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Michigan to build the country's first Maglev public transportation system
February 13, 2008 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Michigan to build the country's first Maglev public transportation system between Detroit and Ann Arbor. The Interstate Traveler Hydrogen Super Highway will utilize solar and hydrogen power and TCP/IP for communications. The cars will carry people, cars (drive on/off) and cargo. Construction is set to begin this year.

Other proposed Maglev projects in the US include the California-Nevada Interstate Maglev connecting Vegas to Anaheim (269 miles) and the Baltimore-Washington D.C. Maglev (39 miles).
posted by stbalbach (73 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
And still no Robocop.
posted by pyrex at 7:45 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


1995 called and wants its website back.
posted by GuyZero at 7:45 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: You could not be more right.

So... what's the point of this? To connect a dying city to Michigan's last gasp of economic relevance? It sounds novel, but there's nothing left in Detroit to want to go to, and the people living there tend to be the ones too poor to leave in the first place.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:50 AM on February 13, 2008


Its about time. I've been waiting for maglev for a while now.
posted by PlannerCarl at 7:51 AM on February 13, 2008


("living there" = living in Detroit, not Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor's full of rich people and college students.)
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:51 AM on February 13, 2008


Pfft, Granholm sold us out on expanded intercity public transit about 2 seconds after she got in office. Even if she did get behind this the legislature wouldn't approve a dime of spending on it. These guys have big plans, but this is a pipe dream's pipe dream.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:55 AM on February 13, 2008


Oh boy, Detroit! Will it be able to withstand rust and fire?

This is a good topic, but wikipedia links are kinda weak. Try these two.
posted by ninjew at 7:56 AM on February 13, 2008


Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Electrified,
Six-car
Monorail!
What'd I say?
Ned Flanders: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
Patty+Selma: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
posted by doctor_negative at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, I'm thinking that it's bad that the latest news on their page is from 2006.

Is this thing actually happening in any way?
posted by smackfu at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2008


What is the Interstate Traveler Hydrogen Super Highway?

Something you doodled together on graph paper?
posted by cashman at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2008


Agree with Lentro. The Soul Train People Mover was supposed to go all the way out to Warren, and we Detroiters know how well that worked out. Furthermore, this is really ridiculous use of maglev technology. Detroit and AA are only like 40 miles apart, and you can get there even in rush hour with very limited congestion. Talk about unnecessary overkill.
posted by fusinski at 8:04 AM on February 13, 2008


> So... what's the point of this? To connect a dying city to Michigan's last gasp of economic relevance? It sounds novel, but there's nothing left in Detroit to want to go to...

I live at one end of where the rail would be.

I would love to be able to take a train into Detroit. There's still a lot to do there, and much of it is within a 2-mile radius, albeit with war zone quality neighborhoods in between some of them. A limited-range commuter train is of minimal use as a commuter line but it could do reasonably well on baseball and hockey game days. Casinos should benefit too, although that's not my thing.

And if the rail line is at least minimally successful, businesses will begin cropping up at the terminals to deal with the influx of customers of the hoof.

That's the upside. The downside is that the greater Detroit area is too sprawling for any rail system to serve it well. So having motor vehicles available at the terminal is a must, which means bringing your own. And the process of loading and unloading a train full of automobiles for a fifty mile trip can't take much longer than driving those fifty miles. The benefit of having somebody else drive for an hour is probably not worth the hassles at either end.
posted by ardgedee at 8:07 AM on February 13, 2008


Uhh, didn't they learn from their last mistakes?

Also, that website makes it impossible for me to take this seriously.
posted by patr1ck at 8:13 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


ardgedee, while I sympathize with your position, a maglev train just doesn't make sense here. Do you really want to dump all that money into a cutting-edge transportation system that will likely get ridiculously bloated just so you can get to a baseball game? Man, just bring back Amtrak routes.
posted by fusinski at 8:18 AM on February 13, 2008


"Michigan to build the country's first Maglev public transportation system..."

