Buses and their service charter: Need to expand definition of what they do

Kayaks in the mist, off shore from Pillar Point, this is the area called Mavericks.
. They are waiting for waves to ride.

Here is the code where the statement of business purpose needs to be edited to re-direct the Transit District. 

The present law authorizes the public transit system to do only the simplest kind of transportation.


SECTION 103010-103022

103010. Unless the context otherwise requires, the provisions of this chapter govern the construction of this part.

103011. "District" means the San Mateo County Transit District. 

103012. "Transit" or "transit service" means the transportation of passengers and their incidental baggage and parcels by any means.

Here is a first draft at how the public transit organization charter should be extended.

We define extended transit service to include the following public service and values:

  • The transit service may include the transportation of carts and containers in addition to passengers.
  • The transit service may support and facilitate extended communications for users and clients of the transit service.
  • The transit service may operate a communications network or access framework to support extended transit service communications. 
  • The transit service may operate vehicles that are partly or completely autonomous.
  • The transit service shall predict, test and evaluate it's vehicles, system and social impact in terms of the energy used by it's vehicles, and system and in terms of the carbon dioxide emitted and emissions avoided. 
  • The transit service shall endeavor to minimize CO2 emissions.

Buses and fair competition: Need to allow Bus Systems to offer "sales below cost"

Here is one part of the California state law that prevents the public bus from competing with private bus services. 
California Business and Professions Code 
17043. It is unlawful for any person engaged in business within this State to sell any article or product at less than the cost thereof to such vendor, or to give away any article or product, for the purpose of injuring competitors or destroying competition.

17050. The prohibitions of this chapter against locality discriminations, sales below cost, and loss leaders do not apply to any sale made:
(a) In closing out in good faith the owner's stock or any part thereof for the purpose of discontinuing his trade in any such article or product and in the case of the sale of seasonal goods or to the bona fide sale of perishable goods to prevent loss to the vendor by spoilage or depreciation; provided, notice is given to the public thereof.
(b) When the goods are damaged or deteriorated in quality, and notice is given to the public thereof.
(c) By an officer acting under the orders of any court.
(d) In an endeavor made in good faith to meet the legal prices of a competitor selling the same article or product, in the same locality or trade area and in the ordinary channels of trade.
(e) In an endeavor made in good faith by a manufacturer, selling an article or product of his own manufacture, in a transaction and sale to a wholesaler or retailer for resale to meet the legal prices of a competitor selling the same or a similar or comparable article or product, in the same locality or trade area and in the ordinary channels of trade. The notice required to be given under this section shall not be sufficient unless the subject of such sales is kept separate from other stocks and clearly and legibly marked with the reason for such sales, and any advertisement of such goods must indicate the same facts and the number of items to be sold.

Review: Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand

Review of
Whole Earth Discipline An Eco-pragmatist Manifesto  
by Stewart Brand,
the founder and editor of The Whole Earth Catalog,
published by Viking, copyright 2009.

  Whole Earth Discipline advocates the best course for the world to decrease CO2 levels and minimize the human contribution to global warming  is development of cities, nuclear power and genetic engineering.

     Whole Earth Discipline earns it's appositive "Manifesto" because it argues for a dramatic departure from some of the social or cultural norms that have developed over the last 50 years.

     The book is largely a dramatic disagreement with the following statements, that I offer as cultural beliefs: "small farms are best", "big farms raising huge crops with genetically engineered seed with very few workers are bad", "cities are crummy places", "nuclear power is worse than coal power", "genetic engineering makes frankenfood" and "organic food and organic farming are best".

     In relationship with this blog Put Carts on the Public Bus, the book Whole Earth Discipline does not engage with the automobile culture or transportation in cities.

Here is a WikiPedia summary of Whole Earth Discipline

  How does Whole Earth Discipline compare and contrast with the physicist's energy and CO2 analysis Without Hot Air that I reviewed a few months ago?

