susies out there in the world are all essentially doomed to die in auto accidents today.
If Susie went to a doctor with a mild infection and he gave her an inappropriate drug and it killed her, you had better believe that I would sue the shit out of him and also want him prosecuted, even if in the year before that he saved 37 other kids' lives from other illnesses.
Lives saved is effectively transparent. If you are only acknowledged for negative outcomes then you’re incentivised to not play the game.
It's the same mentality that means we have root cause analysis for plane and train crashes but for a car crash, SOP is pretty much to blame 1) whoever died or 2) noone at all, and 3) never the infrastructure.
When a car crashes, we just scrape up the debris and move on, after usually assigning blame to one of the drivers who ends up with higher insurance premiums or a lawsuit, assuming they survived. There's little effort to learn from the crashes.
It's the same thing that powers fears over mass shootings even though, statistically, they are a tiny fraction of overall gun violence. Most of the rest, however, can be avoided by keeping yourself out of bad situations with gangs or drugs...so even though the stats are higher people feel more in control...vs just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So if "bad things happen to good people for no reason" is unpalatable and it's the narrative for mass transit, and "bad things happen to drivers for reasons in their control" is the easy narrative for cars, I'd say "bad things happen to good people for reasons that are in our control but we still do nothing" is closer to the true narrative for cars, but it is also unpalatable. There is an element of this in many risk-related scenarios, but it is especially clear here.
This smacks of corruption or of elements of society deciding that systems aren't going to simply work anymore. The population of New York City when I lived in Queens was 7.3 million when I lived there in 1989. The subways pretty much worked back then. The figure for population of New York City in 2017 I found was 8.5 million. Population increase can't account for the difference. There must have been considerable systemic decay.
1.2 million additional daily riders is about double the entire Washington Metro daily ridership and triple that of BART's daily ridership! Indeed, 1.2 million daily riders is about equal to ridership on the Lex! So I disagree with your conclusion that "Population increase can't account for the difference". This sort of ridership growth would have destroyed any other comparable system in the US. If anything, it's amazing that the NYC subway hasn't fallen apart more than it already has.
There are also plenty of places on the system where longer trains could be run. A trains are 600ft long. C trains are run on the exact same tracks with 480ft trains. Nothing feels worse than boarding a C train that's packed because you know there's nothing stopping the MTA from running longer trains there. They claim they don't have the equipment for this, which may be true during rush hours, but it's a complete lie during the rest of the day. There are plenty of 600ft trains ready to go just sitting in the yard.
C'mon Village Voice, that's not a log chart!
Growing exponentially has a real meaning and it doesn't mean growing fast.
Both "...quickly gotten worse..." and "...gotten much worse..." are sharper.
(I am not stating that congestion plays any part in it, but you can’t simply write it off.)
There were accidents. They slowed the train to improve safety.
The train is about as safe as ever. Why? Many, many more people are using than the trains than before. It's harder to keep that many people safe, so more caution is warranted.
The only problem I see, if it's true, is that they classified delays stemming from maintenance under the wrong heading. And so far as I can tell, there's no real proof of that.
I don’t know how fair these accusations are, of course.
Thus, overcaution on the trains will kill more people.
1. Outdated signaling system cannot handle current load at high safety threshold
2. Network could not upgrade signaling system due to lack of money
3. Network responses by slowing down critical paths and putting in more locks
4. System capacity drops
So yeah, you still need the money to fix slow things.
Yes, the signals system needs to be upgraded if they want to increase the number of trains (and their speed) on the lines, but even without the signals system upgrades, they can still run the current loads at acceptably-high levels of safety.
Put another way, they are slowing the trains down and increasing delays while not actually increasing the capacity of the system.
Overcrowding is NOT a misc category, it is a specific situation with a specific definition (the exact definition is something they use should be published so we can decide if we agree with it), with specific training on how to tell if this is really overcrowding as opposed to a failure to get a normal crowd through in time since the solution to the two problems is different.
