What does Mass Transit mean to most Americans? Does it mean the network of trains and buses that make up European transit? Or does it simply refer to
our own network of highways and biways, roads that make the transfer of both goods and people easier and more efficient?
At this point in our history, Americans stand to make some long-reaching decisions, with the intention of healing our failing infrastructure and
encouraging the growth that our country has become accustomed to. I believe that now, more than any other time in our history, we can marry technology
and production ability to better address the myriad of issues that affect our nation and the world.
(This thread is article #1 in a series of ten, that I will refer to as "Ten Solutions for America." If you can add to the thread, or agree in
principle with my ideas, please Star and Flag this thread, which will encourage the follow-up articles.)
Where to start?
As we watch the recent news, we can identify numerous problems with our current system; we see the failure of our automotive industries, the
skyrocketing costs of fuel, the rising rate of drunk and uninsured driving, the collapse of our highways, the waste and pollution from our vehicles,
the loss of opportunity for those unable to secure transportation, hardship for those who barely can, the amount of resources sunk into automobile and
road construction increasing, the loss of personal time to traffic, the amount of FATALITIES associated with personal transport, etc. and so on...
Normally, we address these issues with stop-gap measures. We start more drunk-driving checkpoints, we work on fuel efficiency, we build more roads,
we ramp up vehicle safety, again, etc. etc....
Why are we doing this and why is it failing?
There is no question that America is dependant on the Auto. We are also dependent on the shipping methods that are auto related. We live in suburbs,
and enjoy the freedom and personal privacy that a vehicle provides. We love to buy products that only a nationwide trucking system can deliver... and
why not? Is this not a mark of success for our Nation? For all those who champion the public transit system, can they really imagine a mother of 4
doing all the shopping, soccer practices, doctors appointments, etc., from a bus? That isn't even realistic, and therefore makes the person who
suggests it sound elitist at best...
And yet, no one can deny the toll that this system is exacting... I listed the many reasons above, but those are just the tip of the iceberg...
Well, I am not an engineer. I am not a conductor, manufacturer, or truck driver. But I do have an idea, one that I believe the members here
can agree might be a viable solution to our quandry, as well as a possible answer to our future responsible growth. If you agree, please comment or
flag this thread, and maybe, just maybe, some random engineer might read this, and one day this idea might see the light of day.
I have included in this idea below, many solutions that will arise from it's completion. I know that i will be missing many, but I'm sure you can
all grasp the idea.
The POD system
Lets understand that this idea requires energy that is not yet being produced. What I mean is, right now we operate on many different types of
"engines". We have the auto, trains, diesel trucks, planes, and an electrical grid that powers our homes and businesses. Beyond the obvious issues
of creating new engines to run an alternative fuels, and the obvious wastes that would be created by old batteries, etc, it seems as though we are
still trying to address these problems one vehicle at a time...
So if we were able to get on the same fuel source, my favorite being the tidal generators that could and should exist on either coast, using the
tides to create hydro-electric power, then we could create a grid that would be more efficient and cost effective. Once on this grid, we could develop
a new transportation system that was tied into this, thereby creating said harmony and efficiency.
The "POD" system...
Imagine a system, by which there were no more accidents. No more deaths on the roads. No more traffic jams. No more sections of wilderness destroyed
by the building of highways. No more intruders in your homes. No more delays in sewer and electrical grid management. No more polution from
combustable engines. No wasted time in your vehicle. The costs of goods and services lowered exponentially.
Imagine a huge savings, or budget overage, when it comes to maintainence, and the cost of police patrols. Imagine never waiting a second longer than
necesary for an ambulance or fire crew. Imagine letting nature have back the land we use for highways,( effectively cutting off migratory routes for a
whole host of species) and never again having to pollute our air again.
The POD system would save America.
Here is how it works.
A POD refers to any vehicle that would operate on the POD track.
The POD track is a track made of a composite of hemp, corn plastic, and carbon fiber. (a note, all technology mentioned exists in some form or other)
The track would look similar to our current telephone pole system, mixed with a "hanging" carraige system. (think of a ski lift or roller-coaster)
These tracks would carry, in their main rail, all electricity and telecommunications wires that are currently used. These rails would be 10 feet or
more off the ground, depending on rural or city use, and could be built to accomodate mulitple levels of rails. (i will get to the pods in a sec)
The base of these rail systems would be a trench that was covered with locking "lids". Within this trench, that would be 6 to 10 feet wide, would be
all sewer, water, and other main power conduits. The rails would lead to EVERY home, apt. building, and business.
I want to stop here, to keep you with me. I know that this type of change would effect every aspect of our lives and business, but in the long
run this would make more sense; bear with me and you will agree.
The purpose and benefits of these rail systems is already evident, before I even mention the PODs. How much money does your local gov't spend on road
or sewer repair? Have you actually watched them dig up a sewer pipe? It takes weeks, where they dig up the road, fix it, and then rebuild the road...
If these systems were in a trench that could be accessed, how much labor would we save? How much quicker could we fix these things? How much MONEY
would we save? And the rails would be mass produced and interchangable. It would take hours, not weeks, to repair a stretch of "road".
So what is a POD? A Pod refers to a transport device that utilizes the suspended rail system. Pods will come in all shapes and sizes. Produced by
auto companies, they will vary from personal one-seater economy devices, (think of a tear-drop shaped egg suspended under the rail) to large 10
seaters that a family might use. There would be cargo Pods, and "buses" and "taxi's" as well. Rail Sytems (and their carrying abilities) would
vary based on the neighborhood or needs of an area, but would allow someone in California to go to New York without ever doing anything other than
picking the location that one wanted to go to.
The Pod would be stored in a garage of sorts, at your home, and be called to an elevated platform by your home. You would enter the Pod, and have
access to all public areas, and businesses that accept you. You would also have access to any home or business that chose to approve you. Cargo would
be delivered in a new manner, probably automated and vary in it's delivery method based on size of cargo, and rail capabilities in the local area.
You would be able to get dropped off in one area of town, and then call your Pod to pick you up anywhere you are.
I don't think I am doing a good job of describing this Pod to you all, but maybe if I listed the things it would make better, it will become
The Pod would only need to travel at 30 mph or so in urban areas, and it would be far more efficient than our current system. In rural areas, it
could travel faster, but for long distance, you would be attached to a more stable "train" that linked multiple Pods together.
You would never again have drunk, sleepy, distracted drivers. There are no drivers. No more Patrol costs, no more traffic, and no more pollution. No
more wasted time, as better equipped Pods would be roving offices. Drive-throughs would still exist, as would many other service industry positions
related to the auto. It would just be different.
The costs saved by this would easily pay for the bonds that are needed to build this. It would take 30 years, but once up and running would create
new industries to replace the ones it destroyed.
I know for one thing, that teamsters would complain about the loss of their industry... Heres a point for them and other industries like them;
If it took 30 years, then the youngest drivers today would have a whole career ahead of them. It would just eliminate the field AFTER it was built.
Actually, today's teamsters would have RECORD amounts of work for the next thirty years. By the time we ripped up all of the roads, (and we would use
prisoners for this purpose, my 3rd point in the series of 10) there would be TONS of work building our new water/sewer/electrical grid.
Anyway, I am out of space, and I don't think I painted the perfect image that I was going for, however, I think that my point has been made. The list
of benefits goes on forever, and all that stands in the way is our clinging to the ideas of old. We have the technology to create these rails, and the
energy sources needed to make this work . It IS a long term plan, but it would leave a legacy for our grandchildren, without the
problems our Grandparents left us.
What do you think ATS?
[edit on 16-3-2009 by jasonjnelson]