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Surface Transportation and Oil Policy

The Agenda

  1. Facilitate Ridesharing using Location Reporting Devices such as Mobile Phones

  2. a) Reduce Accidents and Enable Roadtrains Using Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration

    b) Roadtrains w/ Mostly Electric Cars Leading to Electrification of the Arterials
    Two or more physically connected vehicles under the control of a lead driver constitute a roadtrain. They will be able to change leaders while moving, and operate independently in mixed traffic on existing roads.
    Click here to learn details, and meet principals and organizers. (Jan/2010)
    Zar Startup, Executive Summary.htm (2008-2010)
    Call for Engineers (May, 2008)
    X PRIZE Idea Submission (February, 2008) (Reference site and documents under development; contact Bruce McHenry)
    Transportation Research Board (TRB) 2006 Annual Meeting Paper, Slide Show, Article

    A programme for individual sustainable mobility,  (roadtrains in segregated lanes) International Journal of Vehicle Autonomous Systems, Craig Stephan, Ford Motor Company (2004)

  3. Separated Guideways
    Dualmode Vehicles

    Slide show (shorter version hosted by RUF)
    Dedicated (Classic PRT) or Dualmode Vehicles? (TBC)
  4. Evacuated Maglev
    Swissmetro and Daryl Oster's ETT

Each the the steps described in the agenda have potential to deliver at least twice as much passenger distance traveled per unit energy without much compromising and often enhancing time-to-destination, convenience, comfort, affordability and safety. Combined, they can reduce energy consumption by an order of magnitude.  (However, distance per day per person in the US has increased at about 2% per year over the last century which is likely to continue and be intensified in the developing world.  Transportation is an important element of human potential.)

The items are listed according to the cost and probable order of adoption. Ridesharing only requires software for mobile phones or dashboard navigation units.  On-board speed advisories will make city streets safer and more pleasant (lower maximum speeds but quicker trips) and  can double city MPG using only idle engine cut-off.  Roadtrains might physically hitch, even while moving at highway speeds, to give all-electric cars unlimited range even before the arterials are electrified.  Electrification is the most flexible and least fuel intensive way to move vehicles because power plants can convert heat energy much more efficiently than car engines, which are also very heavy.  Guideways require major new infrastructure with costs comparable to the investment in rail in the 19th and highways in the 20th century.  Evacuated maglev for intercity travel will require even larger public investment but might be realized in this century.

I am most grateful to Professor Jerry Schneider, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering and Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington  for his Innovative Transportation Technologies site which served as a key resource that allowed me to enter this field.  I would also like to thank Palle Jensen of RUF International (Denmark), Kirston Henderson of MegaRail Transportation Systems (Ft. Worth, TX), Dr. Steven Shladover of PATH (UCB) and Dr. Michel Parent at INRIA for inspiration and personal discussions.
Christine Ehlig-Economides, Jim Longbottom and I received a grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation to set up
CEETI which helped to motivate my TRB paper and presentation.  - Bruce McHenry