Saturday, June 13, 2009

Light Rail

It would be totally awesome if cities had these little trams that constantly circulated between sectors, and you could get on one here, leave it at the sector-border, get on another one, and so on, until you reached your destination. The trams would work on a few cents of electricity, and you could charge $1 for a day's trip to quickly recoup all expenses. Charge it with a smart card so that you don't have to fumble with cash, checks, or credit cards, and have smart-card-selling-stations in every sector. (Or you could have it government subsidized in the interests of increased commerce, but the cries of "socialism" are already deafening.)
It would be only marginally slower than cars, and would have the advantages of not requiring maintenance, usable by even small children, much lower energy use (rolling rail friction is the least energy-absorbing kind I know of), and automate-able so that it could circulate 24/7 (you never miss your ride). You would never have to walk farther than a block at any time.
My neighborhood won't do it, because they have some weird hatred of mass transit systems, and some places like New York already have subway systems that are already better than this.
Better yet, operate it Hub-and-Rail. Hub systems move slowly and stop often. They connect at some point to a faster one that expresses to large destinations (like downtown malls, or major work centers). The high-speed one can go faster than a car could be safely driven, because it's on a dedicated track and does not have to worry about collisions. The hubs would mostly be suburban residential neighborhoods with one "transfer" station. Although transferring at speed would be the most efficient, this probably shouldn't happen for safety's sake. Just in case somebody trips.
This system should be easily scaled up if the population grows, and not too difficult to control thanks to electronics.

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