Link to Without Hot Air, energy and CO2 analysis

  • Whole Earth Discipline (WED) addresses cultural values and argues for changing them.
  •  WED has a lot of dialog and attempts at describing in a gentlemanly way the sometimes dramatic and painful differences in values between Mr. Brand and a number of Environmental and Political groups.
  • WED doesn;t get into the engineering details of nuclear power, cities or  farms.
  • WED does not have the complete book available online. The WikiPedia entry is an overview of the book.
  • Without Hot Air (WHA)addresses energy consumption and proposes reductions.
  • WHA has the book available online. 


Need to study California State anti-trust law - Free service strategy

Sunflower leaf showing the branching pattern of the transport pathway structure. 

"State governments engaging in governmental functions cannot violate federal antitrust law."

"Thus, one special aspect of the immunity for state action is that states can effectively fashion their own exemptions from federal antitrust law..." 


Came across a very interesting Wired Magazine article about the rise of "free"as an Internet marketing strategy and business structure.

You can look at marketing "carts on the public bus" in two ways:

One approach is to say buses need anti-trust or anti-competitive practices exemption to deal with the conventional claim that carts on the bus "steal business from other carriers because the service is offered below cost"

An alternate approach is to explore making "carts on the public bus" somehow "free". 

"Free" type marketing depends on a subtle shift between what is free, what is sold and who is the buyer.

For freight carts, the thing sold might be the connecting taxi, connecting jitney, connecting delivery service, the grocery service that fills a shipping container and dispatches it to the customer via the bus system and the connecting delivery robot.

Here is the URL to the wired article:



One of the problems that must be solved in order to draft an approach to seeking a anti-trust exemption or to develop a "free" service is there needs to be a compelling statement of the public purpose being served.

Anti-trust exemptions for freight carts on the public bus?

    I have found a book on anti-trust exemptions. There are three categories of exemption.

   This initial survey is to find examples in law of antitrust exemptions that model the law needed to  enable the public bus to carry freight carts. 

   There are several areas of law that have operated against public bus service changes. "Unfair competition" is one area and in the United States, much of the law is called antitrust law.

  Anti-trust law has a long record of being a very mixed public benefit. See this Wikipedia entry:

Wikipedia Sherman Antitrust Act

      Category 1: General exemptions from antitrust. There have been no new exemptions in this category in 50 years.

     Category 2: Transactional or event specific exemptions from anti-trust law. Here is a link to a Google Books web page:

Federal statutory exemptions from antitrust law, American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law, 2007, page 38  

     Category 3: Modifications of anti-trust law for the benefit of some class or activity. 

Two anti-trust exemption models appear in the Category 2 listing on the URL above.

    First, on page 42 is a description of the anti-trust exemption called "Collective agreements among motor carriers." 

     I don't consider this a model to be studied without regard to the poor outcome of the exemption. Frankly, my contact with motor carriers in the home furnishings transport business means this exemption is a license to charge huge amounts for moving service. The family goes along with the high charge due to the moving expense deduction in the Federal tax code. A side effect of the collective agreement is cheaper strategies like renting a 32 foot trailer and loading it yourself are not available.

  Second on page 48 is the "Surface Transportation Act". This requires close reading. 

 Third on page 52, a Category 3 exemption is the "Local Government Antitrust Act". This law also requires close reading because it is a very confining statute. The exemption is counter balanced because the statute also allows local governments to be sued using anti-trust laws.

Switch focus to clarifying the anti-trust and fair competition problems.

Using a digital camera to count the number of people riding a public bus. 

     It is hard to slow down the YouTube video player enough to count the riders. In the camera, viewing the video frame by frame I counted 3 riders, maybe as many as 5. 

     To get better results the camera needs to be on a tripod, set up and focused before the bus arrives. The bus window needs to be backlit. The camera should be at bus window height and about 15 degrees off of perpendicular to show multiple riders sitting in one row of seats.

