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Virginia MagLev Project Back on Track 329

Posted by michael
from the monorail-monorail-monorail! dept.
Raven42rac writes "After much delay, the $14 million Maglev train project is back on track at Old Dominion University in Virginia. All the petty lawsuits have been settled, and a much needed $2 million grant has been approved. Let us hope that this sets a precedent to Americans to not litigate ourselves out of the science and technology markets due to petty disagreements and greed. We do not need to be our own worst enemy. I, for one, would much rather ride a Maglev monorail with others, than drive a gas-guzzling car by myself. (And I apologise for the pun in the headline.)"
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Virginia MagLev Project Back on Track

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  • Petty Lawsuits? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrRTFM (740877) * on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:03AM (#8896368) Journal
    I'm glad the project is back on track again, but the 'petty lawsuits' were apparently contractors who weren't paid.

    Hardly petty in my opinion - I'd be sueing if I wasn't paid for work I'd done.
    • Well, that's a petty attitude.
    • Re:Petty Lawsuits? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spj524 (526706)
      Let us hope that this sets a precedent to Americans to not litigate ourselves out of the science and technology markets due to petty disagreements and greed.

      Just why is it greed when I'm looking out for myself?

      I, for one, would much rather ride a Maglev monorail with others, than drive a gas-guzzling car by myself.

      And I, for one, would much rather ride in a comfortable gas-guzzling, XM radio playing SUV than an a 14 million dollar mass transit Maglev that smells like a wet band-aid. Just another pett

      • Re:Petty Lawsuits? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        Just why is it greed when I'm looking out for myself?

        That pretty much defines greed. A better way to put it would be: why is it greed when I'm only asking for what you agreed to pay me?
        • Re:Petty Lawsuits? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @09:12AM (#8896535) Journal
          That pretty much defines greed
          That's what the collectivists of the world would like you to believe.

          Just looking out for yourself is neither selfish [reference.com] nor being greedy [reference.com]. It becomes selfish when you lose all regard for other people's interests in the process. It becomes greed when it turns into an obsessive lust for wealth.
        • Looking out for one's self is not greed; tempered by civility, self-interest is the foundation of a free society.

          Greed is when you want things you don't deserve, when you use deception, coercion or Congress to obtain them.

          Greed is not good, but self-interest is.
      • Re:Petty Lawsuits? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300) *
        Not being paid is not an issue of greed. It is an issue of survival. Here in America we use money which can be exchanged goods and services. These contractors need things like Food, Clean Water, Shelter to survive, what is more interesting is that a lot of these contractors have kids which they wish to give them the best possibility for a future as well, so they will want to give their children things like Food, Clean Water, Shelter and tools to help with their education and as well as their personal dev
    • Re:Petty Lawsuits? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @09:16AM (#8896550)
      I work for one of the contractors who hasn't been paid, not a cent.

      It isn't petty to us - the contractors have been snowjobbed for almost two years by American Maglev, Old Dominion University, and the Federal Government.

      The project wasn't bonded, and it is a violation of state law for a state project to proceed without a bond. It was infuriating to listen to ODU officials blow smoke telling the contractors that they would be paid, while denying it is their project.

  • by harmonics (145499) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:06AM (#8896376)
    Shelbyville already has one.

    -h
  • Trains vs cars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:10AM (#8896387)
    "I, for one, would much rather ride a Maglev monorail with others, than drive a gas-guzzling car by myself"

    Why would you want to be stuck on a train that goes from somewhere you're not (requiring you to get from where you are to the initial station) to somewhere you don't want to be (requiring you to get from the final station to where you want to go) via places where you don't want to go at times you can't choose, sitting across from a drunk and alongside someone who's coughing and sneezing all over you, rather than drive in your own car by yourself from where you are to where you want to go at whatever time you feel like?

    Certainly there are places where the roads are so bad that trains are preferable (e.g. London), but in the vast majority of cases, trains really, really suck.
    • Re:Trains vs cars (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:24AM (#8896426)

      It's debatable . . . I'm a business traveller and here in the US I have used the "trains" of several major cities to get from the airport to, say a downtown area or to other suburbs of the metro area. MARTA in Atlanta is great. A lot of business folks there live on the north side of the Perimeter but the airport is south of the city. Trying to get to the airport during rush hour is Russian roulette down I-85, but with MARTA you WILL make it in 45 minutes . . . just pay your 1.50 and read your book.

      I've had similar experiences with the "L" in Chicago going from Midway airport to downtown. No rental car to pick up, park, fuel, or pay for, and like MARTA, there's a station downtown on every corner as well as one attached directly to the airport -- very cool.

      IMHO, Baltimore's light rail sucks, unfortunately. It's more like electric streetcars on rails than a real train. For some reason, it's about twice as slow as any other metro rail system I've ever been on, and a bit more confusing to use if you've got to transfer to get to the way north suburbs.

      The bottom line is that as a business traveler with a tight schedule, it's usually a lot easier to use the train to get close, and then walk or cab to your final destination. BTW, the key with all of these urban trains is don't take them by yourself after dark. Most go through sketchy neighborhoods and you will be panhandled and otherwise bothered at the very least.

