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  #681  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2018, 2:10 PM
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I'm not sure what exactly this is, either, though it definitely sounds more like a marketing job than some new technology. My understanding is that it's basically a way for Telsa to test its own autonomous vehicles.

The main benefit to the city is that Telsa pays for the boring. And the benefit to Detroit in particular is since the RTA is still not completely functional, that something confined to pro-transit Wayne County could actually get done without the Oakland County and Macomb County vetoeing it, which is essentially what they are doing with the transit millage.
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  #682  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2018, 3:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
I still don't understand how Musk's companies tunnels are constructed any differently than literally any other modern bored tunnel.
They're not. It's just a smaller diameter, so less spoils need to be removed and hauled away (trucking soil is actually hugely expensive and will only get moreso as gas increases in cost) and it's largely automated so it gets by with fewer of those costly union workers. That's pretty much the two biggest differences, it's very similar to a sewer tunnel.

Also it seems like his system is a "dumb tunnel, smart vehicle" system so there's very little inside the tunnel itself, no signals, tracks or power distribution, which means no substations, relay rooms, etc, just a pure tunnel. Plus, no expensive union workers to build those systems either. The only ancillary aspect is ventilation, which I'm sure authorities will require so that passengers don't suffocate in the event of a fire, and emergency exits so that passengers can escape and don't have to walk many miles to get out.

I don't automatically see a reason to be skeptical here. I'm not the biggest fan of Musk, but I don't scoff either. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were also douchebags with a cult of personality, but through a combination of business savvy, ambition and ruthlessness, as well as innovation, they still changed the lives of every human on the planet. Even in the fixed-guideway transit realm, we've seen plenty of unusual systems get designed and built without setting piles of money on fire. It's only in America that we're all so cynical about big projects, because we're so accustomed to a broken bidding/construction process and very inconsistent support for transportation from governments.

Also, I've said it before: people need to stop claiming that this is the future of public transit, because it won't work to move large numbers of people. Musk himself, as well as his fanbois are guilty of this. But it seems well-suited for a relatively small, niche group of travelers willing to pay top dollar for speed and efficiency - like, say, an airport express or a train to ski resorts. TBH, I'm not sure there is a business case in Detroit. Well-heeled business travelers might be going to downtown, but more likely they'e going to Auburn Hills, Farmington, Troy, etc.
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Last edited by ardecila; Jun 14, 2018 at 3:18 PM.
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  #683  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2018, 4:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
They're not. It's just a smaller diameter, so less spoils need to be removed and hauled away (trucking soil is actually hugely expensive and will only get moreso as gas increases in cost) and it's largely automated so it gets by with fewer of those costly union workers. That's pretty much the two biggest differences, it's very similar to a sewer tunnel.

Also it seems like his system is a "dumb tunnel, smart vehicle" system so there's very little inside the tunnel itself, no signals, tracks or power distribution, which means no substations, relay rooms, etc, just a pure tunnel. Plus, no expensive union workers to build those systems either. The only ancillary aspect is ventilation, which I'm sure authorities will require so that passengers don't suffocate in the event of a fire, and emergency exits so that passengers can escape and don't have to walk many miles to get out.

I don't automatically see a reason to be skeptical here. I'm not the biggest fan of Musk, but I don't scoff either. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were also douchebags with a cult of personality, but through a combination of business savvy, ambition and ruthlessness, as well as innovation, they still changed the lives of every human on the planet. Even in the fixed-guideway transit realm, we've seen plenty of unusual systems get designed and built without setting piles of money on fire. It's only in America that we're all so cynical about big projects, because we're so accustomed to a broken bidding/construction process and very inconsistent support for transportation from governments.

Also, I've said it before: people need to stop claiming that this is the future of public transit, because it won't work to move large numbers of people. Musk himself, as well as his fanbois are guilty of this. But it seems well-suited for a relatively small, niche group of travelers willing to pay top dollar for speed and efficiency - like, say, an airport express or a train to ski resorts. TBH, I'm not sure there is a business case in Detroit. Well-heeled business travelers might be going to downtown, but more likely they'e going to Auburn Hills, Farmington, Troy, etc.

Poignant. But I think the hyperloop's usefulness will be much greater than a just serving a niche market if one is built out in the right ways. I think the appeal is that, with such a fast method of travel, you could push through a lot more vehicles. An unobstructed tunnel hundreds of miles long with the right on-boarding and off-boarding tech could change commuting and living patterns forever.
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  #684  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2018, 4:11 PM
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If the biggest obstacle to projects like these are capital costs, then it doesn't really need a business excuse, at least not right away. You'll eventually need money to maintain it, but taking out the cost of actually building the thing is a BFD. In any case, office space for major corporations is re-centering downtown, so something like this would be used more and more. And linking the airport to downtown and Oakland County has been a part of every transit masterplan created in recent years.

For me, if this could ultimately be used for mass transit, even if shared with some other mode, it's a great means to an end as far as I'm concerned. If the plan is only to allow some little automated pods or individual vehicles to whisk people along like some glorified episode of The Jetsons, I'm not really personally interested, but it'd ultimately be up to the county to see if they wanted to take this on.
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  #685  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2018, 9:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Also it seems like his system is a "dumb tunnel, smart vehicle" system so there's very little inside the tunnel itself, no signals, tracks or power distribution, which means no substations, relay rooms, etc, just a pure tunnel. Plus, no expensive union workers to build those systems either. The only ancillary aspect is ventilation, which I'm sure authorities will require so that passengers don't suffocate in the event of a fire, and emergency exits so that passengers can escape and don't have to walk many miles to get out.
See this I don't understand. Once you figure in the government (and just common sense) required safety features of air that's compatible with human life and egress in the event of skin melting, how is the construction of Musk tunnels exponentially less costly than any other? Less concrete in the form of fewer/smaller preformed concrete lining units because of smaller diameter? OK, check. Less "expensive union workers" hauling fewer loads of dirt and boulders because of smaller diameter? OK, check. Besides the fact that even the latter could probably, through some ingenuity, be addressed with any tunnel boring operation though the use of conveyors dumping into railcars if within proximity to rail (no prob here in Chicago) or barges requiring much less human labor.

Anyway, I'm rambling. This is a believe it when I see it situation for me. I'm just not convinced that this is some sort of [cost/impact] panacea that others seem to think.
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  #686  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2018, 2:37 AM
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When I worked in federally funded housing, developers tried to avoid hitting certain triggers for Davis Bacon/federal prevailing wage requirements. All infrastructure projects, as far as I know, can’t avoid this. If Davis Bacon was triggered for housing, go ahead and add $25 per square foot to the cost. On a $15 million dollar project, you’re looking at another $1-2 million in labor costs depending on the product. I imagine this would be quite a bit higher still under the “Highway” Davis Bacon rate, which most certainly would apply to a government-funded tunnel.
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  #687  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2018, 4:05 AM
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