light rail/bus

Are driverless cars a viable alternative to light rail?

Some distinguished scholars believe they are:

The failure to come to an agreement with Duke University has profoundly discouraged many advocates for mass transit in Durham and Chapel Hill. Even if Duke issues can be worked out, escalating costs are almost inevitable.

We propose that large, building-shaking trains be replaced with 6-9 passenger self-driving vehicles, propelled with plug-in technology (just like a Volt or Tesla automobile). Such vehicles would shake Duke medical buildings much less than an existing delivery truck, and the internal battery would not generate electro-magnetic interference. They would also have many other advantages.

My initial reaction to this was it is just a step above "people-pods," which have unfortunately captured the imagination of otherwise logical thinkers. In my opinion, taking the "Mass" out of Transit is a huge step in the wrong direction, and using an inappropriate example to back up your theory doesn't give me a warm fuzzy either:

The battles over Durham-Orange Light Rail project continue

And the naysayers are getting creative:

To kill the project, opponents know they can’t appear to be anti-transit. Instead, they must convince you there are better, cheaper options. In their latest campaign, opponents revive their old claim that bus rapid transit (BRT), which uses buses on dedicated roadways instead of trains on light rail tracks, is inherently better and dramatically cheaper. But, they say, stubborn train lovers at GoTriangle refuse to examine a bus alternative.

Dedicated roadways for buses makes about as much sense as personal "pods" that individuals can hop into like their own little taxicabs. The traffic issues in driving a car from downtown Durham to downtown Chapel Hill and back have become horrendous, and further development *is* going to happen, whether people want it to or not. Between the two hospitals (Duke, UNC) alone, there are some 17,000 employees. That's not counting other University staff from the schools themselves. Light rail may not solve all the transportation/parking problems, but it is a critical element of the solution. Here's more from Orange Politics' Molly de Marco:

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