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how electric cars suck

 
master steward
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In the 50's, busses were bought and crushed so people were forced to buy cars.  And then car companies and oil companies did all sorts of lobbying so that we became a sort of big car nation.  That was mean, wrong and fucked up.  

And now it seems that elon musk is kicking them all in the nuts.  Big oil and the big auto.  Go Elon!

And ....




I remember working a contract as a software engineer in Seattle.  There was a bus station a half a block from my house.  A bus would run every six minutes in the morning and drop me off two blocks from work.   I would go to the bus stop and watch those buses go by, without stopping - they were all full.  There weren't enough buses.  And a bus pass was not cheap.   And seattle is like one giant mass of cement to facilitate way too many cars.

A bit of highway in the middle of seattle needed to be replaced.  Designs were being considered.  Any design was gonna cost billions.  

A weekly paper had an amazing article:  for the same price, the bit of highway could be replaced with something about the same size as it is now, but a bit more humble - and the remaining funds could be used to triple the number of buses AND everybody could ride for free for three years.  Traffic would be dramatically reduced for the whole county and other massive road projects could also be postponed or shrunk.   Less cement, less cars, less pollution, less personal expense to living in Seattle ... less traffic.

The governer was asked about this idea.  She said it was impossible because the funds that would pay for the project are only for building roads and stuff, and not for buying buses.  Politics.  Politics probably influenced by interests in cars and oil and stuff.

Electric cars are awesome.   Electric public transportation is even better.
 
Posts: 99
Location: North FL, in the high sandhills
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There's still the "fuel density" problem with our current state of battery development. Batteries just don't have the range capabilities that a small bit of gasoline or diesel does given the size of the package.

That being said, most driving is short haul and that mileage range of current batteries would be just fine for that.

Along with from crushing all the electric public transport way back when they effectively eliminated electric personal vehicles too, which were hugely popular for in-city errands and driving with even less battery capacity than today.

Another catch to our current battery situation is the need for lithium to make them.
Seems we are still quite game to do all the horrible things we do to little countries that have natural resources we want.
We wonder why they hate us...

Funny side note... I find humor in a 50 pound bag of lithium leftover from the glassblowing studio days being one of the more valuable items I own. I probably paid around $25 for it way back when, prior to the lithium lust, and it's worth a small fortune now.

I too lived in Seattle for a few years early 90s with a similar experience to yours. Between the buses, a bicycle, and renting cars for trips I was amazed how much more money I had on hand not having to own a car.
You really did need to know how to "play" the buses so you could even get on.
Awesome transportation system there in Seattle, but, as you say, way overloaded.
Still is from what I hear from old friends.

 
Dave Bross
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Coincidence is funny.

After posting on this earlier, I stumbled into this, which, despite the title, is about the re-emergence of electric cars and the detailed story of the evil in a series of which this is part 7:

https://jalopnik.com/a-brief-history-of-gasoline-they-lied-about-the-scienc-1848189752?
 
pollinator
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Texas ripped out the rail lines to put in highways and parks.  Dallas North Tollway was Katy Rail before it was a highway.  No one wants to talk about that, either :/
 
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Electric cars are interesting. My favorite company doing work with EVs (right now) is Aptera: https://aptera.us/

Now, I think they're piggybacking off of all the battery stuff that Tesla has been putting out, which means they probably have similar environmental baggage. However, one thing I like about Aptera is they focus more on the aerodynamic design than the nifty features (though they have some of those as well). The end result is a car that can go much further on a charge. Also, they have solar panels built-in--which is kinda cool. Ideally, one could just let the sun power the car (they estimate, fully-panelled, that it can charge 40 miles of driving per day via the sun)--which eliminates the (likely) need to generate electricity via (probably) coal. Either way, I like their emphasis on reducing the energy expenditure via design rather than focusing on the energy source.

I've heard Geoff Lawton (and Bill Mollison) talk about the magic of compressed air vehicles and that whole energy pipeline. A quick google search suggests there are even some companies pursuing their revival, though for all I know those projects could go the way of solar freakin' roadways. I'd love to hop on that bandwagon.

As for public transportation--I think it's a phenomenal idea...in bigger cities. I grew up in Salem, Oregon. We had some buses, and I even used one to get to band practice a couple times a week. That being said, I don't remember many people being on those city buses. I think part of the problem is the way cities are structured. Bigger cities, particularly in the eastern US, build up. That means that where you need to go, and where Billy needs to go, and where Nancy needs to go, have a better chance of being in the same direction because the city isn't spread out horizontally. In Salem, the city was fairly spread out with a small downtown area. Because the city was spread out, getting anywhere using the bus was more of a chore and significantly increased transportation time. I'm in a similar situation in Utah--where most of the state has expanded outward into endless suburbia rather than building up.

