Saturday, November 24, 2012

Transportation Dilemma


MRT Transport: years in the making
You need to go out of the house for work, food, clothes, shopping, recreation, errands, meetings, and to find electronic parts for the Big Brain. The question is, how will you go there and arrive as one cognitive human in good restful health and composure? FOLLOW ALONG WITH THIS SHOCKING SURVEY!

This is all about finding and/or developing a reliable, low cost, and relatively safe means of transportation in the big city. The metropolitan area under study has about 7 million people and the island is very tiny where real estate and road space is at a premium. There is now a massive government project to take some transportation underground (and overhead in sky space) by means of the MRT system, though the project was estimated to take decades to complete. Herein is a transportation dilemma which will effect our choices of creating the most safe and convenient method of travel.

Sometimes roads and streets are too crowded and busy for a bicycle
The "island" roads and streets are extremely dangerous, narrow, under construction, very washboard bumpy, not flat with many odd shaped inclines, over crowded with traffic of all types (cars, trucks, bikes, scooters, pedestrians, skate boarders, inline skaters, and service vehicles), often traffic is at a stand still, and many streets are not large enough for standard vehicles. Some streets are designed for one lane traffic, but treated as two lanes - it's not uncommon to meet a car face on and then need to back out of the entire block to let one car pass.

Side roads are filled with pedestrians in areas called Night Markets. Vehicles barge through these roads almost killing people, and demanding the "right of way." In other areas, taxis are found illegally going through red lights, speeding and racing through intersections without slowing down. While some cars make a right turn against the red light, others make a left turn! Their method is to honk a very loud horn and go on through as fast as possible without looking.

Few people follow traffic laws. Pedestrians walk across red lights all the time. One never knows if they will be hit, going across an intersection with a green light. The rule to make a right turn on red light after stop and yield is often not followed. Traffic will go through the red light. Lights are pre-jumped and motorists go through intersections before the red light turns green. After a green light turns red, motorists continue to race across the street. Most laws are not enforced. Enforcement follows patterns of random time periods when some enforcement happens. Almost all vehicles park illegally along the red zone, but only on occasion are rows of vehicles ticketed. High profile vehicles (expensive cars) appear to be more often targeted and towed away.

Cars are not efficient and are very costly to operate. They dump tons of pollution, posionous gases, and toxic waste into the air. In some Asian cities, lung cancer has risen to millions of new cases every month. Cars are expensive, heavily taxed, require two licenses (a drivers license and a vehicle license), and the price of petro fuel has skyrocketed with no end in sight due to increasing shortages and battles over oil rights and ownership. Loading up on petro is not convenient as there are few petro stations in many regions and these are vastly overcrouded with vehicles waiting for service. Scooters on the road compete with cars and are very dangerous - estimations say an accident happens every 10 minutes, the lucky ones live to talk about it. There are many people walking about, permanently maimed with traffic injuries, lost limbs, eyes, and broken jaws.

Parking for cars does not exist or is hard to find and is usually within a skyscraper for a fee. Few land lot parking places exist. These are run by autonomous machine with mechanics that lock and grip onto the bottom of the car. This is not very convenient. Finding side street parking is very rare for cars. Tens of thousands of scooters fill these places. These are usually red zones of "no parking." Police randomly give parking tickets every day because cars are parked anyplace their owners can find. Some places are provided for bikes. These are usually inundated with too many bikes and overflowing. Small odd places usually fit bikes, like near a tree. Scooters must park in their designated white marked areas. In busy sections, there is no available scooter parking.

The Mass Rail Transit system has overly strict rules, and is overrun by MRT cops looking for easy targets (foreigners). For example, you cannot chew gum or take medicine or suck a cough drop - as you will risk incurring a $7,500 fine.

Also note, some MRT stations and MRT transport cars do not have warning notices or rules posted. There is no consistency. It's unknown what they will do if you become sick - probably immediately evict you if you start coughing. It's also unknown what will incur if the hand carried package is too large.

Remember, the MRT may have audible announcements of oncoming destination after the transport departs and it may not. Audible announcements are need "before" departure, not after. Some audible anouncements are too low in volume and cannot be heard above the loud roar of the transport or the noisy passengers.

Stickers of advertising plaster the windows so one cannot clearly see out to identify the station when the vehicle is stopped. The stations often have no visible station markers or names visible from the inside of the MRT.