It's early for me, so maybe I am missing something but where is this statement coming from? The google only finds this in reference to it.
posted by 517 at 8:18 AM on February 13, 2008


Wow, that page is really bad. I don't even think they know what they're talking about:


Automated TCP/IP traffic control system using ports, and subnets will allow for personally owned, publicly owned and commercially owned cars to operate on the same platform (public network) with assurance that the commercial cars get to the right loading dock, on the right spur of the right sub network automatically.


Ports and subnets you say! More like buzzword bingo.

One thing that would save Michigan would be investment in a state-wide transport system such as this. It would get people working, it would build a technology base in the state around advanced public transportation, it would keep blue and white-collar workers in the state. Even more important, it would send a message that we're not just the auto state. It would be symbolic. But the big three have always been against public transportation, and part of me wonders if this might just be an underhanded attempt to show that public transport can't succeed. More likely the developer of this project is just scamming a state desperate to survive. I'm hoping that's not the case.

It sounds novel, but there's nothing left in Detroit to want to go to, and the people living there tend to be the ones too poor to leave in the first place.

The DIA, Greektown, The Detroit Zoo, parties and clubs. There's a lot to do in Detroit. During the weekends the city is packed. Even though the economy is depressed, it's still a vibrant city.
posted by formless at 8:21 AM on February 13, 2008


It's dead Jim:
As sloth-like as it seems at times, the commuter rail project connecting Detroit, Ann Arbor and Metro Airport is not on a slow boat to China. But then again, it's not using Maglev technology either.
posted by smackfu at 8:21 AM on February 13, 2008


Who's going to make the investment? The State? The Cities? Ha... just what we need. More stinkin' debt.

If you want to fix Michigan, give technology companies huge tax breaks and incentives to come to the State. Even more to make use of existing infrastructure. Why we aren't doing this already I'll never know. The only way Michigan will move forward as a right to work state is to attract a lot more white collar jobs. Maglev train. Sheesh.
posted by fusinski at 8:26 AM on February 13, 2008


Why is it called an interstate when it is only going to be in within the confines of one state?

Also, the only thing that could make that website worse if it was hosted on geocities.
posted by birdherder at 8:27 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


The marquee tag? Really? The marquee tag?!
posted by odinsdream at 8:27 AM on February 13, 2008


They should have named it the Super Hydrogen Interstate Traveller.
posted by rocket88 at 8:30 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


@ doctor_negative:

MONO-!
doh!
posted by mrzer0 at 8:31 AM on February 13, 2008


Shanghai's maglev has turned out to be quite the white elephant, I believe, in part because the track doesn't really go anywhere useful. Recent attempts to build extension lines have seen some of the first major downtown street protests there since the Cultural Revolution.
posted by Abiezer at 8:33 AM on February 13, 2008


Who's going to make the investment? The State? The Cities? Ha... just what we need. More stinkin' debt.

I would gladly welcome the debt if it was a true investment in our future. And public transportation and infrastructure is a good investment.

If you want to fix Michigan, give technology companies huge tax breaks and incentives to come to the State.

Come to the state and do what? Technology companies want technology workers. The worker base is primarily automotive related, whether it's research or industrial. There are network effects at play here: California has those high-tech workers, so tech companies move or start there, drawing in more tech workers. High tech companies may consider tax breaks, but I think the primary concern is talented employees and access to other high-tech companies.


Even more to make use of existing infrastructure. Why we aren't doing this already I'll never know. The only way Michigan will move forward as a right to work state is to attract a lot more white collar jobs. Maglev train. Sheesh.


Interstate Highway System. Sheesh.
posted by formless at 8:37 AM on February 13, 2008


the only thing that could make that website worse if it was hosted on geocities.

