THE REVOLUTIONARY DUALMODE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
"Don't Take Away My Car!"
(If you haven’t read the Introduction, it is recommended that you read it first.)
Most of us will never voluntarily give up our private cars; they are too useful and convenient—too wonderful. Fortunately we won't have to give them up. Our transportation and related environmental and energy problems aren't caused by the concept of privately owned vehicles; the problems stem from the nature of our present automobiles and highways. The real problem is that we are still using 19th and early-20th-century transportation systems. These old methods for getting from here to there haven't been able to keep up with expanding populations, or with modern technology and lifestyles. More trains, Greyhound™ buses, jets, and transit vehicles won't solve our problems. In most cases we already have as much public transportation as people are willing to use.
But there is an answer: It is called dualmode transportation. This revolutionary concept, which is being studied and developed by a growing number of experts, can lead to the solution of our traffic and related environmental problems, even when there are many more private cars than we have now. The author will use as an example, and strongly recommend, a dualmode system with selected features that he considers optimum. He chooses to call it, THE REVOLUTIONARY DUALMODE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM, or “REV” for short.
We will use privately owned environmentally clean “dualmode cars” that will be driven in the normal manner on the streets and will also travel automatically on a nationwide “dualmode guideway” network. The following chapters will explain why only a dualmode system (also written “dual mode,” can solve most of the transportation and related problems, not only in the United States but also in the rest of the world.
Constant-high-speed dualmode guideways (perhaps 60mph) will be built in and around cities. Most of us will drive from home to the nearest guideway and use that system for the major part of our daily commutes, effortlessly, rapidly, safely, quietly, and without pollution.
Still-higher-speed guideways (perhaps 200mph) will connect all cities across the nation. At that speed we would be able to take our personal cars from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours. One or more persons could “drive” from Boston in the evening, get to New Orleans in less than eight hours, and the “driver” could sleep the whole way. On trips of up to a thousand miles, instead of driving to the airport and then flying, we can stay in our cars and take the guideways. We will arrive sooner than we would have by jet, without all of the time-consuming and frustrating details of flying. And we will have our own car to use at our destination instead of a rental.
In buses, trains and airplanes we are forced to be close to crying babies, to people we wouldn't choose to travel with, people who must talk when we would prefer quiet, people who occupy all the seats and leave us standing, people who may smell bad, may be drunk or high on drugs, or who have to vomit. Then there are the fellow travelers that have contagious diseases, or who plan to mug or rape us—some will carry guns and might use them. Our dualmode transportation system will provide comfort, personal safety and privacy, just as our automobiles now do.
The guideways of our twenty-first-century system will also carry rental cars, taxis, buses, delivery trucks, and freight. As we will see in Chapter 8, The capacity of the system will be enormous: At 60mph a single city-guideway lane would handle as many cars as ten highway lanes, and a single 200mph guideway lane between cities would carry the traffic of thirty-three highway lanes! With that great capacity the constant need to add more highway lanes will be a thing of the past.
When they are on the streets our dualmode cars will be driven normally. On the guideways, in order to get more people and things from here to there in a hurry in a single lane, the cars will travel fast and extremely close together. Human drivers could not drive safely under such seemingly scary conditions; the "driving" on the guideways will be done by an automatic computer-controlled system. Highway traffic will be greatly reduced. Downtown street traffic and street parking will also be reduced, by a neat trick to be explained in Chapter 11.
Gasoline and diesel engines require fuel (that we are rapidly running out of) and these engines aren't kind to the environment. We must get rid of them. Our dualmode cars, without internal-combustion engines, may look a lot like our present automobiles, except under the hood. Each will have a dashboard, steering wheel, brakes, and the usual pedals, levers, switches, and instruments—for street use—but none of these things will be used when the cars are traveling on the guideways.
Human drivers cause the great majority of all vehicle accidents. In the coming dualmode-transportation age drivers will still cause some accidents on the streets and on the partially deserted highways; but human-caused guideway accidents will be impossible because the manual controls will be automatically disabled when the cars are on the guideways. Nothing the person sitting in the driver’s seat (or any other seat) can do could cause an accident. (See Chapter 14. SAFETY)
This new transportation system will be a unique combination of a number of great inventions, both old and recent; it will require no major new inventions of its own. Developments in computers, electronics, power generation, energy storage, and electric motors in the last several decades have made an excellent dualmode system practicable. Vital features of the dualmode system proposed here are the use of “magnetic levitation (maglev)” and “linear synchronous motors” on the guideways. These unusual motors will electrically propel all of the cars at exactly the same speed, permitting them to safely travel very fast and extremely close together, thereby providing the enormous system capacity previously mentioned.
