Elon Musk’s idea for fixing traffic suffers from one fundamental problem

Elon Musk — the restless billionaire behind Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity — was stuck in annoying traffic and mused that one solution would be to drill more tunnels. All he’d need, really, is a giant machine…

Everyone’s trying to figure out whether Musk is genuinely serious about starting a brand-new tunnel-boring company or not. Who knows! But tunnels are fun to think about, so why not pretend he is serious and think through how this might actually work….

One obvious hitch to Musk’s scheme is that some cities are already trying to dig new tunnels to accommodate traffic — and it’s far from easy! There’s a lot of existing infrastructure buried in the ground beneath cities, from water mains to electrical cables. And the tunnels themselves often need to be reinforced. That makes tunneling slow, difficult, and expensive work.

Seattle is a cautionary tale here: Since 2013, the city has employed a massive 57-foot-diameter boring machine named Big Bertha to drill a 2-mile highway tunnel beneath the downtown area. Yet six months after work began, Big Bertha broke down after overheating. Drilling finally resumed in late 2015 — but then had to stop again after a sinkhole opened up near construction. Perhaps Musk can improve on Big Bertha. But that brings us to an even deeper problem with his idea. Building more tunnels is just not a good way to alleviate traffic congestion. In fact, it would likely do the opposite.

The “fundamental rule” of traffic: building new roads just makes people drive more
In January 2016, during SpaceX’s Hyperloop pod design competition, Musk explained why he thought tunnels could help alleviate traffic:

It’s a really simple and obvious idea and I wish more people would do it: build more tunnels. Tunnels are great. It’s just a hole in the ground, it’s not that hard. But if you have tunnels in cities you would massively alleviate congestion and you could have tunnels at all different levels — you could probably have 30 layers of tunnels and completely fix the congestion problem in high-density cities. So I strongly recommend tunnels.

Except economists and traffic experts have been studying this issue for a long time and they’ve found the exact opposite. When cities add new roads to a congested area, it usually doesn’t alleviate congestion. Instead, it just induces more traffic, as people take advantage of the added road space to drive more.

Granted, there can still be good reasons for fast-growing cities to build new roads. They just shouldn’t necessarily expect traffic jams to disappear as a result. Los Angeles got a firsthand glimpse of this after widening its I-405 freeway, a project that cost $1 billion. “The data shows that traffic is moving slightly slower now on 405 than before the widening,”

So what does help alleviate congestion? If cities really want to erase traffic jams, many transportation economists would instead recommend that they charge people to use roads when they’re crowded — a policy known as congestion pricing that has popped up in places like London, Singapore, and Stockholm.

Early research suggests that pricing really does cut down on traffic, as people decide to move their commutes to non-peak hours, shift to mass transit, or cut down on trips overall. It’s arguably even more effective if cities use the funds to provide alternative transportation options.

The downside is that congestion charging tends to be rather unpopular, since people don’t like it when they suddenly have to pay for something that used to be free. (It’s the same reason why checked-baggage fees on airplanes have incurred such a backlash.) So urban planners tend to favor building new roads and widening existing roads — or, in Musk’s case, new tunnels — even if the research suggests again and again that it doesn’t cut down on congestion.

Now, that doesn’t mean a tunneling machine would be useless! Remember, Musk also has plans to start colonizing Mars within a decade. And humans living on Mars would probably want to spend most of their time underground to avoid the higher levels of solar radiation that hits the planet.

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Second Ave Subway’s ceremonial first ride will be a New Year’s party for city officials

While the rest of us will be spending our New Year’s Eve elsewhere, Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning on spending his on the inaugural New Year’s Eve ride for the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway line, reports Gothamist.

The celebratory ride will take Governor Cuomo, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, city and state officials, and the press from the 72nd Street stop to each of the new stations, beginning at 10:30 p.m. As for the rest of us, we’ll have to wait until January 1st, when the Second Avenue Subway officially opens to the public at 6 a.m. with limited service.

“I am proud to ring in the New Year on the Second Avenue Subway and welcome a new era in New York where there is no challenge too great, no project too grand and all is possible,” Cuomo said.

The ceremonial ride is being co-sponsored by several organizations that include the Central Park Conservancy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Mets, and more.

On Thursday, December 22nd, the MTA held an “open house” at the 96th Street station, giving the public a first real glimpse inside the new subway stop. Check out a few of those flicks below.