      • I lived over 15 years in atlanta metro, rode MARTA quite a bit,it has plusses and minuses. You've pointed out a plus, but there are minuses too (last I was riding it). Such as non 24 hour service (example, the state says don't drink and drive, yet bars are allowed to stay open past when MARTA is running). That also discriminates against tax payers and citizens who do business in off hours, night shift workers, etc, and makes it impossible for a lot of people to use it even if they wanted to. And here's an
    • Re:Trains vs cars (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Good point!

      But for many people, a train starts from where they are, and it goes to where they want to go.

      And in that case, it beats paying $500 a year for insurance and $150 a month in car payments. And that doesn't even count on gas prices.

      For the week or so that I need a car, I'll rent one for $40/day. I save a lot of money that way. And yes, the train will take me to the rental car place ;-)

      But in the end, I agree... if Springfield is going to build train service, it should go somewhere!
    • Short answer: consider Manhattan, it's a walk from the bus or train station to the subway. However, if the number of cars where price limited off the roads of this compact, too congested island it might be nice to walk around on some days.

      Now out in the suburbs, the parking lots are of growing magnitude, a train in the to the store might not be a stretch.
    • but in the vast majority of cases, trains really, really suck.

      I can't speak for the east coast, but on the west coast trains often beat the hell out of driving long distances by car. If, for example, I want to go from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, I have a dull 4 to 6 hour drive in front of me (depending on how many drunks have cluttered the roads with bodies that day), the boredom only relieved by occassional moments of stark raving terror courtesy of the insane driving practices of those fo
    • Why blah blah blah blah blah blah ...

      562 kph.

    • Re:Trains vs cars (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jonathan (5011)
      I'm not so sure. I've never owned a car in my life (and I'm 33 year old research scientist) and I'm always having conversations that go "What? You don't have a car? It must take you forever to get here by subway" and then finding out that it takes *longer* for them to drive, time which presumably is lost to them, because at least I can read on the subway. Yes, there are cities that don't have subways and places in those cities that aren't near a subway stop, but nobody's forcing me to live there.
  • Car vs. Maglev? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscowar ... 14159om minus pi> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:15AM (#8896398) Journal
    Maglev is extraordinarily expensive, noisy, and an engineering solution to what is a civil problem - commuting.

    If maglev is what it takes to move people off the roads, I pity our civilization.

    What about ordinary (cheap) trains, faster conventional trains (like Europe's TGVs) or living closer to work, or working more via Internet, or carpooling?

    The best way to avoid commuting is for people to move back into the cities, to walk to work, to downsize the huge companies into smaller human-sized organizations, to live on a human scale. The best way to connect large countries is through high-speed trains that use conventional rail technology. It does not happen today for one simple reason: the artificially low cost of travelling by car and by air (thanks to subsidies on roads and on fuel).
    • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0123456 (636235)
      "If maglev is what it takes to move people off the roads, I pity our civilization."

      If our society has sunk to the point where people think they have the right to force people off the roads, civilisation has long gone.

      "The best way to avoid commuting is for people to move back into the cities,"

      If people wanted to live in cities, they'd live in cities. Increasingly, people are desperate to get out of cities due to high taxes, poor services and high crime. That's almost entirely the fault of train-loving li
      • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ffsnjb (238634)
        That's almost entirely the fault of train-loving liberals, and it's not going to change any time soon.

        That was exactly what I was thinking. To continue: socialism is the reason cities suck. Having to deal with the zero-self-responsibility scum who would rather steal from you than work for a living are the reasons why no one with any self-worth wants to live in cities. If socialism didn't drive the people, who would have to work, to be lazy and steal money from those that do work, crime rates in cities
      • If our society has sunk to the point where people think they have the right to force people off the roads, civilisation has long gone.

        Is it a right to drive? Why?
        • Everyone has the right to drive, and it's their right to ignore the fact that there's not enough room for them all, and not enough atmosphere to pollute for them all. :)
    • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:29AM (#8896439)
      Maglev is extraordinarily expensive, noisy, and an engineering solution to what is a civil problem - commuting.

      Maglevs are extraordinarily expensive to build and run, yes, but probably less so than (or on par with) conventional high-speed trains, otherwise nobody would fund such ventures.

      But they are definitely not noisy compared to a conventional train. Have you ever lived near a TGV line? no, I didn't think so.

      What about ordinary (cheap) trains, faster conventional trains (like Europe's TGVs)

      TGVs aren't that much cheaper. About half the price in fact, mainly due to the reuse of existing technologies and French government subsidies. What they really have for them is the ability to roll on the pre-existing infrastructure, which Maglevs can't do.

      or living closer to work, or working more via Internet

      Yes, let's produce cars, baked bean cans, houses and pencil cases on the great Internet.

      Fact: people who can work remotely are a minority.

      or carpooling?

      But you say below that road travel is an artificially low-cost mode of transportation? surely you don't mean to cram more people on the road...

