Mark Bahner | Indy Week

Mark Bahner 
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Re: “The Durham-Orange Light Rail Now Costs More Than $3 Billion, and Durham Will Have to Pay More of It

"Connected fleets will ultimately get to the holy grail of public transportation affordable point to point connections."

Yes, autonomous fleets of small buses are infinitely more flexible than light rail. A small bus can go on any road, anywhere, at any time. Light rail can never "jump the tracks" to deliver service anywhere in a county as necessary.

And the number of passenger-miles delivered per tax dollar spent isn't even close. A small autonomous bus will deliver far more passenger-miles per tax dollar spent than light rail, because if the bus is operating with few passengers, the routes and timing of the bus can be changed to make sure the bus is more fully loaded. (And there will be zero tax dollars spent on the autonomous bus if it is owned by a private entity as part of an autonomous fleet.)

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Mark Bahner on 05/03/2017 at 12:12 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange Light Rail Now Costs More Than $3 Billion, and Durham Will Have to Pay More of It

"gmbmnc, I assume that you are one of the few that can afford a self driving car for oh... I don't know 75k-250k."

Self-driving cars will be available in less than 5 years for under $30k. But almost no one will own a car in the future. It will be far less expensive and far more practical to order transportation as a service, like an airplane ticket or a taxi.

"I will ride the LTR daily to work."

You won't because it won't be built. (Thank goodness. It would be a waste of $3+ billion.) If it was built, it would be silly to spend money on such slow transportation, rather than order door-to-door computer-driven transport that's much faster.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Mark Bahner on 05/01/2017 at 12:36 PM

Re: “Durham-Orange County Light Rail Heads to the Federal Government

" is it an ill conceived plan?"

It's ill conceived because it totally neglects the transportation revolution that's coming in the next 20 years. Rail service is not expected to be operational until 2029. By 2029, fully autonomous (computer-driven) buses will be available for essentially the same cost as a human-driven bus. Today, a 15-seat cutaway bus can be purchased for under $150,000. Let's say they double in price by 2029. That would mean a 15-seat cutaway bus would be available for $300,000.

The cost of this project is $3.3 billion. That means more than 10,000 fully autonomous cutaway buses could be purchased for the same price as this single light rail project. Which would transport more people, 10,000 fully autonomous buses that can go on any road anywhere, and stop anywhere, or a single light rail line with a fixed route and fixed stops?

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mark Bahner on 05/01/2017 at 12:27 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange Light Rail Now Costs More Than $3 Billion, and Durham Will Have to Pay More of It

"Even at 3.3 Billiion it's still worth it. The USA desperately needs to transition to public transportation."

A new cutaway bus cost $67,000 on average in 2007. In 2017, the number is probably closer to $100,000. (See FTA's report, "An Evaluation of the Market for
Small-to-Medium-Sized Cutaway Buses.")

Therefore, for $100 million, Durham could buy *1000* cutaway buses. Why is it worthwhile to spend more than $1 billion on light rail and commuter rail if $100 million could buy 1000 buses? Especially if those buses could be fully autonomous (computer-driven) in 10-20 years?

Doesn't it make more sense to spend $100 million for 1000 fully autonomous cutaway buses than to spend more than $1 billion (more than 10 times as much) for a light rail line that is much more limited in capability?

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Mark Bahner on 04/26/2017 at 5:33 PM

Re: “Durham Commissioners Approve Light Rail Plans, Cost-Share Agreement

I attended the meeting, and wanted to speak out against the light rail plans, but since I did not know how/where to sign up as a member of the public, I wasn't recognized. My only consolation is my near-certainty that the Durham Orange Light Rail Project will never be built.

There's a revolution in transportation that is coming in the next 5-20 years, which is autonomous (computer-driven) vehicle technology. Transportation will be provided as a service, rather than people owning their vehicles. Autonomous technology will provide door-to-door transport with travel times that are less than or equal to automobiles today, and at much lower cost than automobiles, and with freedom from the hassles of driving. Parking will also no longer be necessary, and congestion will be greatly reduced.

Light rail, with its higher cost and rigid fixed routes and times, simply can't compete with a fleet of autonomous vehicles. Durham's projected cost of over $1 billion would fund *2000* autonomous full-size buses (at $500,000 each). However, an even better use of the $1 billion would be to simply pay the transportation expenses of lower-income people who use the autonomous vehicle fleets operated by...Uber? Google? Hertz? Ford? (we'll know in the next 5-20 years).

2 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Mark Bahner on 04/25/2017 at 5:42 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange Light Rail Now Costs More Than $3 Billion, and Durham Will Have to Pay More of It

Hopefully, light rail will die before very much is spent on it. As noted by gmbmnc, computer-driven vehicles will completely eliminate any need for light rail. Computer-driven vehicles will deliver door-to-door service (without any need for parking). And that door-to-door service will be much more rapid and inexpensive than light rail can hope for.

4 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Mark Bahner on 04/19/2017 at 6:52 PM

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