​​​​​    Solar Tubular Transit  

Jon Bogle  12/2015  stt@solartubulartransit.com

The cars traveling in the tube act like pistons in a cylinder, inducing air to move at or near their speed, greatly reducing air resistance, a concept termed "passive pneumatic".  While in the tube, the car accesses electric power from the guideway to run and recharge its batteries.​

Up to 10 cars are linked to form trains by using electromagnetic air cushioned pads on the front and rear of each car.  The resulting trains are treated as units with a 4 second headway between them.  At 70 mph, a ten car train with and a 4 second headway yields a throughput capacity of over 7200 cars per hour. More than three expressway lanes on each side of a dual direction guideway. 

One of the defining characteristics of the American automobile commuter is that he or she travels alone. The average occupancy in rush hour traffic is 1.16 persons per car.  It is quite unlikely this will change when using a STT utility car therefore riders per hour is figured at 1.16 passengers per car. A 70 mph guideway ridership equals 8352 per hour which is equal to light rail ridership.


A 150 mph intercity guideway with ten car trains and a 4 second headway would have a capacity of 8081 cars per hour. At 1.16 passengers per car the system would transport 9375 riders per hour in each direction.

In the predecessor system to STT, Tubular Guideway Transit, a standard all-electric car was lightly modified to be the system’s car.  The thought then was that the car’s manufacture could be counted on to produce a vehicle that would be road worthy and acceptable to the public. 

In the five years since Tubular Guideway Transit was proposed, work has progressed on autonomous drive cars and that, along with the requirements of the guideway, indicate a need for a uniquely designed vehicle. The car’s design must integrate its functionality, its maintenance, its storage, and its relationship to the guideway.

The proposed system car is box like, built primarily from aluminum it carries four passengers comfortably and weighs about 1200 pounds. Four passenger, rather than two, adds utility during family use and freight carrying possibilities while not adding much weight. Note: in the 1960s, the original Fiat 500 weighed 1100 pounds and was a spartan 4 passenger vehicle. The early VW Buses weighted 2200 pounds, less than the current Mini

Cooper and carried 8 passengers.  Both vehicles were of steel construction.

The proposed system vehicle is about half the weight of a compact electric car. The vehicle’s weight reverberates through the design of the entire system including the engineering of the guideway and the system’s energy efficiency. 

Currently there are 240 million vehicles registered in the U.S. Replacing 100 million of them with 50 million light weight system vehicles would save transporting 180 billion pounds 1.5 trillion miles a year. 

 
 (50 million 1200 pound system vehicles, logging 30,000 miles per year verses 
    100 million, 2400 pound sub compacts driven 15,000 miles per year.) 


The car is taller than a standard sedan but approximately 10 feet long. The undercarriage has a full body pan both for aerodynamic control and to help keep debris from entering the guideway.

The front and back seats face each other, an unorthodox arrangement that has several advantages. Facing seats use the interior space more efficiently and allows the car to be shorter. They also make loading packages into the car easier and the space between the seats could accommodate a wheelchair. A central sliding side door serves both the front and back seats and in case of an emergency, will allow passengers to exit from the car while in the guideway.  

This configuration also informs the riders that they are passengers not drivers which should alleviates some initial performance anxiety.

Electric motors drive each of the four wheels. One option is to have the wheels fixed and steering accomplished by modulating the speed of the wheels rather than turning the front wheels. In this case the system car can turn 360 degrees in its own length, an attribute that is useful in compact parking facilities.




                                        






The wheels and tires have the thin, tall dimensions of those in early cars. Their small area of contact on the road or guideway surface reduces rolling resistance while their tall profile reduces heat buildup. 

The roadway surface inside the guideway has two strips of flat steel which are tracks for the car’s tires. These smooth, continuous ribbons deliver a quiet, comfortable ride and low rolling resistance. On roads, off the guideway, the quality of the ride will depend on the car’s suspension.  


