The uprising of the Information Age has done something horrible to innovation. It has killed it dead. Not just the Internet, but the ability for people to communicate endlessly about any topic at any time. Maybe it’s for the better though because the ones who have a truly amazing idea will be the ones worth making it through the mess.
I was driving down Interstate 5 today in California and thought of a crazy idea when someone on the radio was talking about having a car that can drive itself. I looked to the right and saw a train passing up traffic making its way to who knows where. I then realized that trains are obnoxiously heavy and it’s truly a feat of engineering mastery that one or two locomotives is all it takes to move seemingly countless cars along a basic steel track.
Wouldn’t it be nice to take advantage of those insanely durable railroad tracks and ‘hitch a ride’ to the next state? What about having a mode of transportation modeled after a bus bar…? Like in your computer…
Two lanes each direction, like a typical interstate highway. The left lane is a constant speed and the right is used to transition from entry and exit points to the constant speed lane. Maybe even as a backup lane. On these tracks would be platforms that move along via a shared power source. Like a slot car track of sorts. At the entry and exit points there would be a system to distribute these platforms to allow for loading and unloading. Empty platforms would then be put into a queue waiting to be loaded again. Loaded platforms would enter a queue to join the main line at specific intervals.
This concept would work best as a train would. Focusing on transporting these platforms from one major area to another. It would use simple diversion technologies like you see at train yards. It would operate between major hubs; such as between New York and Los Angeles or Seattle and San Francisco. A driver would drive their vehicle into a platform at a queuing station, enter the track system and be free to relax, sleep, work, whatever… It wouldn’t be time critical travel though. Safety would outweigh expediency. But the convenience of spending a quarter of the amount that it would cost on gas to get somewhere with your vehicle could prove invaluable.
It wouldn’t take an entire infrastructure to rival destinations of our current major highways. It would simply connect major areas of our country in a way that offers affordable safety and convenience. Imagine driving from Seattle to LA without having to spend countless hours staring into farmland or empty roadways. Imagine being able to sit back in your car and doze off whenever you feel like as the track system carries the burden of the one of the most agonizing aspects of long trips in a personal vehicle.
If you’ve made it through my crazy idea there, I would like to point out the fact that I haven’t done a bit of research on the Internet to justify my idea. If I did, I imagine I’d find way more information than I want and I’d quickly resort back to ideas on how to build a better lemonade stand.
With the abundance of resources we have, also comes an abundance of red tape and opposition. It would cost too much money. It would kill salmon. It would require too much maintenance. It would be inefficient. What about people in between destinations… blah blah blah…
I think it’s back in Pennsylvania at the start of the Lincoln highway, there is a stretch of asphalt or concrete one mile long. It was the first mile of the first paved road form the east coast to the west coast. It was built without regard to naysayers. It was built without regulations risking to bankrupt it. It was built with the blood, sweat, tears and ingenuity of great citizens. Adjusted for ‘inflationary rules’, a project of that magnitude by today’s technological capabilities would be out of our league. The major obstacle would be money. The second would be regulation. And most importantly, we seem to have lost the fortitude to ignore all the bullshit and simply build.
Our society is slowly becoming borne of ‘support’ or ‘opposition’ instead of actually getting our hands dirty doing whatever it is we feel so strongly about.
Whether its attempting to build a new way to travel between major cities, or building a simple stand to sell lemonade there is a constant I can’t seem to be O.K. with… Someone always seems to have their hand out waiting to receive, before any work has even been done.