The only thing that can make this thread worse is a link to...
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2008


DreadfulWebpageSnarkFilter:
The Executive Summary can be found here....  Click this Link
What's wrong with:
The Executive Summary can be found here.
Also, 1962 called and wants its railcar design back.
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 8:43 AM on February 13, 2008


The DIA, Greektown, The Detroit Zoo, parties and clubs.
The Detroit Zoo is at 10 Mile and Woodward, not in Detroit. I've never really understood the appeal of Greektown. However, the Detroit Main Public Library is a wonderful place, and I'd go there more often if there was some decent/affordable parking nearby.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:47 AM on February 13, 2008


As someone who's really in favor of rail infrastructure and light-rail/commuter projects, I think this is a bad idea.

Any project that's going to be the first of its kind needs to be built in a place where it's sure to succeed -- where there are people just waiting to get on that train. "If you build it, they will come" doesn't sound like a recipe for success; it sounds like a recipe for a unused rail line that will be laughed at and scrapped in a few years.

Also, the auto-train (roll-on/roll-off car transport) aspect of it is stupid. Amtrak has a hard enough time offering Auto Train service from Virginia to Florida and making it faster than just driving yourself. There's no way they're going to turn it into a timesaver over such a limited distance.

Good candidate cities for this sort of interurban link would be areas that already have substantial public-transportation infrastructures (so that you don't need cars on either end), concentrated populations, and terrible traffic problems.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:58 AM on February 13, 2008


Detroit and AA are only like 40 miles apart, and you can get there even in rush hour with very limited congestion.

Usually true, but this morning when it took me 90 minutes I would've killed for a maglev train!

posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:05 AM on February 13, 2008


Construction is set to begin this year

Yeah, because the guy has plans to set up two routers in his basement to experiment with the transformative potential of TCP/IP.

Speaking as an Ann Arbor resident, I would love this; it would make Detroit much more of a spontaneous destination. There really is a lot of great stuff going on down there. Speaking as a Michigan resident, there is no way in hell this will ever get off the ground politically or financially, regardless of presentation.
posted by ulotrichous at 9:05 AM on February 13, 2008


This has to be guff, surely. Why on earth would you stand the cars up on little legs? That's utterly pointless. It'd be far more stable to make the cars the same width as the tracks and bolt the supports straight to them.

/picks on one of a million things wrong with the whole deal

I think the silly tiny circle deal at the stations is stupid, too. To make the cars able to navigate such a tight radius will limit their length, which is defeating in terms of convenience and capacity per length of train.
posted by Brockles at 9:07 AM on February 13, 2008


Huh. A drive-on, drive-off rail system linking LA and NY would be pretty sweet, though.
posted by delmoi at 9:14 AM on February 13, 2008


Well sir theres nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six car monorail. WHAT'd I SAY?
posted by Wanderlust88 at 9:16 AM on February 13, 2008


A bunch of blogish sites say it will begin construction this year but smackfu's link suggests not.
posted by stbalbach at 9:23 AM on February 13, 2008


MeTa.
posted by patr1ck at 9:24 AM on February 13, 2008


The newscasters tell us every day about the difficult times people are having all over the world.

Is this website a high school school project?
posted by Adam_S at 9:26 AM on February 13, 2008


Come to the state and do what? Technology companies want technology workers. The worker base is primarily automotive related, whether it's research or industrial. There are network effects at play here: California has those high-tech workers, so tech companies move or start there, drawing in more tech workers. High tech companies may consider tax breaks, but I think the primary concern is talented employees and access to other high-tech companies.

Wow. Come on, man. You are being really unfair. There are so many well-educated technology workers here it's not even funny. In fact, the research triangle has basically made it their policy to poach technology workers from the Metro Detroit area. And frankly, even if you WERE right you are being short-sighted. If you build it, they will come.
posted by fusinski at 9:37 AM on February 13, 2008


Michigan seems like a dream to me now.
posted by False Dichotomy at 9:55 AM on February 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Too bad there isn't any car industry left to kill this mass transportation plan. What an incredible waste of money and time! Ya know, the Amtrak used to go from Detriot to Ann Arbor...and they tore the rails up! Sure...let's put a MAGLEV(!!!!!!!) Train between A2 and Detroit, so that everyone can scoot into Greektown, hit the casino and then ZOOOM! across the cornfields (if there are any left) back to itty bitty Ann Arbor.

