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World Public Pod Transit System

International pod-rail transit system to improve cultural interaction and the economy
  [vote for,

Transportation is a key barrier to cultural awareness and to trade. Many people have an incorrect view of a particular culture's lifestyle because they have not and often cannot go there. For example, I have a stereotyped view of the aboriginal culture and it is not economically viable for me to arrange transportation to australia to find out what it's really like. Small companies are forced to pay monopolistic world- shipping corporations to extend their businesses overseas. And every day hundreds die in car accidents. Enter the worldwide monorail pod public transportation system, which replaces trains, cars, and planes.

Basically there is a nested infrastructure of local and long distance monorail tunnels at which small pods travel at high speeds. In urban areas there would be "pod entrances" every two blocks or so, with the pods operating underground. There would be a "call" button on the street corner and within seconds of pressing it an empty pod would ride a track up onto the street and the doors would open. Pods would hold up to four people comfortably. Once inside the pod you would dictate or type in your destination, and the pod's computer would automatically determine the best route and you would merge with the main tunnel (running under each avenue) and within a few minutes would emerge at your destination. Or perhaps if you were in the middle of New York city and wanted to go to london, the pod would take you first to the nearest international pod hub, where you would wait in line to enter an airlock to a vacuum tunnel which passes under the atlantic ocean. Because there would be no air resistance, you would be able to acheive high speeds of up to 2000mph, enabling travel to london from new york in 1.5 hours. In fact, you could travel halfway around the world in five hours. Cutoms at the arrival station would take place as they do now, and upon entering the country you would enter a new local pod which would allow you to travel anywhere within the united kingdom. There would be several stopping points at pertinent locations in the vacuum tunnels to reduce the failure rate of the entire tunnel, and to allow you to make a stop in hawaii between chicago and Japan to uh, rest your feet.

There would be protocols in place for police and rescue pods which would have priority over civilian travel pods. Each tunnel, whether it is local or long distance, has two rails, one for full speed and one for accelleration/ deceleration. This is to prevent congestion so that a pod only need to slow down if it need to exit a tunnel. This would eliminate the need for commercial aircraft, eliminate the need for cars in urban or suburban areas, and eliminate the need for trains because well, these are trains of a sort. Freight companies would have their own pod entrances and their own specialy pods which would be larger and designed for transportation of non-living materials, but they could travel on the same tracks without issue. And the term "long distance relationship" would be all but abated.

Also, the streets of cities would no longer be used for cars and would instead be replaced with open lawns and marketplaces where people could lie in the sun and play frisbee or paint. Because it's all-electric it solves dependence of fossil fuels as the rails could be powered by any energy source including wind, solar, hyrdo, and wave power, which eliminates the need for superconduceters as all energy could be produced on-site and would charge backup cells in the event that power generation fails or becomes intermittent. It also therefore eliminates the need for dependence on foreign energy sources, and each country would power it's own system of tracks, although they would all be interoperable and run on the same software.

This also helps the economy because it creates jobs as the tracks will need to be maintained, repaired, built, upgraded, tested, etc. It also encourages international business and trade between nations, and empowers small businesses to take their products to a global level. As part of a global initiative, this system would be free to all and paid for by taxes (the same ones that we pay currently for roads and highways here in the US) and supplemented by advertising and media services within the pod (that is to say, if you want to watch a movie you will see advertisements and then swipe your card and pay a few bucks for a flick or to watch tv or to access the net, but you have to option of having the multimedia center turned off).

Issues are that it's hard to not imagine having a car, but once the system becomes established at the public level, then it may be possible to own your own pod and to have a track extension coming directy to your own home. It's also conceivable that people can adjust to it with gradual implementation, and the next generation will have no quips about it having not grown up under the expectation that they are supposed to drive, much less knowing what a car is. See the attached graphic for a macro- level visualisation of the high speed long distance tunnels. Imagine more and more branches at the local levels coming off of these main lines.

