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Pitch

A nationwide transportation system based on shared electric cars in a network of toll roads that control and provide power to the vehicles.


Description

Summary

A nationwide sustainable transportation system based on electric cars can be built. The future of transportation is an integrated network of elevated fixed guideway toll roads that control and provide power to electric cars as they travel. The fixed guideways have a roof of solar panels generating 3.8 mega watts per mile, enough power for 241,000, 40 mile trips per day.  This is a triple mode system consist of shared and private electric vehicles of various sizes and manufactures traveling under manual controls on current roads and in an autonomous mode on low-speed urban and high-speed rural toll roads.  A nationwide, integrated, safe, secure, low cost, energy efficient, non air polluting, low CO2 emissions transportation system would have huge environmental and economic benefits for the country.  

Access to the electric mass transit system is control by stations that check vehicles for defects before granting access to the toll road. System users may rent vehicles for trips or by the day with off system usage. Or users my own the vehicles and drive them to the stations for system automated trips  and  then exit at the desired station and drive the vehicles to the final destination on existing roads.  Station also provide parking, rental vehicles, and convenience shops.

System trips are fast, low cost, safe and convenient with 24/7 access. A tip example would be to go from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Diego 130 miles current drive time 2 hrs 20 min. to 3 hrs. A system trip between the two cities centers would take 1 hour and cost just $61.78 for the vehicle, includes renting the vehicle, the toll for the automated roadway and the electricity used.  If just 30% of the exiting 405 and I-5 traffic used this route for 40 mile trips or more the revenue to California would be over $800 million per year.  A $10k investor would receive $1,776.00 per year. A nationwide network would generate $500 billion per year and reduce CO2 emissions by 1700 million metric tons. 


Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action


What actions do you propose?

The action is to build an elevated fixed guideway toll road for electric cars. The fixed guideway would be built along freeways using the existing rights-of-way.  Stations that control access to the fixed guideway need to be build at strategic places along the route approximately every 10 to 20 miles. Electric cars capable of autonomous driving on the fixed guideways also need to be created. The routes selected would be in high traffic corridors one both the east and west coasts of the US. Routes of 100 to 400 miles would be built first and the revenue from the tolls would pay for expansion. Eventually a nationwide network would be created. 

Usage of the system would reduce traffic congestion on existing freeways and move passengers to electric powered vehicles.  The volume of traffic using the fixed guideway needs to be about 20% of existing traffic for economic success.  Most of the existing high traffic routes have traffic counts of  300,000 to over 400,000 vehicles per day. Freedom Transit needs to attract 20% or more of existing traffic or about  270,000 forty mile or more trips per day along the routes.

A comparison to commuter rail traffic in the New York to Washing DC corridor shows it is much less expensive to use Freedom Transit. The current Amtrack schedule:Amtrak Acela Express 2103 New York to Washington,fare $180.00 time 6:00 am & 8:00 am travel time 2 hr 50 min.  The same route on Freedom Transit would be available 24/7 and cost $82.65 per vehicle not per passenger and travel time is 1 hr 30 min. 1 hr and 20 min faster.  The $82.65 Freedom Transit fare includes the vehicle rental for the trip, the toll, and the energy used. And if the user owns a Freedom Transit enabled electric car then the fare is only $71.54. $108.46 less then current Amtrack fare for the 203 mile trip. No other public transportation mode can compete with Freedom Transit on trip cost or travel time.  

Transition to Freedom Transit is accomplished by selecting existing high traffic corridors of 100 to 300 miles. Usage of the system is eased by having stations conveniently located with relevantly low fares, fast travel times, and vehicles for rent at each station. As the Freedom Transit network grows it will become advantages to own your own electric car enabled for use on the network. In 15 to 20 years a nationwide network will have been built with most people driving electric cars and existing freeways will no longer be needed.  A seperate nationwide network of freight terminals and heavy haul guideways will automate the nations freight replacing the railroads and long haul tracker trailers.  At this time all ground based transportation will be electric.  The impact on air travel will be large as short haul (flights of 500 miles or less) will no longer be financially viable. Freedom Transit networks will link all major air terminals.  Flights of over 500 miles will still be financially viable.  

For this to be built the Federal Department of Transportation needs to approve the Fixed Guideway toll road as an approved transportation mode.  This will undoubtedly require a prototype fixed guideway, fixed guideway stations, and autonomously driven electric quideway vehicles.  

