"We are the [public] robots!" Charles Mudede



Don't always agree with Charles, but this one's unimpeachable.


"What does all of this mean? What am I trying to get at?"

Pro tip: If you have to raise this sort of rhetorical question with your audience, your writing would almost certainly benefit some organizational changes and further editing.


Automation :

The United States didn't invent railroad trains ( but they did perfect them, as much as was possible using 19th century technology ).

Japan used that same technology, the SAME EXACT technology, and invented Bullet Trains. Faster, safer, quieter, cleaner, more frequent, and they run a profit ( which Amtrak has never done ). Only, Japan did it three-quarters-of-a-century-ago.

The United States didn't invent urban rail mass transit. There are even places here in this country where it works, and works well, using century-and-a-half-old technology.

Canada took that same technology, that SAME EXACT technology, and built their Sky-Train system. Fast, frequent, efficient, dependable. Only, they did it so long ago, Reagan was in the White House. You can read about him in your history books.

France has 800 TGV trains PER DAY. They're popular because they're fast, they're frequent, they're dependable, and they're cheaper than driving. Oh by the way, France has less population density than Ohio or New Jersey, or lots of this country. About the same as Pennsylvania or Florida, a little more than California. Most of the United States has no passenger trains, or if they do, they only run 3 times a week.

Are you old enough to remember when the United States used to be considered a "high-tech country" ?


Well, considering the record on the “automated stairs” at ST stations, I’m not so sure…

Also, the subway system at Sea-Tac has been around since 1973.


"What does all of this mean? What am I trying to get at?"

‘How hard must I twist facts and logic to agree how automation is always bad bad, no good, very bad from a Marxist perspective, but incredibly awesomely totally purely good when it delivers a convenience which I happen personally to want?’


The problem is the above grade cars, so automated trains only work if the train gets a tunnel OR all the cars are automated and coordinated. Kind of a bigger lift.


Interesting, we were just chatting about this on the Seattle Transit Blog. I wouldn't necessarily say it is "too late". Buses are already being automated (https://humantransit.org/2023/09/a-next-step-for-autonomous-buses.html). Automating trains down Rainier Valley is quite reasonable. It will take some effort and money. The problem is, Seattle Transit doesn't care. Increasing frequency is not a priority.

It is worth noting that there are plenty of transit systems with very high frequency that aren't automated. Toronto, for example. The two main lines run every two to three minutes, all day long. The key is to have an urban system. We do not. We have a system that largely fucks over the city in its zest to serve distant suburbs. We could definitely save money with automation, but that doesn't mean the trains would run frequently down Rainier Valley. We just didn't build that kind of system.

What makes SkyTrain special is not the automation. Nor is it that it serves the key urban areas -- that is actually normal (we are the weird ones). What is special is how they manage to do both while doing an excellent job of integrating the bus system. The buses and trains work very well together, and lots of people take both (they ride the buses more than the trains). Instead of trying to mimic one of the best new systems on the West Coast, we just copied all of the crappy systems (BART, DART, RTD, etc.).


I was Promised
Teleportation or worse
case tubalpneumatic transpo
but Capitalism stole my Lamborghini
& replaced it with a thumb & an empty gas can

El trumpfster'll have the trains
running On time. we can
Leave it up to

it'll be Perfect.
practice saying that.


AgentSmith2 dear, you are correct that Amtrak has never made a profit. But neither did the streamliners of the "golden age" of travel. They were heavily subsidized by the United State Postal Service. When USPS opted to go to airplanes for mail transport, those subsidies dried up, and the private rall lines whined that they needed to be relieved of the "burden" of operating passenger trains. That's how we got the National Rail Passenger Corporation (aka Amtrak), which has been micro-managed since day one, further hobbling its potential to make any profit.

At about the same time Amtrak came about, the government was handed the absolute disaster of the New York Central/Pennsylvania Railroad merger, which threatened to collapse the entire NE corridor (it was mostly freight traffic, thanks to Amtrak, but they had some vital commuter lines as well).

The government reorganized it into Conrail, and managed to get it to turn a profit - at which point the Republicans made sure to sell it off to their cronies


@ al:
the Citizenry
for Maximimum
Profiteering is as
American as apple pie
tumordogs and 'republicans.'

which is why
it's no surprise
they've captured
'our' supreme court
& buying lawmakers is
Legal af -- If you can Afford it.


Wouldn’t and automated train system deprive people of jobs?


It's a good bet that France, Japan, etc. don't tolerate smoking fentanal, the mentally ill abusing fellow passengers, homeless druggies, etc. on their trains (but then again, their a different sort of society). We're going down the drain!


Soy dear, it is our solemn duty to accept less services and a degraded society so that the rich don't have to pay their share of taxes.


@12, 13

diseases of despair
brought to you by
wealth hoarders
who point at
& blame

they are!


I mostly agree with Charles and this is no exception. I'm tired of looking around at the rest of the so called 1st world nations and coming up short. Light rail here in Seattle is a lightweight solution for a city that can't get out of its own way. Tiresome.


Glad to have you back AgentSmith2, we posted together successfully on the P-I comment board back in the day, and you provided another thought-provoking insight here.

Let us know if you figure out that D.B. Cooper mystery.

It is a mistake to fully automate transportations systems.

Better to have a human on board in case things go haywire and someone needs to hit the brakes.

Ask the blessed survivors of self-driving vehicle accidents where the navigation system went bonkers, and the vehicle interacted with a speeding semi or innocent pedestrian.

Also Mr. Mudede, who as a Marxist is certainly sensitive to the needs of the proletarian, would like to see good-paying jobs like transit drivers be preserved, automated navigation notwithstanding.

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