What a desperate, pointless, insulting gesture. Fuck them.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:59 AM on February 13, 2008


If you build it, they will come.

No. No they won't.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:00 AM on February 13, 2008


Sure they will. Michigan is awesome... it's just in a slump. I still believe.
posted by fusinski at 10:04 AM on February 13, 2008


Wow, a crap hoax post and a bevy of the usual "Detroit SUX" bullshit! This is fail on, like, every level.
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 AM on February 13, 2008


I call the big one Bitey!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:08 AM on February 13, 2008


Unfortunately, it's not a hoax. My best friend knows the chief engineer for the project and where he is leasing a home in the area. It's as real as it can be... until it's not anymore.
posted by fusinski at 10:08 AM on February 13, 2008


So this is a major public works program that has no current documentation on the web at all. Sure.
posted by smackfu at 10:11 AM on February 13, 2008


If you don't think there's anything to do in Detroit you've never left the basement. Detroit has huge problems but there are a number of very good restaurants, theaters, opera, the symphony, concerts, a baseball stadium and a football stadium.
posted by substrate at 10:12 AM on February 13, 2008


No, it's not a major public works program until the proposal is done. But the business plan is being privately funded.
posted by fusinski at 10:13 AM on February 13, 2008


stbalbach, I'm confused -- did you accidentally forget to paste in a link to a page (any page at all!) backing up the point of your post, that this train is going to be built? Because as most have pointed out, the whole point of this here website is to do that sort of thing. If you forgot -- i.e., if your comment that "blogish sites" were verifying your info is to be read that links to those sites were supposed to be part of your post -- then pass them along to the site admins, and they might be willing to add them to your FPP in an effort to make this more than just a weird declaration post without anything to provide evidence and whatnot.
posted by delfuego at 10:15 AM on February 13, 2008


Trailblazing US hydrogen super highway.
July 13, 2005
Petroleum Review

Imagine traveling from New York to Los Angeles by car in 10.5 hours, while the rail system you are running on is producing enough extra hydrogen to power 70% or more of the country's entire energy demand at no extra charge. That is the aim of a proposed 'hydrogen super highway' - called the 'Trailblazer' - across the US that runs on clean-burning hydrogen-powered magnetic levitation (MagLev) rails, transporting cars, freight and people at up to 250 mph. If developed, it is claimed that Trailblazer has the potential to produce enough excess hydrogen from its built-in solar panel arrays to power all of the US, with near zero environmental consequences. The plan is being promoted by Interstate Traveler Company, supported by ACSA (the American Computer Scientists Association Inc - www.acsa.net.

The hydrogen fuel provided by the Trailblazer for general use is called Hydroline(TM) - a slightly compressed form of hydrogen obtained when electrons from a solar panel are fed to ordinary water. It is cooled and stored within the conduit that is part of the rail system. When needed, it is fed to fuel cells for electricity production or to Hydroline(TM) powered internal combustion engines which burn the fuel cleanly, yielding only water and heat.

According to ACSA, which has studied Interstate's plans in depth: 'Trailblazer advances a truly revolutionary technology solution - one which has broken down the barriers to a ready supply of cheap, hydrogen energy for the future clean energy economy of America... If it works, its hydrogen from a solar production system could reduce the entire cost of energy in America by $100bn/y by the end of its first construction year, $200bn its second year, $300bn the third, $400bn in the fourth. If the company's estimates are correct, by the end of the fifth year the Interstate Traveler's built-in solar to hydrogen converters could be paying for nearly all of America's energy needs... It could spell an end to dependency on non-sustainable energy sources like oil and coal, and an end to US dependency on foreign fuel, which can be redirected to making lubricants, chemicals and plastics.'
posted by cashman at 10:16 AM on February 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


"No, it's not a major public works program until the proposal is done. But the business plan is being privately funded."