      The best way to avoid commuting is for people to move back into the cities

      But you say below that you want to scale back the size of organizations and live on a human scale. Surely you don't mean to cram more people in the same tiny spot of land...

      to walk to work

      Make the cities big enough and people won't be able to walk to work. You contradict your arguments over and over.

      to downsize the huge companies into smaller human-sized organizations, to live on a human scale. The best way to connect large countries is through high-speed trains that use conventional rail technology.

      Yes that's true For now. I suspect if nobody looks for better solutions though, we'll still be stuck with conventional trains a hundred years from now though.

      It does not happen today for one simple reason: the artificially low cost of travelling by car and by air (thanks to subsidies on roads and on fuel).

      This is changing fast. Do you know how much gas costs in Europe these days? and it's still rising.

      NOTE: before you take me for an overweight Californian who can't walk across the street without his car, or an oil-producing Texan, let me precise that I don't own a car and go around by bike and public transportation, including trains.
      • Your arguments are long but poor.

        Maglev is considerably more costly than TGV but this is justified on grounds of "speed", to compete with air travel. However, since air travel is subsidised through cheap (untaxed!) fuel, the comparison is economically flawed. Europe has demonstrated the feasibilty of large-scale TGV networks that compete favourably with air travel.

        The "uses existing infrastructure" argument for TGVs is not a minor detail, it is the key to bringing new services into existing urban areas.
        • Have you ever wondered why telecommuting hasn't taken hold, while outsourcing/offshoring has?

          It's because the executives of companies hate their workforce. Spite and loathing are the basic forces in the laws of executive motion.

          Telecommuting -- as I saw it happening in Massachusetts in the 1990s -- became a method for politicially-attuned managers and engineers to avoid work. The rest of the folks had to get into cars, trains and buses to show up to a company building.

          Sure, we could be transformi
          • It's because the executives of companies hate their workforce. Spite and loathing are the basic forces in the laws of executive motion.

            This may be a bit naive on my part, but I'd say it's more fear and a lack of trust than anything else. I know managers who fear that Johnny Employee won't be productive if there's nobody looking over his shoulder or monitoring his web access. They don't understand what he does, but they feel better knowing that they can see him working busily in his cubicle or in the sh

        • Most car owners do service jobs that can be wholly or partly done remotely, either from smaller regional offices, or from home. The 'cubicle farms' of US corporations are a totally senseless way of bringing employees together.

          In 2001, only 36.3% [bls.gov] of the nation's employment involved things that I feel *might* be able to be done from home or local offices. Of course, it depends quite a bit on what the job entails exactly since the list is kinda vauge on specifics. These include: Management, Business and fina
    • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Uber Banker (655221) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:32AM (#8896443)
      It does not happen today for one simple reason: the artificially low cost of travelling by car and by air (thanks to subsidies on roads and on fuel).

      Interesting argument. Not sure if this would mean more cities, those cities smaller in population but higher in density (using simple von Thuman or Henderson medols), but it would be a really interesting (and positive IMHO) thing to see.

      But I completely agree about the subsidy on fuel. People who complain about fuel tax simply don't seem to understand the cost of their using fuel is born on others (both in the present and the future). Increasing the cost of fuel makes the true cost apparant to the comsumer. Pity the government don't realise the other part of the equation that this revenue fuel should be addressed to the cost of it (improving 'green' technologies, actual quantification, perhaps international repatriation).
    • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ChiChiCuervo (2445)
      Is maglev an economically a dumb idea? Yes.

      Are there cheaper mass transit alternatives? Of Course.

      Do many areas of the United States need better mass transit systems? Yes.

      Do Americans need better, less costly and less stressfull commute options? Absolutely.

      Should Americans be forced to cram themselves into crowded, polluted, crime-ridden (tho less so now) major cities just to satisfy urbanite arrogance towards the automobile? Bite me.
    • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cubicledrone (681598) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:54AM (#8896488)
      Maglev is extraordinarily expensive, noisy, and an engineering solution to what is a civil problem - commuting.


      You know, I always find it entertaining when it is suggested that trains are so expensive and such a problem. In Japan, they have trains that are 50 years ahead of our best technology, and they don't seem to have much of a problem with them.

      Of course, they also built the longest suspension bridge on the planet and put an airport on water. Maybe they have fewer people saying "it'll never work." Who knows?

      If maglev is what it takes to move people off the roads, I pity our civilization.

      What it takes to move people off the roads is to move past the 19th century workplace where managers insist on five million lunchpail-carrying peons crawling through the door on their knees to punch a timeclock at the exact same moment. That is the cause of traffic, pollution and waste from automobiles. Period.

      t does not happen today for one simple reason: the artificially low cost of travelling by car and by air (thanks to subsidies on roads and on fuel).

      Agreed.
      • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ProfitElijah (144514) <elijah@atheist.com> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @11:10AM (#8897087) Homepage
        Of course, they also built the longest suspension bridge on the planet and put an airport on water. Maybe they have fewer people saying "it'll never work." Who knows?

        I do, and so do many others. They have an economy driven by needless construction, a government driven by bribery based on fixing construction projects, and a civil service who can retire into lucrative jobs provided by ... construction companies.

