Elon Musk Responds!

I confess, I’ve sometimes been hard on Elon Musk. When he talks about how he’s going to change the facts of geometry, I point out that no technology has ever done that. And I’ve commented on other things he’s said that express cluelessness about how cities work.  Musk is doing some great things, but he is also using his megaphone to advance the idea that our cities will be great if we can just drive faster through them.  Most of his own home town, Los Angeles, was designed on that very principle, and look how that turned out.

Recently, I wrote a very careful piece on elite projection — the universal problem of very fortunate people designing the world around their private needs and tastes.  (Read the piece before you make a judgmental comment based on that summary!) Since then, Musk has really been helping me out.  He keeps uttering more and more lurid quotes that are perfect examples of elite projection. Even the tech boosters of Fast Company noticed that his Los Angeles tunnel project seems engineered for his personal commute.  And he is always saying things like this:

[Public transit is] a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

Well, the company of “random strangers” is what a city is, and since a city is a lot of people in not much space, there isn’t room for everyone’s car.  So I said the obvious:

To which the great man replied:

… which, at the moment, has over 17000 likes, 2500 retweets, and a diverse thread of responses, including a lot of cool urbanist and tech people defending me. It’s all very funny to me, and I hope it is to you.

93 Responses to Elon Musk Responds!

  1. Fedor Manin December 14, 2017 at 11:33 pm #

    It’s all great fun until we remember that this dude really does have a ton of power (if not that of introspection…)

    • Kimbal Musk December 15, 2017 at 1:35 am #

      Jarrett, as an employee of Elon Musks I must apologize on his behalf. Your article was spot on about elite projection and Elon had no right to call you an idiot for that. It was bang out of order. You didn’t deserve that and you defenitely didn’t deserve the follow on comments from the peanut gallery, Elons fans are worse than trumps deplorables (the latter have more self-awareness). Very sorry about this again! Please keep doing the important work you’re doing. Elon is under a lot of stress owing to the massive financial fraud he’s in the midst of perpetuating, he’s the modern day equivalent of swedish visionary, fraudster Ivar Kreuger (read the book on him by Frank Partnoy, it’s very good).

      You sir seem like a decent human who means well and works hard. Again, sorry on behalf of Elon.
      _
      not a response, just hijack

    • Rob Peters December 18, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

      You are very right. Elon musk is getting old and success has gotten into his head. I think he also takes ambien with wine. I think he is turning into an idiot , not you.

  2. el_slapper December 15, 2017 at 1:03 am #

    not funny at all. This guy has enough firepower to transform million’s lives into hell.

    • el_slapper December 15, 2017 at 1:20 am #

      Ah, and I forgot to tell : this guy is kickass good for building new tech(Falcon Rockets are just impressive, and unequaled on many characteristics), but he has problems with massive scale engineering. His incapacity to build up Tesla’s manufacturing manufacturing rythm is the best example.

      In an industry where the ability to massproduce, to think numbers instead if model, is the essence of success, he suddenly shows his limits. As you said, the guy is thinking for the happy few, the ones able to pay a ticket to space. While SpaceX has pretty years in front of him, I’m far more pessimistic for Tesla. real automotive facturers, with decades of experience in scaling up production, are catching up on technology. Once they’ll be at Tesla’s level(Mercedes, Hyundai, Renault, and a few others, are already not far), their expertise in mass production will overwhelm Tesla.

      http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/silicon-valley-fails-to-understand-tesla-model-3-production-2017-10/

      He can still save his assets, but as said in this article, he has to change his way of thinking. You don’t plan a car as you plan a software or a rocket. And public transit is yet something entirely different.

  3. Sean Hedgpeth December 15, 2017 at 1:05 am #

    I had a University of Pacific Transit and Paratransit Management Certificate Course instructor tell me that Elon Musk was going to the build hyperloop before CA HSR in ten years. I stood up and tried to say that is ridiculous with current prototype technology with speeds reached by conventional rail in the 1950s. She said she would bet me money.

    This is toxic and a horrible distraction in an era which I think is ridership stared before the banquet of a modern dynamically dispatched fleet model of high capacity shared vehicles, maintained at a central yard of professionals that already exists in transit and in many cases can scale better than any TNC.

    I ride the bus every day but these stories bashing transit have lasting effects for people who may shape their vision of success from not taking transit.

    • Davey43 December 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

      If it is the same instructor that I had at UofP, we’ll be both rich in no time.

  4. Kimbal Musk December 15, 2017 at 1:25 am #

    Jarrett, as an employee of Elon Musks I must apologize on his behalf. Your article was spot on about elite projection and Elon had no right to call you an idiot for that. It was bang out of order. You didn’t deserve that and you defenitely didn’t deserve the follow on comments from the peanut gallery, Elons fans are worse than trumps deplorables (the latter have more self-awareness). Very sorry about this again! Please keep doing the important work you’re doing. Elon is under a lot of stress owing to the massive financial fraud he’s in the midst of perpetuating, he’s the modern day equivalent of swedish visionary, fraudster Ivar Kreuger (read the book on him by Frank Partnoy, it’s very good).

    You sir seem like a decent human who means well and works hard. Again, sorry on behalf of Elon.