By whom? LaRouche?
posted by klangklangston at 10:19 AM on February 13, 2008


I honestly don't know. But that would be amusing.
posted by fusinski at 10:20 AM on February 13, 2008


Wow. Come on, man. You are being really unfair. There are so many well-educated technology workers here it's not even funny.

You're probably right. I am underestimating the number of well-educated technology workers in the state. But there are also a lot of graduates that are moving out of the state.

And frankly, even if you WERE right you are being short-sighted. If you build it, they will come.

Just as you believe this about investing in technology companies, I believe the same thing about a public transport system.

I don't drive my car. It's sitting unused and uninsured, and will probably be sold soon. I live in Michigan, and I don't drive a car. I don't think a lot of midwest residents understand that a large number of people, especially in dense urban centers, don't own cars. And as I look for a new job, one of the primary things I'm looking at is whether the city the job is in has a good public transport system. I like not having to find parking, not having to pay an absurd amount every month for insurance, not having to pay $3+ for a gallon of gas.
posted by formless at 10:24 AM on February 13, 2008


Also, if you'd just dig a little, you can see that it has been gaining limited traction in the state over the last few years. Legistlature Record; City of Ferndale Minutes

So while this is obviously vaporware, it's definitely not a hoax.
posted by fusinski at 10:25 AM on February 13, 2008


If you build it, they will come.

Yeah, just like AutoWorld.
posted by jdotglenn at 10:27 AM on February 13, 2008


formless, of course they're moving out of state. There's nothing for them to DO here. Which is why the state needs to take measures to keep the talent here. Like now. Which means, tax incentives. Make it more attractive to start or move your business here than anyone else. Instead, we are doing the opposite... I mean, the service tax? Christ. I was ready to walk up to the governor's mansion and punch Granholm square in the nose.
posted by fusinski at 10:27 AM on February 13, 2008


I was just about to post those minutes. Thanks fusinski.

Here's another article on it from Crains, From February 21, 2005:

An elevated rail system along Woodward Avenue proposed by Whitmore Lake-based Interstate Traveler Inc. could fit into a regional mass-transit plan, but only if the company can prove its technology works, the Michigan Department of Transportation said.

Additionally, Interstate Traveler must show how its rail will complement existing transportation modes in Southeast Michigan, something that likely will require coordination with the Detroit Area Regional Transportation Authority, said Kirk Steudle, M-DOT's chief deputy director.

``We have to make sure the existing systems work as well as possible and that we're getting true efficiency out of what we have in place,'' Steudle said.

The Ferndale City Council unanimously passed a resolution last week supporting Interstate Traveler's rail system, which would use magnets to push trains along at speeds up to 300 mph and be powered through hydrogen and solar energy.

Similar magnetic levitation technology is used for high-speed trains in Japan and Europe, though Interstate Traveler's technology has not been developed in any area.

Interstate Traveler wants to start the system in Ferndale at Woodward and Nine Mile Road and extend it at least 10 miles north or south, depending on cooperation from neighboring communities.

At an estimated $10 million a mile, Interstate Traveler said it has private investors who are willing to pay the tab if the company can secure the necessary right-of-way.

Ferndale City Manager Tom Barwin believes Interstate Traveler's idea will provide a link between Southeast Michigan communities that he believes is desperately needed.

``This is a very unifying breakthrough project for the region, and it will allow us to create new jobs and start to stabilize our older communities,'' Barwin said.

Interstate Traveler has presented a similar rail idea that would cover all of Michigan's interstate highways to M-DOT and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and has received resolutions of support from the Michigan House and Senate.

Interstate Traveler CEO Justin Sutton believes M-DOT provides the greatest obstacle to the rail's development because it controls right-of-way on Woodward and has not offered to help secure research that would validate the company's proposal.

``The state of Michigan has the responsibility as a public servant to do the research instead of pushing it aside,'' said Sutton, who developed Interstate Traveler's system and studied mechanical engineering and geophysics at Schoolcraft College and Western Michigan University, but did not graduate.

