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Transportation Solutions

Many people think that we can solve our future transportation needs with a nationwide energy-efficient mass transit system. The costs required to accomplish such an ambitious project are prohibitive. Our 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.

Others hope for the electrification of transportation. But this is essentially a move from oil to coal and natural gas, the main fuels for the power generation industry. So the CO2 emissions move from the tailpipe of the car to the smokestacks at the power plant. It will take many decades to provide wind and solar to replace fossil fuels and it is questionable if these renewable resources can ever provide the same amount of energy.

The Smart Jitney concept proposes an efficient and convenient ride sharing system that addresses the problem of transportation in a world climate threatened by CO2 emissions. The system utilizes the existing infrastructure of private automobiles and roads, eliminating the time, expense, risk and difficulty of building a new transportation infrastructure amongst an extremely dispersed population. The system would use cell phones and the Internet for ride reservations and coordination. The goal of the system is to insure that each private car always carries more than one person per car trip, optimally 4-6. (Today 85% of car “seats” are empty.) This would cut auto gasoline consumption by an estimated 80% and commute time by an average of 50% within a decade.

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. As people became aware of the system's benefits, any sense of sacrifice would diminish, replaced by a sense of excitement.

The Smart Jitney system could be implemented within a few years – not the decades required to develop 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). There are already commercial enterprises operating these high-tech hitchhiking schemes, such as the Irish company Avego.

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