    • Simona December 18, 2017 at 3:05 am #

      Kimbal, I think you did a great thing – apologizing for your brother’s mistake – I guess his ego wouldn’t let him do it … I feel the same – he was wrong. And I’m sorry.
      Elon seems so tense lately, sometimes I’m worried for him…

      • Jarenot December 24, 2017 at 4:43 am #

        You do realise it’s someone pretending to be Kimbal?

      • HN January 8, 2018 at 4:44 pm #

        @Simona, he isn’t a real Kimbal Musk.

  5. AlternativeTransport December 15, 2017 at 2:21 am #

    Well maybe you are? Have you called into question every “must”, “only” and other absolute statement you wrote in http://humantransit.org/2016/07/elon-musk-doesnt-understand-geometry.html ?

    Are you maybe fixated on one kind philosophy for route geometry? Small buses with no fixed geometry work very efficiently in many cities.

    • el_slapper December 15, 2017 at 3:04 am #

      @Alternative Transport : maybe he’s wrong(though I’m pretty sure that small buses from big, dense cities are of a limited use. Let’s forget that for now, after all, I might be wrong, too). But there is a huge gap between being wrong, and being stupid.

      • AlternativeTransport December 15, 2017 at 3:53 am #

        I will put together an argument why maybe, Jarrett is wrong. But for now, Jarrett wrote Elon is full of hatred and Elon wrote Jarret is stupid. I think both had a poor choice of words.

        • Vbbbbghbj December 15, 2017 at 4:33 am #

          AlternativeTransport, you should be aware that your opinions and reasoning are shit. Please don’t fling them around for others to step in.

          • AlternativeTransport December 15, 2017 at 5:06 am #

            Also a poor choice of words.

    • Long Branch Mike December 15, 2017 at 6:09 am #

      @AlternativeTransport

      Small buses on flexible routes (jitneys as they are called in many cities) don’t scale up well – hence the day long traffic jams in Mexico City, Manila, Sao Paulo etc. The opposite of very efficient transport.

      • AlternativeTransport December 15, 2017 at 7:09 am #

        Or they are called Marschrutka in many east European cities. And they do scale up there, serving mid sized to big cities and even biggest although only niche services there. They are the most popular form of public transport in Sochi, a city the size and density of Sacramento. Am I claiming public transportation without a fixed geometry and flexible stopping points will work everywhere? No. I am also not claiming they will work nowhere because they don’t work in Mexico City.

        • Alon Levy December 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

          Sochi isn’t really the size of Sacramento, because Sacramento has extensive suburbs. Russian Wikipedia tells me Metro Sochi has 549,000 people as of 2001.

          In general, ex-Soviet public transit, except in the largest cities, is not good. The cities with metros have decent ridership (and Moscow has very high ridership), but oversize roads plus a sudden rush of money to buy cars at the end of communism have decimated transit ridership in the smaller cities, like the Baltic capitals.

          If you want Sochi-size cities with good transit, look at Karlsruhe, Strasbourg, Bratislava, Brno, and Geneva (Czechoslovak cities have very high transit ridership for their size).

          • AlternativeTransport December 16, 2017 at 8:02 am #

            I know all of those cities, I don’t want Sochi sized cities with good transit, I want ones with bad transit where you could sit down and hypothetically choose, between the Karlsruhe model, Sochi model, Bratislava model, Warsaw model. I was looking for an American city with a modal split of 70% to 80% private car journeys. About the same population and km² as Sochi. Pittsburgh? Quebec City? Most ex-Soviet east European cities have a modal split with a higher public transportation share than most North American cities, maybe trying to emulate western European cities is not the way to go. (or at least not as a first step).

            Would you advise the city of Indianápolis to base it’s public transportation network on that of Bratislava or more like that of Kiev?

          • Alon Levy December 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

            Kiev has a metro network, so I’m not sure what you identify as the Kiev model. Either way, I’d tell Indianapolis to look at Taipei and Vancouver, both of which are transit revival cases rather than cases in which the present rail network predated mass motorization. Calgary is also a potential model (its transit mode share is similar to that of Chicago or San Francisco).

          • AlternativeTransport December 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

            Kiev has a train, metro, tram, trolleybus, bus, marshrutka, suburban bus, funicular and water taxi service. I found some numbers for the Kiev Marshrutka network, it has 1.1 million passengers per day or 24% of all public transportation journey, second to the metro network. Modal split for Kiev is 57% public transportation.

            http://www.esmap.org/sites/default/files/esmap-files/107108-REVISED-PUBLIC-Sustainable-Urban-Transport-for-Kyiv-June-27-2016-REV.pdf

    • Dave December 19, 2017 at 10:46 am #

      “Are you maybe fixated on one kind philosophy for route geometry? Small buses with no fixed geometry work very efficiently in many cities.”

      I don’t know of any cities that don’t have fixed roadways. And if they have fixed roadways, I don’t know of any cities that allow buses (small or not) to not stay on the paved road network: they certainly don’t let them drive across grass fields or water features. And if the buses (small or not) are staying on paved road network, then I think they’ll have to obey the laws of geometry regardless of how big they are.