Before Interstate Traveler, Sutton and his father operated a computer network and information systems company called ACT Computers Inc., which closed in 2003. Sutton said he based the Interstate Traveler design from his personal research on magnetic levitation trains and solar and hydrogen power systems.

Steudle said that although Interstate Traveler's idea holds promise, the company didn't provide M-DOT with enough information to show that its technology works or how it would fit in with a regional transportation plan.

Interstate Traveler will need to provide more of that data through unbiased third-party research and present it to DARTA before the company's idea can have a chance at moving forward, Steudle said.

``We can't just jump on every idea and say this is the next best thing since sliced bread,'' Steudle said.

Still, Barwin said he is convinced Interstate Traveler's idea will work and is convinced it's something the region should move forward with.

``I suspect people who are going to put up $100 million (for the project) have some verification over whether the technology works,'' Barwin said.
posted by cashman at 10:28 AM on February 13, 2008


If Hydroline is trademarked, then why doesn't it show up in a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office? Well, it shows up three times, none involving "slightly compressed hydrogen". Once as a "suction irrigation devices used for irrigation and aspiration of fluid for medical use." Another time as a "floor finishing preparation." and a third time "hydroline spotclean" shows up as "chemicals; namely, cleaning solvents."
posted by plastic_animals at 10:30 AM on February 13, 2008


Well I do think they plan on cleaning up, so there you go.
posted by cashman at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2008


DoctorFedora writes "To connect a dying city to Michigan's last gasp of economic relevance? It sounds novel, but there's nothing left in Detroit to want to go to, and the people living there tend to be the ones too poor to leave in the first place."

Building the thing might be an excellent spring board to producing the thing. Detroit has all sorts of factories and infrastructure idle that used to be producing cars. Shifting them to producing maglev's isn't much of a stretch. Trains in general are going to become a lot more appealing to the public as the price of gas soars upward. Whether mag levs will become part of the rail infrastructure is unknown but it doesn't hurt to at least think about it.
posted by Mitheral at 10:35 AM on February 13, 2008


Huh. A drive-on, drive-off rail system linking LA and NY would be pretty sweet, though.

And completely ridiculous. You'd be far better off operating rental fleets in LA and having the New York visitors take taxis everywhere. Even though rails typically offer a 4x advantage in fuel/(weight * distance), you're still wasting a lot of diesel moving cars back and forth for no good reason.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:35 AM on February 13, 2008


The Interstate Traveler Hydrogen Super Highway is part of the Gangster Computer God Worldwide
Secret Containment Policy made possible solely by Worldwide Computer God Frankenstein Controls. Especially lifelong constant-threshold Brainwash Radio. Quiet and motionless, I can
slightly hear it. Repeatedly this has saved my life on the streets.

Four billion wordwide population - all living - have a Computer God Containment Policy Brain Bank Brain, a real brain, in the Brain Bank Cities on the far side of the moon we never see. Primarily based on your lifelong Frankenstein Radio Controls, especially your Eyesight TV sight-and-sound recorded by your brain, your moon-brain of the Computer God activates your Frankenstein threshold Brainwash Radio - lifelong inculcating conformist propaganda. Even frightening you and mixing you up and the usual "Don't worry about it" for your setbacks,
mistakes - even when you receive deadly injuries!

THIS is the Worldwide Computer God Secret Containment Policy!
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:39 AM on February 13, 2008


They need to make sure there is plenty of graphite and glitter.
posted by cashman at 10:45 AM on February 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


In my life there's just three things: Man versus nature; Man versus woman; and Man versus the Empire Brain Building.
posted by klangklangston at 11:00 AM on February 13, 2008


I don't think the Maglev thing is actually going anywhere.

But there are proposals regarding light rail floating around. The ones which are talking about connecting Ann Arbor and Detroit to the airport (and by extension, I suppose, to each other) are getting the most momentum.

Article about airport transit at Model D (2/2007)
posted by agentmitten at 11:26 AM on February 13, 2008


Automated TCP/IP traffic control system using ports, and subnets will allow for personally owned, publicly owned and commercially owned cars to operate on the same platform (public network) with assurance that the commercial cars get to the right loading dock, on the right spur of the right sub network automatically.

