Urban Confrontation; 39; Transportation 1984: The Inner City
The views and opinions expressed on the following program do not necessarily represent those of the program host of our major Northeastern University or the station. Questions I asked are merely the moderators method of presenting many sides of today's topic. Urban confrontation. And analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man in the American city. The key that I'm looking for is a comprehensive coherent transportation plan coming out of where I don't know although hopefully somehow associated with the bombing of Transportation which tells us not over the next two years what we're going to be doing but over the next 20 years. Right. Which declares goals and says that we don't have the money to do this right now but we are going to be working that way and if you're General Motors you better start thinking about it and which says these are our short term things must be fixed now or else for two years and now we have chaos. Other things are 10 years off and our chaos schedule if you like that sort of plan and a number of alternatives
generated clearly explained by all of us in transportation set before the Congress will probably allow them to start making actions. Recorded Yes. Our Charles angle hard marketing manager for surface transportation systems United Aircraft Corporation Robert Simpson director like transportation lab the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. for director of MIT's project. Day's program transportation 1084 intercity journey. Here is your host Mr. Biggar. Transportation is people going places and the machinery to take them where they want to go. If we're to believe in what Shakespeare said that people are the city then in many respects today's cities are only as strong and as viable as the transportation system which gets city people where they need to go and I guess today represent varying sectors of the transportation field. All three of
you gentlemen represent three alternative solutions to transportation problems. Professor Bob Simpson from MIT as a proponent of the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft approach. Professor Bill safer also from MIT is a proponent of the dual mode guided highway system we'll be talking about that in a few moments and Chuck angle hard from United Aircraft Corporation is a proponent of the turbo train high speed ground transportation. I want to get into a specific discussion of these three approaches gentleman and perhaps we can use this question to get the ball rolling because our urban areas are growing rapidly I think we'd all agree on that. During the next 20 years it's expected that suburbs will grow at a rate of 3 percent a year in addition to the inner city transportation problems now people will be interested more and more in intercity movement. Transportation between urban centers and the question becomes what kind of planning is being done in this area. Bill Bob Chuck anyone take it.
Our problem is identifying what planning is going on we're not used to doing transportation planning in this country. European countries have had a history of doing that. We have a new Department of Transportation which is what three three and a half years old at this present time and they're struggling now to organize themselves and find out how to do transportation planning and the whole idea the concept of railroads being told that our plan for rural development for the next 20 years is such and such use is right now strictly foreign to this country railroad managements airline managements bus company managements are finding out that they're not going to have control complete control over their future destiny if you like. Gentleman let's take a look at the most specific approach to a program like this and that is to have each of you identify the mode of transportation system that you are proposing. Describe it and describe how it could be put in into practice some of its advantages and disadvantages. We'll go right around the room starting with Chuck Hagel heart of United Aircraft and his turbo train high speed ground transportation Chuck. Well Joe we actually have a form or mode of transportation that is already
being demonstrated. It is not something that is still on the planning boards. It's now in the demonstration stages. For those who may not be familiar with the program it's a high speed lightweight gas turbine powered railroad train. It's actually carrying revenue passengers. It's operating between Boston and New York City. Not to be confused with the other demonstration program between New York and Washington D.C. but the turbo train in the Boston a New York cart is currently running one round trip a day. It's been a slow process in getting the program moving. The train has not yet reached its full potential in speed. It's now traveling at three hours and thirty five and thirty nine minutes when originally it was intended to make the trip between Austin and New York in three hours and 15 minutes Bill Seaver from MIT. Why don't you describe very briefly your dual mode guided highway approach or dual
mode guided highway approach is a scheme which builds on the. Observed fact that the American public likes individual automobile like vehicles and choose a small vehicle of this nature which they can have personal control over. Mass transportation in many instances. Now the difficulties that we're currently running into and letting everyone drive wherever they want in our cities are problems of congestion problems of parking the air pollution problem associated with gasoline engine vehicles and finally the problem that you don't see but one which is very real that those people who don't drive or can't drive find it very difficult to circulate in these urban developments where we don't have fixed transport lines so what we are trying to