Video of passing bus shows 3 to 5 passengers on a Sunday afternoon, 2 miles from start of route

I feel this blog needs to research the "anti-trust", "unfair competition" and "common carrier" conflicts triggered by putting carts on the public bus.

Enumeration of the legal problems that need to be addressed if the public bus carries carts, unattended carts, night-time freight, airline passengers with luggage, shopping carts from the grocery store, operates as an un-attended autonomous vehicle. 
  • One argument used is buses offer "unfair competition" to private carriers like airport bus services. (I think I need to figure out the famous problem for non-lawyers, is this a tort?)
  • Another blocking strategy has been a limiting clause in Federal grants and bond issues to purchase buses, the vehicles are limited "to the transport of passengers and their incidental luggage only."
  • If buses carry parcels or merchandise the bus is replacing either a taxi or a parcel delivery service such as United Parcel. 
  • The first legal problem is UPS is a regulated, permitted private carrier and the bus is not equipped with a permit. 
  • The second legal problem is the carrier is  a private firm and the bus is mostly funded with public funds. What are the laws and what is the structure of the reasoning that stops the bus from doing this kind of work?

  • The public bus can't carry shopping carts because California has a "Shopping cart theft law" that really limits how far a shopper can take a shopping cart.

  • Taxi and jitney services can't carry passengers and freight containers and carts between a bus stop and the surrounding community. Taxi services are basically obliged to provide the entire trip for a passenger. There is no way for a taxi to pick up 6 riders at a bus stop, be paid by the bus system, and ferry the people to their destinations for a flat rate.

Energy used by various modes of transportation - from the 1978 Busbook

"Calculated energy consumption for six forms of transportation" a graph published in the Busbook, March 1, 1978.

First page of footnotes for the graph.

Second page of footnotes for the graph.

How do we ramp-down the petroleum extraction machine?

"Perhaps the most telling measurement of a transport system' convenience is a hard, cold winter rain: any gaps in what shold be comprehensive service become brutally apparent. there is nothing like queuing up at an unsheltered bus stop in this kind of weather to make one wish for a true door-to-door transport system." Quoted from Tabor R. Stone, Beyond the Automobile, Reshaping the Transportation Environment, Prentice-Hall, 1971, pg. 105-106.

     One way of looking at the auto-industrial age is it is a huge social machine built around the extraction and burning of petroleum. 

    The micro-economic analysis of time, distance and the value of personal time shows that the private automobile simply can't be beat for enabling long daily drives, which in turn enables many people to earn the most money given their specific skills.

   That driving, in turn results in thousands of pounds of petroleum being burned per year per car per solitary driver.

  To put one's finger very precisely on one practice that needs to be drastically revised: We need to cut the rate of petroleum burning. How much? 

  Suppose we say the goal is for American society to use 10% as much petroleum in 50 years.

x = .1^^50        # What number multiplied by itself 50 times equals .1

x = .9550         # - 4.5% per year petroleum usage reduction


Rethinking the Transformation of the Auto-Industrial age

A surfer at Surfer's Beach, El Granada, California.
He is beautifully balanced with bent knees as he picks up speed on the rising wave face.
From a slow motion video shot 10-4-2009.

 Slow motion surfer

The proposal to put carts on the public bus is just a small scheme in the framework of the auto-industrial age.

  • Carts on the bus reduces CO2  emissions because it uses presently wasted capacity on public buses.
  • Carts on the bus has dismal time-distance performance compared to cars. Unattended cart transport dodges this performance problem. 
  • The post auto-industrial age will still need a way to move things around. If we described such a societal framework, what would it use if not carts?

The Theory of Moral Sentiments models a precusor to economic science

This is the blogger with his dog, taken with a nod to Philip Greenspun.
The glass in the picture holds fresh squeezed pear juice and the clutter in the background is
 solar water heater plumbing parts.