To address cost, do consider that this is a WORLDWIDE initiative for the betterhood of mankind, not a business idea or simple fix that is overthought. It is designed to completely change the world, and as such yes, there will be a rather sizeable startup cost. But when you consider this cost will be shared by the countries of the world, over a long period of time (as this will be a continuously evolving system), it should be able to be jumpstarted by a nominal investment and sustained by taxes we currently pay for roads and highways. As more and more roads, tracks, and freeways became obsolete, more of the tax dollars would be diverted. And try to think forward here. This is a solution to save the world, not just to improve it.

innoventor, Apr 30 2006

graphic http://www.3dfightc...oads/worldtrans.gif
what the long distance routes may look like [innoventor, Apr 30 2006]

vacuum train Vacuum_20Train
concept of vacuum tunnels for high-speed transportation [innoventor, Apr 30 2006]

minority report lexus http://www.cardesig...724minority-report/
a concept for a personal "pod" as seen in the film "minority report" [innoventor, Apr 30 2006]


       (Summary for those with more sense than time: A rabbit warren of tunnels is drilled around the world, with outlets on every intersection of every city. People travel in little pods which use electricity to do the small stuff, then connect to vacuum-filled artery tunnels for the long-haul).   

       Well, as you've pointed out, the concept of vacuum tunnels isn't new. The concept of personal transport 'pods' is yawningly familiar (they're trialing an automated system outside Cardiff at the moment, if I recall). The infrastructure you describe would be MIND-BOGGLINGLY expensive.   

       In short this is well-meaning but unoriginal and ludicrously, laughably expensive. With this much money we could set up a theatre workshop group on Mars. By next Wednesday.   

       And I didn't laugh once. A big fat dumb bone.
moomintroll, Apr 30 2006

       Thanks for the summary!
jutta, Apr 30 2006

       And why would I replace my custom purple stretch hmmv with the 100% endangered or extinct animal leather interior? Will this let me get more sex partners?
Galbinus_Caeli, Apr 30 2006

       Oh what a bunch of skeptics you are. It's ok, I will just bar you from the pod system when it's in place by blocking your RFID signature...   

       *editing for format
innoventor, Apr 30 2006

       Hmm... how long did the Channel Tunnel take, and how much did it cost? Now scale it up by a factor of a couple of hundred, and we can cross the Atlantic.
david_scothern, May 01 2006

       You drive your electric battery car from your garage to a commuter station and you drive onto the "rails" via an interlock device on the bottom of your car, log in your destination address, and a Yahoo computer program delivers you to your destination, rerouting as needed. Because you still have your vehicle, you can then load your groceries for example. Your battery is recharged everytime you ride the rails.
AH, May 01 2006

       Are you summarizing, [AH], or proposing an alternative?
moomintroll, May 01 2006

       Refining-Americans aren't ready for mass pods-the railway network is in place and would be less expensive to modify/modernize. Your vehicle can enter and leave the system closer to destination with a full battery charge to take you the short distance from each hub and you have the full security of your own vehicle and are not riding in pods with other anonymous predators.
AH, May 01 2006

       As [Moomintroll] stated, this is well-intentioned, but the cost involved would be beyond astronomical.   

       What a bunch of skeptics we are? You'll just bar us from using the system? I got a similar response a few years back from some whacko with a perpetual-motion antigravity flying machine "in development" when I questioned his blatantly flawed methods.   

       Feel free to have your ideas, but don't be surprised when people poke holes in it. It's your job to plug those holes and make the idea workable again.
Freefall, May 01 2006

       agreed freefall, I was just attempting to be funny. I acknowledge that this is expensive and that there are issues, and I'm glad there is discussion about it. Fuel cell vehicles are not practical or sustainable and the population growth and congestion in cities is increasingly making the car as we know it a burden upon transportation.   

       AH, I like the idea about being able to drive onto the tracks with an electric car...it solves a lot of issues! There can be fewer tunnels (the current subways can be converted) as people will have their own cars for driving from point- to-point, and the removal of long distance capabilties from electric cars enables them to be viable with current technology. Good thinking.   

       And with regard to cost, if the Average American shells out $400/year on average for plane tickets alone, and $2600 per year on gasoline, well that's 600 Billion dollars per year that would become available and stimulate the economy or to be taxed to built these systems. And also, these will be built slowly as an ever-growing system, not one huge simultaneous project. As the demand increases, as will the supply.   

       Thanks everyone for your comments, keep'em coming!
innoventor, May 02 2006


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