do is to investigate a scheme which will retain all the advantages of the automobile as it exists today. But. Automate it so that you can put many more cars over a given piece of real estate. A given strip of concrete if you will so that people who don't drive can still have advantage so that it will be safer and to provide electrical drive so that you avoid completely the gas air pollution problem. I want to move on right away to Bob Simpson But first Bill could you very quickly explain how you would automate this transportation approach. That's the key is it not. That's the key. These vehicles you call them Joe dual mode vehicles the dual mode concept comes from the fact that they would operate in two different modes. Off of what we call a guideway they would be entirely conventional automobiles on the guideway. They would operate completely automatically the
guideway would be a grade separated right of way on which the vehicles would pick up electric power and control signals. And so once you got on the guideway getting on it would be somewhat comparable to going through a toll booth at a at a turnpike. Once you got on the guideway you would merely indicate your destination by punching in on the telephone keyboard sort of thing in the vehicle and you would then go completely automatically to your exit point. Bob some sort of the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft approach. Yes the concept here is that we would like to get away from our present day airport as a terminal from which we depart on the trip. Well we'd like to do is to put into our urban areas into the suburbs and into the downtown area. A set of reasonably small metro ports these are areas or might even be a building like a parking garage from which we're going to operate off the roof of it and spreading these
out fairly conveniently through our cities we would hope that one could park your car in the parking garage go up to the roof catch an airplane there which takes off and lands vertically this is present day this is a helicopter but in the future it might be an aircraft which has tilt wings or tilled engines or simply one that has jet engines that point vertically downward. From there without any taxiing or fooling around on the runways at the airport we'd like to depart directly. Let's take it from the suburbs of Boston here to right downtown Wall Street in Manhattan or or and maybe a number of points in Manhattan. Land there and get on to a taxi and do our business in Manhattan. Or it might be a suburb of Philadelphia that we're going to and we would hope that we could maybe continue on from New York to that suburb on the same vehicle and get off there. It has a sort of a frequent service. It's a short haul sort of system we're looking for quite good technical developments in the vertical well aircraft in the future years and we're looking for a quick convenient frequent intercity service using these type of vehicles.
Is it an embarrassing question to ask you if this actually is being used in any cities right now. We have little bits and pieces of it but there's a long development program to get to the sort of concept that I just described. We have helicopter service you know some of our major cities and some of the European cities connected with the airport in other words you can go from downtown to the airport on a helicopter. I guess it's only a helicopter today and there is a set of third level carrier aircraft who are taking regions like 200 miles around a major airport out in the Midwest and they're using short takeoff and landing aircraft so-called Westie will land on takeoff and any aircraft operating from very little airfields into the major airports and delivering again an airline passenger. So we see the beginnings of it. There is a way of sort of developing from there. Well that's the question is there a way of developing from there and let me introduce into this program discussion a healthy dose of reality. We've just talked recently with the American cities of Detroit Los Angeles and Boston. And if there is one common denominator it is the realistic appraisal of the lack of money forthcoming from Washington
or state governments for any kind of innovation relative to the city's Weatherby transportation or air pollution or what have you. Now gentlemen with that in mind we must also recognize that there is to be somewhat of a tradition in American politics to select the best and discard anything that is a minus. Politicians make those decisions not experts in urban transportation problems such as that you three gentlemen sitting here with me today so what would you say to the politician who is interested in a good revolutionary transportation system but only has money enough for one. And gentlemen there are three of you representing free systems who has the best juggler. I think that they would make a tremendous mistake if they chose one form of transportation. Very mistake yes but the realities of American politics are that we are more than occasionally mistake prone so let's assume that they will have to choose one at least for the first 10 years or so I will be some advantage is minimal perhaps but some