     The writing in The Theory of Moral Sentiments is 250 years old. The text was developed as a course for college undergraduates, and it includes many asides, anecdotes and hypothetical situations that are entertaining and defy casual reading.In some ways, the book is like a 250 page Socratic monologue. Adam Smith is definitely performing philosophy. And he also engages very respectably with one of the central questions of philosophy, namely "What is Virtue?

   I find it interesting to look at The Theory of Moral Sentiments as a kind of pre-economic thinking. The Moral Sentiments are scores of propositions developed and explored. Acts of generosity, acts of jealous husbands, thoughts and deeds are described and explored.

  For example, the Theory of Moral Sentiments dwells on propositions including wealth and life, but it does not focus on the specific entities of  time and money

   In contrast, the science of economics uses time and money  as units to study. So economics gains mathematical rigor and it abandons the huge colorful tapestry of the set of Moral Sentiments objects.

   So I look at Paradise Lost The Decline of the Auto-Industrial Age as a writing as a piece of writing that has a lot in common with The Theory of Moral Sentiments

    In my own analysis of problems with the public bus systems, I think you will recognize, the micro economic analysis of time and distance and money and distance propositions are quite dispiriting.

From The Decline of the Auto-Industrial Age to The Theory of Moral Sentiments

View of cars on the 280 Freeway.
Morning traffic hundreds of trips to all sorts of jobs from San Francisco to San Jose
     I read Emma Rothschild's Paradise Lost The Decline of the Auto Industrial Age with a mixed feeling of respect and disappointment.

     Her assertion that the institutions of the Auto Industrial age are in decline, that it is a problematic kind of work, that the cars manufactured have altered and degraded our natural world and human society is quality social criticisim.

    But I am disappointed that the social criticism has not engaged with the deeper layer of the auto industrial enterprise as a successor to the preceding coal, iron and steam dominated industrial era. 

    General Motors and all of the people who bought a 1972 Vega are riding a wave of natural resources and chemical energy that was released by the commercial production of oil and the development of cheap standardized steel alloys.

   I mean to emphasize the idea that the auto-industrial era itself was driven by the vast release of energy that is associated with operating a car. A 1972 Vega might weigh 2,700 lbs. but during a 100,000 mile product lifetime it burns 58,000 lbs of gasoline. 

   The car burns more than 20 times it's weight in gasoline.

[ Using, Vega mileage 19 mi/gallon and gasoline 11 lb/gallon. ]

   From this viewpoint, the manufacturers of cars have a relatively small role. In the hands of the owner, the automobile provides years and years of mastery of time and distance on  the suburban scale of things.

   The auto-industrial age was preceded by the age of steam power and coal extraction began accelerating due to the development of the relatively efficient external condenser steam engine by James Watt. This development began entering industrial use  around 1776. .


     From the description of Emma Rothschild's teaching activities from the biographic URL above I note that she teaches a course that uses The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith.

   The Theory of Moral Sentiments was first published in 1759. As described by E.G. West, this book became a best seller of the time. It was reprinted several times and it established Adam Smith's reputation as a teacher and intellectual 20 years before the publication of The Wealth of Nations

    I checked out The Theory of Moral Sentiments to see how Adam Smith may have influenced the ideas developed in Paradise Lost.

   I remember a professor in an American Popular Culture course I took at Cal State LA in 1971 saying there was a very strong academic bias against scholarly writing getting too close to car culture or the technical side of car culture. 



Reviewing Paradise Lost The Decline of the Auto-Industrial Age by Emma Rothschild

Sixties vintage Chrysler Valiant seen on the back of a wrecking truck being towed up Highway 92.
It appears the car was parked in a field in the salty rain of the San Mateo coastside.

     Paradise Lost The Decline of the Auto-Industrial Age was published 36 years ago. 

     I am pretty sure I read it when I was writing my Busbook I essay in 1979 but the book did not make it in to my footnotes. 