Other/misc is an import category to have - every system of collecting data needs to have a none of the above because there is always something you didn't think of. What is normally missing is that when other is used there needs to be a text explanation of what happened, and then an investigation to see what should be done. You collect data for things like "medical emergency" because from the category alone everybody understands that the delay is beyond control. When something is misc that means you didn't expect it and need to redesign your procedures so it never happens again. Thus the misc category should be something all operators hate to use: they get sucked into meetings on how do we ensure that it doesn't happen again.
In either case, probably time to clean house and get rid of the "better safe than sorry" crowd.
My reading is that an accident that was most likely caused by a driver falling asleep resulted in cover-your-ass style changes that have little to no measurable effect on safety, but cause massive real problems with the system that negatively affect millions of riders. And beyond that, they're shuffling blame around and waving their hands to distract people from systemic problems.
I mean, if the delays are caused by slowing the trains down, they should say "we've slowed the trains down due to safety reasons, and that's why there are delays". Then people can either accept that and move on, or do actual studies into the problem to determine if their course of action is correct, and if the trade-offs made are worth it.
I don't think it's some big hush-hush conspiracy; it's just garden-variety corruption and a desire to avoid fixing root causes of problems because they're complex and expensive. Easier to just keep collecting that paycheck while using "overcrowding" as an excuse to get more public money diverted to your agency.
NYC has some of the strongest unions in the country. Everything from hotels to the MTA are plagued by really, really strong unions that only care about their interests -- leaving the city with a shameful transit system, in this case.
Unions make up nearly 25% of workers in NYC, that's more than the double the national average. The corruption is rampant and the city is literally powerless against them.
The actual criticism to be made here is the pathology of all New York institutions and the people entrenched among them - the unions that serve the MTA, the people who own, build and rent the real estate, the politicians who effective rule by plutocracy.
The corruption of New York's unions is simply the end state of a city whose underlying mechanisms have all been captured by a small group of people interested only in enriching themselves. Many of those institutions are unions.
Hell, I'd be fine paying the unionized subway employees for the rest of their lives to sit at home doing literally nothing if that was the only way to get them to agree to automating their jobs away. At least then we'd have the outcome we want, and not have to pay the next several generations of subway operators to do a job that holds the system back.
Unions sound more like your personal bogeyman than an actual cause.
To add insult to injury, construction costs for transit are much lower in Paris and London than NYC.
But let's attack the unions again, because that's less complex (and matches a popular and old political narrative) than pointing to systemic incompetence and short term thinking at the administrative level.
The DLR is fully automated, but has a member of staff on board, and the 4 times I used it this year the staff member was always in manual control.
If rail doesn't get automated before cars, I don't see branch lines surviving. But then I don't see them surviving automated cars either. Main lines, sure, but I'll be getting an auto-taxi to the mainline station rather than the hourly connecting train.
I believe the rules require a member of staff to check the doors and permit the train to depart, but that can be done from the platform instead (and is, at peak times).
Full automation will be permitted on lines with platform edge doors; the intention is to do this for the deep tubes at least for the central sections, but it's a 3-step process (replace the trains with ones that work with PEDs, fit the PEDs, then remove the driving cabs) that wasn't expected to be done before the late 2020s, and that was before the severe underfunding of TfL with the loss of central government support and the mayor's fare freeze.
This creates a communication hurdle between Europe and America. The expectations of what a union does differ so much, you could say Europeans and Americans mean a totally different thing when using the same word.
The increasing inequality in the US can in large part be attributed to corporations winning the war against Unions. Corporations have been ruthless towards this end, including funding think-tanks that gaslight Americans.
There are ways to make the union happy and the workers happy it just takes longer term thinking which governments and voters are frightently bad at.
