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Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Future Prospects of Public Transportation

A vision by Alan Drake proposes a future where “Not one drop of oil” is being burned in a comprehensive non-oil transportation system built parallel to our current oil burning system.  At one end all of the nation’s railroads have been electrified (battery locomotives on short spurs).  12,000 or so miles of main rail lines are 3 and 4 tracks, grade separated, and offer semi-high speed service (110 to 125 mph) for passengers and priority freight as well as 70 mph service for regular freight.  This vision is a practical one modeled on a current proposal by CSX for improvements from Washington DC to Miami but replicated nationwide.

A massive Urban Rail build-out of streetcars, Light Rail, Rapid Rail (mainly subways) and Commuter/Regional Rail encourages a shift to Transit Orientated Development.  Again, modeled on recent French efforts. Electric Trolley Buses fill the gaps.  Combined with this is a systematic build-out of bicycle facilities, making car-less living in the city or in walkable suburbs a viable alternative lifestyle for those that prefer it in an age of rising oil prices and aging population.  Vehicle Miles Traveled by private car plummet between the carrot of walkable neighborhoods (TOD) and the iron rod of post-Peak Oil.  Plug-in Hybrids and electric vehicles (especially low speed low cost neighborhood electric vehicles) supply most of the residual VMT.

Almost all air travel is in more energy-efficient planes on direct flights between regional hubs, each hub served by rail.

In addition to these applications of existing mature technology, policies are also passed to eliminate long standing subsidies of the competing oil-burning modes of transportation.  City streets are paid for by motorists and not through property and sales taxes. Tolls on interstates and other highways pay for their maintenance. Oil burners pay society for the costs of pollution they cause, the people that they disable and kill and for a good percentage of the defense budget.  Those that use non-oil transportation alternatives avoid paying for the costs that they are not responsible for creating. 

User pays !  The oil user that is.

T21-USA is being used to simulate the assumptions underlying Mr. Drake’s vision. Support from numerous transportation experts – including icon of public transportation, Ed Tennyson – make Mr. Drake’s vision a realistic plan to drastically reduce US dependence on oil, using known technology and following the example of European countries.

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