Twenty Year Plan

Driverless trafficThe DRPT (Department of Rail and Public Transportation) uses railroad modeling software to forecast the effect of changes to the performance of the trains. While such software is useful, and probably reasonably valid, for thinking through short-term changes, it cannot predict what is going to happen twenty years from now. Yet this is what they are attempting to do. The assume that,

 The future is a linear continuation of the present

 This assumption is particularly problematic given the profound changes that are currently taking place in the transportation industry. These include:

  • Driverless trucks that will upend the road transportation business.
  • Driverless trains.
  • Mag-lev trains in vacuum tunnels (hyperloop).
  • Great improvements to train management with the use of modern scheduling software and signaling systems.
  • Uber-like systems for both freight and passengers.

I have drafted a letter to the DRPT challenging their way of planning and urging them to include the impact of modern technology in their plans.

Fake News Comes to Ashland

We have all heard more than we want to hear about “fake news”, “factoids”, “truthiness” and “alternative facts”. Well, unfortunately, the problem has hit home.

 The Virginians for High Speed Rail (VHSR) organization recently held a rally at the Richmond Main St. station to advocate for high speed train service. They were showing “Don’t Cut Our Trains” signs. Some citizens from Ashland were also present showing their own “No Third Rail” signs. (It should be noted that Ashlanders are not opposed to high speed rail —  what we are opposed to is a third track running through town.)

Here is the picture, as presented in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. (The full web address is http://www.richmond.com/news/local/ashland/altered-photo-from-train-rally-riles-ashland-residents/article_bcc6ee32-287d-5292-824e-a492b7cc692b.html). You can see a mixture of signs.
 VHSR-original

The VHSR organization later doctored the picture to make it look like the following.

 VHSR-altered

So, Fake News comes to our little town.

 P.S. One neat feature of the R T-D picture that I had not run across before is that there is a slider bar running down it: move the bar to see how the picture changes.