Tag: testing

New Rail Cars for Amtrak San Joaquin are Now Being Tested

Remember the 2010 stimulus package? Way back then, money was set aside to build new trains for Amtrak California. They were supposed to be similar to the existing bi-level models, but with an updated design, and arrive around 2016. Their arrival would allow for Amtrak California to expand train service on all three routes.

Unfortunately, the company who won the bid (Nippon-Sharyo), completely failed at that task. After several years of building a prototype, they said they could not build what they said they would. In 2016, Amtrak California announced a plan B: they would buy existing Talgo trains that had been built for Wisconsin, but never used. Except that never happened, and there’s no official reason as to why. They just stopped talking about it. Click to read more!

Oakland Airport Connector, a year of testing?

The city of Oakland is building a new elevated rail line to connect their BART station to the airport. It’s not a complicated line – like most airport shuttles, an unmanned train will simply shuttle back and forth every 5 minutes. I believe they’re using the cable technology common for the application.

Construction is moving along well, but this certainly caught my eye:

The connector will replace the Oakland AirBART buses, operated by the
Port of Oakland, that now take passengers to and from the airport using
local streets. Construction is expected to end late this year, and will
be followed by about a year of testing.


A year of testing? If that is accurate, it’s ludicrous. A few weeks ago, I brought up how nice it would be if rail lines could be  built like roller coasters. That post was mostly in jest, as a light rail line doesn’t have that much in common with a roller coaster. However, if there’s one form of mass transit that most closely resembles a theme park ride, it’s an airport cable shuttle. 

Over at The Coaster Guy, we see a coaster that is under construction, and will open around memorial day.  They will test for two weeks, maybe three. 


 photo SFMM_FTUpdate_20130310_23_zps89e52ef4.jpg


We should expect similar from a system as simple as an airport rail shuttle.

Sometimes it seems like the onerous rules in place aren’t there for safety, but are an attempt to make transit projects less attractive. It’s like the way the TSA can harass transit passengers. Do you think the TSA would ever set up a road block before a Manhattan tunnel and check the trunk of every vehicle for explosives? Of course not, it would be an enormous inconvenience.

How about forcing drivers to do a year of testing? That is, before getting a license, a full year of training with a certified instructor. That would certainly make our roads much, much safer, and indeed many countries do require many hours of driving with a trainer before being able to apply for a license. I’d wager that the safety benefits would be many times bigger than requiring a cable-shuttle to move back and forth for a year. Why don’t I think that would ever happen?