      And of course, there’s always the law of physics applicable even when you’ve repealed the laws of geometry. Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, which means if the homes and destinations are fixed (as they tend to be in places called “cities”), then only so many vehicles can be at each one before they get in each other’s way.

  6. fatum42 December 15, 2017 at 4:27 am #

    You are accusing Musk of not understanding geometry but you are not factoring in the enormous opportunity for optimization in autonomous systems. Vehicle to vehicle connectivity will render traffic more blood-vessel like. There are no big “busses” in blood vessels, only a lot of cells. The “busses” will become capsules and move simultaneously. Check out this vid, please https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHzzSao6ypE

    • Serial Traveler December 15, 2017 at 7:08 am #

      So sharing of blood vessels with strangers but not sharing the blood cells? That’s still projection of one’s private-car experience.

      Forget elitism for a minute. It remains a projection of current technology (private cars on shared roads) onto new technology (automated cars on smart roads). Either way, the geometry of a personalize vehicle remains a less efficient way to move the masses (all of us, not just those people) on the space-limited artery (be it humanized street or automated guideway).

      • fatum42 December 15, 2017 at 11:27 am #

        Eventually the most optimal size of the cell will be found. We’ll see how many people it would be able to take.

      • fatum42 December 15, 2017 at 11:31 am #

        The smaller the vehicle, the less energy it’ll take to accelerate. Inertia, you know. So there’s that constraint as well.

        • Alon Levy December 15, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

          Do you really want to compare mass per passenger capacity on a car and on a decent (i.e. not American) train?

          • fatum42 December 15, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

            The energy required to overcome inertia has a non-linear dependency to mass. It’s not trivial.

          • Alon Levy December 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

            No, it doesn’t. Energy expended for acceleration and overcoming friction is proportional to mass. Larger vehicles are actually more energy-efficient per unit of mass, because air resistance is proportional to cross-sectional area – buses have lower fuel consumption than cars per unit of vehicle mass (a typical US non-hybrid transit bus is around 4 mpg and 18 metric tons, a typical US non-hybrid car is around 20 mpg and 2 metric tons).

          • fatum42 December 18, 2017 at 4:39 am #

            OK

          • asdf2 December 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

            How much of that difference is simply a function of gasoline vs. diesel? Diesel is supposed to burn less fuel per mile traveled, in spite of emitting more pollution.

    • MLD December 15, 2017 at 10:58 am #

      @fatum42

      In actual functioning cities, people have to be able to cross the street, people have to be able to bicycle, etc. Constantly flowing “blood vessels” of traffic are not compatible with anyone not in a car.

      • fatum42 December 15, 2017 at 11:30 am #

        You are assuming a 2D network of roads.

      • asdf2 December 15, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

        If you’re advocating pedestrian bridges over every street, that doesn’t scale either. It would be way too expensive, not to mention a huge nuisance to have to go up and down an escalator every time you want to cross a street. And it would making cycling all but impossible.

        You also ignore the law of induced demand. Whatever road space you give cars, either by widening roads, or using autonomous vehicle technology to cram more cars onto existing roads, either way, cars will find a way to use the space you give them, until traffic returns to the gridlock level it was before.

        Finally, it’s going to be a long, long time before human-driven cars get banned from city streets, if ever. There are too many people who don’t want to give up the control, too many human-driven cars already in circulation, and human-driven cars will always be cheaper to buy because you don’t have to pay for all the sensors and computers for the robot driving. For people living in rural areas, where wait times for driverless Uber or any kind of public transit are completely unreasonable, yet don’t have money to burn an extra $10k on their car to make it autonomous, will continue to buy old-fashioned human-driven cars with gas pedals and steering wheels long into the future – and will not accept not being able to drive their cars into cities.

        • Blaspie December 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

          I think he is advocating tunnels. Musk is all about tunnels being the future. A 3D network of tunnels filled with autonomous cars could very well scale into huge traffic volumes.

          • corner soul December 21, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

            Most American cities have a land use problem, not a transportation one. Building an extensive network of low capacity tunnels will only dig our country deeper into the red. The solution to congestion is intensification of land use… bringing people and places closer together is a helluva lot cheaper, easier and more productive.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGxni1c-klM&t=50s

        • fatum42 December 18, 2017 at 4:43 am #

          Tunnels, yes. There also will be no dead gridlock because we can design the system not to have one even when operating at full capacity. Those who wanna go will pay more because the cost per ride is also adjustable based on traffic situation.

          • Xouxo December 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

            Sounds great. I can’t wait being trapped in a tunnel surrounded by an automated car congestion.

          • fatum42 December 20, 2017 at 7:07 am #

            I actually just said that there will be no congestion to trap you because automation will move cars at all times. No jams.

          • Evan Þ December 20, 2017 at 11:31 am #

            @fatum42, how would automation do that? Consider a situation where two-lane Alpha Road dead-ends at four-lane Beta Road. Perhaps at some times, most traffic from Alpha wants to head north on Beta; at other times, most traffic wants to head south on Beta. How are you going to design this to avoid congestion even when Beta is at top capacity? To make sure no vehicle is going to need to wait at the intersection?

