THE REVOLUTIONARY DUALMODE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Transit and Other Vehicles
The dualmode guideway system must and will provide excellent transportation for people who don’t drive or don’t have cars, as well as for those who do.
There will be networks of dualmode transit buses that pick up and discharge passengers on the streets in the usual manner; but these buses will also travel on the guideways at uninterrupted high speed on longer sections of their trips. Most commuters who take the dualmode buses to and from their jobs will spend far less time in the commute than they now do.
GUIDEWAY ONLY BUSES
Greyhound™ and other long-distance bus companies will likely have buses on the 200mph guideways only. These will probably have no engines, batteries, or street wheels. And no drivers are needed either. With no drivers neither driver-compartments nor steering wheels and all of the other controls and instruments will be needed. These buses will be single-mode—the guideway mode. “Drivers” on guideway-only vehicles would contribute nothing, but would reduce the safety, take up space, and increase the cost of the service. No drivers, but the driverless transcontinental buses could have onboard attendants if needed. Driverless buses will be somewhat similar to existing driverless automatic systems such as the shuttles at Denver, Seattle-Tacoma, and some other airports, and like the People Mover at Morgantown, West Virginia.
The bus stations will be adjacent to high-speed guideways the same as train stations are adjacent to train tracks. Most long-distance guideway buses will be smaller than present Greyhounds however because each bus will be loaded with passengers for a single destination only, and will travel nonstop to that destination. The lack of intermediate stops combined with the constant high speed will reduce average travel times to a fraction of that for conventional trains and buses. Further, the smaller buses will not be a forcing function to build excessively large guideways.
SUBSIDIES AND WELFARE
In the last few decades most transit systems have been operating way in the red, and the deficits are covered by huge government subsidies. There are two major reasons for these subsidies: They are a form of welfare for the economically disadvantaged, and they are an incentive to get more automobile users to leave their cars at home and use the buses or trains. With dualmode there will no longer be a need to get drivers to take the bus or train instead of drive. But dualmode transit could still be subsidized for the poor to any extent desired, by means of individually granted electronic guideway-bus passes.
Certain public-service vehicles such as school buses, police, fire engines, emergency vehicles, military, and some government vehicles would doubtless be granted free use of the guideways. But in the author’s opinion the guideway system can and should be self supporting.
On the other hand, in more socialistic countries, the guideways could be “freeways,” completely free to all users. The dualmode guideway system is flexible and politically neutral: It can operate in any financial mode the politicians and people choose for it.
PERSONAL RAPID TRANSIT
Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a concept that has had considerable attention in the last several decades. It proposes the private use of small-automated transit vehicles that would run only on a track or dedicated guideway of some kind, so as to avoid the traffic jams on the streets and highways.
One objective of PRT is to provide personal service to riders who don’t want to ride on mass transit for any of several reasons, and who dislike the delay of intermediate stops. PRT cars would not run on fixed routes or schedules, but would be available on demand, like taxis. Unlike taxis, PRT cars wouldn’t have drivers since they would only run on automatic guideways. Like private automobiles, PRT vehicles would normally carry a single commuter or several people who know each other, such as family, friends, car pool, or a business or social group, all going to the same destination. This exclusivity would provide privacy, security, and complete freedom in trip scheduling.
If the dualmode transportation concept did not exist PRT systems would have considerable merit, but dualmode guideways win hands down in any logical comparison with PRT-only guideways. Since people would have to walk to PRT stations, and would be unwilling to walk very far, many more guideways and stations would be required than for dualmode. A good estimate is eight times as many PRT as dualmode guideways. The cost of an adequate PRT-only system would therefore be much higher than the cost of a dualmode system. Also, closely spaced PRT lanes required would cause far more traffic diversions, land condemnation, and controversy during construction of the system.
The dualmode system will carry private cars, taxis, buses, freight, small trucks, and dualmode rental cars, while PRT guideways would carry PRT cars only. Therefore the market for PRT guideways would be low while the dualmode market will be enormous; the dualmode guideways will be self-supporting while PRT-only guideways would need heavy subsidies.
PERSONAL RAPID TRANSIT vs. DUALMODE TRANSPORTATION
Will it carry PRT cars?
Carry private cars?
Carry transit buses?
Carry Greyhound-type buses?
Carry guideway taxis?
Carry light trucks?
Carry boats, etc.?
Provide door-to-door service?
Reduce air travel?
Rights of way required?
DUALMODE RENTAL CAR
Renting a dualmode car will be like renting a regular automobile, except that in addition to street travel dualmode rental cars will also be able to travel the guideways. A dualmode rental car will also be like a PRT car, but much better because it will be able to leave the guideways and take us all the way home. The next morning the dualmode rental car will be at your home ready to use again, while you would have to walk to a guideway if it was a PRT-only system.
Dualmode rental car companies will be independent from the Guideways Authority. Most of the existing rental-car agencies are expected to rent dualmode cars also, and eventually to rent dualmode cars only. Customers will rent dualmode cars at widely dispersed rental-car agency offices and operate them on the streets and guideways like they would private dualmode cars. In summary the dualmode system makes possible private rental cars that combine the advantages of transit buses, Personal Rapid Transit, and present-day rental cars. One could rent a dualmode car or truck for a single trip, or acquire a long-term lease, just as we can now with regular cars and trucks.
