Ford plans to build a fully autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel or pedals by 2021, the company announced on Tuesday according to The Verge. The vehicle will be aimed at ride-hailing and ride-sharing fleets. Wow, that is five short years from now. Maybe we should start planning infrastructure to accommodate the coming sea change in transportation.
For those "flat earthers" and technology deniers who desperately cling to their sacred cow, Sound Transit ST3 light rail, the reality of advancing technology by the private sector is not welcome news. In fact, the near religious zealotry of some on the ST3 bandwagon will have us laughing all the way to our autonomous vehicles which will drive us door to door faster, cheaper and more pleasantly than the grand vision imagined in ST3. Say goodby to vomit seats!
Are we poking too much fun at the self-serving Sound Transit Board and their plans to lay rail tracks to their cities? Perhaps. Do we make too much light of this serious subject? Perhaps, but when light rail all the way out to Issaquah is listed as a top priority for ST3, one can only conclude one of two things: it is either a joke or cronyism and pork barrel spending are at the heart of the Sound Transit Board. Is one to believe that it is merely a coincidence that the mayor of Issaquah is on the Sound Transit Board and that Issaquah is slated to get light rail in ST3?
Is ST3 the best our region can come up with yet it wont even solve our traffic issues?
How many other ways could we spend $54 billion dollars? Can you even imagine how much money $54 billion really is? Let's look at an infrastructure project that China is financing: The Panama Canal expansion project, adding a new lane of traffic to allow ships carrying twice as much cargo, is estimated to cost $5.25 billion. We could pay for that with the spare change left over from ST3! Literally, the people of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties could pay for ten Panama Canal projects for the amount that ST3 will cost!
Perhaps the tax payers under Sound Transit's thumb should build a moon base instead? We literally could with $54 billion. And it would have almost the same impact on traffic as ST3! Added bonus: we would have spare change left over to build the Panama Canal project too.
While technology rapidly marches ahead, Sound Transit will plod along building trains to the cascade foothills, that can't be justified economically and that wont even run until 2040. Oh, and the proclaimed justification for said trains is also a sham. ST3 wont improve traffic congestion.
Yes, the Transit Troglodytes somehow think we will choose the three-seat option of bus-train-bus transfers over door to door service. Good luck with that one.
Are autonomous cars a panacea? No. Will they solve high capacity corridors in densely populated urban cores? No. There is a place for rail but it is foolish to run rail all the way to Issaquah when there are real transportation needs which will be starved for resources because of the enormity of the ST3 budget and its misplaced priorities. BTW, light rail is not the same as the larger subways in other big cities which actually do move large numbers of people, but we digress.
We are sure that the Sound Transit Board is full of good hearted politicians trying hard to bring home the bacon. And therein lies the problem with Sound Transit. The Sound Transit Board is made up of political appointees chosen to support a preordained outcome. We need solutions, not back room deals which compromise on their most important mission: to improve the free movement of people and goods in our region. We believe the Sound Transit Board has compromised too much and supported a bad plan in an effort to "play ball" and do something. Light rail all the way to Issaquah? Really?!?
Sound Transit is a political beast and it needs to be held accountable. Transportation Troglodytes will forever sing the praises of ST3 but it is a failed attempt by political elites to enrich their cronies while not improving the lives of the people. It is time we recruit the best and brightest of our region to help. We have brilliant people here who are creating our future right before our eyes. Heck, one of them is even building rocket ships in his spare time.
We think we need new ideas to help solve our traffic problems. We can do better. We need to do better than Sound Transit's 19th Century vision.