Surface Transportation and Oil Policy
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,
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
helped to motivate my TRB paper and presentation.
- Bruce McHenry