Independent feasibility studies will be required before the funding of the prototype. Traffic studies are needed to select the best possible routes first, then costs of the the Fixed guideway, stations, electric cars, and the solar power needed.  The roof of the fixed guideway and the stations are covered with solar panels and an automated machine to install and maintain them needs to be created also.  

Climate change will be reduced by removing millions of hours of travel in current fossil fuel based vehicles. Studies have indicated that 30% of CO2 emissions come from cars and light trucks 

A Freedom Transit project manager and staff need to be created to guide and manage all the processes and organizations needed. 


Who will take these actions?

Freedom Transit International would manage the project implementation by subcontracting with as yet unidentified transportation or aero space companies. The Department of Transportation and perhaps the Department of Energy, and The Department of defense may also be interested as the project when complete would be a strategic infrastructure for moving people and goods, just as the interstate highway system was a strategic plan.

The purpose of the Freedom Transit business entity, called Freedom Transit International (FTI),  is to franchise the business projects to public/private entities. The franchisee could cover a single Freedom Transit toll roadway project or cover a region with multiple Freedom Transit roadways. Freedom Transit International sells franchises and would exercise quality control over all installations, and enforce franchise standards for engineering,  construction, operations, and  funding for transportation network expansion.

The goal is to maximize system usage and therefore revenues. This is to be accomplished by expanding the transportation network to the fullest extent possible.  System usage will be maximized by providing the widest possible network access. Starting with regional access and expanding to national coverage and ultimately worldwide coverage providing worldwide interoperability.  

FTI will franchise installations. By licensing the Freedom Transit System (FTS) quality control can be enforced and the cost of installations can be partially funded by FTI.  FTI would create a super fund for system expansion by stipulating a percentage of each franchise’s gross revenue be paid to the FT super fund. 

 


Where will these actions be taken?

The fixed guideway would be build in the US with the first installations going into very high traffic density corridors on both the east and west coasts. Current proposals for High Speed Rail routes would be excellent choices. The Freedom Transit elevated fixed guideway construction cost and right-a-way acquisition is considerably less costly than High Speed Rail.   One proposed Amtrak  project would cost $151 Billion. See link below.  The same route with Freedom Transit would cost $12.4 Billion.   Link to  report by the Washington Post on high speed rail.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/07/16/amtraks-151-billion-high-speed-rail-plan-are-there-cheaper-options/

Current High Speed rail map could be Freedom Transit by 2040 at 1/7th the cost. 

The construction cost difference between Freedom Transit and the Amtrack proposal, as above, is huge, with High Speed Rail costing  $138.6 billion more. The Freedom Transit cost per mile is $32.5 Million per mile with stations, Vehicles to cover the expected traffic will cost $20.6 Million per mile and the Solar PV panels will cost $8 million per mile.  The total cost for Freedom Transit per mile is $61 million so for 203 miles the total cost is $12.4 Billion. 

The reason for the huge cost difference is the rights-of-way cost and construction requirements.  High Speed Rail tracks must not be crossed by any road.  The speed is so high 180 to 220 MPH that it is not possible to stop the train within the line of sight if something has blocked the tracks.  So in the congested Washington DC area all roads crossing the tracks must be built over or under the High Speed Rail tracks.  By contrast Freedom Transit is built over ground level traffic with no need to disturb existing roads. Also, the small 36 ft wide guideway foot print  can follow existing interstates and use the existing Right-of-way.  The only ground level space requirement is for the Freedom Transit  stations every 10 miles. Station Land cost not included.


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

A 200 mile Freedom Transit fixed guideway with roof covered PV solar panels can provide all the power for about 393,000 40 mile trips per day in electric cars. This would save 74 million gallons of gas, approximately 691 thousand  metric tons of CO2 emissions, and 35 thousand tons of carbon monoxide. 

Transportation activities (excluding international bunker fuels) accounted for 33 percent of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2009. Nearly 54 percent of the emissions resulted from gasoline consumption for personal vehicle use.  The remaining emissions came from other transportation activities, including the combustion of diesel fuel in heavy-duty vehicles and jet fuel in aircraft.  If a nationwide network of Freedom Transit fixed guideways were built, than users could switch to electric cars potentially saving 18% of our US CO2 emissions. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads11/US-GHG-Inventory-2011-Executive-Summary.pdf

 


What are other key benefits?