        Japan spends about 9% of GDP on public works, compared with about 1% in the US. This is why nearly every single river and stream has been straightened and concreted. With about 99% of natural waterways now artificial, a lucrative business is emerging based around returning them to a pre-concreted state.

        Japan Rail is an astonishingly impressive company, especially for those who know rail services in countries like Britain, where the infrastructure is breaking, warping, rotting and crumbling, and the trains don't run on time, or often at all. But we shouldn't forget the trillions of yen poured into the service before privatisation, and the fact that the government wrote off the debt several times

        In fact, I think this is probably the right course for a government to take, but you shouldn't ascribe it to a can do attitude in Japan. There is no such thing, except when it comes to politicians and public servants conspiring with construction companies to gouge the public and line their own pockets.

      • Take a longer look at those Japanese bullet trains. The train companies put an army of track maintenance workers out there, every night, to recondition the tracks from the wear and tear that the trains put on them every day.

        Take a longer look at the human environment in which those trains operate. Japan has incredibly high population densities compared to the overwhelming majority of the United States. Without those incredibly high densities, mass transit, of any kind, doesn't work. (About the only exc
      • Japan is roughly the size of California and has four times the population. Trains work great in areas where everyone has access to them. The problem in the US is that people are much more distributed. There are six cities in the US where trains are cheaper than buses (off the top of my head, I think that they are New York, LA, Chicago, Baltimore, Miami, and Philadelphia). This is ignoring subsidies, just cost per passenger/mile.

        In Japan, trains make sense. They run in areas that can support them. In
    • Re:Car vs. Maglev? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @09:43AM (#8896641)
      Maglev is a solution looking for a problem, I think. I don't know if you've ever read a book called "Into the Microcosm" by George Gilder, but he talks about this issue in general. From an historical perspective, when replacing a widespread existing technology, the new one needs be about an order of magnitude better in order to make the changeover investment worth making. One of a number of "Gilder's Laws", actually (see his site [gildertech.com]. So, overall, how much better than conventional rail is Maglev? Ten times better? Five? Is getting from point A to point B twice as fast worth the enormous investment to change over?

      The best way to avoid commuting has nothing to do with moving back to cities. There is a reason why urban sprawl exists: people have discovered that giant cities are not the best places to live and work. Cities only exist because, in the eras predating modern transportation systems they were the only way to effectively concentrate and use resources and manpower. That's just not the case any longer: cities are conceptually obsolete, and are just running on inertia. Urban sprawl is just the first symptom of the end of the road for cities. Besides, the best way to avoid commuting is to decentralize businesses: encourage them to spread out more so people won't have to drive forty miles each way to work.

      Fuel costs aren't "artificially low", exactly ... what they are is result of massive investment on the part of oil companies to improve discovery, refining and delivery technologies over the past fifty years. It's too bad that other industries (say, the automobile industry) haven't made similar investments in their products. We wouldn't need so much oil now, if they had had an ounce of vision. But, there's a limit to how the petroleum companies can go in that direction, and they're fast coming up on it.

      As a matter of fact, because of that investment energy costs in the U.S. haven't even remotely paced inflation, and they'd be lower still if state Environmental Protection Agencies hadn't been allowed to mandate specific fuel mixes for different regions. The overhead involved for that is incredible for little real benefit.
      • ROTFL. More and more of the world's population move into cities, despite them being "obsolete"?

        Cities are efficient and will only become obsolete when a plague or disaster reduces human population to 0.01% of its current levels.
        • Keep laughing. I'm glad you are so easily amused, but you didn't get my point. I'm not talking about all the world's cities. I'm talking about the U.S., where urban sprawl IS an issue and is directly related to the availability of cheap personal transportation and a public expressway system of Biblical proportions. Much of the rest of the world is about where we were a century ago in this respect, and when they reach the point that we're at (assuming there is anything left to run that cheap personal tra
          • Hear, hear. Cities are a bad place to continue concentrating people.

            People went into the cities for money, to survive in an increasingly money-based economy. And once you're in the city, try growing your own food. Try owning and practicing with weapons.

            The rural model of America was not a bad one. But from the standpoint of hypercapitalism, it was just awful. People who can grow their own food and hoist their own wind turbines are not dependents. When they are spread out into communities, they c
            • Personally, I find certain cities to be wonderful and some to be horrid. The best cities are the ones that have grown organically, over centuries, and the worst are the ones that have been centrally planned or rebuilt by "modern urban architects." Yes, the US has some of the worst cities in the world, but also some great ones. It's been said, and I agree, that pedestrian city life closely resembles our old human hunter gatherer lifestyle, in which one has to be intimate with one's environment. It has no
          • In France where I used to live, crime is high in the suburbs. Living in the city is for the upper middle class.
            (well, of course there are some rundown popular areas downtown, and a couple upper middle class suburbs, but you get the picture).

            Yes, real estate is more expensive downtown than in suburbia, BUT living next to every theater / museum / school / park / night-club you'll ever need, or going to work without having to get into the damn car every time definitely is worth the premium.
            Granted, it is a
    • The best way to avoid commuting is for people to move back into the cities, to walk to work, to downsize the huge companies into smaller human-sized organizations, to live on a human scale. The best way to connect large countries is through high-speed trains that use conventional rail technology.

