(This continues the topic begun in the previous blog A Route to Nowhere – Two Eyes on the Future of Transport 2)
It’s the year 2050 and you and your family are about to leave home one weekday morning. You have already programmed in on your mobile communicator the required arrival time of the pods for yourselves and your children. You know precisely the journey times for the school and work runs, and so you are ready for their arrival. You also know that, since the technology has been proven safe and reliable, you’ll all arrive as expected, and that, when you’ve arrived, off will go the pod to be used by someone else.
You’ll also know approximately just how much your daily journeys will cost your family per year. Not having to worry about vehicle insurance, fuel costs, servicing, rust, depreciation, parking problems with the neighbours, theft or vandalism, nor any of the other problems associated with owning your own vehicles, you also feel liberated from a whole raft of gently (or even seriously) nagging concerns. Besides that, not having to drive the pod yourself, the few drinks you’d had the night before won’t affect your driving performance, nor will you find yourself stopped and breathalysed, nor caught up in traffic jams. And what a relief not to have to waste time and money on searching for and paying for a parking place.
In fact, you all feel great; it’s a bit like having your own chauffeur or having your own taxi; but one controlled by yourself, and with none of the issues associated with ownership. Moreover, instead of having to rely on the taxi driver and his conversation to keep you both awake, you can just sit back and relax as you are whisked along, much closer to other vehicles, because you don’t have to worry about collisions. Or, you might want to use the in-pod entertainment system to study something new, or just to listen to or watch something (other than the road). Or you could even write that report assessing the new opportunities for the automotive manufacturers offered by the development of the new transport system. The uniform, optimised, wire-guided chassis with its quiet, low-polluting electric motor; the differing model sizes devised to suit consumer needs = and all the other extraordinary innovations – have certainly given these manufacturers and their R & D departments a new lease of life. And, besides, your eldest daughter’s computer skills will certainly be given full rein, ensuring that the GPS network operates to perfection, that the pod flow is smooth and swift, and that connections to mass-transport and cycle-loan systems, etc., all interface seamlessly.
As for your other children, they will also have interesting career paths. Following on from their two-year post-school, social-service period, they will be involved in building their own society, consolidating the infrastructure generally and maintaining and extending the transport system, laying still more guide wires to more and more rural areas. Thus, the youth or the elderly from villages will have subsidised access to work and cultural places, and to the health services and shops in the more populous areas.
Also, the effective and cheap transport system will mean that the kids will also be able to find reasonably-priced accommodation nearby (if they choose) away from the cities. It’ll be terrific that they won’t be forced to remain at home until the age of 30. What a liberation for everyone!
As a member of the local council, you feel greatly relieved not to have to find nearly so much money from local taxes to have to tarmac the whole width of the roads, especially after the annual damage caused by the increasingly tough winters. And, might there be some interesting possibilities offered by the part of the roadway no longer used? Perhaps something attractive, artistic or health giving, such as cycle paths?
Well, how does it all sound? It’s all feasible technically. What’s needed is a pilot project somewhere here to test it all out and, if viable, so as to win over the doubters.
Are there any visionary leaders or parties out there who might have the courage to take this idea forward?