My ADHD brain has often ruminated on a system where people traveling to a city park on the outside, and then use public transit to get inside. Come to think of it, that's exactly what Disneyworld does. And building cities this way would have a similar effect--people would have to walk everywhere but also buildings could be closer together. I've been to Disneyworld a couple times and the system works decently well, all things considered. And Disney has to get all of their products and goods into the park somehow, so I assume there are still ways to move goods around.

Anyway, that's my somewhat relevant 2 cents.
 
Dave Bross
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Agreed on the Seattle bus system. When I lived there in the Wallingford neighborhood in the 1990s I used it a LOT, but, as you said, that was the era when it started taking longer and longer to get where you were going, buses were often overloaded to the point they had to pass you by at the stops and the crazies would attack drivers or passengers.

I had a close one with a gang of teenage punks but had my big ol' Lab dog (they did let you bring your dog on the bus) with me so I guess they thought better of actually trying what they were threatening. No doubt they would have beat me down and robbed me right there on the bus if I hadn't had the dog.

It wasn't too long after I left Seattle that the bus went off the Ballard bridge into the water and killed/injured everyone when a crazy jumped the driver and he lost control.

The plus side was that between the bus and a bicycle, the bicycle being an even faster-than-a-car way to get around because the city was always gridlocked around rush hours, my bank account fattened a good bit from being able to bypass all the costs of car ownership.

Man, am I ever glad I finally got back to the country here in FL.

Whenever I think of cities I think about that experiment with the rats where the guy kept adding to the population of the rat "city" and then at one point the rats all came unglued and started into destructive behavior.

Here's a link to more detail on that if that's of interest:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-mouse-utopias-1960s-led-grim-predictions-humans-180954423/

Never again will I live in a city.
 
pollinator
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The Duke in his blog wrote:Electric cars are awesome.   Electric public transportation is even better.


If the world writes a love song centered around electric public transit before they write one about cruising in an electric pickup on an electric road trip, then that day I'll tip my hat to you, sir.

The biggest detriment of public transit for me is:
Everything revolves around the transportation system's scheduling, not my heart's desires.  This makes it hard to be fully 'present' for my own needs, and for others I may encounter.  Often I'd love to pause and soak up one more hour with people whom I love in places I'm enjoying, ...but gotta' catch that bus/subway/tram/boat/train!  "Kairos" time is sacrificed for the sake of the measured and periodic "Chronos" time.  

We've essentially foregone driving our gas-guzzler vehicle for a two and a half years now, and it was quite the experience swapping to public transit full time.  I agree that a well-designed regional public transportation system is amazing and convenient, and I'm happy to have experienced such a network.  Unfortunately there are dozens of things I've disliked about relying on public transit the past two years.  I've listed a bunch below, so the next time when I'm stuck in traffic surrounded by fumes, I'll be able to fondly think back to this post and be like "you know, either way, it's not all that bad."

Things I haven't liked about public transit:
  • The need for 100% vigilance at all times so my wallet, phone, and luggage don't get swiped or forgotten.
  • If I'm trying to get to the sticks or burbs to visit loved ones, but the lines don't really go there, so I need to call them to bum a ride.  But fortunately we have a charged smartphone with service in this area, right?
  • When a small folding-bicycle didn't quite fit in the luggage spaces...and for some reason the tire just popped.  So much for that "last mile" solution.
  • For all us immigrants, expats, refugees, world travelers, etc. who don't have full command of a language.  What was that announcement? Did we miss our stop?  Do those folks need to swap trains?  Are we in the correct section when this train splits?
  • Wait.  Whose little toddler is this walking around panhandling?  Where did their mom go!?
  • Where have all the open seats gone?
  • Strategic dehydration; adjusting bathroom breaks based on a train's location, acceleration, or bathroom quality.
  • Carrying everything on my back and/or dealing with malfunctioning rolling luggage.
  • Not being able to haul stuff.  I'd really like to bring back a bunch of potting soil, tools, and dimensional lumber from a big-box store.
  • When there's a pandemic, and the local government says only certain individuals have the privilege to ride public transport.  The only way one can earn said privilege is if an approved person tickles their brain with a Q-tip, or if they voluntarily got stabbed the correct number of times with a syringe a few months ago and can prove it in a government database or via a "passport".  Regardless of your views on COVID prevention, "Paper's please."  is just too Orwellian for my liking. Likewise, when the rules say you better not take off that mask, which you've been wearing for how many days now?  Even though everyone else is taking off their masks, especially the "at risk" age group which the regulations were designed to protect.  Gosh I miss breathing normally and smelling the world.  I digress.  *exits public transit and inhales with great relish*
  • "Woah!" *cough cough* The smell of urine.  They need some sawdust down here! *Mask back on for a little bit, then back outside in fresh air.  Mask comes off* Moments later my eyes water... I hate smoke blown in my eyes, tobacco or otherwise.
  • Back on a train.  In the middle of a rural area, it stops.  Something about a vehicle blocking the track.
  • Outside a station, a less fortunate man is panhandling.  I have money, but then see the cigarettes and booze next him.  I feel a little guilty about not helping, but good about not contributing to his demise.  I walk on by.  Moments later, I see a hypodermic needle in another guy's arm.
  • In a subway terminal, a foreigner is asking me for some information near a ticket kiosk, and I want to help, but I can't fully understand him, and we have only seconds to spare before the subway leaves.  I make my choice and we walk on.
  • The public transit union operators occasionally decide to strike.  But fortunately they give everyone advanced notice, and we own sneakers.  Months later, a bus driver just stops and kicks everyone out.  Um. Okay.  Perhaps they're striking... again?
  • My loved one decides to clean the blender with her finger... while it was plugged in.  When are the buses running?!  Time passes.  Has the blood stopped yet?  Time to bum a ride from our friends to the hospital.
  • AC is broken, and I'm in a tropical climate.  Later, heat is on full blast, and even though I'm in a pleasant temperate climate.