The MRT is designed by a system of color to identify its path taken, but sometimes these colors are in error. It's also odd that destinations are made known after the MRT departs, not before departure, so if you catch a wrong transport, you're stuck and cannot get off.

Be very careful, Asian subway doors may or may not not have safety features in place. You won't know until it's too late. In the Mainland, getting caught in between doors can crush you and drag you along until a tunnel wall or until an obstruction is encountered, and thus it may horribly dismember, tear apart and kill the passenger. Body parts could be splayed along the tracks at high speed and the subway conductor 10 or 20 cars ahead won't even know what happened. It's likely that people have lost their arms or bags, and become severely injured this way. Several experiences have verified this.

There is one map provided on the wall beyond the subway tracks. Be warned though, an arrived subway completely blocks this map from view, rendering it useless at the very moment it's need the most!

If you stand in line during busy hours, the gate fence between the subway and the waiting passengers will completely block the route color identification panels on the subway cars. You may then step into the wrong route MRT car.

Inside the subway, during busy times, one cannot see the posted map inside the MRT car or see outside the window to look for a destination sign. Some places have no destination sign.

If one is sitting, passengers will block possibly the only means of location arrival identification - the electronic announcement screen near the door. Some cars may not have these announcement screens!

The posted MRT map has such tiny characters, it may be impossible to read any location names when the car is in motion, or otherwise.

Without announcements in hearing range, it becomes impossible to know when to get off at destination, thus making, from an audible perspective, the system totally useless.

Various seating is available, sitting side to side along the velocity and acceleration of travel, or back to the direction, or facing the direction of travel. Be forewarned, some of these orientations are greatly disorienting and may cause motion sickness.

Some MRT cars have problems, need service or repair, and excessively girate from side to side, oscillate unnaturally and can cause dire motion sickness.

The path and point of connection between two MRT cars can also be disorienting as there is additional motions set up by the tangential travel of one car relative to the other. Avoid this area.

The taxi is expensive and driven like a mad bat out of Hell, causing severe car motion sickness. Just getting into the taxi costs almost US$3.00. Getting stuck in traffic is frequent and the meter continues to increment the charge. Because the city is so large, going to one place can cost $30 to $50 so be careful and aware of distances.

Sometimes you'll have a stroke of luck and the taxi driver will actually reduce the fare by rounding it down because he likes you. This may happen on a rare occasion.

Generally try to get a new taxi. Old taxis may have old drivers that refuse or cannot afford to wear glasses. Accidents are more evident with these drivers - just look at the bumps and dents on their vehicles to assess the conditions.

However, from another perspective, the new driver of a new taxi works for a company and is on commission, therefore his driving is more frantic, often very dangerously speeding, making sudden swerves, and throwing the passengers from side to side. It becomes necessary to brace oneself and hold onto the grip strap above the window.

Usually older taxis have broken shocks in need of repairs, and the ride is extremely bumpy and unpleasant.

Many taxi drivers will drive with one foot on the brake pedal and one foot on the accelerator and rapidly alter this condition. This creates a constant fast-slow start-stop motion and excessive G-force resulting in sickness and a very rough and unpleasant ride. Good advice is do not eat before this type of ride.

Many taxis have the fare display located in a position where a passenger cannot see it. It's usually blocked by the shift lever.

Remember to wear your seatbelt, even in the rear seat or a big fine could result. These are difficult to fasten and unfasten, due to a small recepticle often hidden and stuck behind the seat, which is hard to see, especially at night. Fumbling with the seat belt as the taxi hits every bump in the road at high speed while swerving violently left to right is very unpleasant.

When it rains, it becomes almost impossible to find a taxi. At that time, everyone wants to take a taxi. With lots of people trying to get a taxi, you may need to resort to some tricks by going up street a ways to catch the taxi first. Unfortunately, everyone knows this trick.

A taxi may find you! Especially late at night, they have nothing to do, and no passengers, it may be a little frightening to realize a taxi car is slowing stalking you where you walk from street to street. Even though you clearly do not want the services of a taxi, they will continue to follow you.

If you need the window rolled down because of car sickness, crack the window a little immediately when entering the taxi. If you are with a local friend, have the friend ask for permission. Sometimes the air conditioner may be on and the driver may take direct offense and even become angry. If the taxi driver becomes angry, expect a fight of some kind or even a beating.