Helsinki metro was planning to have automated trains when the western extension opens in 2014. It opened in late 2017, without automation because of technical difficulties. I have a hard time believing there will be much automated traffic on the roads here (with uneven surfaces, unclear markings, snow, and other traffic) before the metro can be automated (in a dedicated tunnel where there is no other traffic, movement is technically only possible on the rails and there is no snow).
Port Island Line (Kobe) opened as GOA4 (fully automated) in 1981 followed by Lille Metro in 1983 and Vancouver's SkyTrain in 1985.
The US has several GOA4 systems, though they're mostly airport shuttles and people movers (AeroTrain at Dulles, Monorail at Tampa, STS at Tacoma) a few serve actual communities (DPM, Metromover, Morgantown, Las Vegas Monorail).
> Helsinki metro was planning to have automated trains when the western extension opens in 2014. It opened in late 2017, without automation because of technical difficulties.
Wow, that's a bit ridiculous.
The Helsinki Metro is also a bit unusual in that it uses Russian wide gauge track (for compatability with the rest of the rail system) but Western tech otherwise, meaning basically everything has to be custom made and is priced accordingly.
(The Finnish rail gauge is in fact nominally different from the current one in Russia, because USSR changed from "imperialist" 1524 mm to "metric" 1520 mm between 1970 and 1990; the trains are in practice compatible, though.)
Less than what's happened with the London Underground Sub-Surface Railway, which is now on the third resignalling contract to get them to GoA Level 3.
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.
What? Alstom, Ansaldo STS, Bombardier, Siemens, and Thales all have off-the-shelf designs that they will happily sell. And I've probably forgotten some here. I realise none of these are American companies, and "Buy American" is often a constraint on acquisitions in the US, but it's fundamentally untrue that there are no off-the-shelf designs.
See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications-based_train_con... for various systems using various suppliers' products.
The latter is very popular and getting deployed in several places right now: Honolulu, Thessaloniki, Lima 2, Rome C, …
To nitpick, this is actually Hitachi (the ex-AnsaldoBreda part) and Ansaldo STS (which Hitachi only bought 40% of, and became its own company when Hitachi bought AnsaldoBreda).
Depending on rolling stock and space for equipment, replacing the rolling stock when replacing the signalling equipment might not be required (see, for example, the the London Underground 1995 Stock on the Northern Line).
Is Breda really popular? SFMTA forbade Breda from bidding on this latest round of vehicles because the current ones have been so problematic. I don't think Chicago or Seattle had a much better experience with Breda either.
VAL has been a thing since the Lille Metro opened in 1983 and AnsaldoBreda is being deployed all over the world (it's the platform for Honolulu's upcoming HART).
Interestingly, at the time the Vancouver SkyTrain was undergoing construction, the same tech was being installed in Toronto for the Scarborough rapid transit line. The transit union in Toronto opposed automation, so the trains had to be specially modified to add operator cabins so the trains could be driven manually. Vancouver was able to get away with it because the system was a greenfield project, there was no union of subway workers around already to oppose automating the trains.
"The line operates using fully automated [..]" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_4_(Budapest_Metro)
The DC Metro used to have a semi-autonomous mode that's been turned off for years since there was a glitch that caused a crash.
I'm not expecting the DC Metro to go autonomous anytime soon either. It's a huge jobs program for inner city residents. Basically a commuter tax for a social program.
Although I would assume there are conductors in a control centre somewhere?
Of course the reality of it is more complicated, but they are a powerful force (for better or worse).
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_U-Bahn#Fifth_expansion_... it seems that vienna isn't driverless yet.
You can quite often see the trains operate fully automatic though when the drivers are changing shifts at the end of the line. The driver typically leaves and locks the train, lets it reverse itself and then the next driver continues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eyjqS9lvNA
Also, as far as I can tell US public sector unions are as strong as those in any other rich country.
