Sunday, August 31, 2008

Who Will Build It?

A national presonal transit system, such as has been described, will be a monumental undertaking akin to building China's Great Wall or sending humans to another planet. In addition to organization, it will take a vast amount of resources (money) to build an acceptable system. The only entity that can command enough resources to make such a dream reality is the United States federal government and this will only happen when enough people clamour for real change in our energy/transportation paradigm. Currently, we are almost half way since a healthy majority (I think) of Americans have realized that our energy paradigm must change and soon. Now if people begin to see transportation as part of the same problem, the comprehensive upgrading of nearly all our utilities and transit system as one great leap forward becomes possible. The biggest problem with having the federal government involved is that a great many people will oppose the idea simply because of that regardless of any other merits to the argument. There will also be others who will not want to give up their humvee or hotrod for any reason. It is my hope that these will be a small minority but there will be enough fierce opposition from other entrenched interests to make serious consideration a major achievement perhaps equal to actually building the system. As stated elsewhere, one of the goals is to form a nonprofit to promote the idea of an automated national personal transit system and to write a book which I hope to be delivering personally to every elected official I can track down but especially congressmen and senators and their staffers. If it takes educating the public to the point of having to "throw da bums out" the nonprofit can help raise the transit system as an election issue, it will simply be harder than necessary if there is more widespread co-operation. I believe the biggest obstacle at present is not having a valid cost/benefit analysis. The closest figure I can come up with is in the 25-40 trillion dollar range* but that is still less than we will spend on the current system over the next 20 years. Americans have never been shy about facing up to a challenge and if they can see that they are going to be leaving behind a much better off world for their children I think most people are willing to sacrifice for it. In addition, it must be remembered that updating other utilities at the same time should save billions (maybe trillions) of the dollars we are going to need to spend anyway and it will be better than just maintaining the current system. Finally, by showing why this system is our best choice and that it can actually be done, it seems to me a solid majority will get behind it, then the politicians will follow or be dragged along kicking and screaming. The hardest part is to get attention for discussion of your ideas in a political campaign but I am pretty confident that I haven't seen a better alternative.

*Assume 100 million vehicles @ $20,000/vehicle (mass production ought to bring the costs of the automated vehicles close to or below the costs of todays less expensive car models) and 2 million miles of road @ $10 million/mile for four lanes in each direction (highways averaged $2.3 million/lane mile nationwide in 2002) and solar panels to cover 15,000 square miles at about $10 trillion total equalling $32 trillion initial investment not including windmills. Prices should go down as economies of scale will kick in.

1 comment:


considering the US has an annual budget of less than 4 trillion dollars, this seems a little out of proportion dont you think?