Future of Public Transport graphic
Dubai recently opened its first Metro network in a bid to reduce the number of people using their cars, and cut carbon emissions. The US$7.42 billion project has, so far, been hailed as a success as thousands of people have opted to use it to get around the city, as opposed to their cars. It raises the question that if government are so hell bent on citizens relinquishing their cars to save the environment, then what's the alternative? How else are people going to conveniently get to work, do their shopping or generally travel with ease and relative cheapness?
Currently, the majority of public transport is fossil fuelled, creating pollution and constantly reliant on finite resources; however many alternatives, such as Metro lines, are being researched. Some of them may seem like ideas drawn from science fiction, such as mag-lev cars (as featured in Minority Report), whilst others just seem preposterous, but the drive to find eco-friendly forms of transport is on.
Self-driving cars: Like in Minority Report, where people travel by remote-controlled, mag-lev cars, the idea of a self-driving car or PRT (personal rapid transit) has been around for years. Imagine, just getting into your car and instead of having to navigate the streets on the way to work, you simply start checking your emails or enjoy your breakfast. Recently, major cities such as London have been toying with the idea in order to combat congestion. These 'driver-less pods' would be used as taxis to ferry people to and from major travel destinations such as airports, avoiding normal traffic routes and traffic lights. A plan to implement them in and around Heathrow is still being considered, but city-wide schemes are currently deemed too expensive with a network of roads estimating to cost between GBP£3 million-GBP£5 million per mile.
SkyTran: Like the 'driver-less pods', the SkyTran enables commuters to beat the traffic and cut carbon emissions. SkyTran is a personal rapid transit system that features driver-less pods on "guide-ways" built above the ground, separating them from the general road traffic. Like a metro-line, the SkyTran would feature 'exits' and 'entrances' along its guide-ways. These personal rapid transit systems would, hopefully, cut automobile use and discourage multiple car ownership.
Check out our infographic on the future of public transport (click to enlarge)
Mag-lev/air propelled trains: A transportation system that is guided and propelled by magnetic levitation, mag-lev trains have the advantage of being faster, quiet and smoother over current mass transit systems. Not just that, but due to the lower need for energy to power the system, carbon emissions are minimum.
The system is currently implemented in several cities and countries such as Shanghai, in China, but there are hopes, that one day, it will replace current rail-based transport.
In comparison, air propelled trains are run by, as you'd assume, a constant airflow. The system has yet to go mainstream due to technical problems with seals on the vacuum pipes, but it is often mentioned as a possibility of future public transport.
Zeppelins: That's right, despite the Hindenburg disaster signalling the end of the Zeppelin era in the 30s, the massive airships could soon be making a comeback.
Once deemed as a devastating moral-sapping weapon during WWI, airships soon became images of grace and luxury as they became the world's first form of aerial passenger transport. With its lack of CO2 emissions and general grace, the idea of having a world full of silent and beautiful airships is very appealing. Of course, they've yet to prove themselves in bad weather conditions, but don't be surprised if the world has airships flying to events other than the Superbowl within the next few years.
Whilst many of these are still in the theoretical or test phase, scientists are constantly coming up with ways to provide new systems to reduce car usage and cut carbon emissions. Personally, I'm still waiting for someone to create a hover-board a la Back To The Future...
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