            And this’s even assuming we can afford the huge expense of burying every Alpha Rd and Beta Rd across the country…

          • fatum42 December 22, 2017 at 6:46 am #

            The “top capacity” in this case would be to leave room for the traffic to merge.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4p0DsVPkyZg

          • fatum42 December 22, 2017 at 6:59 am #

            Correction: *dynamically* create room in response to merge demand.

    • Henry December 15, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

      In an urban environment, cars already move as close together as possible on streets, and are only really broken up by normal waits at intersections. You can’t really get rid of the waits at intersections, because pedestrians and cyclists need to cross the street and aren’t automated, and so in an urban area you will never see these benefits of running closer together.

  7. Hugh December 15, 2017 at 6:12 am #

    Elon Musk’s dislike of “random people” is wierd. Does he have a severe form of autism or something? His comments remind me of Christopher in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”. It strikes me as odd that anybody would not encounter “random people” on a daily basis, let alone dislike encountering them.

    Elon Musk also strikes me as similar to Donald Trump. Both men love media attention, and get a lot of it. Both make provocative statements without citing evidence, and call anyone who criticizes them “sad”, an “idiot”. I personally think that people who act like cannot be taken seriously.

    At the end of the day, cars – autonomous or not – take up a lot of space, and space is scarce in dense areas. No technology will change that truth. End of conversation.

    Onto another topic – its interesting how e-bikes and e-trikes are rarely mentioned as an efficient ways of getting around in dense cities. In Beijing, one can find e-trike taxis, e-trike delivery vehicles, and even foodstalls on the back of e-trikes. Not to mention an extensive dockless e-bike-share system, e-bike food delivery, and tons of private e-bikes. Although e-bikes can only go around 20-25 mph, they are much less tiring to ride than bicycles, and in most places you don’t need a license to get one. For short distance trips in high density areas, I really think that e-bikes and e-trikes are the way forward.

    I remember reading a Jarret Walker article that was something along the lines of “biking and walking is an efficient way to move large groups of people in cities, but realistically, for longer distances, you need public transit.” What about e-bikes?

    • cyco December 15, 2017 at 6:56 am #

      This article speculates that Le Corbusier and other modernist architects had some form of autism: http://commonedge.org/the-mental-disorders-that-gave-us-modern-architecture/

      I wouldn’t be surprised if tech gurus like Musk were similarly oriented. They often seem obsessed with replacing human interaction with technology.

    • Jack December 15, 2017 at 11:47 am #

      e-bikes are interesting, but there is a reason they are more commonly used in warm cities than in northern cities, where they are only a realistic option for many people in the summer. The transportation system needs to work year round. They also aren’t a good option for many people due to health or disabilities.

      And it’s not weird to dislike being around random people. It’s very common. It doesn’t take a severe form of autism to dislike being packed in close to people, or to be an introvert.

      • Hugh December 15, 2017 at 9:03 pm #

        Although riding an e-bike is definitely cold in the winter, its still possible. Scores of people ride e-bikes in Beijing in the winter, although they do wear heavy coats, and have massive mittens attached to the handlebars of their bikes. Anyway, e-bkes aren’t for everybody, but in my opinion they still have the other people.

        A hatred of encountering “random people” is very odd. You encounter random people at schools, offices, groccery stores, resteraunts, movie theaters, churches, on busy streets, and pretty much everywhere outside your home.

        This is different from disliking crowded spaces, or being an introvert (which means you find socializing tiring) which are both behaviors that I find understandable.

    • Federico December 21, 2017 at 4:56 am #

      Hi! I would recommend you the series “5 modes of transport” from the “PTV Vision” channel on YouTube. There you can see that buses and trams are more space efficient than bikes (electric or not) even in high density areas. Also I don’t have the link now but I have read articles about how the dockless systems fail with mountains of bikes piled up on popular destinations and operators leaving them abandoned because it’s too costly to retrieve and repair them

  8. Hugh December 15, 2017 at 6:43 am #

    Also, why should Musk be treated as ‘expert’ if all he is sharing is his own opinions rephrased with the subject ‘everyone’? Musk’s speech sounds like a rant by somebody who is afraid of crowds. His comment about public transport in Japan (https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-awkward-dislike-mass-transit/) is particularly telling. He says “What, where they cram people in the subway? That doesn’t sound great.”

    First of all, the comment is contradictory. If people disliked public transit that much, why would so many people want to take it? Is public transit with high ridership bad? Why?

    Second of all, he uses stereotypes to generalize a whole country’s public transport. Many people have heard of Tokyo’s subway pushers, who push people onto the subway so more people can fit on the train. However, there are actually no dedicated subway pushers, only station staff at a few stations in Tokyo who do the job when necessary during rush hour. However, these few hours at a few stations in Tokyo are a tiny part of Japan’s massive public transport system.

    Anyway, Elon Musk is not someone to take seriously as a transport expert. He has no knowledge or understanding of public transport, and should be treated as so.

  9. dotdotdot December 15, 2017 at 6:44 am #

    Elon Musk went on to say “Sorry, I meant to say you’re a sanctimonious idiot” as if that were any different.

