Saturday, March 3, 2018

Managing Transport Demand To Boost Capacity

Most of us would like to be able to travel when, where and how we want to and for the transport system to be managed in such a way that there will always be enough capacity to allow us all these choices. The problem with this  “capacity management” approach is that a lot of money would have to be spent providing capacity that is only used for a very limited time of the day.  Without this extra spending we still have to continue putting up with congested roads and overloaded public transport during peak hours.
Required capacity could be reduced by managing the “when”, “how” and “where” choices. This post looks at some  “demand management”strategies that might be used to reduce peak capacity requirements  These strategies offer rapid, low cost  ways of getting more from the transport infrastructure we already have. It was concluded that a rapid, low cost doubling of capacity is not an impossible dream.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Transport Questions for Mega Cities

Found this interesting article where some experts argue that Sydney train problems could be fixed by halving car registration and removing tolls. It reverses the normal mantra in favour of active and public transport. My take is that the article is asking the wrong questions.  The key question that should be asked is “Why do we continue to allow Australia's mega cities to grow instead of creating new, properly planned cities?” This post looks at other questions that might be asked if we want to make the transport systems of Australian mega cities more workable.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Could The World Carry 11 Billion People?

If we are going to talk about 11 billion people as the carrying capacity of the earth it is worth bandying around a few figures:
For example, if the 11b all lived in Aus, we are talking about a population density of 1430 people per km2 or a bit higher than the current density for Bangladesh ( 1113).
1430 people per km2 allows 699 m2 per person.
Tried to find out how much land it takes to support a person but the answers were all over the place, ranging upwards from 8 m2 per person . However, it seems more likely that, given the shortage of land and the need to seriously conserve water, fertilizers etc. the answer is likley to be some form of mini factory farming with the farm and accommodation close together to allow intense recycling of water and nutrients.
In this context this article on how NASA-inspired “speed breeding” boosted wheat production threefold.
Developed by scientists at the University of Sydney, the University of Queensland (UQ) and the John Innes Centre, the technique builds on research trialled by NASA more than a decade ago as a way of producing food during space missions. It sees the crops raised here on Earth inside a glasshouse, under continuous low-cost LEDs that emit light at specific wavelengths to boost photosynthesis.
“The far-red spectrum is important for triggering the reproductive growth and also light intensity for healthy robust plants,” study co-author and UQ Senior Research Fellow Lee Hickey tells New Atlas.
Our planet is expected to host an extra two billion people by 2050, but the amount…
Using its carefully crafted lighting setup, the team was able to grow six generations of wheat, chickpea and barley plants and four of canola plants in a single year, as opposed to two or three in the glasshouse or a single generation in the field. It says it also works for peanuts, amaranth and lentils, and expects it to work for sunflower, pepper and radish.
“In the glasshouse we currently use high pressure sodium vapor lamps and these are quite expensive in terms of the electricity demand,” says Hickey. “In our paper we demonstrate that wheat and barley populations can be grown at a density of about 900 plants per square meter, thus in combination with LED light systems, this presents an exciting opportunity to scale up the operation for industry use.”
There is a vision involving other types of plants and vertical farms to further boost production per m2. Then there are recycling systems that incorporate fish tanks, edible insect farms etc. 11 billion people in Aus sounds a bit conservative unless you share my love for wild places and plenty of room for people and the environment to thrive together.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Case For 3 Member Electorates

 Queensland’s parliamentary system is based on single member electorates. All you can really say in praise of this system is that it reliably provides all Qld voters with a local member. There is no guarantee that the winner of the two part preferred (2PP) vote will form government nor that the parliament will function as a check and balance against government excesses.
This post looks at how a parliamentary system based on 3 member electorates could overcome most of the shortcomings of the current system.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Moggill Rd Congestion Study

What follows is a study I made some time ago into low cost ways of reducing congestion along Moggill Rd, a key through road that goes through Kenmore Brisbane near where I live.  The study is of general interest because many of the identified problems and solutions are applicable for a wide range of urban situations.

Is Harassing the Unemployed Justified


A key feature of the government’s approach to unemployment is the constant vilifying and harassing of the unemployed.  It may be a good strategy for diverting attention from government stuff-ups and appealing to voters darker side but there are no signs that it is reducing real unemployment , creating jobs, preparing people for more productive work or helping to share the available work in a fairer way.

Switching to public transport may be harder than you think

“Increase the use of public transport”  is an easy response to Brisbane’s transport problems.   However, once I realized that only 10% of car commutes went to the CBD the picture became more complex. Public and active transport was no longer the answer to everything.