      Spoken like a true fanatic. "The best way is my way - bow down to my wisdom!" Just because it's *your* way doesn't make it the 'best' way.

      You aren't a genius or a visionary. You're just a Joe, like any other.
    • The best way to avoid commuting is for people to move back into the cities

      Hell yeah. People are going out of their way to live 50+ miles from work, so they can live the American dream and have their own little piece of urban sprawl. Then we build 8-lane superhighways so these lemmings can migrate to and from the city every day.

      I suppose the desire to have more personal space is a natural instinct, and it's fueled by the relativly large amount of open space and the relativly inexpensive personal vehicles

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:16AM (#8896401)
    When I was a student, I rode a $100 bike to class. Building a $14 million monorail to do the same job sounds like overkill to me.
  • Too late! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:22AM (#8896416)
    "Let us hope that this sets a precedent to Americans to not litigate ourselves out of the science and technology markets"

    For example, yet another lawsuit [indymedia.org] against the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant (what is this the tenth, twentieth, thirtieth?). The truth of the matter is that this is exactly the reason that the nuclear industry has shut down. Insurance costs are too high because people are sucessful at suing a plant so that it will never make any profits (Diablo Canyon) or voting it closed (Racho Seco Nuclear Power Plant).
    • Re:Too late! (Score:2, Interesting)

      "For example, yet another lawsuit against the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant (what is this the tenth, twentieth, thirtieth?)."

      Quote of the day:

      "On Monday [when this was written], an earthquake shook the foundations of Diablo Canyon nuclear power station in California. This plant, if it had been built as originally planned, would likely have failed on Monday, likely contaminating hundreds of miles of pacific coastline with deadly radiation.

      Thank God the environmentallist wackos were there, in the 1970's, t
  • Uh Oh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "ODU Board of Visitors member William M. Lechler also has voiced skepticism. ?It sounded like it was going to be a difficult process,? he said in December. ?They really had to have a breakthrough in technology.?

    "Morris has insisted that breakthrough will happen once the $2 million federal grant money flows."

    That's a pretty big assumption.

  • Cars and the US (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mst76 (629405) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:24AM (#8896427)
    I've always found it interesting that in the US (with the possible exception of major cities) adults are almost always expected to have a car. The are many explanations for this phenomenon, e.g. lower population density, individualism, suburban sprawl, low gas prices, major urban development after the introduction of the car, bad public transportation. But for many explanations, it's not really clear what is the cause and what is the effect. There are of course positive (freedom, independence of time tables) and negative sides (environment, dependence on oil, health/obesity) to having cars for everyone.. But it's an interesting difference between the US and many (most?) other countries in the world.
    • Re:Cars and the US (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bigjnsa500 (575392) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [005asnjgib]> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:42AM (#8896461) Homepage Journal
      The reason for a car is for transportation around the city. American cities are spread out, unlike European cities are more compact. Take my city for example, San Antonio. A city of 1.5 million, but its larger land wise than Dallas. Just to get from one side of the city to the next takes 25-30 minutes and that's not counting traffic.

      I used to use public transportation (VIA) about a year ago. That same route I now take with my car, took 3 hours by bus.

    • 1. The US is about personal freedom. The freedom to do what you want and go where you want to go. This cannot be over emphasized. Until the formation of the EU travel between countries wasn't that high.

      2. Combine that with a very large UNIFIED country. We ARE free to travel where we want within the United States and even into Canada. It is not uncommon for relatives to live in very different parts of the countries yet still see each other on a yearly basis.

      3. The US Highway systems is very large and
      • Not to be rude, but much of what you say doesn't address the question of cause and effect:

        1. The US is about personal freedom. The freedom to do what you want and go where you want to go. This cannot be over emphasized. Until the formation of the EU travel between countries wasn't that high.

        Surely all citizens of democracies can go where they want? What relevance has this got?

        2. Combine that with a very large UNIFIED country. We ARE free to travel where we want within the United States and even into Ca

    • But for many explanations, it's not really clear what is the cause and what is the effect.

      Distance to grocery store: 3 miles
      Distance to work: 27 miles

      Therefore, a person must have a car, or they will be broke and hungry. There is also the fact that there's really no place to go walking in most neighborhoods any more. In fact, seldom do people go outside at all unless they are getting in the car to go somewhere. Bicycles are no better. Suburban blocks are sometimes one mile long, and the distance b
      • Distance to grocery store: 3 miles
        Distance to work: 27 miles

        Therefore, a person must have a car, or they will be broke and hungry.

        Well, of course, if you work in the boondocks.

        What money you save on lower taxes and cheaper house, you more than pay double on gas and car.

        And why does the city sucks? Because cowards like you run out in the boondocks instead of making the city livable, leaving only the scum that lives there.

    • It's not just a US thing - Australia has very similar low-density cities, in which most people get around by car. And I imagine Canada is pretty similar ..