advantages of one system over the other. All right if they want to choose one. There's one that exists today which is a rail transportation. It's a totally underutilized segment of a transportation system in this country. It's a question of funding the railroads in this country could be upgraded for a lot less dollars overall dollars so that rail transportation could be speeded up. OK so if you want to talk about priorities of money infusion of money at the present time on a scale a lot smaller than required for all the systems could almost today improve the transportation picture on the at the city bases Bill Seaford. Let's turn to the money and the realism question for you and your dual mode. Got it highway approach. How much money would be necessary to get your approach underway how will these guided highways come about. What is the best approach is yours the one. Let me say just a little bit what I would foresee as the longer
term system involved with the dual mode concept I would see that in the future we would have essentially an overlay a duplicate if you will of our present interstate highway system plus the main arterials around our major cities. We are not going in any sense to replace the existing interstate highway system or the existing main arteries through our cities by the year 0 roughly 20 25 or 20 30. We will be double the population which we are now. We will have more than twice as many vehicles that motor vehicles presumably that people are using. And its obvious that these cant be used on our present highway system. So I think that we have to begin to plan now to take some longer range steps in order to alleviate this problem if people really are going to be able to circulate. So I think one of the important things is to get
across to Congress the longer term. Problem that we're facing here this is not something that one little system 10 miles of a dual mode system somewhere is not going to cure the problem but 10 miles will get us started toward a solution. One of the motivating forces behind the declaration of the Eisenhower administration in the early years of the interstate transportation system was the automobile establishment the automobile complex those huge giants of General Motors and Ford and Chrysler in the coal oil corporations the gasoline corporations they had a lobby in Washington. And gentlemen I submit to you that neither one of your three approaches has a sufficient lobby in Washington in fact millisievert let me pick on you for a second. How can you expect Detroit to produce cars for your dual mode approach when there is no network of highways that can use the cars. How can we afford to use these cars.
You have obviously put your finger directly on the the central issue here how do you bring such a system into being. Obviously we can't start with a system in which people can drive from one side of the country to the other right off. This is following up with what Bob Simpson said I think we have to take a longer range view. How do we do this. Well I think that. When you look at our total transportation budget for the country you look at the tiny fraction of this which would be required to implement a few demonstrations around the country. And if we talk or rather liberally I think that we can probably say that we could build an automated highway demonstration system for something of 10 to 15 million dollars a mile complete as the initial installations as we went on. These costs ought to go down. This is certainly in the same ballpark as major arteries in our cities. Typically we're getting numbers in the 10 to even 50 or 60
million dollars a mile depending upon the city for Major. Urban throughways now so we were not way out of line. And the I think coming back to your question of the mayors of these various cities and how they would react. It's probably asking quite a bit to expect one city to take on a hundred million dollar 200 million dollar experiment in the context of the federal government. This is certainly a small fraction of the money we are spending or going to spend and what the poor planners have been faced with in the past is an almost total lack of alternatives. They've had either the question of building subways or build roads and they see the difficulties with each of them. But there's nothing else. And we've got to somehow develop some other alternatives. Well you would agree that we're in pretty much of a vicious circle as it stands now to have an automated computerized highway system the dual mode system you'd have to break out of the
circle which includes the government not wanting to build highways unless there are cars to route of them. Your kind of highway but there aren't any of your kind of cars in Detroit won't build your guy out of automated computerized car approaches until there are highways I mean try to answer that. You see Ford Ford General Motors the motor people have a problem if we don't build more highways. What is that product line. Just congestion or highways. We stop building expressways right now in some future year there's just going to be a long parking lot full of cars and Fords going to be able to sell anymore because you can't take them out of the showroom out of the street the street is just jammed up right now. So Ford is looking at this type of concept of something which is quite feasible for them to get into when it comes. All right now they are what Ford and General Motors and the rest of them have depended on the past is Federal Government us to build them highways for their product to use. I quite realize that if we decide to build something else the best step for them and they're quite interested in doing it is being a major supplier of these new type of vehicles. So the decision is sort of not Ford's it's not the government's. It's all of us if you like