Driving on smooth steel would seem to preclude emergency braking. Being in an enclosed environment under navigational control eliminates almost all necessity for emergency braking. If it should be needed, cars can move a few inches laterally off the steel track and be on a surface that will support quick stops.

It may be advisable to give the car the ability to lower and raise it’s wheels, lowering the undercarriage’s clearance in the tube, and raising it for outside road environments. This feature can also artificially bank the car in turns and if aerodynamic lift becomes a problem, the car can incline downward in the front. It would also be helpful for handicap access.

The system car has windows in the front and sides but not in the rear so when the car is part of a train inside the guideway, each car has its privacy.  The windows in the car coincide with windows in the solar tube, allowing the passengers to see out to the landscape. 

Adding solar collectors to the roof of the car is an open question.  They will produce energy during the day when outside of the guideway and outside the system’s storage facilities. This may not be enough to justify their weight, cost, and maintenance.

The car will need to be equipped with a mechanism to access electricity from the tube.  Current autonomous cars have their sensors located on the car’s roof but that may only be because they are a retrofit to existing automobile design.

As their numbers increase, their design remains stable, and manufacturing competition grows, the cost of an STT car will quickly decline.  Because electric cars have far fewer moving parts they will have a usable life span of 40 to 50 years which greatly reduces the expense of fleet replacement.


Eventually there will be millions of system cars that have to be cleaned and serviced so they will need to be designed for robotic cleaning inside and out. The car is a component system so that its elements can be quickly replaced. Seats are the most likely item to be damaged or soiled so they should be programed to be maintained easily. Sanitizing cars between customers is also required.    

The sun doesn’t always shine.


Parking.

System vehicles’s range off the guideway.

Safety 

A concept sketch of the system vehicle. The vehicle is approximately 10 feet long by 5 feet 6 inches high and the doors are nearly 4 feet wide. The wheel wells are covered because the vehicle is steers by modulating wheel speed.

The ability to link cars into continuous trains, enables the STT guideway to equal the capacity a multilane expressway.

The Flow of the Cars in the Tube.

There are two imperatives affecting how to configure the flow of cars in the tube: throughput capacity and passive pneumatic air flow. In this presentation of STT, ten car trains with a four-second headway have been used as a conservative starting point. The large four-second headway may not be efficient enough, however, in generating the desired airflow.  Engineering and experience may determine that shorter headways are possible which would increase both air flow and throughput capacity. The more traffic in the tube, the more energy efficient it becomes. 

It would be possible to replace trains with a small headway between cars. Instead of ten car trains with a 4 second headway each car would have a .4 second headway or 41 feet at 70 mph. Although this is feasible using computer control it would make merges complicated and potentially risky. It adds the requirement to adjust the headway and speed of other cars in the traffic stream.

In off peak hours, shorter trains with less headway help sustain airflow.  The system can use algorithms to configure car/train patterns in response to usage. In high speed tubes and during times of low usage, it may be necessary to augment airflow with external air turbine assist. The goal is to always have the air in the tube moving near or at the same speed as the cars.

STT is an articulation of existing technologies and the technical aspects of a number of business models. New technologies are not needed.

    Electric automobiles and their battery storage.
    Autonomous automobiles--- Google, Apple, BMW etc 
    Shared ride businesses--- Uber Lyft
    Automobile and truck rental
    Solar voltaic panels
    Automated parking facilities
    Ford’s aluminum pickup

    Smart phones and pads

    Customer:

        Faster, safer commute, greater convenience.
        Reduced Costs.
            Avoids automobile purchase and financing costs.
            Lower costs per mile.
            Eliminates parking costs and problems.
            No insurance costs.
            No repair or maintenance costs.
            Provide extra car for family use only when needed

    Utility:

        Convert greater efficiencies into profits.
            Higher utilization of vehicles
            Standardization of vehicles
                Reduced purchase costs
                Lower maintenance costs
                Longer vehicle lifespan 