      Perhaps the reason is that many US and Australian cities are more recent, and were expanded after the automobile became commonly available, making low density living practical. Or perhaps it's because car ownerships is not regarded as a crime that has to be punished with high taxes, unlike on certain other continents :-)
    • Re:Cars and the US (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bhima (46039) <Bhima.Pandava@gmail. c o m> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @09:58AM (#8896719) Journal
      The love affair that Americans have with their autos is difficult to express rationally, especially by Americans!

      Here in Austria many people own cars, but many people ride bicycles. I think it is toss up between time & pride. It takes me two times longer to to drive into the city center (and park) than bike (and park for free). It takes me about the same time to ride to work as it does to drive. So I ride in the summer; the younger more virile guys ride all year rain, shine or snow. But here in Graz it's a reasonable thing, all the stores I want to shop at have a small branch nearby (5~10 min ride) the video store is a 3 minute walk and the Kino is 20 minute away.

      I lived in the US for a time and didn't think it was so reasonable. The cities are designed to be car friendly to the expense of all other forms of traffic. The roads and parking are designed to accommodate huge vehicles (A fact many of my co-workers attribute to the poor driving the Americans exhibit, I wonder which came first). The city layout (zoning) is segmented; most people that work in town live in the suburbs, so every morning & afternoon a horrible mass migration occurs. It's outright dangerous to be in this without some sort of armored vehicle!

      Whatever the US fascination is about it is NOT about freedom! I think it's more about using the cars they have! Or maybe it's a vicious cycle they can not escape from.

      I wonder what will happen when the true price of energy comes to the US? I picture roving bands of Chicanos car jacking Ford gargantuan in order to pump the fuel tank out leaving their hapless owners on the side of the road calling the US version of a motoring club.

      • Re:Cars and the US (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dalroth (85450) * on Sunday April 18, 2004 @10:44AM (#8896968) Homepage Journal
        Nobody would drive to work through this hell if there were real alternatives. You nailed it right on the head with one simple sentence:

        Or maybe it's a vicious cycle they can not escape from.

        Public transportation sucks. Getting a car is easy. I like to walk to work, and take public transportation when I can, but GOOD LORD the BUS is TERRIBLE! It's filled with low-lifes (especially dependent upon the time of day) that sometimes make me feel like my life is in danger. It's never on time, it stops running at 7pm, and worse of all it's perpetually overcrowded at the times I really need to ride it.

        So I frequently don't take the bus. But then, how will they ever improve the situation if not enough people ride?

        Catch-22 indeed.

        Bryan
    • It dates back to the wild west days, back then there was so much free to cheep land that people would just pick a spot far from everyone (more land for themselfs and safer from outlaws) when they needed things from town they get on thier horse and travel a few days to town. very few people lived in the towns becouse of the cost or need if you were a rancher what point would there be. the result was a very spread out areas, when cars showed up land was still very spred out that even if you worked in town it
  • Joke Science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:43AM (#8896464)
    Throwing good money after bad. BTW, the ODU campus [odu.edu] isn't really that big.
  • Noise pollution? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lxt (724570)
    I remember reading an article very recently in a newspaper about how Maglevs might actually produce much more noise than a standard train...just a point...
    • They're not about to hit 200kph on campus (let alone faster speeds), so I wouldn't be too concerned about noise there. Lots of the "strange" noise maglevs make is just pushing wind out of the way very quickly.
  • This project (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geoswan (316494) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @09:15AM (#8896544) Journal
    The article was short on details.

    $14,000,000 is peanuts for any kind of real transit system. raven42rac says

    "
    I, for one, would much rather ride a Maglev monorail with others, than drive a gas-guzzling car by myself."

    I strongly suspect that this particular project is not a substitute for driving a gas-guzzling car. On any campus I have ever been on almost no-one drives a car to get from one spot on campus to another. I strongly suspect this monorail system is substitute for riding one's bike, or going by foot.

  • I've read about bold and at this point unrealistic propositions regarding trains. How about underground vacuum tunnels, where maglev trains could reach amazing speeds. And then connect the entire EU with this system. Ultrafast communications. As I said it's just a dream, and unrealistic, but then again I also would like to see space colonies Gerard K O'Neill style, hypersonic aeroplanes and manned space missions around the solar system...
  • by Richthofen80 (412488) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @09:39AM (#8896621) Homepage
    I think there isn't nearly enough contempt and elitism in the tone of voice in this submitter.

    Where's the demand for the 'heads of the nonbelievers of the maglev'? or the crimes against humanity committed by evil 'automobilists'.
  • I, for one, would much rather ride a Maglev monorail with others, than drive a gas-guzzling car by myself. ...that maglev technology was not cost effective because of the added cost in producing and laying out the expensive tracks. Not to mention the huge cost of levitating the train. Last I heard, modern diesel trains were much more cost effective to not only deploy (can use existing infrastructure -- which also is cheap when new deployment is required), but to operate. Last I heard, a modern diesel-ele
  • by Sergeant Beavis (558225) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @10:19AM (#8896825) Homepage
    I've always been "pro car" but when I was working at the Pentagon I came across the most social form of public transportation I've encountered, SLUGGING.