    Two paragraphs stand out in the original piece in objection to this:

    “In challenging elite projection, I am being utterly unreasonable. I am calling upon elites to meet a superhuman standard. Almost everyone refers to their own experience when discussing policy. Who doesn’t want their experience to be acknowledged? But in a society where elites have disproportionate power, the superhuman task of resisting elite projection must be their work. And since I’m one of these elites — not at all in wealth but certainly in education and other kinds of good fortune — it’s sometimes my work as well. Like all attempts to be better people, it’s utterly exhausting and we’ll never get it right. That means the critique of elite projection can’t just take the form of rage. It also has to be empathic and forgiving.”

    “Again, we can’t challenge elite projection in others until we forgive it in ourselves. Almost everyone reading this is part of some kind of elite. But the more powerful you are, the more urgent this work is. We must all ask ourselves: “Would this idea work for me if I were in a typical citizen’s situation, instead of my fortunate situation?” Because if not, it won’t work for the city, and in the end that means it won’t even work for you.”

    We can conclude that Elon has a) not bothered to read the piece, b) has not understood the piece (given his shrewdness, this seems unlikely), or c) has chosen to dismiss it because he is aware it threatens his business ideology of selling wildly impractical and expensive solutions under the premise that he’s a genius. a) or c) are the most probably ones.

    Elon has built his reputation on his supposed genius (hence attaching the name of an actual genius, Tesla, to one of his works for the name/credibility recognition). The popularity of his name and ideas are largely because of marketing shrewdness, and his purposeful attempts to brand himself as a elite status genius, and not because of the usefulness or practicality of his ideas. The Hyperloop for instance has been shown to have many critical design concerns with respect to the safety and security of a transport system that relies on being under a complete or nearly complete vacuum (more vulnerable to vandalism/terrorism, more catastrophic damage to the whole system in the event of some kind of accident or event such as earthquake). The Hyperloop relies on looking exciting and new to sell itself, and ultimately distracts from much more practical, existing technology for high speed rail transportation systems such as ones that exist in France and Japan. But instead of investing more in serious, proven technology, Elon is relying on people to be distracted by the fantasy of futurism, essentially seducing them by telling them that his technology is special and using it will make you feel a part of being a member of an elite class, regardless of how practical is it as a transportation solution in terms of engineering for a city/state/country.

    The previous comment that compares him to Donald Trump is very apt; Elon Musk relies on his name’s branding and image, and ultimately he’s style over substance. Anything that threatens his ability to maintain his power and money is obviously something he’s going to be dismissive of.

    • Jack December 15, 2017 at 11:42 am #

      dotdotdot, it’s a stretch to say Elon Musk is style over substance, given that he’s accomplished many legitimate technological achievements. Not every idea will be good, and his response to Jarrett is unhelpful, but he has legitimate things to contribute to the conversation. Pretending he’s just fraud is a bit naive.

      I’m also surprised by people here who think it’s odd that people don’t like to be packed in around strangers. I’m sure there are people who do like it, but it’s also quite common to very much dislike it. It goes along with Jarrett’s point that people generalize their own experience (or preferences), and assume everyone else is like that.

      • Alon Levy December 15, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

        In transportation, he doesn’t seem to have achievements (Tesla has a lot of star power but loses money in an industry where serious players are profitable), and in public transportation he has not so far produced anything of any merit. He’d like to sell cars, and occasionally he says something explosive to convince techies that you can totes be green while driving your luxury car at 200 km/h.

        • Jack December 18, 2017 at 5:37 am #

          The point is the overall argument of discrediting what Musk says by claiming he is ignorant is unhelpful, given that he is clearly not ignorant. Maybe you can say all his achievements are in another space, and therefore he has nothing relevant to say to transit, but that seems a bit arrogant and insular. It implies we think our field is so complex and specialized that people not raised in it can’t speak to it legitimately–even intelligent people. Yes, there is nuance and uniqueness in our field, but it’s not that complicated. I just wish people would stick to debating the ideas he brings up, which can be debated, rather than just saying he has nothing legitimate to say in this space.

          • Sailor Boy December 20, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

            “by claiming he is ignorant is unhelpful, given that he is clearly not ignorant.”

            How is it clear that he isn’t ignorant on this topic? He’s clearly extremely ignorant. He could speak to it as a non-professional, but he needs to at least make some basic effort to learn something before shitting on everyone who know more than him; that is arrogant and insular!

          • Richard Bullington December 22, 2017 at 10:19 am #

            Jack,

            How much is The Boring Company going to spend on its Hawthorne to Bel-Aire tunnel? Six billion dollars? Ten billion? It’s roughly the same length as Sound Transit’s Westlake to Northgate tunnel that’s costing right at $6 billion. Presumably it will have two tubes as does the ST tunnel, because Mr. Musk will want to get back to work tomorrow. Such a car tunnel won’t need stations like ST’s North Link, and that’s a saving, but it will need the equivalent in the entry/exit points which are to be roughly every mile.

            So let’s go with $6 billion. Might be off a billion one way or the other, but it’s a decent proxy.

            Oh, wait, the animation shows multiple tunnels in each direction! So multiple $6 billions. Hmmm; the plot thickens.

            What will the capacity be? It looks like Mr Musk expects sleds to pass a given point about once per secnond, which is a pretty close following distance for 120 miles an hour. But lets give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that automation of some sort can achieve that level of density safely.