        Obtain valuable right-of-ways along expressway for guideways
        Provide vehicle usage to customer off guideway.
        Supply solar panel produced electricity directly to customer.
        Provide parking 
        Provide package and freight delivery

    Metropolitan area:

        Functionality of surface light rail without the high implementation costs.
        Enhanced functionality of urban centers.
            No air pollution from system.
            Greatly reduced noise pollution. 
            Greatly reduced land use for traffic and parking.
            No traffic congestion.
            Replace mass transit with personal transit.
            Provide access to jobs.
            Greater economic integration with other cities.
            Increased attractiveness as shopping destination.
                Greater shopping density.                
                Pedestrian friendly.
            
    National:

        Greater economic efficiency.
            Reduced petroleum use.
                    Less dependency on foreign oil.
                   Greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.    
            Reduced cost of private transportation.
                   More disposable income in economy.
        Faster more economical mid-range travel.
            Greater business efficiency.
            Replaces need for expensive high speed rail implementation.

Yes, the car is unattractive by automobile standards but the customer doesn’t own it.  Our automobiles reflect our personalities and we feel they represent us.  We don’t feel this way about the taxis, trains, busses, or airplanes we ride in because we don’t own them.

Automobiles have already largely lost their individual personalities and are becoming more like units. The cars depicted in TV ads as exciting driving machines, screaming across the salt flats, in reality, end up sitting in stop and go traffic. They will lose much of their charm when their drivers look up at the STT guideway and see these little vehicles whizzing by at 70 to 150 mph.

The utility is investor owned but government regulated.

All current mass transit schemes, trains, planes, and busses are closed systems.

In closed systems the vehicle stay in the system and the rider changes conveyances at a station or port. Closed, Personal Rapid Transit, systems improve and personalize mass transit by eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule and not requiring the rider to travel with strangers. They can’t, however,  deliver the passenger to a specific location which is the “last mile” problem.

In open systems, auto expressways, dual mode PRT, and STT, the vehicle enters and leaves the system and doesn’t require schedules, stations, or riding with strangers. 

One of the complaints about closed PRT systems and light rail is that they don’t scale up efficiently. Vehicles stay in the system and have to be stored and retrieved in times of high usage which adds to operation cost.  Closed systems need stations, which are sometimes extensive with significant vehicle handling facilities. An open system only needs to have exits and in-ramps and can scale up easily from a few cars at 2:00 am to thousands at 8:00 am.

If everyone owned a personal shopping cart, which had to be stored and retrieved when they went to the supermarket, it would create a logistical nightmare. Private ownership of automobiles drives the destructive and extraordinarily high use of space for parking in urban centers. Reuse of the system’s vehicles not only lowers the number of cars needed, but also makes storage much more compact and retrieval much easier. A system car can, without a driver, store itself within inches of cars to its sides, front and back. In multi level storage, the ceilings need only be high enough to fit the car.  A multi deck facility would have 4 to 5 times the storage efficiency of current parking decks.

The desire to park near shopping and work has decimated older urban centers by destroying vital commercial and residential buildings for parking. Shopping is a pedestrian activity and a continuous facade of buildings along the street is required for a successful shopping experience.  Newer cities, like Phoenix, have been almost totally defined by the automobile and while they offer plenty of parking, they lack the communal quality of life I have come to expect living in a small eastern city. Even here, an aerial photo shows 40% of the historic downtown has been gutted by parking.

The development of autonomous drive cars is beginning to mature and can be expected to be fully operational in time to deploy as part of this system. Taking the driver out of the equation enhances safety and reliability. 

The tubes are internally tagged with electronic location markers that allow the car to precisely determine it’s location and speed. Cars also communicate with other cars entering the tube to coordinate merges. The autonomous navigation procedures used on outside surface roads can also be used to facilitate linking cars into trains. 

Cars entering the guideway are timed to merge just behind a train and, while still accelerating, fall back to become the leader of the following train.  The headway, thereby, becomes part of the entrance ramp for obtaining merging speed. The opportunity to merge onto the guideway from an on ramp would occur about every 5 seconds.  