  • Car culture is a uniquely American thing, flowing deeply from our rebellious nature and "rugged individualism".  It emphasizes personal freedom, uniqueness and individual accountability, rather than collective ownership, team identity, and duty.  So it's not for everyone, but gosh I miss it!  I look forward to the next time I'm in my jeep, the back filled to the brim with the glorious smell of mulch, as I go to plant some trees, blaring Boston on the radio with the windows down and top rolled back while singing along in the sun at the top of my lungs trying to hit the high notes.  

    And electric trucks especially are inspiring, too.  I have a strong feeling that Vehicle-to-House (V2H) technology -- powering your home from your vehicle -- is going to be key to a few solar-enabled off-grid permaculture sites, as well as suburbanites seeking greater resilience during freak weather events.
     
    pollinator
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    I am pleased to say, here in BC Canada,  most busses come with bike racks on the front of the bus, just hook up the bike, and board the bus.

    Plus, in Vancouver,  a lot still use electric, overhead trolley wires, and the diesels are being replaced with natural gas - quieter and no noxious fumes, but still not happy about natural gas extraction.

    Happily, in Victoria,  they are now trialing battery powered busses...not sure about the eventual outcome,  but still exciting!

    We also have "Park and Ride" that has one drive to central hubs (such as Vancouver 's Skytrain stations) to access inter urban transit/busses.
     
    pollinator
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    George, this ones for you.

     
    pollinator
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    Dave Bross wrote:Agreed on the Seattle bus system. When I lived there in the Wallingford neighborhood in the 1990s I used it a LOT, but, as you said, that was the era when it started taking longer and longer to get where you were going, buses were often overloaded to the point they had to pass you by at the stops and the crazies would attack drivers or passengers.

    I had a close one with a gang of teenage punks but had my big ol' Lab dog (they did let you bring your dog on the bus) with me so I guess they thought better of actually trying what they were threatening. No doubt they would have beat me down and robbed me right there on the bus if I hadn't had the dog.

    It wasn't too long after I left Seattle that the bus went off the Ballard bridge into the water and killed/injured everyone when a crazy jumped the driver and he lost control.

    The plus side was that between the bus and a bicycle, the bicycle being an even faster-than-a-car way to get around because the city was always gridlocked around rush hours, my bank account fattened a good bit from being able to bypass all the costs of car ownership.

    Man, am I ever glad I finally got back to the country here in FL.

    Whenever I think of cities I think about that experiment with the rats where the guy kept adding to the population of the rat "city" and then at one point the rats all came unglued and started into destructive behavior.

    Here's a link to more detail on that if that's of interest:

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-mouse-utopias-1960s-led-grim-predictions-humans-180954423/

    Never again will I live in a city.



    To be pedantic, the only people who died when the bus left the bridge were the driver, the shooter, and a guy who had a heart attack.  (Which is still terrible!  But the driver was absolutely a hero for getting the bus off the bridge when he did.)  It crashed into a building a block south of my apartment.

    Now I live in a city with much better transit, plus great taxis, a nice shared-taxi-Uber-but-we-pay-our-drivers solution, and multiple pay-by-the-mile car rental options, many of which are electric-based.

    Meanwhile my mom in rural Washington has few to no options to get anywhere, when her license was pulled for being elderly.

    Never again will I live in outside a city.
     
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