Saturday, August 21, 2010

Public Transport: Nah. Beam me Up Scotty!


I can't imagine conventional public transport ever working out in a sparse city like Knoxville, TN - even if they quadrupled the number of routes it would still take most people 30 minutes to walk to the nearest bus stop - but maybe the time will come when a BUS scheme might work. Now by BUS I don't mean those big, dirty, noisy, infrequent, uncomfortable mass transport monsters, I mean "Beam me Up Scotty" - a kind of really quick, safe and efficient car pooling system. Here's how it might work.

You see, those of us participating as drivers in the BUS scheme would do it for the money and (maybe) company. We would have equipped our cars with a small LCD on the windscreen with a number on it that lights up when we want to be available. All we have to do is enter in our GPS which location we are driving to (to work, for example) and click on the "BUS" icon. When that happens our GPS position and destination would be transmitted to some kind of serious computerized HQ place that instantaneously forwards this info to the GPS-equipped cellphones of any potential passenger also in the scheme. So, the potential passenger, standing on the side of the road, would get a kind of local google map with all the participating cars that are about to drive close by pinpointed together with where they are going. And all the passenger has to do is click on a car. The driver would then get beeped and know to stop and pick them up on the way. The passenger identifies the number on the windscreen LCD (just to make sure) and hops in. The cost of the journey (fixed at, say, 50 cents per mile or whatever) would be shared between driver and passenger and the correct money would be automatically transferred from one account to the other at the end of the journey because the serious HQ computers would be tracking the cellphones of the participants. There couldn't be any hanky-panky, of course, because the identity and position of the participants would be known to the HQ guys. Moreover, you could maybe even preselect what type of person you feel comfortable traveling with.
Could this work?


12 comments:

  1. Looks like some others had the idea before. Look at Avego and Zipcar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah-ha! I just checked them out. Avego looks to be pretty close to what i suggested. Not surprised someone thought of it before as it's not a particularly mind-blowing idea to have, but I didn't know it was already happening. I presume it would need some further impetus from somewhere to really catch on.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I guess you pick up hitch-hikers too, with no fear for your safety?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Actually, a system like this has been in place in the DC area for years. It's known as slugging.

    http://www.slug-lines.com/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shouldn't that be, "Avayvego"?

    oy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. http://www.rileycountyks.gov/index.aspx?nid=795

    ReplyDelete
  7. ATA in Manhattan, KS I think is something like this: ATA Bus

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a variation of a system that has been in use in Lebanon, Turkey, and other countries for decades.

    Taxi drivers ply fixed routes and passengers flag them down a buy a seat. I think this varation wold work well for a voluntary taxi service.

    ReplyDelete
  9. In San Francisco there are informal carpools across the Bay Bridge.

    http://everything2.com/title/casual+carpool

    ReplyDelete
  10. This would be the most energy efficient transportation system possible. Politicians would not accept it because of revenue lose.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It will not work without major changes in regulation of ground transportation. The taxi industry will fight this with all its might, because it would kill the taxi industry. I don't see that as necessarily a bug, but I won't be making as many campaign contributions to mayors and city councilmen as the taxi industry will.

    ReplyDelete
  12. and did these guys get the idea here ?
    http://www.isere.fr/2349-ecovoiturage.htm

    ReplyDelete