An exiting car, in the center of a train, will reverse the polarity on it’s magnetic couplings, repelling the cars to the front and back, creating a small opening from which to maneuver.

Customers have an account that is accessed through an application on their smart phone or pad. The smart phone provides secure access to the vehicle and becomes the vehicle’s dashboard. The customer can use it to direct the vehicle to a specific location or change destination while on route.  Parents can lock their child’s phone so that it will only allow preset destinations and will allow the parent to follow the trip in progress.  System vehicles can replace the school bus and the parent chauffeur. 

Supporting enterprises and technologies.

Surfaces within the tubes are engineered to promote smooth airflow. The guideway has exits and entrance ramps which are open to the outside atmosphere. Due to the Venturi effect, the flow in the tube creates a slight negative pressure, drawing air into the tube. Any buildup of air within the tube will be self-limiting.


The cross section proportions of the car in the tube need to be calculated to allow air pressure adjustments when cars merge or move apart while still inducing maximum airflow. The tube/car proportions for a 70 mph guideway may not be the same as a in 150 mph tube.


Expressways have an observed maximum throughput capacity of 2000 cars per lane per hour due to the space between cars.  The recommended safe operating distance between cars is 2 seconds. Most of us, however, cheat this down to 1.5 seconds. At 65 mph a car is traveling 95 feet per second or 143 ft per 1.5 seconds.  An 16 foot long car keeping a second and a half headway constitutes a 159 ft unit or 2158 hypothetical units per hour. This is fairly close to the 2000 cars per hour that traffic engineers have observed.  

The space between cars has more affect on cars-per-hour than speed. 


Speed doesn’t affect throughput very much. At 100 mph, with a 1.5 second headway, throughput is 2237 cars per hour which is only 78 more than the 2158 figure for 65 mph.  At 20 mph throughput is not that much less, 1760 cars per hour. 

Air handling.

Who will benefit from Solar Tubular Transit?

The attributes of STT that allow it to transport passengers door to door make it an ideal light freight delivery system. Much of the contents of large trucks can be broken down into smaller units. Instead of trucking goods to warehouses to be sorted and shuttled to stores or consumers, STT takes items from their source to the end user. 

Passenger cars can be designed to do double duty by folding the seats out of the way, but cars designed specifically for freight would be more efficient. The only caveat is that the freight and passenger cars must be entirely compatible on the guideway. STT’s design must not be compromised to accommodate large freight vehicles.  
Unlike the current road system where freight adds to the congestion, adding freight cars, especially in off peak hours, makes the guideway more efficient. STT has great capacity especially during off peak hours.  

An autonomous drive electric vehicle enters a tube shaped guideway topped with solar panels. ​

The STT tube can carry 7,200 cars an hour in each direction, each side being equal to 3.6 expressway lanes.

STT is a recipe for the future.  It is a large project that needs to find a home within an institution that can garner funding and manage its development. Perhaps an engineering institution able to do the basic analysis of its system’s components, such as, airflow proportions, solar electrical interface, and vehicle formulation. Once the base work has been achieved the specific design of the various components such as the vehicle and the quideway, will need to go out to specialized engineering entities.   

Solar Tubular Transit needs the involvement of a number of participating institutions to achieve its enormous positive implications for an environmentally cleaner and carbon reduced future.        
 
Solar Tubular Transit 
is a redesigned successor to 

Tubular Guideway Transit.  http://www.tubularguidewaytransit.com/html/TGTnew.html

                                                                  

Two tubes, sharing a center wall, form a bidirectional guideway elevated on pylons. The three walls of the tubes function as bridge trusses, carrying the span between pylons. The center truss carries the preponderance of the load while the outer trusses have window spaces allowing passengers to see to the outside from their cars. The midspan between pylons must not deflect downward under the weight of train/cars.  A dual direction tube is small, approximately 8 feet high by 17 feet wide in its outside dimensions and relatively lightweight.     (Note: a single lane of expressway is 11 feet wide.)