   Paradise Lost is a description of the social problems raised by the operation of the American automobile manufacturing industry.

   Paradise Lost draws many specific observations from the General Motors Chevrolet Vega plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The Vega was General Motors' second major effort at making a small car to match the imported cars beginning to arrive in America. 

   The Vega production line introduced welding robots and a 36 second per car production rate. Ms. Rothschild characterizes this manufacturing scheme as the ultimate expression of what she calls "Fordism". 

    "Fordism" is a term to describe the process of optimizing a production line at the expense of the quality of the work of the workers on the production line. The Lordstown production line was structured with an extreme production pace, that was called "fastest in the world".

     In the Lordstown plant, some welding robots had signs saying "Take care of me and I will do good work". The workers occupied a subordinate status as part handlers.

     Henry Ford  pioneered the automobile production line. In the Lordstown plant the conditions of human labor became extremely difficult, emotionally degrading, menial and repetitive. 

    One of the meanings of the book title Paradise Lost... is the automotive industry produces huge numbers of unskilled, repetitive, boring jobs. The kind of work involved in making cars is the opposite of paradise.

   Another very interesting word (possibly coined by Ms. Rothschild) is "Sloanism". The word describes the selling strategy devised under the leadership of Alfred P. Sloan, the President of General Motors starting in 1923 and ending in 1956 when he retired from the position of Chairman.

   The process of "Sloanism" is the proliferation of makes, models, accessories, annual styling changes,  annual technical changes, and finance and trade-in arangements that facilitate huge volumes of automobile sales.

     So a second process that the book title "Paradise Lost" points to is the deterioration of cities and expansion of suburbs that accompanies 80 years of mass production of automibiles.

   A web link to Emma Rothschild's current writings and academic positions is here:


Buses with ultracapacitors, solar panels, wireless passenger tech

Public buses and the bus system offer several opportunities for low energy and low cost operation.

Use of electric drive and storage schemes. Use of autonomous vehicles.

  • Buses can be electrified and they can be repeatedly re-charged as they travel on their route. The battery or super-capacitor used on a bus only needs hold energy for 5 or 10 miles of operation. 
  • The bus stops can be equipped with solar panels and capacitor storage, so energy can be stored for re-charging the next bus. 
  • Buses can be made to operate as autonomous vehicles. The driver can secure carts, load and unload freight. The driver can resume operating the vehicle when error situations arise that the bus navigation software can not handle.
  • An autonomous vehicle without a driver would have a vandalism or passenger mischief problem. 
  • Electric, autonomous buses could be made by modifying existing buses. Remove the engine and fuel tank. Install an electric motor and storage devices. Perhaps provide a fuel cell for supplementing the storage devices if there is a failure of the charging scheme.

Slashdot.org: Ultracapacitor Bus Recharges At Each Stop 

 Use of wireless computer technology for coordinating passenger and freight pickup and routing.

  • The bus and selected bus stops can operate cell phone base stations. All the phones calling through the bus or bus stop base station can have no-charge calls for organizing the pick up and drop off of riders and freight.
  • One of the ideas of putting carts on the bus is to push the load factor of the buses from below 20% (currently for El Granada traffic of mainly passengers) to above 80% by filling the bus with less time sensitive loads such as freight carts and unattended freight.
  • The cell phone communication can be used to link local electric taxi, local on-call ride-after-dark services to the bus service. The taxi can be guided to meet the bus. The bus can call a taxi. The bus can tell the taxi how many passengers and where each passenger desires to go.
  • The bus can call an autonomous driverless freight delivery truck. The truck can receive a load of carts and containers for local delivery. 
  • The local grocery store can schedule an early morning bus stop event to load 10 or 20 containers or carts for delivery.
Combine autonomous electric buses with 24 hour store and forward freight service. Use the freight revenue to facilitate 24 hour bus service, where present bus service is confined to busy hours with just a little night-owl service.