Yes, these are big promises. One problem in promoting dualmode transportation will be that it promises to do so many good things for us that cautious people may tend to question its credibility (those from Missouri in particular). After reading one of my early articles on this concept a friend asked, "This is just a story, isn't it?" No, Steve, it is not just a story; it is a serious proposal and a prediction. Dualmode does seem to be too good to be true, but in fact it will be as close to a universal cure as we are apt to find in any field. "Nothing is too wonderful to be true."—Michael Faraday.
However, there is no free lunch. It will be most difficult to get such a transportation system. Because of its futuristic nature, its national and international scope, and the major effects it will have on many aspects of society, labor, industry, and government, many people will oppose it. And it is true that the details will require a lot of further research, analysis, development, and testing.
The United States doesn't currently generate enough electricity to power the national dualmode transportation system in addition to our present electric loads; but during the period in which the dualmode system is being designed and built we will also be expanding electrical generation to provide the required additional power—green power. This will be covered in detail in Chapter 15.
The important thing to note here is that present automobiles, and most other vehicles, are very rapidly depleting earth’s fossil fuels—which have become seriously “endangered species.” Burning fuel in turn endangers and pollutes our environment in several nasty ways. But electricity, which dualmode will use in both modes, can be and eventually will be completely "green" and renewable. Internal combustion engines will run on only a few types of fuel, all of them in short supply; but we can make electricity from any source of energy. Most of these “renewable” sources will come from the sun, which will last much longer than humanity will.
At this point some of you are surely thinking that we could never afford dualmode. Fortunately it will pay for itself, as we will see in Chapter 17.
There are doubtless important questions that have not yet been adequately addressed, but unanswered questions should not be allowed to kill this most promising system at the outset. As Charles Kettering, former Engineering Vice President of General Motors, once wrote, "We see what might be wrong with a new idea, not what is right." Another quote also comes to mind: "We must not dismiss any novel idea with the cocksure statement that it can't be done. We have already proved that science and hard work can lick what appear to be insurmountable difficulties." —William E. Boeing. However, the dualmode system won’t present serious technical difficulties—the difficulties will be mostly in the sociological and political arenas.
People love their automobiles. But as higher and higher percentages of our growing population acquire these wonderful and versatile machines, traffic enters gridlock, concrete competes with homes, businesses, and crops for acreage, earth's oil reserves disappear, the air becomes harder to see through and to breathe, acid-rain kills more trees, and the globe becomes dangerously warmer and the weather wilder. These multiple problems have become so severe that many people are now dead-set against automobiles. (The victims of accidents and pollution are not “dead set”; they are just dead.) All in all there are a large number of vital reasons why we must and therefore will have a dualmode transportation system.
CARS ARE GOOD
Some groups have been saying for years that cars are bad. As we will see, that "ain't necessarily so," but it will take some time to undo the bad image that our present automobile-and-highways system has earned.
Americans already drive well over two trillion passenger miles between cities every year, and traffic is escalating rapidly. Between 1970 and 1996 the mileage driven yearly by Americans increased four times faster than the population, twice as fast as the number of licensed drivers, and eighteen times faster than new roads were being built. (Federal Highway Administration Data.) These frightening facts don't make cars bad however. On the contrary, cars must be very good otherwise they wouldn't be so popular and wouldn't be driven so much.
In an attempt to solve traffic congestion problems, politicians, transportation planners, and citizens of the United States and other developed countries routinely propose additional rapid-transit systems. These, as we have seen, have done and can do little to reduce the problems. Some people support transit proposals in order to get other people off the highways so they themselves can drive more easily. I suspect that many transit and environmental advocates drive to where ever they do their advocating rather than take the bus. The system proposed here will let them drive without feeling guilty.
Yes, cars per se are very good, but in today’s world we must have a new kind of car used in a new way in order to solve the problems that have been caused by the overwhelming popularity of the private vehicle.
IT WILL BE DONE
This book does not present dualmode transportation as a suggestion; it is presented as the actual future of transportation. This bold attitude stems from the solid convictions of the author and many other people who have studied dualmode systems.
The Dualmode Transportation System will be built simply because it has so much going for it. It will be built and it will solve most of our transportation problems and reduce many environmental problems. It will be built because we have to have it—there is no other adequate overall solution.
With these assurances some readers who are easily convinced and who have no interest in the details may say, "That will be nice," and stop reading this book. But those who are curious to know more about the guideways, dualmode cars, their control and operation, how the system will affect society, the environmental and energy aspects, the costs, the politics, and when we will build it, have the author’s permission to continue reading.
Next: CHAPTER 2
Quotations About Dualmode Transportation
Back to: CONTENTS
Last modified: August 01, 2006