    The I-95 corridor from Quantico to DC has two HOV-3 lanes. Very few people actually use these lanes (a waste IMO) because it is hard to find friends that are willing to carpool with you.

    Then, a long while back, people started parking their cars at the commuter lots and literally hitching a ride with total strangers up HOV lanes to DC.

    By the time I started Slugging, it had evolved into it's own little system without any government influence. I would go to Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge, VA and park at their commuter lot. I had a choice of getting a ride to 14th street in DC (next to a train station) or I could go directly to the Pentagon (which also has a train station). Everyone would patiently stand in line and wait for the next car to give them a ride.

    Slugging lines became a community. People that broke in line (whether they be in cars or on foot) were scorned by the group. Everyone pretty much got along great. From my time there, I never heard of any crimes committed when slugging. I also got to know a lot of the people who were riding. Some of us became fast friends. It was also a good opportunity to network with others.

    There were some basic rules for slugging that everyone stood by. For one, the driver couldn't charge you. That was against the law anyways. Secondly, any driver could refuse to pick you up, though I never saw this happen. Riders could also refuse to ride with any driver. That made sense because some of those cars were crap.

    There were many funny stories I could tell during my two years of slugging. I can honestly say that I'd do it again. It really was a fine example of simply living and getting along with your fellow human being.

    If you live in the DC area, you can find out more by visiting http://www.slug-lines.com/ They even have a lost and found if you leave something in your drivers car. I actually had the chance to return a guys laptop that he left in my car. We are still friends today.

    IMO, this is just one more fine example of how good man CAN be.

    cheers

  • Why a maglev? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@gmBOHRail.com minus physicist> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @10:21AM (#8896836) Journal
    This is useless technology.

    Why? For speed?

    Conventional trains routinely hit 320 km/h FOR LONG STRETCHES AND DURATIONS [bbc.co.uk] (not just for 10km portion [trainweb.org] out of a 700 km journey), and have gone as fast as 515 km/h in tests [unipi.it].

    The sheer complexity of the switches [slashdot.org] (* [maglev2000.com]) guarantees that the resulting network will be much less flexible than an ordinary conventional high-speed rail whose switches [wanadoo.fr] are of the ultra-simple time-tested conventional design.

    What does speed gives you? Since the energy expenditure squares each time the speed is doubled, you soon hit a wall where the energy efficiency drops well below an aircraft.

    For example, a 1200 km trip (New-York_Chicago) Speed time saved* Energy How much more than
    100 12 10000 at 100 km/h
    200 6 6 40000 4 times
    300 4 2 90000 9 times
    400 3 1 160000 16 times
    500 2.4 0.6 250000 25 times
    600 2 0.4 360000 36 times
    700 1.71 0.29 490000 49 times
    * from previous time
    Fucking slashcode that won't let PRE pass. Fuck it (and cowboy neal too, at the same time).

    So, each time you increase speed by 100 km/h, your energy use soars so much that for saving a paltry quarter-hour, you spend 13 times more energy than needed to go at 100 km/h!!!

    This is the reason french TGVs only run at 300 km/h. They are designed for 400 km/h and routinely hit 450 km/h for demos but running them at 400 km/h would be too expensive for the tiny amount if time gained.

    A high-speed maglev runs at the surface, where the air resistance is waaaaay much higher than for an aircraft at 35,000 feet. So the energy expenditure per seat IS GOING TO BE HIGHER than an airplane!

    Even though the speed of sound is much higher on the ground than at 60,000 feet (where Concorde used to fly), 1000 km/h maglev trains will need very long viaducts and tunnels to avoid becoming high-speed stomach wrenching roller-coaster rides.

    The only way a maglev could be useful is running within an evacuated tunnel in a long journey.

    In theory, the trains could run at the orbital speed of the altitude they are; energy expenditure would then be zero (all you'd need is to accelerate the train to speed, and you'd recover most of that energy by decellerating it at destination). But the costs of digging tunnels that would be so perfectly aligned, immune to geological havoc (crossing from one tectonic plate to another isn't really a walk in the park) and to keep the thing perfectly evacuated would likely be prohibitive (and maintenance guys would need to work in spacesuits...). Such money should be spent instead for a space elevator.

    • Since the energy expenditure squares each time the speed is doubled, you soon hit a wall where the energy efficiency drops well below an aircraft.

      I think you meant to say, the energy expenditure is proportional to the square of the speed, which is not at all the same thing. But regardless, airplanes are subject to the same rule, they just have a lower constant because of the lower air density. And considering that airplanes have to use inefficient reaction engines whereas trains can use the entire mass of
  • Title? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Vexorg_q (216760)
    Would a maglev train really be back on track?
  • explain to me again how a $14 million maglev project has any chance in hell of succeeding where the japanese and germans have pumped hundreds of millions if not billions into this over the decades and have already passed the stage of buildable / deployable, if not yet economically viable prototypes?

    Yamanishi Maglev Overview [rtri.or.jp]

  • by defile (1059) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @10:57AM (#8897030) Homepage Journal

    As an outer New York City resident , I've been riding the bus, subway, and railroads for ten years now. First to get to school, then to my job. Recently I got a car, and I've reached an epiphany.

