People are scared to fly, cannot afford to fly, or cannot find a convenient flight to their destination. Not only did the events on September 11th bankrupt some major airlines but also the trickledown effect crippled the airports, taxi companies, and shuttle services, and had a strong effect on hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, and travel agencies. The slowing economy virtually stopped as travelers became disenchanted with the security precautions, the intrusive airline personnel, and the constant delays. It is now required for a traveler to arrive at an airport two hours early for international flights and one hour early for domestic flights, in order to pass through security, check baggage, and reach the gate before the first boarding call. This simply does not make sense if the flight is only one and a half hours long. Far too few cities have any other options, however, and travelers are getting more and more wary of the entire process. The traveler needs other options, not just plane or car, but bus, light-rail, and HSGT as well. We need to look at all types of transportation and draw from the successes of each.
Instead of transit systems limited to cars and airplanes, a much broader system of vehicles needs to be considered based on destination and distance. Short trips to the grocery store or to the coffee shop should be made on bicycle or on foot, longer trips across town should be made by bus, or trolley, as well as by the automobile; short distance out-of-town trips (between 20 and 100 miles) should be made on commuter train as well as in an automobile; middle distance trips from 100 to 500 miles should be on a Maglev train or some other form of HSGT; and the airplane should be saved for distances of 500 miles or more. As of the summer of 2009,Maglev operating costs will be only 3 cents per passenger mile and 7 cents per ton mile, compared to 15 cents per passenger mile for airplanes, and 30 cents per ton mile for intercity trucks. Unlike cars, trucks, and airplanes, a Maglev does not burn oil, but instead consumes electricity, which can be produced by nuclear, hydro, wind, or solar power plants (the most efficient source now being nuclear). At 300 miles per hour in the open atmosphere, Maglev consumes only 0.4 megajoules per passenger mile, compared to 4 megajoules per passenger mile of oil fuel for a 20-miles-per-gallon auto that carries 1.8 people (the national average) at 60 miles per hour (mph). At 150 mph in the atmosphere, Maglev consumes only 0.1 of a megajoule per passenger mile, which is just 2 percent of the energy consumption of a typical 60-mph automobile.
This same system of intermodality could be aplied to our trucking industry. The average haul distance for intercity trucks is more than 400 miles, with many traveling 1,000 miles or more. Using Maglev, truckers could pick up a load and drive it a few miles to the nearest station. The trailer would be put onto a Maglev vehicle, taking only a couple of minutes. After arriving at a station near its destination, the trailer would be unloaded and driven to the customer’s location (Powell).
Status: School Project
Location: Columbus, OH, US