Even if you are sick and roll down the window, the taxi driver will rudely move the window shut with his master electronic switch. One advantage of an old taxi is it may still have manual window control which the driver cannot access.

This large bus is nearly empty late at night as busy automobile traffic continues
The bus is a nightmare. You may withstand several G-Forces being tossed about. Being sick is a guarantee. The small buses are the worst with shorter wheelbases setting up vibrations with strange unnerving sickening harmonics and shaking your insides until you puke - and drivers may be under the influence of various intoxication forms of ultimate madness, breaking the speed limit and ignoring the audible warning alerts inside the bus.

The bus number on the outside of the bus may not be the same as the bus number on the inside of the bus adding to confusion. Discrepancies are frequent. Electronic signs inside the bus or announcements may exist or not, or be completely innacurate. Ones that exist are not language consistent.

Bus routes frequently change. So when you come back to take the same bus route, it no longer exists! During the day, buses are filled and overcrowded with no standing room to maintain your balance. Sometimes an impatient bus driver will close the door and drive off before you can get off of the bus at your place of arrival.

If you are lucky, the number of advertising stickers on the bus windows blocking the view will be minimal. This is not always the case. If you cannot see out the window, you won't know where destination is located. Some bus have a large sun guard screen covering the entire window. Sitting in this area greatly degrades visibility. You will definitely want to take motion sickness pills 30 minutes before getting on the bus and remember not to eat immediately before any bus travel.

Forms of bus payment are also not consistent, i.e. sometimes the system is designed for pay on only or pay off only or pay both on and off. The longer routes involve a transaction both on and off. Sometimes a card is used and other times coins can be used. It's best to travel with someone local. The advantage of taking the bus is the lowest cost of mass transportation.

Maps are often in a language you do not speak and too small to see without a microscope. Computer printing can now make reduced non-standard type fonts so small, in fractional point sizes, they literally disappear. Add strange fonts you've never seen before to this odd equation, and legibility becomes impossible. Maps frequently use different spelling for the same location as there is no standard naming convention. Names for the same street, or object may vary. Spelling is not consistent. You cannot depend on asking, because the pronunciation of the location may also vary.

The layout of the city is not entirely square or rectangular but more often at a miriad of mixed geometries - angles and fractional curves running in all directions without any discernable logic of cardinal directions, making it easy to become lost, difficult to navigate, and hard to memorize. Study of this phenomena has led the Big Brain project to invent a new kind of map to facilitate such tangled city layouts.

Bike on main street at night
There are usually no bike trails. Sometimes the Drip Path is used as a bike trail, though it is not a bike trail and requires weaving in and out of the path. Sidewalks are often used like bike trails. Careless bikers who are compromised in some way often clip, sideswipe, brush, or directly run into pedestrians. Bikers go past pedestrians at high speed assuming the pedestrian will continue to walk straight - if the pedestrian slightly moves to the right or left, say to avoid a mud puddle or hole in the sidewalk, he or she will be hit hard by the high speed biker and suffer the consequences.

A small rain drip path exists to handle water dropping down from store roof overhangs. However, it's very dangerous with metal obstructions hanging from above and in the center of the path, inclusive of conductive power posts and trees. These paths have high degree inclines, apparently to rapidly flow water into sewers during frequent torrential downpours. Extremely loud and big petro powered scooters frequent these areas illegally. It's common that a store owner will tie a full water bottle to the roof and it will hang down to hit the head of a bicyclist or pedestrian. If the biker is moving at high speed, it could result in a frontal concussion. It could put out the eye of an unsuspecting pedestrian.

Sidewalk obstruction by scooter
Sidewalks are crazy with each store front having a different height sidewalk. So walking is a very dangerous up-down-up- down-up-down... These dangerous areas are usually not illuminated at night. Forget bikes, wheelchairs, and remember the hazard when walking along these dropoffs. Plus, the sidewalks are inundated with thousands of people, in front, behind and to the sides (depending on the time of day or night, more or less) - a real nightmare. Extremely loud and big petro powered scooters, even cars and trucks will frequent these areas illegally, blocking the path of pedestrians and bikes. It may be common to see these cars, trucks, bikes, scooters, all blocking the sidewalks. Sidewalks are also blocked by store owners, with tables, merchandise set directly on the sidewalk, and various equipment. Many times a table and chair, or a chair, or a pan of water will set in the middle of the sidewalk. Then again, sidewalks may have dead ends and may abrubtly end unexpectedly. In may areas, sidewalks don't exist and one is forced directly onto the street.