  • The present bus system struggles in a saddle of operating cost, labor cost and demands for service.
  • Move the operating cost down by selectively implementing autonomous vehicles. Experiment with ways for the "driver" to selectively leave the bus, or for the driver to lead a caravan of buses, with another driver rejoining the bus at a later station.
  • An euler path is the ideal way to structure an autonomous bus route. The path provides a very powerful simplification of freight routing.
  • A night time bus service might consist of one driver with three autonomous buses. The driver would load and unload the buses. He would sit in one bus and the other buses would follow the lead bus.

The Auto Industrial Society, Are we transforming yet?

Ms. Rothschild says:

 "One of the intended consequences of the free market ideology of the 1970s and 1980s was a loss of confidence in government, or at least in nonmilitary government. The environmental regulation of the automobile industry since 1975 has been a dismal case study in government failure, of which the rise of the SUV is only the most visible example."
 This is a very interesting way of describing the problem of moving toward a low CO2 future: Regulation of the automobile industry (as in requiring more low fuel consumption vehicles) has failed due to "a loss of confidence in government...".

 There is a very interesting thought embedded here that is certainly worth exploring. But I find the argument extremely difficult to articulate. 

My plan is to request Ms. Rotschild's book from the library. (She has published many academic papers on aspects of the auto industrial society that are not available from my local library). 

So I will revisit this review some time in the future. 

Reviewing: Can We Transform the Auto-Industrial Society? By Emma Rothschild

In the February 26, 2009 New York Review of Books is published

Can we transform the auto-industrial society? by Emma Rothchild 

Other writings by Emma Rothschild 

 To the question embedded in the title of Ms. Rothchild's article: There is still quite a bit of work to do to construct a framework of social requirements to give shape and specific implementations to the changes needed for moving to a low CO2 emission society.

But wait, there is much interesting history and analysis in this article.  

Ms. Rothschild was writing about the General Motors and Chrysler Bailout Loans issued by the outgoing Bush administration. The sale of Chrysler to Fiat and the bankruptcy reorganization of General Motors are  not discussed in this article.

Ms. Rothschild wrote a major study of General Motors in 1974 titled  Paradise Lost: Decline Of The Auto-industrial Age.  Around those years, General Motors was the largest industrial corporation in America. 

This New York Review of Books essay was written at about the time when the accounting value of General Motors had dropped to the bankruptcy point.

  • The loan to the auto companies was explicitly structured to assist the companies in getting back to "financial viability".

  • The loans were made short term, to allow the incoming Obama administration some time to perform an assessment of the entire American recession situation. 

  • A future aiming for 80% less CO2 emissions based on a linear extension of a model of a "hybrid future" with solar panels and electric cars and the same American use of suburban space and long solitary commutes has scaling problems when similar patterns are applied to China and India.

What does Sustainable Energy say about bus transportation?

In Sustainable Energy, buses and electric trains are present day technologies with better energy usage than autos.

At its best, shared public transport is far more energy-efficient than individual car-driving. A diesel-powered coach, carrying 49 passengers and doing 10 miles per gallon at 65 miles per hour, uses 6 kWh per 100 p-km -13 times better than the single-person car.

In 1979, when I asked a Los Angeles public transit planner what they used as facts for energy efficiency, the planner said a typical 52 passenger bus got 5 miles per gallon of diesel fuel.

From, MacKay's appendix, a U.S. gallon of diesel fuel computes to 40.48 kWh. With a further conversion of 1.609 km/mile how does my 1979 BusBook energy calculation compare with the energy usage reported in Sustainable Energy?

Here is the calculation. The unit of transportation energy usage to be computed is kWh per 100 passenger kilometers.

40.48 kWh/ (5 miles x 1.609 km/mile x 52 passengers) = 9.68 kWh per 100 passenger km.

McKay recognizes in his transportation analysis that buses and trains do not run fully loaded.