            Now, since the whole point this exercise appears to be for Mr. Musk to drive alone, unencumbered by “strangers”, we can expect the AVO to be somewhere near “1” as it is today except in HOV lanes. That means thirty people per minute times 60 minutes or 1800 people per hour per tunnel.

            Six billion divided by 1800 is 3,333,333.333 hours. At a $1 toll it would take 1.65 million hours to pay for a pair of tubes or nearly 69,000 days. One hundred and eighty eight years.

            So, the toll has to be higher, No? At $10 it would only be 18.8 years, which is beginning to be more practical. But of course there is interest on the money being borrowed to dig the tunnel, so double that to $20. How many drivers would pay $40/day to use the tunnel?

            If if there are enough to fill the tunnel, why not just dedicate one pair of lanes on I-405 as a “Lexus Lane” HOT facility? That would surely be far cheaper.

          • Richard Bullington December 22, 2017 at 10:23 am #

            Reply to myself:

            After re-timing the animation and seeing that it was a car per second, I neglected to re-do the math. My apologies. There would be 60 people per minute or 3600 per hour and hence everything blow would be divided by 2, making the round trip toll $20/day rather than $40.

            Even so, creating a HOT facility on I-405 makes much more sense.

  10. Alan Kandel December 15, 2017 at 8:04 am #

    dotdotdot, wow!

    “The Hyperloop for instance has been shown to have many critical design concerns with respect to safety and security of a transport system that relies on being under a complete or nearly complete vacuum (more vulnerable to vandalism/terrorism, more catastrophic damage to the whole system in the event of some kind of accident or event such as an earthquake).”

    No transportation system that I’m aware of is 100 percent safe. Not even walking (a form of active transportation). Does this mean that people should stop walking because of the potential for tripping, falling, there of course being an associated risk of scraping the palms of the hands in the effort to cushion one’s fall, or worse? The answer is “no”.

    I am a firm adherent of the premise that transportation is not all it can be. It could stand to be improved. There are many concepts on the drawing board (design), in development, under evaluation (testing), undergoing refinement (working out the kinks), that will one day hopefully make getting around much simpler, more convenient, more reliably, more efficiently, perhaps more expeditiously, with less negative or no negative impact to the air, all without the threat of crash or collision to mode vehicle, its occupants or in the environment said transportation modes move about in.

    If this had been the overarching philosophy (help me out here: I’m not certain “philosophy” is the correct word that applies here), transportation development in our present world would be an oxymoronic notion (unfamiliar association).

    My two cents.

    • dotdotdot December 15, 2017 at 8:50 am #

      Last time I checked Alan, walking and traditional modes of public transit don’t have the risks associated with catastrophes related to explosive decompression!

      Since you don’t understand how inherently dangerous a public-transit system is that relies on the transportation tunnel being in hard vacuum all the time, and how a catastrophic, fatal failure is inevitable (be it to the tunnel itself or to the vehicle traveling within experiencing explosive decompression), please see:

      https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/can-hyperloop-actually-work/

      and

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNFesa01llk

      • Alan Kandel December 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

        I think you missed the gist of what I was trying to communicate. Many concepts on the drawing board (design), in development, under evaluation, undergoing refinement (working out the kinks), that will one day hopefully make getting around much simpler, more convenient, more reliable, more efficient, perhaps more expeditious with less negative or no negative impact to the air, but above else being safer than anything land-transport-wise available now. I’m referring to advanced transit. I’m not a big fan of evacuated tube travel, but, who can say at this point that something along these lines won’t (pardon the pun) fly. Just say’n.

        • Sailor Boy December 20, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

          “more reliable, more efficient, perhaps more expeditious with less negative or no negative impact to the air, but above else being safer than anything land-transport-wise available now. I’m referring to advanced transit. ”

          That’s an electric train. Incredibly reliable journey times, no air pollution, far more energetically efficient than anything except a bicycle, and by far the safest form of transport on a per km basis except for commercial flight.

    • Ant6n December 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

      Walking has no critical design concerns with respect to safety.

  11. Paul Gessler December 15, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    Here I saw the post title and thought I’d get to read some nuanced, reasoned discussion!

  12. Mr. Aaron Priven December 15, 2017 at 9:15 am #

    It is not particularly surprising that the head of an automobile manufacturer would speak poorly of public transit.

  13. h st ll December 15, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    Saying “serial killer” was dumb of Musk, yes. But you know damn well violence on transit and sexual harassment are huge issues on transit, sadly. Why not address that instead of your silly usual “gotcha” “i know more than you do!”

    Which comes off pretty weak given he has accomplished, well, a million times more than anything you have.

    Hell, maybe he could even do a bus re-design in Houston where ridership goes up, not down! (unlike yours)

    • Adam Tauno Williams December 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

      “””But you know damn well violence on transit and sexual harassment are huge issues on transit,”””

      No, I don’t know that. In fact, I know the opposite.

      • h st ll December 16, 2017 at 2:08 am #

        yeah that’s why WMATA, LA Metro, NYC Metro etc have run anti sexual harassment campaigns. Because it is not a problem at all. FOH!