The other type of personal for-hire transportation we will have as part of our dualmode system is the dualmode taxi. When we hire an ordinary taxi we hire not only a car but also a full-time driver. With dualmode taxis that arrangement will change in an interesting way. A driver in a dualmode taxi will pick up a passenger at her home or at a building or street, and stay in street mode if the trip is short. On medium to long trips on the guideways the driver will deliver his/her fare and the taxi itself to a guideway entry pad, then leave the taxi after collecting a short-trip fare. The driverless taxi and its passenger(s) will automatically enter the guideways and be taken to the desired exit stop (which could be ten miles away or clear across the country). Once the taxi leaves the guideway a different local cab driver will get in and drive his/her new fare to the final destination.
Meanwhile the original driver who left the passenger and taxi at the guideway will wait in a shelter for another fare to arrive in a driverless taxi from the guideway. A dualmode taxi will be like a rental car plus a part-time driver to bring the car to the passenger, chauffeur it on the streets, and to take the car after the fare is delivered to the final destination. On the guideways taxi customers without drivers will have privacy and an extra seat to sprawl in. A dualmode taxi will be like a dualmode rental car plus valet pickup and delivery service.
Not many of us could afford to take a regular taxi across the country, but most of the huge fare would be for the driver’s wages, not for rental of the vehicle. Therefore the cost of long dualmode taxi trips will be more like conventional rental-car cost. On a long vacation trip by dualmode taxi, a group in a single cab could get off the guideways and back on as many times as desired, paying a different “driver-guide” a small amount each time they exit and reenter the guideways.
Most of the through freight will be carried in a guideway-only mode without drivers. Many long-distance trucks now have drivers and relief drivers, on-board sleeping facilities, and provisions for eating and other obvious human necessities. Container-like guideway freight vehicles will need no driver’s compartment, windshield, lights, seats, dashboard, steering wheel, tires, brakes, engine, transmission system, or fuel; so they will cost a fraction as much, and their cargo capacity per ton of vehicle will be far higher than it is for trucks.
Let’s name these very simple but highly effective robotic guideway cargo-container vehicles Guidetainers. These will be unmanned guideway vehicles within themselves, like solo boxcars traveling without a train and without a human on board. Since they will have so few parts to fail and no drivers to make human mistakes, maglev guidetainers will be safer than trucks, freight trains, and airfreight. And obviously guidetainers will be much faster, cheaper to buy, operate, and maintain than trucks and planes. Each guidetainer will be loaded with cargo for a single destination, so there won’t be any intermediate stops.
Guidetainers will carry most of the perishable and other time-sensitive cargo now traveling by truck and domestic airfreight. The existing auto-freight companies will probably expand into the guideway-freight business. But with moderate-sized guideways, guidetainers will not be able to carry as large or as heavy loads as railroad freight cars and “semis” can. The railroads will continue to carry bulk loads such as ore and coal, since their ton-mile rates will probably be cheaper than those the guidetainer companies will be able to offer.
Guidetainer freight companies, and other companies with things to move frequently, will have loading and unloading facilities adjacent to a guideway. Loaded guidetainers will also go onto ships. A number of moderate-size guidetainers will fit into a large standard marine-shipping container.
Most of the guidetainers will travel in the wee hours when the guideway-use rates will be the lowest. But there will be no degradation of safety resulting from the presence of guidetainers on the guideways along with cars, because all of the vehicles of all types will run at identical speeds and will be controlled by the same automatic system.
Highway safety will greatly improve when we have the national dualmode system, since most of the passenger vehicles and much of the freight will travel by guideway. Have you ever tried to pass a large semi on a busy highway at night in a heavy rain? We will use the guideways instead and avoid the big rigs. “Between 1993 and 2000 the amount of freight carried by trucks rose 40%” —Industry statistics. A recent news release stated, “Nationwide, trucks collide with cars about 250,000 times a year. In five out of six of the fatal truck-car encounters, it’s the driver of the car who dies.”
The Harleys™, sports-car drivers, mobile homes, large boats on trailers, and logging trucks will stick to the highways. Lots of guidetainers, dualmode express, mail, UPS, and delivery trucks are expected on the guideways, but the big heavy tractor-trailer rigs that survive the dualmode revolution will continue to use the existing highways.
Our present transportation is revolting; we urgently need to revive it—a major revision, a revolution. The acronym, “REV” for THE REVOLUTIONARY DUALMODE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM, is going to be handy in future conversations: We will hear things like, “I will take a REV taxi.” “We just bought a REV car.” “She is on the REV-hound bus from Los Angeles.” “Our REV bill is half what our gasoline bill was a year ago.” “It will be there by REV delivery in the morning.” “Jim’s school has changed to REV buses.” “There is a REV-car rental agency in our neighborhood now.”
Next: CHAPTER 9
Maglev and Propulsion
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Last modified: August 05, 2006