The floor in each tube is a flat roadway with two surfaces. Flat ribbons of steel provide low rolling resistance trackways and will act as a heat sink to keep the tires cool at high speeds. The rest of the road surface is flush with the tracts and provide traction when needed. 

Channels or tracks built into the roof give access to the solar panels for cleaning and maintenance by robotic or staffed track vehicles. 

An important advantage of the tube is that it protects from varying weather making it a reliable environment for operating vehicles at high speed and close tolerances. 

The tube’s interior walls are smooth to facilitate air flow and its walls, floor, and roof are insulated for sound and heat. The enclosed tube environment reduces thermal expansion and contraction of the roadway surface. Like historic covered bridges, the external covering protects the structural members from deterioration.

No flammable materials are used in the tube’s construction. 

Emergency exits, where people can leave the tube are at pylon locations. The tube will fit closely to the car vertically but be wide enough horizontally to allow riders to exit the car if needed.

Solar Tubular Transit is a good neighbor. Traffic in the tube will produce very little noise because the vehicles have quiet electric motors, are enclosed, sound buffered,  and run on smooth steel. Best of all, there is no pollution emitted. It will take traffic off sprawling expressways and cars out of endless parking lots returning now vacant zones to vibrant urban life.







                          




The Solar Tube

In the nineteenth century, the federal government ceded a wide right-of-way across the country to entice private money to build the transcontinental railroads.  Today public utilities have been given rights-of-way access to public roadways. This saves money by obtaining access that the utility would have to pay for and avoids cutting through the landscape and neighborhoods with new corridors. Overlaying the existing highway system it will reduce both pollution and noise by removing automobiles. Travel in an enclosed guideway by solar electric vehicles will be nearly silent and pollution free. 

Guideways need to be isolated from on-grade activity so the solution that almost all designers use is to elevate the guideway on pylons. Pylons put a small footprint on the earth and relinquish the ground level to other traffic, pedestrians, or in some cases, wildlife. Varying the height of pylons is an inexpensive way to adjust the guideway’s grade.  Use of an expressway lane would work if barriers protected the guideway from other traffic.

Designers sometimes make compromises to reduce costs. Costs, however, are not the determining factor in the adoption of a system. Assembling guideways is much less costly than constructing highways and one guideway has the potential to carry the traffic load of a multi lane expressway. The costs of the guideway should be compared, not with an expressway lane, but to building an expressway. A spur of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is now being built with construction cost estimated at 48 million dollars per mile.

A guideway system that becomes widely adopted will be much less expensive than a highway because it is a component system built from manufactured parts. Highways are all custom built and require sculpting great quantities of earth. When guideway components are standardized, competitive bidding from different manufactures will reduced costs significantly.

Customer’s transaction with system vehicle.

Each mile of dual guideway is capped with solar panels that can power system vehicles over 40,000 miles per day. 

Cost to customer.

Schematic cross section sketch of a dual STT guideway. The vehicle on the right is in the normal position, centered in the guideway with wheels on the metal strips.

An emergency that causes the vehicle to stop in the guideway would, by software protocol, park the vehicle close to the center wall, allowing room for the passengers to exit if needed.

High speed, intercity STT guideways are competitive with air and high speed rail for distances under 450 miles.

The typical energy usage for the current crop of electric vehicles is 280 watt hours per mile in open road travel.

A currently available, one meter wide, commercial solar panel is rated at 300 watts. If one panel is placed on each side of a dual direction guideway, 3218 panels would fit in a mile. During every hour of sunlight, each 300 watt panel collects enough solar energy to power an electric car 1.07 miles. While in the tube, an energy saving is estimated to double travel due to the reduced weight of the system’s car, as well as greatly reduced air and rolling resistance. 