sort of saying this is our plan. And then the government says we will help you. I don't know Bill how would you start this typical new expressway rather than build it in the conventional system in some city we would funded as being in this experiment supply the first vehicles for a debugger to see what happens to that. And if it looks like it's a working thing we'll probably have private industry Ford and General Motors saying let us help you design a new guide where the next experiment let us build the next experimental vehicles will all work together once we can decide. That is a good idea that we will be doing it in the future. I think one of the easiest ways you ask how to start this I think one of the easiest ways is to build a system in which the vehicles are captive of the system they aren't really dual mode but they're going to remain on the system. This system will serve exactly in lieu of a rapid transit extension in a city. The system then the city would buy the vehicles and supply the guideway and rather than getting on an ordinary subway car you would get
on one of these automated vehicles and go nonstop to your destination. The next step would be to say all right those people who like this system like the convenience but would like to be able to drive in their own garage all the way into town without having to change vehicles at a subway stop or rapid transit stop near their home and likewise at the other end. They could buy a vehicle which was appropriately equipped. Now this might cost them three hundred four hundred dollars more than a conventional automobile but they then could use the system. This would be a commuter car. Gentlemen I want to return again to the hypothetical idea that perhaps I could be representing the secretary sitting in this chair at this moment. The secretary of transportation and let's assume that I have only enough money again to choose one of your transportation solutions. Without any necessary conflict between the other two what are the advantages. Starting with you Bob some sort of
MIT of your particular system the particle take off and landing aircraft approach while for intercity travel I don't think we're going to get the job done. The trips accomplish more quickly than by any other system with the vehicles can travel 200 350 miles an hour. Literally we can go from the suburbs of Boston to downtown New York and in half an hour which we're never going to match on any of the other systems so the speed and hopefully the comfort and it cost of that looks to be very very promising. My point from my point of view Bill Seaver dual mode got it Highway Well they got it Highway in my view is an extension of a widely accepted automotive form of transportation and extension which gets at the problems of congestion pollution parking. Safety not mobility of the non-driver all in one package. By what key means automation basically a computer in the car with a terminal in the car in the computerized central decile control and routing system. Right
you have a number of central control along the highway. Chuck I go hard from United Aircraft the turbo train I mean ground transportation. I say solve today's problems today and plan for tomorrow's problems. I think good high speed ground transportation has already been demonstrated here in the northeast corridor. There were the people who said that unless the trip were cut to very very short period of time it would not be successful. I think the experience particularly on the southern half of the corridor here in the Northeast has proven this not to be the case that a number of rail trips between Washington and New York have increased 47 percent with the end in inception of the metro line of service. So I say let's solve today's problems and plan for tomorrow's Bob Simpson representing the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft approach. Could you describe a typical trip that a man would take all say 20 years from now from the suburbs of Boston to downtown Los Angeles what the typical trip look like a
man goes from Boston to Los Angeles. I'm going to ring in all of these systems on you I think we're answering that question. Let's have this man getting up in the morning in the suburbs here somewhere knowing that he's going to a major international airport which is yet to be built in the Boston area. And he goes out and gets into his commuter car drives it to the nearest terminal location where he gets on the guideway if you want to call it at the expressway and he pushes buttons in his car which says Boston International Airport. And he sits back down and reaches newspaper and presently he gets a little buzzing noise and exits that guide way down into the airport area. Perhaps Actually this exit is going right into a parking garage with his car parked his car. Now in this case you see you've taken me to another form of air transportation I'm going to put him on a supersonic transport and fly into Los Angeles in something under an hour and a half something like that landing in let's say Palm Springs