    • Sailor Boy December 17, 2017 at 11:43 am #

      “Hell, maybe he could even do a bus re-design in Houston where ridership goes up, not down! (unlike yours)”

      I think you mean *like* yours.

      https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/08/houston-bus-system-ridership/496313/

      https://urbanedge.blogs.rice.edu/2016/08/16/a-year-after-redesign-metro-ridership-is-up/#.WjbIp4VOI08

        • Kenny Easwaran December 20, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

          That’s a really weird article – it notes that ridership had been rising ever since the redesign but has started falling in the past month or two. However, it is very careful to avoid ever comparing current ridership to ridership before the redesign. From reading this, what I gather is that the redesign is greatly increasing ridership, but some changes in economic conditions since the hurricane have caused a setback, which presumably would have been bigger if the redesign hadn’t happened.

          • h st ll December 21, 2017 at 10:14 am #

            Yeah, maybe do some more research before you comment. As “Don Air” said below:

            The bus system was revamped in the third quarter of 2015. Officials predicted that the revamp would boost ridership by 20% in 2 years. Instead, as reported by APTA, a year later (third quarter of 2016), ridership had fallen by 1.39%. It has also fallen in the subsequent two quarters reported by APTA (decline of 3.73% in 2016 Q4, and decline of 0.91% in 2017 Q1).

            http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/RidershipArchives.aspx

          • Justin December 21, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

            You’ll also note that the article attributes the drop to a shrinking job market and a shift away from downtown Houston, and that the improved network may have initially hidden the loss (meaning it BOOSTED ridership). Spinning that around to say “the network led to lower ridership” is downright disingenuous.

        • Qantas94Heavy December 24, 2017 at 11:54 pm #

          July 2017 average year to date (YTD) patronage was 277,866 pax/weeekday

          July 2015 (prior to the MetroBus redesign) average YTD patronage was only 225,299 pax/weekday.

          That’s a 23.3% increase, and weekend patronage has had even higher increases. Is that not enough for you?

          Source: https://www.ridemetro.org/Pages/RidershipReport.aspx

          • Qantas94Heavy December 25, 2017 at 12:09 am #

            Okay, I was wondering why our numbers were so different — accidentally included the wrong numbers.

            The correct July 2015 figure is 276,915, which means total Metro transport network ridership has essentially flatlined.

        • Sailor Boy December 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

          What an incredibly poor article. “Ridership has dropped 10%” but with no comment on what it is 10% from. 10% lower than September might be part of a normal annual cycle. The Hurricane may have damaged infrastructure, and as the say employment is down. Additionally, there is no link to official data to verify the article’s claims. Terrible journalism.

          • DonAir December 20, 2017 at 11:17 pm #

            The bus system was revamped in the third quarter of 2015. Officials predicted that the revamp would boost ridership by 20% in 2 years. Instead, as reported by APTA, a year later (third quarter of 2016), ridership had fallen by 1.39%. It has also fallen in the subsequent two quarters reported by APTA (decline of 3.73% in 2016 Q4, and decline of 0.91% in 2017 Q1).

            http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/RidershipArchives.aspx

  14. Grandview Citizen December 15, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    Elon Musk: You could easily buy some credibility and social capital in this space by fixing public transit in any city in the USA.

    Pick one city, Elon, just one. You can even pick a (random) easy city, like say, Palo Alto. Make the public transit so good there that even Peter Thiel (or any other random sociopath) will use it. Make it so wonderfully simple and brilliant that people will cry tears of joy. You’ll probably even get a parade in your honor.

    Or, just double-down and continue to call someone who cares about public transit and likely has serious domain expertise an “idiot.” Pretend you know better.

  15. Luis December 15, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    Jarret, he complained about public transport being late, crowded, slow, dirty, without any comfort and forcing you to do a route that does not start where you want and does not ends where you need to go… You answered him like a jerk … got your 15 minutes of fame… now stop this ridiculous Marxist axiom of Elite Projection. Every poor guy wants the elite comfort and convenience. Otherwise just go walking in the snowstorm to work.

    • Dean Girard December 15, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

      If, as you quote, public transport is “late, crowded, slow, dirty, without any comfort and forcing you to do a route that does not start where you want and does not end[s] where you need to go…” that is at least partly a result of cities and provinces/states or federal governments not properly funding transit needs in an area. NO TRANSIT SYSTEM is a full-fare-recovery system, whereby the user pays the actual full cost to be transported from one point to another – *that* is what is known as using a taxi. The benefit of government subsidies to transit systems is that traffic in a particular area does not grind to a complete halt while all the individual car drivers “happily” make their way to their work or play or other destinations, particularly in the morning or afternoon rush hour periods.

      For every transit user you find who complains about being late or stuffed uncomfortably in slow vehicles, I can find you a driver who will, likewise, gripe about how bad his/her commute is every day or how bad traffic is, because that person can’t just sail along like things were early in the 1950s before the roadways got clogged by suburban commuters in their individual little bubbles.

      Jarrett needs to call out people like Elon Musk who seem to imply that, “Well, if YOU only had money to spend on a car, YOU could avoid those heathens riding next to you on the transit. Mind you, WE the City are not going to use an adequate amount of YOUR tax money to help YOU, Transit User by supporting, maintaining and developing the existing public transit system in your community, even though YOU might be quite content to use it by choice.”