In 2006–7, the total energy cost of all London’s underground trains, including lighting, lifts, depots, and workshops, was 15 kWh per 100 p-km – five times better than our baseline car. In 2006–7 the energy cost of all London buses was 32 kWh per 100 p-km. Energy cost is not the only thing that matters, of course. Passengers care about speed: and the underground trains delivered higher speeds (an average of 33 km/h) than buses (18 km/h). Managers care about financial costs: the staff costs, per passenger-km, of underground trains are less than those of buses.
That is a really interesting value, his real world total energy cost of 32 kWh per 100 p-km is 5.3 times as much energy as the ideal fully loaded bus with no extraneous energy charges applied.

Taking the reciprocal, the value of .19 crudely compares to a 19% "load factor". Now we are being really crude here.... but what it suggests is the London bus system probably has a working load factor of perhaps 30 or 40%.

That is a lot of empty bus available for carrying freight.

Sustainable Energy defines a consistent set of energy and CO2 emission units. Presenting the entire energy problem with a consistent set of units is a great contribution.

In 1979 I struggled with the energy units problem and I wound up settling on BTU per passenger mile. The consistent metric units used in David MacKay's analysis help greatly with seeing the various parts of the energy problem in their proper proportion.

Reviewing David Mackay's Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air

Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air is an analysis of how human society uses energy and generates the carbon dioxide that is associated with global warming. Proceeding further, for each area and kind of energy use, this book reviews the known and hoped for changes in energy use that are needed for society to migrate to sustainable sources of energy.

The title has the tag line "Without the Hot Air" because this book examines a large number of the energy conservation claims that repeatedly appear as many organizations describe an energy conservation benefit in unscientific terms such as "Blah blah blah will save enough energy to power a California city for three weeks."


Besides being available as a conventional book,, the entire book is available as a pdf file and also in the form of web pages you can read in your browser. www.withouthotair.com

The author, David MacKay is a professor in the University of Cambridge (England) Physics Department. He has a PhD from CalTech, he has taught physics at Cambridge since 1995 and he says since 2005 he has devoted much of his time to public teaching about energy.

The first third of the book "Numbers not Adjectives" counts up the total energy released in human society and then the total CO2 released.

  • How much of that energy is released in different countries?
  • How has this energy release changed since the 1700's?
  • What is the graph of global CO2 concentration since 1700?
  • What is the global CO2 release and absorption budget?
  • How has the CO2 release and absorption budget shifted due to combustion of wood, coal and oil since the 1700's?
  • What is the state of scientific understanding of the meaning of the CO2 concentration rise?
In chapter 2 David MacKay phrases the central question of the book:

The question addressed in this book is “can we conceivably live sustain-
ably?” So, we will add up all conceivable sustainable energy sources and
put them in the right-hand, green stack.

In the left-hand, red stack, we’ll estimate the consumption of a “typ-
ical moderately-affluent person;” I encourage you to tot up an estimate
of your own consumption, creating your own personalized left-hand stack
too. Later on we’ll also find out the current average energy consumption of
Europeans and Americans.
After these two chapters that phrase the grand problem, there are 12 chapters that describe 12 social systems that are important components in the energy problem: cars, planes, heating and cooling, food and farming are discussed.

"Making a difference", the second third of the book, systematically explores how to dramatically reduce CO2 producing energy consumption, Chapters like "better transport" and "better heating" are classic essays that describe the specific systems in detail and review the simple and sophisticated changes that can be implemented to reduce energy use and CO2 release.

Travel time equation for the bus, really disappointing results

I revisited my Google Apps Spreadsheet that calculates a linear equation for bus rider travel times given the distance traveled.

The problem is, I got disappointingly slow numbers when I used the San Mateo County 511.org website to get travel times for six plausible bus trips I might take.

I tried to push the linear regression calculations closer toward car numbers.

