Palletized System No, but Pallets per se OK


Francis Reynolds

September 11, 2000

The Message

Thank you Kim, for bringing me back to my senses. Your "Few thoughts on Palleted Dualmode" are right on. You are correct when you point out that system-provided pallets would present too many difficult guideway system problems. I am embarrassed by having let other considerations obscure the truths you now remind us of. It was the illusion of the grass looking greener on the other side of the fence—I guess.

Please forget the last 2/3 of my contribution of July 5, (which favored cars suspended below the guideways), and forget the last half of mine of July 22, (which favored pallets). Rather than repeat the points that Kim Goltermann stated so well on September 7, let me simply say that I fully agree. That is why HiLoMag is again a true-dualmode-car system.

Overhead guideways with the cars suspended below do offer some enticing promises, but their disadvantages outweigh their advantages. Many of their disadvantages relate to probable customer resistance. I found a surprising number of people who firmly announced that they wouldn't ride in suspended cars. Their objections were based on illogical fears, but illogical or not, customer objections must be avoided as much as possible. Having mother stay home from the trip because she won't travel the guideways would not be acceptable.

And there is the area of appearance. Most people object to changes in how things look. At least the changes should be as gradual as possible in order to minimize opposition. And some things never change. The instrument panel on an automobile is still called the "dashboard" because that was the name of the vertical panel in front of the driver and passengers on horse-drawn buggies. It held no instruments but it helped to protect the riders from mud and horse detritus. Some things don't change entirely even when they change.

The dualmode cars will sell best if they look externally as much like present automobiles as possible. Suspension guideways would present appearance problems. With platform-type pallets they could carry regular automobiles, but the pallets would be ugly. And platform pallets would have high drag. Car roof attachments for overhead pallets would also be ugly. And true dualmode vehicles for overhead guideways would have to deviate still more significantly and unfavorably from the appearance of present automobiles.

So back to true dualmode cars on top of supporting guideways. On such guideways, if we do a good job of designing the integral-pallet vehicles with appearance in mind, we can end up with cars looking very similar to if not exactly like present automobiles.

It would be easiest to use the street-mode tires of true dualmode cars for support on the guideways (as proposed by some), but that is not acceptable to me for the many reasons previously pointed out by several of us. Currently mention of the word "Firestone" will call to mind one of those reasons. Steel wheels for steel-track guideways could be hidden inside the lower part of a true-dual mode car if those wheels were small. But I don't like steel wheels either, again for reasons previously discussed.

The vehicle-mounted parts of the interface with maglev/LSM guideways could also be mounted inside the lower part of true-dualmode cars with little if any deviation from conventional automobile appearance—if the required maglev/LSM equipment isn't too bulky. That is an area we are only guessing at to date. Do we have anyone who can provide us with some rough maglev/LSM engineering data? Has a "Maglev 101" text been written?

While admitting my ignorance on the subject, I endorse maglev combined with LSM because both the maglev and the LSM would offer great advantages for dualmode guideway systems. The train people have shown us that we can have both maglev and LSM for little more than the price of and the space required for one of them. One combined system does the two most basic jobs; it provides both car support and the thrust.

To those who argue that maglev would cost too much, would be inefficient, or would have other disadvantages for dualmode use, I point out that dozens of intelligent and maglev-knowledgeable people in several countries are convinced that maglev trains are needed. Yet new trains of any type are a very bad choice compared to a dualmode system. Dualmode will carry all the transit vehicles we can use, plus the big job of carrying all of the private cars. Don't blame the wonderful maglev/LSM concept for the fact that it is presently planned for use in inadequate systems.

And to those who think that maglev is only needed for high speed, and that high speed isn't needed on a dualmode system: You are thinking too narrowly. If we are going to spend a huge amount of money (one way or another) for a national dualmode system (which I strongly recommend) it is logical to make it as versatile and useful as possible. Do it as right as we can the first time so we don't have to change it for a few decades. Major changes always cost more than the original system and horribly disrupt traffic. Don't design the system for today; design it for the day after tomorrow, because today and tomorrow will be long gone before the system can be built.

Let's talk about pallets some more. As Kim reminded us, a requirement for the guideway system to provide pallets in quantity in any area upon demand would introduce great logistical problems, greatly increase the system cost, and seriously reduce its capacity. But a few separable pallets would be very useful for special cases. In addition to using true-dualmode vehicles, can we use pallets part of the time in a way that avoids the palleted-system disadvantages? Yes we can. Private companies could offer pallets for rent. These could be the same companies that will rent or lease dualmode cars and dualmode trucks to people who don't own their own. A rental pallet can be seen as a single-mode guideway-only truck-like vehicle.

A guideway will accept and route any objects that meet its interface requirements. These objects will include many kinds of true-dualmode vehicles and several kinds of rental and commercial pallets for transporting different types of loads. For instance: Customers could use the guideways to travel in private single-mode automobiles on rental pallets wherever they want to go. And the pallet-rental companies could return their empty pallets on the guideways. But for reasons of system cost, system capacity, and system space, the guideway system should not be required to provide pallets or be responsible for their whereabouts.

Pallet rental companies would locate next to the guideways, and would have to provide their own pallet parking and ramps to the guideway system. But they could even ship their pallets on the highways on trucks if need be—an inverse dualmode application.

The driver wishing to put a single-mode automobile on the guideways will have to drive much farther on the streets (to rent a pallet) than the distance dualmode cars will travel to the nearest guideway entry point. So true-dualmode cars will be much more convenient (effectively faster).

The pressures are expected to favor moderately priced light dualmode car ownership, but those who don't buy dualmode cars will still have a number of ways of using the guideways. These ways will include guideway transit, guideway intercity buses, dualmode taxis, dualmode rental cars and light trucks, PRT (?), and rental pallets for regular automobiles and other purposes.


Last modified: September 11, 2000