now instead of Los Angeles International Airport the present one. Why is he disembarks there a little while later he finds that on the next and one end of his terminal building at the airport he finds a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft which is now waiting for him. Take him directly to a downtown location and so let's presume he's going to Long Beach which is quite some distance from Palm Springs. And he wants to go to what's put him to a McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation was a trip that I make occasionally so he comes off for you for like in Long Beach. Back onto the community car and out to the plant. He may do that trip in something like three hours. There's a common denominator that runs through this program and runs across the faces of you three gentlemen and that is an assurance and assurance that somehow all of this is going to come to pass. It's persuasive gentlemen I feel compelled to go along with you to believe that it will come to pass. And yet when you say the chaos that you can walk right out front of this building and divide terms of transportation you have to be a little
reluctant you have to go along with the gentleman who said Robert Burns was the man. The best laid plans of mice and men gang have to go away now. What are the hurdles that stab between you all and getting these approaches implemented starting with Bill C for that dual mode. I think that what we need in order to move ahead is an aggressive program by the federal government I think this is where the initiative is going to have to come from. I think it's probably in fact going to have to come from Congress. The key that I'm looking for is a comprehensive coherent transportation plan coming out of where I don't know hopefully somehow associated with Department of Transportation which tells us not over the next two years what we're going to be doing but over the next 20 years. Right. Which declares goals and says that we don't have the money to do this right now but we are going to be working that way and if you're General Motors you better start thinking about it and which says these are our short term things must be fixed now or else we're
two years from now we have chaos. Other things are 10 years off and are killing us. Schedule if you like that sort of plan and a number of alternatives generated clearly explained by all of us in transportation set before the Congress will probably allow them to start making actions. Now you see what happens now you still get the parochial interests of shipping for example sort of saying never mind that we're going to do this or that or the rubber tire lobby in Congress sort of saying well gee you better not do that is going to affect our business without sort of being explained to them that your business is going to become a little different 10 years from now. So what we're missing missing. Which we set up to part of Transportation to do is a coherent planning organization the plans will change some way that society is not going to be our bureaucratic people doing the planning you nice relation all by themselves putting it before congressmen and so on. The academic people want to participate the industry want to participate the operators in terms of railroads and buses and airlines all want to get a piece of this and and put their input in and listen to what you're
thinking about and respond and then start doing their corporate planning. You're not going to force them to do it by saying American Airlines or a Greyhound bus company you must do this. You can sort of put the carrot in front of them say these sort of things are going to happen if you want to get in on it and make some money and do things you better start planning for it now. So we come to the end of this program gentlemen on a dual note. I think we could say that a note of optimism but also realism optimism that new things are in the wind. You gentlemen have certainly made it clear you painted a fascinating picture of what is in the future for urban transportation. But I think you've also given us a new to realize and you've made it clear that more government planning is necessary government planning together with the cooperation of private industry in order to fully tap they technological potential of these futuristic transportation systems that we've been discussing on the program. Gentlemen thank you for coming on this program.
Northeastern University has brought you Charles angle hard marketing manager for surface transportation systems United Aircraft Corporation Robert Simpson director flight transportation lab the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and of William W. s.v. director of MIT's project transportation. Day's program transportation. One thousand eighty four city journey. Your program host has been justifier baiter Director Department of radio production. Urban confrontation is well used for the office of educational resources at the communications center of the nation's largest private you know Northeastern University. Comments on this program or request for a reported company of any program in this series may be addressed to urban confrontation. Northeastern University Boston
Massachusetts 0 2 1 1 5. This week's program was produced by Peter Lance directed by Sheila Sylvester. With technical supervision by Mike Riggio. Executive producer for urban confrontation is Peter Lance the music by fire and ice. Your announcer. Hey Hemmer. This is the national educational radio network.
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- Urban Confrontation is an analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man in the American city, covering issues such as campus riots, assassinations, the internal disintegration of cities, and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. Produced for the Office of Educational Resources at the Communications Center of the nations largest private university, Northeastern University.
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