ACCESS 16, Spring 2000

Editorial: Surprises

Melanie Curry

Transportation is a field in which everyone is an expert. If we’re bus riders, we know where to catch the bus, which one to take, and what’s wrong with the service. Motorists know how to start the car, how to fill it up, and maybe even how to fix it. And there’s one topic on which everybody is an authority: traffic.

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2017-05-31T21:27:37+00:00Categories: ACCESS 16, Spring 2000|

What If Cars Could Drive Themselves?

Steven E. Shladover

Even when cars were still young, futurists began thinking about vehicles that could drive themselves, without human help. Perhaps the best known of these conjectures was the General Motors Futurama, the hit of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. During the following decades interest in automated vehicles rose and fell several times. Now, at the start of the new century, it’s worth taking a fresh look at this concept and asking how automation might change transportation and the quality of our lives.

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2017-05-31T21:27:43+00:00Categories: ACCESS 16, Spring 2000|Tags: |

Power from the Fuel Cell

Timothy Lipman

Automobiles are often criticized for consuming so much petroleum. While much has been done in the past twenty years to make vehicles pollute less, the growing popularity of larger vehicles is making vehicles consume more energy. However, emerging technologies suggest that new generations of vehicles can be built that will be much more efficient than those on the roads today. Furthermore, the prospect of future vehicles incorporating electric drive systems means they may be able to integrate with the electricity grid in a novel way: they may be able to supply electricity to the grid, thereby eliminating the need to build new power plants in some areas.

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2017-05-31T21:27:54+00:00Categories: ACCESS 16, Spring 2000|Tags: |

Should We Try to Get the Prices Right?

Mark Delucchi

There is considerable interest these days in “getting the prices right” in transportation. Some environmentalists and supporters of mass transit believe the “right” prices will induce a lot of people to switch from cars to public transit. So they advocate a variety of additional charges on vehicles, fuel, road use, emissions, and so on. Some economists believe that the “right” prices will lead to an economically efficient and socially desirable use of transportation modes and fuels. In a society seeming to become ever more leery of government regulations, and concomitantly more enamored of “market” solutions to difficult social problems, there can be strong appeal to getting the prices right in transportation. Arguably, if we can estimate and implement transportation prices intelligently, without slighting efforts towards important social objectives that are not well addressed by pricing, then perhaps we ought to try to “get the prices right.” But that’s a big “if.”

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An Eye on the Fast Lane: Making Freeways Work

Pravin Varaiya

Before leaving for work you can check the weather from the newspaper, radio, or TV report. You can just look at the sky and make your own guess. But you can’t determine much about current traffic conditions. TV and radio traffic reports provide only a summary (“traffic is running smoothly this morning”) and spotty coverage of incidents (“an accident in the second lane has been cleared”). If you are unexpectedly stalled in traffic, your frustration and anxiety mount. You don’t know how long you’ll be stuck or whether you should use your cell phone to cancel your appointment.

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On Bus-Stop Crime

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and Robin Liggett

It's early morning at the bus stop on Central and 7th in downtown Los Angeles. A middle-aged Latino woman is waiting for the bus, nervously clutching a big plastic bag close to her body. There are no pedestrians on the street, just a few parked cars behind a barbed-wire fence. The nearby corner is occupied by a cheap, run-down motel called the Square Deal with a liquor store on the ground floor. A man in ragged clothes appears to be sleeping (or is he dead?), curled up on the sidewalk outside the store, not far from the woman. Broken glass, empty cans, and other trash litter the bus stop where the woman is standing. She nervously surveys the street for the bus. From time to time she throws a fleeting look at the sleeping man. At last the bus arrives, and the woman disappears behind its protective doors.

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