After several months of arguing in favor of autonomous cars...I feel its about time to start tackling mass transit. This comes on the heels of me reading a report that for every ten barrels of oil that enter the United States, seven of them power automobiles. That's a lot of oil. And subsequently, it is a lot of CO2.
The solution to this abject waste of natural resources would of course be to expand mass transit, and streamline it, and make it more personal, so that large number of people gave up on their cars. This, of course, assumes that Transfer Booths and Stepping Disks cannot be invented in the short term.
Now, in the event that not every city will want to reorganize into a "totalitarian hellscape" with optimized subway systems and zero streets, an eventuality must be that:
1. The distance from your personal starting point to the mass transit approaches zero.
2. The mass transit system day to day deviation in arrival and departure time approaches zero.
3. The distance from the mass transit to your destination approaches zero.
Of course, we cannot realistically expect every mass transit system to run exactly on time every day, and often, they pad the departure times so that delays in the arrivals disappear. This leads to inefficiencies in the system. You end up with variations of this, like when subways basically run as fast as possible, without the expectation of pre-timed departures. Or you have busses, which often have published departure times from various stops, and a small amount of dead time at each stop accounts for late arrivals. Early arrivals mean a bus often idles, wasting gas.
So what causes an early or late arrival of a bus? Traffic lights and traffic would be the most obvious reasons. What if these were eliminated? The easiest way to eliminate traffic lights would be to eliminate cars.
Think of it: a city where the streets are completely covered with buses. By eliminated the congestion of cars, it frees up a massive amount of road surface that can be occupied by buses, which now can run at more stops, increasing the customization and helpfulness of the mass transit system by dropping you off closer to your destination. Further, the massive increase in demand for bus services should thereby decrease the price. Or at least make the bus service more efficient.
Imagine, if you will, that the whole city transit system can be reorganized into a giant fractal pattern. Or like a tributary system for a massive set of rivers that all flow into a central lake. Every morning it "rains" people, who hop on the nearest mass transit object, be it a bus or train or trolley or whatever. Then then amalgamate into a critical mass that requires a larger mass driver to move them further towards the central hub. This is, unfortunately, exactly how mass transit systems are designed in theory but never in practice. Part of the reason for this is that the mass transit system is usually built around the highway system for a city, that is, it runs along the most convenient routes possible given that the actual most convenient routes are already occupied by mega-super-highways. What if your ten lane super highway was instead occupied by nine lanes of mass transit and one lane of opposed flow mass transit, for the rare birds that travel from city to suburb to work? Can you really tell me that such a system would be slower for people's commutes? Don't make me laugh.
Taxi drivers will rail against what I am about to say: cities should ban cars. It is really any more farfetched than driverless cars? In the case of driverless cars, the added cost of the autonomous driving electronics package would be offset by the decrease cost of gas and the decreased cost of car insurance, as you basically wouldn't need it. In the case of city-wide car bans, the added cost of taxes to subsidize the huge surge in number of mass transit entities would be offset by the individual savings found in most cases by eliminating gas from the budget completely, as well as the car itself (and insurance).
Of course, none of this will ever happen. But what if...
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