The Third Way to Get Around in cities".
Nothing particularly original about this (see www.ShareTransport.org and www.xTransit.org ), but it is good to see groups are getting behind this concept. We think of it as "The Third Way to Get Around in Cities". (Kind thanks to Ann Hackett for the heads-up.)
The Smart Jitney: Rapid, Realistic Transport
Many argue that we can solve our future transportation needs by seamlessly replacing the car-friendly infrastructure of the U.S. with a nationwide energy-efficient mass transit system. This is in all likelihood, a pipe dream. Not only are the massive energy outlays required to accomplish such an ambitious project economically prohibitive, our North American urban sprawl has no precedent in history, making effective mass transit extremely difficult. A true mass transit system for the U.S. may, in fact, not be possible.
The Smart Jitney is a real-time system of efficient and convenient ride sharing that addresses in the short-term the problem of transportation in a post-peak oil world. The system utilizes the existing infrastructure of private automobiles and roads due to the time, expense, and difficulty of building a new transportation infrastructure amongst such a dispersed population. The goal of the system is to insure that each private car always carries more than one person per car trip, optimally 4-6. This would cut auto gasoline usage by an estimated 80 percent and commute time by an average of 50 percent within two years.
The Smart Jitney system would use cell phones and the Internet for ride reservations and coordination. Riders and drivers would have modified cell phones with a Global Positioning System (GPS) function. Software experts from the military command-and-control communication systems would join engineers and programmers from the nation's airline and automobile reservation systems to create the tracking and scheduling database for a new nationwide human transport system using existing cars.
In a Smart Jitney system, every person may be a "driver" or a "rider" at different times. The system would connect drivers with riders to insure optimum routing and minimum time delays. Each person who wants to take a trip, whether to work, school, shopping, or recreation, would use his or her cell phone or web browser to request a ride from the system. The system will locate the appropriate vehicle and driver to pick up and deliver the rider (or riders) making the request. Drivers are those who have planned trips of their own and need riders to fulfill the requirements for ride-sharing – individual trips will be limited in a time of energy scarcity.
As the system develops, a huge decrease in roadway accidents and fatalities can be expected. This could result in substantially fewer insurance payouts and, hopefully, a concurrent reduction in premiums. Additionally, the nation would experience a major reduction in road construction and maintenance since wear and tear would be reduced. We expect that, as people became aware of the system's benefits, any sense of sacrifice would diminish, replaced by a sense of excitement.
Solution: The Smart Jitney system, a sophisticated, coordinated real-time ridesharing system, could be implemented within a few years, or even sooner – not the decades required to make huge new outlays for mass transit. The technology involved is already widely available (think of the systems that UPS and FedEx use to optimize pickup and delivery of packages). Riders and drivers would use modified cell phones with a Global Positioning System (GPS) function for ride reservations and coordination. There are already commercial enterprises operating these high-tech hitchhiking schemes, such as Avego in Ireland and KoolPool in India.