Freedom Transit as it’s name implies frees up user time in three ways. First, users do not drive the vehicles they are passengers so the travel time is open for whatever.  Second, traffic congestion is not a factor on the automated roadway.  Even at full capacity the travel time will always be the same as the speed on the guideway is constant.  Trip time never changes as traffic congestion is not a factor.  Third, the high speed of the guideway is twice the speed of current car travel. So trip time is cut in half.

Another key benefit is safety. The vehicles travel in an elevated concrete channel 20ft above ground with no possibility of cross traffic by man nor beast. The automated controls are never distracted, sleepy, or otherwise not attentive.

Each 100 mile roadway segment will have it’s own investors both large and small with constant significant dividends. Government will have a new source of significant tax revenue that could be applied to social programs and education.   


What are the proposal’s costs?

Freedom Transit cost is one tenth that of High-Speed Rail.  Example: Amtrak proposed in 2012,  a $151 billion project to build its first dedicated high speed rail line by 2040. Amtrak's proposal called for construction of a high-speed capable rail line that would allow for a speed of 220 mph and cut trips between New York City and Washington, D.C. to 94 minutes.  The Freedom Transit Proposal Cost: $12.3 Billion for 203 miles, 16 Stations, with 777 Meg Watts Solar installed, and 50 thousand rental electric vehicles.  Freedom Transit time is 90 minutes and cost $82.65 per vehicle not per person.

Cost Breakdown : Elevated Fixed Guideway construction cost is $32 million/mile, Solar install is $8 million/mile and the vehicle cost is $21 million/mile.

What cost is survivability?  Freedom Transit is solar powered by PV panels mounted overhead on the fixed guideway roof. Power is generated and used locally. Should some disaster strike and the utility power grid failed, Freedom Transit would still be operating at least during daylight.  It is the only land based transportation system that can function on it’s own without the need for other infrastructures for fuel or power.  

Freedom Transit is low cost compared to other transportation modes and will be disruptive to other modes that compete with it.  All rail travel will be unable to compete on price, speed, and conveyance. Freedom Transit is faster and less expensive than short haul air travel.  The airline industry will only be viable for long distance flights. This will severely impact the number of passenger air miles.

Conventional car manufacturing will also be disturbed as most consumers will start buying electric cars as the range factor is no longer an obstacle. Electric cars enabled for connection to the Freedom Transit fixed guideway will ultimately be far less expensive than conventional fuel based vehicles as electric vehicles will have far fewer parts. 


Time line

The Freedom Transit technology is ready; a patented system for managing the vehicles in the system is ready for implementation.  The main task is to get local, state, and federal government support, approval and partial (30%) funding for the fixed guideway and stations.  Isolated high traffic routes would be built first, than as revenues mount the network would be expanded until a nation wide network was complete.  Construction time can be done much faster than building freeways as little surface work needs to be done for the elevated roadway.  Also the components of the roadway are factory built and shipped to the construction site and assembled in place. Automation helps with this as the installation of power rails and sensors and the roadway surface.

Time line: 2 years prototype construction and testing, 1-5 years government approvals, 1-2 years final design, 2 years design and construction time per 100 miles. Once approvals are given and the design finalized, construction of 100 mile segments and stations could start all over the country simultaneously. 

Any given 100 mile segment is expected to be constructed over existing roadways without  disruption to ground level structures or traffic flow.  Existing Rights-of-way will be utilized as much as possible which will also speed the planning and construction.  


Related proposals


References

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads11/US-GHG-Inventory-2011-Executive-Summary.pdf

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/07/16/amtraks-151-billion-high-speed-rail-plan-are-there-cheaper-options/

http://freedomtransit.com/

http://www.losangeleslogue.com/getting-from-los-angeles-to-san-diego.html

http://www.azdot.gov/mpd/systems_planning/PDF/i10bypass/ExecutiveSummary_121007.pdf

http://www.nevadadot.com/uploadedFiles/NDOT/About_NDOT/NDOT_Divisions/Planning/Roadway_Systems/2012%20Annual%20Vehicle%20Miles%20of%20Travel%20(AVMT).pdf

http://www.ushsr.com/ushsrmap.html