99% of scooters are petro powered and their engines are estimated to be at least as loud as a jet engine taking off. Many are so loud, the windows of apartments can shake and rattle. There are no noise limit laws. Wearing gun-shot ear plugs cannot stop a person's ears from feeling pain when a scooter goes by. Scooters are so many, they appear like swarms of big bugs, like a dark cloud of monster black locusts weaving in and out of car traffic in groups that defy traffic laws. They are uncontrollable by traffic enforcement as they dwell in very large groups. One way to combat noise is by wearing the large electronic noise canceling headset by SONY.

You cannot stand on the side of the sidewalk to rest, or you will be hit hard from behind by a stupefied pedestrian who is not looking in the direction of walking.

Parks are places of rest, but technically there are no surrounding parking places for cars. The parking for scooters appears filled at most locations. A bike is the best option - park it near you during the rest period. Large parks have so many people - there's no place to sit or park a bike. Small parks are more convenient. Parks are often filled with unbearable noise from street traffic. Parks are often surrounded by streets. They do have small walkways for relatively peaceful strolls and some relaxation. A scooter may go through, or a bike, but not a truck or car. Here, there are many dogs.

Be aware of dogs, both wild dogs and pet dogs that frequent the sidewalks and parks. These are often street smart dogs with the experience of missing body parts, lack of one eye or paw, etc. and they know how to navigate miles within the city and survive. It's best to help these dogs and give each the right-of-way.

Measurements show, if mapped out, there are sections of sidewalks that are relatively flat, located throughout various sections of the city. There are also many inclines and obstructions. Pre-mapping an area is important for any transportation. The narrow sections of sidewalks and walkways are sometimes 16-inches wide or less, and obstructed with electrical power poles, large transformers, random wires and cables, posts, pipes, signs, industrial equipment, odd power boxes, sewer grates, bricked landscaping, full size trees, parked bikes & scooters, bushes, signs and advertising racks, rain buckets, paper burning stoves, store racks filled with products, small entrepreneurs setting their wares on the sidewalk, homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk, hot stoves cooking food for sale, old rags, junk, chairs, collected garbage, and numerous other hazards.

Walking is some of the best exercise. However, walking is limited based on the distance one can walk in a given amount of time. The human body is also subject to breakdown with too much walking. On hot days of 140-deg. F. in the sun, walking is very uncomfortable. In the city, on hot days, the brick and concrete superheat and hot air rapidly rises - eventually a vortex vacuum results and negative pressure creates zones of "no air" making breathing very inconvenient. Radiative heat zones form similar an oven. There is also no breeze and no apparent air movement so one does not cool from sweat. The sweat smothers the walker. Humidity is another factor that makes walking very uncomfortable. One feels the need to be a fish to breath the heavy water content in the air which often is 100%. During cold damp days, the bones suffer from injury, sprain, and pulls. Grocery bags are usually heavy causing long lasting shoulder sprains and injury, and walking with bags can cause foot spurs, another injury which will prevent walking for weeks or months until recovery occurs. Temperatures are prone to quickly ramp up and become hotter during the night!

Asian mite sucks blood from human eyes
Do not stop when walking or flies carrying worms will bite you, mites will suck your blood and inject germs and disease, or mosquitoes will get you with sleeping sickness, the Denge, and Malaria, and the result is a horrible allergic reaction, sickness, even death, necessitating a trip to the hospital. Bugs will fly into your eyes, especially at night. Keep your mouth shut.

Metal wheeled carts are common and popular for use in transporting groceries. Two-wheeled carts made like a metal basket are pulled or pushed along. These may have 2 or 4 wheels and most can fold down. These are convenient if the grocery store is within walking distance and your walk is directly to the store and back home. The unwieldy shopping cart is a bother when taking it to locations other than the grocery store. A dolly is available for sales at stores like BNQ, for transporting heavy items. It has 4 wheels. A two wheeler is less common.

Transportation comes with cost. Some transport can be very expensive and not useful. The development of a new vehicle will take into account the expense of travel.



How convenient are various forms of travel?