    There is no toll bridge or road that I won't cross, no traffic jam that I won't bear, no gas tax that I won't accept, and no garaging fee that I will not pay so that I never have to take public transportation ever again.

    In my car I control the comfort level, the climate, the music or radio that is played (or not played), the passengers that are picked up, the route that is chosen, the speed that is used, the stops along the way.

    Gone are the class-loads of students who get on, headphones on full blast, who still try to have a conversation so they need to shout to hear each other. Gone are the old people who could do an entire day of shopping at a department store and carry their bags onto the train, but still demand that you give up your seat because they're too weak to stand. Gone are the pan-handlers who run a gimmick hoping for some spare change.

    Hello liberating highways, drive-throughs, beautiful bridges, awe-inspiring tunnels, sprawling landscapes, incredible cityscapes, and the world flying by on fast-forward.

    Hello, great America. I want to drive you just thinking about you. And I'll pick up a caramel Macchiato along the way.

    Fuck public transportation.

    • Fuck public transportation.

      Hey feller, your post reminds me of this song from the Fatima Mansions...'Only Losers Take the Bus.' I appreciate the luxuries of the car, too, but people need alternatives for any number of reasons. Your comment reflects the bold ignorance of the person in the song:

      I'm not stupid--I'm a man (!ythgimla hsurdloG)
      I'm not stupid

      I'm born again in hail and flames (Goldrush almighty!)
      Go tell it loud to all my slaves (Goldrush almighty!)
      You scum don't have the fear of God
      All that's

    • Hello stoplights, hello tolls. Hello $30/day Manhattan parking lots, and hello to those half-hours wasted circling the street looking for an open spot. Say hello to the pedestrians and bikers, darting out in front of you. Hello traffic jams, honking horns, and cursing, irratic drivers. Hello noxious fumes and single-digit speeds on urban highways.

      Say goodbye to reading the newspaper on the way to work. Goodbye to the half-hour nap you took on the train each morning. Goodbye to your stress-free commute.
      • Post much on usenet? You've got the syndrome. Try going back and reading the second paragraph of the post you responded to:

        There is no toll bridge or road that I won't cross, no traffic jam that I won't bear, no gas tax that I won't accept, and no garaging fee that I will not pay so that I never have to take public transportation ever again.

        Duh?

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @12:37PM (#8897599) Homepage
    This is another one of those pork programs pushed through by Southern legislators. The Old Dominion University maglev [odu.edu] is one car on a single 3/4 mile stretch of totally straight track. And the bozos building it can't even make that work.

    Similar maglevs have been built. Birmingham Airport [o-keating.com] had one from the mid 1980s to 1995. It was too hard to maintain, and was replaced with a cable-driven system. [bhx.co.uk]

    Even as a pork program, the Old Dominion University system sucks. Better taxpayer-supported overpriced transit systems have been built at Southern universities. The Morgantown, West Virginia Group Rapid Transit System [washington.edu] is a futuristic system started during the Nixon administration and opened in 1975. It's automated, with 3.6 miles of line, five stations, and little eight-person cars. It's an advanced system; all stations are "offline", and cars pull off the main line to stop at stations, rather than blocking the main tracks. It actually works, but it's way overbuilt for the usage it gets.

  • by telemonster (605238) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:32PM (#8900375) Homepage
    First, I wouldn't say it is in a rural area. There is a large population in our region. We suffer from sprawl pretty badly, but the figures say we have more technology jobs in Southeastern Virginia than in the state's capital region, Richmond. Norfolk is next to Virginia Beach (400k), Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake and others. At least 1.5mil, if not more.

    FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND, the maglev system worked when it was in Flordia on the test track, because the rails were on the ground. There are videos on the American Maglev site of it moving before the ODU system was put together. Once the ODU setup was constructed, they hit a snag. The rail flexes from the weight, and the system tries to adjust for it by adjusting power to magnets, which causes the rail to react, which starts an oscillation loop or something. Ooops.

    The system here is opposite from the German Transrapid system (which is totally bad ass, btw). The guideway in the German system is more intelligent / has electromagnets / something, where as the one at ODU most of the guts are in the actual cars. This means the guideway is much cheaper to deploy. If you have ever seen it, the guideway is pretty frigging narrow, it would be easier to handle right of ways for such a thing.

    It is a shame the contractors haven't been paid, and it is a shame it hasn't gotten further. From what I understand they are finally getting their hands on the money. It would be interesting to see a cost break down.

    If you think about it, 14 million in what could be a better transportation solution for cities is chump change. Companies spend $3 million on blanket Windows software licenses. The theory is if/when it works it could spawn a new industry and our region could gain new businesses that support it.

    People complain about the money going to the monorail, yet they don't complain about their tax money going to schools where many of the students are from out of country and leave when they are done with their education. Granted there are private interests working here, but I fail to understand the hatred for the creation of something new and something better.

    Lastly, they are started to talk about this stupid light rail stuff here, that is little trollys that run on conventional rails. Lame, gradings obstruct traffic, they are slow. Elevated maglev is the answer! HOORAY!

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