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Learning to detach

As I opened the box filled with treasured pieces from my youth, I came across a letter I once placed on my mother’s pillow at the age of 7. Always fearful of confrontation when wanting my way, this means of communication helped me get my desires off my chest with no fear of rebuttal – at least in that moment.


Letter to the Editor: Downtown library would be bold move

Library
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Some residents are advocating to move the Los Altos Library to the downtown triangle.

For several years, I was on the Los Altos Library Commission. I will never forget the sad day the commissioners were told that our library shelves were filled to capacity. We were out of space! Books had to be discarded to make room for new purchases.

This has been going on for several years. It’s time to get a library to fit our needs.

Editorial: June's here and we're all thumbs


"Blue”

Graduations are over and we are all thumbs as we tackle the week in review.

Thumbs-up: To the graduating classes of 2017, we offer congratulations. You have crossed that metaphorical portal into adulthood – guess that means no longer asking the folks for money. Yeah, right.

Editor's Notebook: Los Altos family battles cancer, celebrates life


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Jeanne and Duncan MacVicar and their daughter, Bryn MacVicar Pennington, are united in their fight against cancer.

For more than a dozen years, the MacVicar family of Los Altos has put their hearts and souls into organizing and participating in the annual Relay For Life.

Fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, the 24-hour events are more importantly therapeutic exercises for those suffering with cancer and their families. Although reflective of those lost, Relays are primarily celebrations of life and survival.

Letters to the Editor

Thumbs-up for ‘activating’

Thank you for the wonderful article about an amazing human being, Parveen Panwar (“‘Activating’ positive change: LA resident on mission to empower others,” May 17).

He makes my heart smile. He is what humanity should be all about. Not simply being nice, but acting on it. Yes, Parveen!

Chicken pox: The Villaj Idiut

My wife accompanied my oldest son last month on his school’s eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., for a week.

It was the perfect opportunity for “baching” it, I figured, me and my youngest home alone – which meant unmade beds, Taco Bell for dinner every night, dirty dishes piled high in the sink, soiled clothes on the floor and the unmistakable stench of body odor coming from different areas of the house.

Other Voices: PRT –  a solution looking for a problem

The April 26 Town Crier reported on Mountain View's ongoing fascination with “Pod cars,” otherwise known as "Automated Guideway Transit" (AGT) or more accurately as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). This is a bad idea that just won’t die despite many shortcomings with the concept as discussed by experts. Gökçe Günel, for example, explained why Masdar City's PRT is an “Expensive Toy.” (See https://www.citylab.com/life/2014/09/personal-rapid-transit-is-probably-never-going-to-happen/380467/.)

Steven Hauser explains that PRT is "a 40-year-old concept for a system of autonomous vehicles that can go to multiple destinations on demand, on a track or guideway. Techo-cultists are fascinated by it – a Jetsonesque technology that has its own German joke word, “gadgetbahn.” Like most cults, it has a core of true believers and the more sinister quacks and scammers that prey upon them. Right wing nutcases back the PRT technology movement; they know it will never be built and PRT proposals can block or dismantle real public transit infrastructure and systems. Occasionally, left wing fantasy loonies who want to transform the world into a Futurama cartoon back PRT schemes. All the PRT backers say 'if only' – 'if only there were politicians to back a real big system it would work; if only there were funding; if only ….'” (See https://www.tc.umn.edu/~hause011/article/prt.html.)

Fabien and Young explain that "PRT promoters speak in the conjectural tones of 'could' and 'would'. Or 'can' and 'will'.   After 50 years of such conversations, we cannot truthfully state in the present tense: PRT satisfies urban transport needs. At best, we can point to West Virginia University, which is served by a USDOT demo from the 1970s and a few recent shuttles overseas." (See https://www.podcar.org/News/2016/05/prts-conundrum-why-thebusiness-case-for.)

The folks in Minnesota had to deal with this, as you can read in the PRT Boondoggle blog (https://prtboondoggle.blogspot.com/).

PRT only seems to get built in niche areas, such as airports or planned communities with car restrictions. Author Eric Jaffe points out that "though the concept has been around for half a century, only five completed systems in the world can be reasonably defined as personal rapid transit: those in Morgantown, West Virginia, which opened in 1975; Rotterdam in The Netherlands (1999); Masdar City in Abu Dhabi (2010); Heathrow Airport in London (2011); and Suncheon Bay in South Korea (2014). While there's been a noticeable uptick in the past 15 years, four projects in that span is still, in the report's own words, 'not enough to claim that there is an active market sufficient to support an industry.'" (See https://www.citylab.com/life/2014/09/personal-rapid-transit-is-probably-never-going-to-happen/380467/.)

This topic has been discussed at length. I recommend a couple of articles on the Light Rail Now website.

First, there’s “Let’s Get Real about Personal Rapid Transit,” by Ken Avidor (https://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_prt001.htm). He points out that “PRT has a solid 30-year record of failure. Its main purpose in recent years seems to have been to provide a cover enabling its proponents to spread disinformation about real, workable transit systems.” (delete altogether if you need more space.

 “The unsubstantiated claims of PRT proponents are always presented in the present tense as if the system is a proven success … which, of course, it certainly is not. Promoters never seem to fail to bash real transit, such as light rail (LRT), as ‘old-fashioned technology.’ Sadly, the media rarely check the veracity of PRT publicity and propaganda.”

A longer, more technical article is “Cyberspace Dream Keeps Colliding with Reality” (https://lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_prt001.htm). The authors write, “Despite the persistent and fervent claims of its promoters, repeated attempts to implement a working PRT system, even in very small-scale scenarios, have invariably failed. Not a single PRT plan, during these promotional efforts over the past 40 years or more, has seen successful implementation even in a small test application, much less a major, heavy-duty, citywide rapid transit application. Early would-be PRT installations, such as the AirTrans system at Dallas-Ft. Worth Regional Airport, and the PRT at West Virginia University at Morgantown, eschewed any attempt to provide true PRT-style, small-vehicle, customized origin-destination service, and were implemented in effect as line-haul automated guideway transit (AGT) peoplemover systems with some innovative features (such as offline stations).”

And finally, the good folks at Light Rail Now have put up a helpful list of links to various Monorail, PRT, AGT and “Gadget Transit” analyses at https://lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_monorail.htm.

A good article by Setty and Demery points out that, “In our view, it is a big waste of time advocating such ‘gee-whiz’ options, given the severe limits of monorails and similar technologies such as PRT, when U.S. transportation problems are almost always sociopolitical and economic ‘not technical’ in nature.” (See https://www.planetizen.com/node/70.)

Mountain View's staff and city council should do some research beware spending money on this solution looking for a problem.

Bill Hough is a Los Altos resident working for a California-based transportation agency. He has a master's degree in transportation from Brooklyn's Polytechnic University.

 


Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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