Controversial but long overdue is a portrait of a gay couple in the 72nd Street Station

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Sandesh2Soldier this diwali: A tribute to Indian Army

GirlandWorld

I was roaming carelessly in a big nice Delhi Mall all engrossed in finding that perfect dress for my Diwali Party but yeah this time I was sure not to buy anything with a label made in china. After some times I decided to have a cup of coffee at Starbucks and right when I was nibbling over my veg mushroom sandwiches that I overheard a very interesting conversation.

Hey I don’t know why they are saying like this in media! The troops in URI Attack are from my unit so I know. Okay?” Gentleman 1

Yaar media has to sell something and make it look interesting. Grant them that much or else who will listen to such news anyway. Like we do conduct such operations everyday! Right?” Gentleman 2

It’s not funny Sam. It’s our job and risk is always there. Just to make…

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AMTRAK’S “CARDINAL” WANTS TO BE MORE POPULAR

WOW! The poor “Cardinal” wants to be more popular. It wants to be daily not 3 times a week. It wants to serve more communities. It wants to run on a different route.

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One of the major challenges to running effective train service to Chicago via the Cardinal includes the condition of track on the current route. All Aboard Ohio Chairperson Ken Prendergast told UrbanCincy, “It should be noted that about 50-60 miles of the Chicago-Fort Wayne/Lima nearest to Chicago could be used by Cincinnati to Chicago trains. It would provide a much faster routing into Chicago than the current route of the Cardinal and any other Cincinnati – Chicago trains that may be added in the near future.”

Elsewhere in Ohio, a passenger rail line linking rail-starved cities like Columbus and Lima to Chicago via Ft. Wayne and Gary, IN received a major boost on Tuesday. Federal officials gave permission for communities along the line to begin the Alternative Analysis and Public Input process, which will do preliminary engineering, service planning, and measure environmental impacts. Those officials met at Ft. Wayne’s Baker Street Station, which saw its last passenger service in 1990. This analysis will being in January of 2017 and finish by the Fall of that same year. The $350,000 needed for this initial studying was raised by cities all along the line.

“This is the first step in the Project Development Process, which all major transportation projects must go through. Right now there is enough funding from communities and businesses west of Lima to do the Chicago-Lima portion but not farther east to Columbus” Prendergast stated.

Prendergast sees these lines as a next step in further connecting Ohio via rail between Chicago and the east coast. If a Chicago to Columbus line is created it is not impossible to imagine future phases that could expand eastward beyond Columbus as well, Prendergast says, “there’s nothing that says the Eastern Terminus of this route has to be Columbus. In fact Amtrak services from Cleveland and Toledo could be routed over this Fort Wayne-Chicago segment. But we still believe Central Ohio will decide it’s in their economic interest to be a part of this project.”

Officials speaking at the news conference highlighted their big dreams and big plans for the new possible rail line. They called for initial service to run between 70-80mph, with eventual upgrades to 110mph. A 2013 study by the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association estimated that 10 trains a day along this line could generate up to 2 million annual passengers by 2020.

While both of these proposals require the cooperation of the freight railroads who own the lines (CSX and Norfolk Southern, respectively), many have hope because of Amtrak’s new CEO, Wick Moorman. Moorman is a veteran of the freight rail industry, having served more than 4 decades with Norfolk Southern and its predecessor, Southern. He has signaled that improved relations with the Class I freight railroads will be a focus of his tenure as CEO.

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Securing an Amtrak stop in Oxford has been more like a roller coaster ride than rail service for officials working on a proposal for more than two decades.

The city, various study groups and Miami University students have been studying the issue since 2009 with limited success — a full 15 years after an historic train station at South Elm Street was razed.

The issue of adding a stop again was raised in 2009 by a Miami University student group. Amtrak’s Cardinal line already passed through the city three times a week, but it did not stop in Oxford. With a student population of 16,000, some city leaders believed there might be a market to support a train stop.

The Third Eye Of A Sole Survivor!

An Obvious Oblivion Blog

All of us areSeparate entities as Individuals. No one can make us feel happy or sad,Or restless, disgusted or brokenUntil we use our senses to feelAnd behave so.Individually, we all haveour own ways of coping With the Time Old Mystery Of what happens When we pass on, or even the worst,When we are on verge of The End.What will happen? what might happen? This is my way of thinking. How I'm coping personally,With my own upset self. How I handle myself andManage the constant pain And deal with the Heartache and the disappointments.I honestly believeThat we do live onAs separate entities. With time flying,  I have conceived an Idea that,Sooner or later, We are all spiritual beings,But different entitiesWith human experiences. We establish relationshipsTo learn more aboutOurselves and the processesThat…

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