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaaha.
posted by davejay at 12:24 PM on February 13, 2008


Kwantsar writes "You'd be far better off operating rental fleets in LA and having the New York visitors take taxis everywhere. Even though rails typically offer a 4x advantage in fuel/(weight * distance), you're still wasting a lot of diesel moving cars back and forth for no good reason."

Sure if you are only going for a week or two, are staying in LA/NY and have no special needs. But if you are in say NY and would like to drive the west coast for your vacation, or have a wheelchair lift (or even 4 car seats), or are in CA and want to do a rallye in NY, or have bought a trailer or a car on the opposite coast and need to get it home or even are just moving you need your vehicle with you the train would be handy, relatively fuel efficient and safer.

And the route would service much of each coast, especially if they added a Seattle-LA car train. You could load your car in Seattle and have it with you for your Florida vacation.
posted by Mitheral at 1:45 PM on February 13, 2008


"Another time as a "floor finishing preparation.""

It's a dessert *and* a floorwax!
posted by mecran01 at 1:50 PM on February 13, 2008


Another fun article from Crain's: Detroit preparing for state's 1st car pool lane.

Yeah, these guys are trying to build a monorail in a state that doesn't even have HOV lanes. Good luck with that. There's just nobody here who wants mass transit that much.

(This cynical broadside brought to you by a Michigander who likes Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Ferndale.)
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 2:17 PM on February 13, 2008


Mitheral: "Sure if you are only going for a week or two, are staying in LA/NY and have no special needs. But if you are in say NY and would like to drive the west coast for your vacation, or have a wheelchair lift (or even 4 car seats), or are in CA and want to do a rallye in NY, or have bought a trailer or a car on the opposite coast and need to get it home or even are just moving you need your vehicle with you the train would be handy, relatively fuel efficient and safer. "

I suspect that this represents a pretty minuscule market, though. And as it is, if you're not in a tremendous hurry, it's not terribly hard to move a car from one side of the country to the other. The freight railroads do it all the time -- they even have specially-designed cars for hauling brand-new automobiles.

It wouldn't be quite as easy as just going to Amtrak and buying a ticket (you'd need to go to a freight forwarder or consolidator, or someone who specializes in car transport), but it's entirely doable.

Auto Trains are a weird animal because they bridge the gap between what's traditionally thought of as passenger and freight service. Really the only difference is speed, and you need to have a lot of people to make a dedicated direct route cost-effective. For everything else, the freight rail networks are surprisingly good at moving stuff around cheaply. (And are economically very healthy as a result. Passenger rail in the U.S. is a money-loser, but freight is big bucks. Last time I checked, there's actually a rail-car and locomotive shortage.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:26 PM on February 13, 2008


God damn it, they used all my favorite buzzwords. Even TCP/IP.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2008


*biting tongue*
posted by joe lisboa at 2:11 AM on February 14, 2008


Man, this is great! If only there were a suitable building in Detroit to act as the terminus of the rail line... some kind of Central Station, now wouldn't that be cool? I'm betting that they'll just build one, 'cause there's no way that one exists now and is crumbling into fantastic ruins because no one had the foresight to try and preserve it, or even renovate it, even though such a building would probably be listed on the National Register of Historic places.

Snarkiness aside, a rail line between AA and Detroit wouldn't be a bad thing. Now if they put in a high-speed rail line between Lansing and Detroit as well, that would be even better. Perhaps then the governor would have an easier way to go to Detroit and be reminded that the city hasn't yet risen from the ashes, despite what it says on the city flag.

But what do I know, I left the area in search of a job in a city that already had a commuter rail line and some semblance of an economy.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:50 AM on February 14, 2008


Amtrak has a hard enough time offering Auto Train service from Virginia to Florida and making it faster than just driving yourself.

Never mind the fact that Auto Train is just about the most profitable route outside the Northeast Corridor.
posted by oaf at 7:21 AM on February 14, 2008


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