      Toronto, Ontario, as a city is always crying poor about properly funding proper transit service across the city, but somehow they were able to find enough cash to be spending $3.6 BILLION to rehabilitate a short portion of a local elevated roadway (the “Gardiner Expressway”) to the benefit of suburban drivers.

      Transit is always the

      • Dean Girard December 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

        [Transit is always the…] last to be thought about because it is not “sexy” despite being at the heart of actively contributing to the liveability and functioning of vibrant cities. 90% of the people using transit don’t really care about anyone else they’re travelling with – they’re trying to get from Point A to Point B in a reasonable amount of time at a reasonable cost and are part of the solution that future cities will need to embrace as liveable space becomes more expensive and less available in built-up areas.

    • Adam Tauno Williams December 15, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

      “””Every poor guy wants the elite comfort and convenience. “””

      Nope, not true

      “””Otherwise just go walking in the snowstorm to work.”””

      Six figure household speaking – did that twice this week.

    • Kenny Easwaran December 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

      “stop this ridiculous Marxist axiom of Elite Projection. Every poor guy wants the elite comfort and convenience.”

      You should actually read the article on Elite Projection. It’s not a Marxist idea. The point is that *of course* everyone wants elite comfort and convenience, but it’s not physically possible for everyone to have it. If you always imagine yourself as being the elite in society, then you care a lot about it being possible for a *few* people to have this elite comfort and convenience. But if you imagine yourself as an average member of society, you should recognize that it’s more important to create a decent and usable system for millions of people to go in and around downtown than a beautiful and lovely system for thousands of people to go in and around downtown.

  16. Pow wow December 15, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    You read all headlines of the day n’wonder what 
    these papers want to say with news that only 
    take you away from your own thoughts in new taxes to pay 

    As long as these people don’t smile 
    All these news are just a waste of time 
    No use for you to hesitate 
    ‘cauze in the end you’re just another piece of cake 

    The wounds that bother you in the past 
    will follow you as long as you let them last 
    They were all just lessons for today n’if you 
    don’t learn I’m sure they’ll come again. 

    We cannot move forward if we’re stuck in this 
    madness of bringing yesterday in today n’it’s all 
    just a question of putting it all together and taking 
    it as a lesson for today 

    No use for you to hesitate 
    cauz in the end you’re just another piece of cake 
    No don’t hesitate … 

    We all know this worlds’ going through some big changes
    It gets to the point where all phenomenon seem crazy

    People start looking for ways to live outside From the system that makes them all so blind

    Some try to find new fields to explore from outside Their heads some go in there and find that The richness of life is so easy to multiply Just by throwing away all the thoughts that keep us From learning to know the personality
    That lives inside us
    And tries to come out

    But facing it is the key to unwind
    From closing yourself as the surroundings provide

    Look out world it’s time to die
    No more crying with my mind
    Some of us have seen the sign
    The promise of a balanced time
    When we’ll sing no lullabies
    And all of us have got real eyes
    The shamen seeds for all mankind

    One day we will say goodbye
    To all of them who live the time
    No more need to compromise
    No more questions: “tell me why”
    This balanced heart needs no disguise
    But shamen seeds for all mankind

  17. Irony December 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

    Irony.

  18. Al M December 16, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Both Walker and Musk have their own ‘cult of personality’.
    It was fun reading the two cults fighting with each other on the original twitter feed.
    Of course the truth is neither of them is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
    The truth is always somewhere in the middle between 2 diametrically opposed viewpoints.

    • Ant6n December 16, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

      “The truth is always somewhere in the middle between 2 diametrically opposed viewpoints.”

      It’s almost always closer to one side than the other.

    • Sailor Boy December 17, 2017 at 11:48 am #

      If someone who designs transit networks as a career says that transit networks work best one way and someone who sells vehicles for a career says something else about transit, I’m going to trust the professional over the salesman.

    • Evan Þ December 20, 2017 at 11:34 am #

      Walker says he’s right; you say Walker has a cult of personality. Is the truth somewhere in the middle between those opposed viewpoints?

      I say 2+2=4; a toddler says 2+2=frog. Is the truth somewhere in the middle between those opposed viewpoints?

  19. Thank you December 17, 2017 at 4:51 am #

    I love you Mr Jarrett Walker!😻

  20. Alf December 17, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    Budapest has very good public transport IMHO, population 2 million. A guy named David Vitezy transformed it in a few years and made it very liveable. Lets say what he says about Musk:

    https://twitter.com/vitdavid/status/890097438819840000?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2F24.hu%2Ftech%2F2017%2F07%2F27%2Fvitezy-david-elon-muskot-is-kioktatta-a-jovo-kozlekedeserol%2F

    Btw I wear a spacex shirt as writing this, but Musk is wrong on this one.

  21. Wanderer December 18, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    “Nobody takes the trains in Japan anymore. They’re too crowded.”

  22. Roger Hanson December 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    He should have at least referred to you as an idiot savant because I think you have shown that you have a pretty good handle on transit! (wink-wink).

Leave a Reply