ThoughtStorms Wiki

Quora Answer : What is the future of personal transportation?

Aug 15, 2010

1) Bicycles

By "personal transportation," I assume we're talking about individual transport for short to medium distance (i.e., not intercontinental transport).

Think of all the advantages of bikes :

  • cheap to make
  • known technology
  • people know how to operate (ride) them
  • no pollution
  • cheap to run, no fuel required
  • get you fit
  • you look cool riding one

Many cities are getting short-term point-to-point bike rental schemes.

Bike use is increasing in European (and maybe North American) cities, partly because encouraging more bike use is a cheap way for cities to reduce congestion and pollution.

2) Microcontainers

This now moved to its own page : MicroContainers

Quora Answer : Historically, were railways a 19th-century solution to an 18th-century problem and therefore not relevant to the 21st century?

Sep 25, 2017

Trains are a trade off

They're faster than ships but slower than aircraft.

They're far more expensive to build initially than roads which can be build on a more piecemeal / ad-hoc basis. But, long term, rails last longer and are cheaper to maintain than asphalt covered roads.

They're more comfortable than cars, but less flexible.

I think that trains are likely to be increasingly valued and used IF we can get over the initial investment cost. Other innovations like Uber-style ride-sharing and autonomous taxis are good complements for trains. They solve the "last mile" problem of getting from an isolated station on a rainy night back to your home. As this problem diminishes, the other attractions of the train for fast and comfortable travel over intermediate distances will become more prominent.

Moving forward though, I'd expect to see greater crossover between rail and road transport. We already have trams that run on rails embedded in the roads. Why not very small "trains", basically train / tram hybrids, of one or two carriages, without drivers, which can move on both urban tramlines embedded in city streets AND on the wider rail-network. It ought to be possible for me in London to go to a phone app. and book four seats and a table in such a train/tram combo going to, say, Manchester. It would automatically be routed by the nearest urban tram stop, 10 minutes walk from my house to collect me, and collect other passengers on the same route. It would then whisk us all off to an intersect with national rail lines, and zoom straight up to Manchester in a couple of hours. More comfortable and twice the speed of a coach. But with far more convenience than today's intercity trains. And, because there are many more, smaller, cheaper, autonomous train-trams, you'd have a flexibility which is closer to current road transport. (We can add more to popular routes at popular times of the day.)