First I excluded two of the slowest in speed (miles per hour) trips.
I had noticed that all buses between El Granada and San Mateo city make a 10 or 12 minute dogleg through south Half Moon Bay. I took out two trips that apparently force the rider to ride the dogleg.

Second, I added a bus trip that avoids the "dogleg" and is what I would consider very fast. This was a trip up the coast to a Pacifica grocery store right next to the last bus stop.

The result of leaning on the data to push the bus numbers toward plausibility was very disappointing. Here is what I see now:

Bus 11.55 minutes per mile with -10.64 minutes added to each trip.
Car 1.41 minutes per mile with 12.09 minutes added to each trip.

In algebra:
Given a trip of "miles, measured as the bird flies"
The travel time in minutes is:

For bus trip = 11.55 x miles -10.64 minutes
For car trip = 1.41 x miles +12.09 minutes

These are two linear equations expressed in words. These linear equations model the time performance of these two different systems of transportation.

The crossover point for these two equations is 2.24 miles. That means a 2.24 mile bus trip and a 2.24 mile auto trip would have the same travel time, using these equations.

The reason I call these results disappointing is I did similar bus and car calculations in the 1980's using data for trips made in suburban Los Angeles. I have unfortunately misplaced those records. But I recall the bus performance coefficients in Los Angeles were much closer to auto performance coefficients.

The difference in land layout affecting the bus coefficients is I presently live in coastal El Granada, California. Steep coastal range mountains separate my home from store and work destinations.

A beautiful branched structure

I am reading The Great Inflation and It's Aftermath. The Past and Future of American Affluence by Robert J. Samuelson.

This is a book about the monetary inflation that took place between the mid 1960's and the early 1980's. The author proposes that this inflation is the force that created the mortgage banking practices that have been at the center of the mortgage meltdown that began in 2007. The same inflation shifted the relationship of American business with American labor. The inflation intensified a business tendency to move manufacturing abroad and shift domestic employment to shorter term relationships.

The Aftermath of the 20 year bout of inflation is the economic institutions we have at present ( I am writing in February 2009 ). These are very interesting times with downsizing, downstaffing, and extraordinary budget difficulties facing cities like Half Moon Bay, the local San Mateo County property tax supported government, local school districts. In my present work as a substitute ParaEducator, I am only working 60-70% of full time. And further, there has been an obvious jump in the prices of tires and food.

Against this backdrop, I have a friend who has aquired several 18 watt barebones PC computers. I simply can't see the economics of it but there should be a market for installation and consulting for people needing an alternate to proprietary desk top computing. If I work locally, I could use a freight cart for transporting replacement computers and supplies for doing networking and maintenance.

Why is there a squash on the hood of the Mercedes?

The squash is on the hood of the Mercedes to remind me that the car has been in my driveway for 5 years.

I have been working on my own cars for 45 years.

The Mercedes is a case in point of Lee's Law of what happens when you own two cars: Eventually one car will stop working and you will not get around to fixing it until you have to.

One of the results of working on my own cars is I can explore the following propositions:

An automobile is simply a machine.

It takes in fuel and burns it.

Components undergo wear due to motion and vibration of the vehicle.

It performs the burning of fuel with an efficiency directly related to the compression ratio of the engine.

Because the car must move itself as well as the passenger and payload, the net efficiency is limited because the car weighs several thousand pounds and whatever the car transports weighs several hundred pounds.

The change in the structure of human affairs, or "readiness for action" accomplished by the use of a car is a quantity that is quite difficult to measure.
A book I find very provocative on the question of what is information in human terms is Information, Mechanism and Meaning by Donald M. Mackay.

Eulerian paths: coiled electric cord and a bus system

The Euler path bus route idea has a common component with the coiled 100 foot extension cord pictured above.

Both are one long string, the extension cord shows many crossing points, which we can call a node (a visual node, not a physical node), A bus system would have a node where a bus route crosses another bus route.