Many cities with autonomous trains indeed have drivers. But they don't do nothing, they sit there for emergencies and to set the go signal when leaving the station. In Austria for instance that's not because of unions but because the job of the driver is at this point considered important. For fully autonomous operation you need extra security features on the track which were not employed (fully sealed off track in stations, better emergency corridors, more reliable remote door controls etc.).
Where fully automated trains are in operation there are never any drivers.
FWIW Lyon's Line D is fully automated (GOA4) and doesn't use enclosed track. It may have changed since but it used to not even have turnstiles, you could walk up to the track without any pause.
The only incident I can remember is a drunk who literally fell on a train from one of the elevated passages over the track.
Union culture is as antagonistic in France as in the US (for the same reasons that corporations are antagonistic) and it not only has multiple GOA4 metro systems running right now across the country, Paris is actually converting existing lines to full automation.
All of Germany (which has a much more cooperative union culture) has two GOA4 lines both in Nuremberg, meanwhile Copenhagen Metro (in highly unionised Denmark) was created fully automated back in 2002.
I see no evidence that unions have anything to do with it.
 quite literally: Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Rennes, Paris
Unions in the US are annoyingly different: most (at least those that I'm even passingly familiar with) seem to have one major goal: keeping the status quo (with regular pay and benefits increases for its members, of course). They generally do not go for "hey, we're going to eliminate your jobs, but we'll compensate you in such a way that you'll continue to be gainfully employed elsewhere".
Often that topic does not even come up because companies are not firing people to begin with like they do in the US. They just transition into a new role (for instance they could become light rail drivers in the same network where automation is not yet achievable).
10-20 years from now isn't exactly "almost"
During rush hour, any small delay on one train will almost certain impact every train down the line- there's little time buffer between trains. The bigger the delay, the more trains effected by it. The more passengers per train, the more likely that train will have a delay- loading and unloading taking too long, sure, that can cause a small delay. But consider events like heart attacks, seizures, a fight breaking out- all kinds of major-delay-causing-events that are roughly speaking a linear function from 'time passenger is on the train' to 'likelihood of major delay event'.
If you have twice as many passengers, you have twice the odds of a major delay. If a passenger spends twice a long on a train, you have twice the odds of them causing a major a delay. Delays cause more passengers per train and cause longer time-on-train for each passenger.
It's all non-linear. Any one tiny delay can spark a total breakdown and the longer that delay is the more likely it will cause more in turn.
How on earth does the system ever work at all?
By promising a schedule that doesn't assume nothing goes wrong. Time padding means the inevitable minor delays can be absorbed quickly, and infrequent longer delays are recoverable.
Also, I don't know about Toronto, but most of the big delays in Boston are issues with equipment rather than passengers. Derailment, signal failure, etc. should scale with vehicle traffic rather than vehicle occupancy/passenger count, and big delays decrease how much traffic is going around at the moment.
Modern control systems such as ETCS3 can allocate virtual track segments (moving blocks) to individual trains and adjust the reserved length based on the current speed.
That's 84 person-years per year, just considering the weekday impact of those thirteen signals. Over a lifetime a year, to save (speculatively) one life per decade? Call me callous, but I don't think it's worth it.
Same forces seem alive and well today. They just chose to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into building a new stadium.
I wish we built functioning public transportation because its the right thing to do, I'll accept it happening because young professionals demand it.
- rate of new miles of roads - rate of increase/decrease in potholes per 10 miles - number of bridges that need fixing - number of people on government assistance - percentage of population in jail - peoples test scores on standardized international tests
its not like things are unmeasureable... just that politics awards those who ignore these things
Within the past few months there was a NYTimes article that stated that after an accident in the mid 1990s (?) that they slowed the system down. Thus, the problem wasn't overcrowding, but slowing the system down.
The system has been underfunded for maintenance. When the city went broke in the 1970s (?), the financing was transferred to the state from the city. NY State taxes the city but does not returned the taxed funds to the city for the MTA. Transferring management of the MTA back to the city would help with holding the Mayor accountable, something to think about if they want to be re-elected.