A system vehicle would then travel 2.14 miles on an hour of sunlight. Phoenix Arizona averages 6.29 hours of full sun a day. One panel would power a system vehicle 13.46 miles per day. The 3218 panels on a mile of dual direction guideway would provide, on average, 43,316 miles of solar travel each day. New York City only gets 4.49 hours of sun a day but a mile of solar panels would still deliver 30,920 miles of travel.

At $270 each, a mile of panels would cost $868,860. Adding the necessary electrical equipment and mounting gear would bring the costs to approximately $1,200,000 per mile. Compared to automobiles getting 30 mpg, the fuel savings would more than pay for the solar panels in the first year. Solar technology is also rapidly evolving, in the same analysis made four years ago, the cost of the solar energy was twice as much.


 (Note: It is expected that some of the energy produced in the solar cells will be lost in converting it to usable vehicle energy. The solar panels used in the example above only cover about 70% of the guideway’s surface so when that area is added to production it should compensate for energy conversion loses.)

Any trip includes the time from the specific address in the departure city to a specific address in the destination city. In air travel this includes the travel time to the airport, parking and boarding time, airport security, debarking and obtaining ground transport to the final specific destination.  Because air and rail leave on schedules, the actual time must be padded to allow for contingencies in getting to the terminal and preparing for boarding. 

STT, like automobiles on an expressway, has no need for stations nor does the traffic slow when cars enter or exit. Both autos and STT are open systems while trains and airplanes are closed systems.  Closed systems require the passenger to change vehicles to enter the system.

The STT car can go from a local roads into a guideway and become a 70 mph solar tubular commuter. It can transfer onto a 150 mph intercity guideway.  At the destination city, the car moves back to a commuter guideway and then exits to surface streets to travel to a specific address.

Amtrak’s Acela makes the D.C. to Boston trip in 6 hours and 40 minutes while a STT car would do it in a little over 3 hours. The difference isn’t top speed but trains make multiple stops while STT, like an expressway, allows cars to enter and exit without slowing traffic flow.

Airplanes take 1 hour and 30 minutes from D.C. to Boston but the rider has to get to the airport early and then from the airport. From door to door, STT would be as fast, if not faster, than flying but with much less stress.

The proposed 600 mph Hyperloop between San Francisco and Los Angelos has each car carrying 28 passengers and departing every 30 seconds. Maxed out, it will transport 3360 riders per hour in each direction. STT transports more than twice as many riders and they won’t be left at a distant terminal but travel door to door.

A dual direction, high speed, STT tube used at only 10% of its capacity and having cars occupied by 1.16 riders would transport over 16 million riders a year.  Amtrak’s North East Corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston carried 11.4 million in 2013. 

The customer can relinquish or keep the car when it reaches the destination. 

The vehicle is unattractive.

It is true that the sun has its moments and the output from the solar panels will not power the total need. In the estimate above, the sun in Phoenix would provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of 3.6 hours of rush hour traffic on a 6 lane expressway. One option is to broker power with the electric grid by buying and selling power depending on when there is excess or need. 

The vehicle’s batteries could be used as a collective storage media by having cars put energy back into the system when needed. Cars can also run on battery power while in guideways. 

Ultimately, the goal is to use as little fossil fuel produced electricity as possible. An electric car using coal produced power has the same carbon footprint as a gas engine car.

Guideways, right-of-ways, and costs

Call for Participation

Solar Tubular Transit

Schematic drawing of a dual direction Solar Tube. The approximate outside dimensions are 17 feet wide by 8 feet high. Shown are the solar panels on the roof, the three guideway truss walls with windows on the outside walls, the roadway with metal track ways, and the supporting pylon.

Due to reaction time, drivers maintain a 1.5 to 2 second space between cars on expressway lanes which have an observed capacity of 2000 cars per hour during rush hour.  In the STT tube, cars are linked to become trains.  This compaction of space more than triples throughput capacity to 7200 cars per hour. During normal rush hours, automobile occupancy is 1.16 persons per car. At that same rate of occupancy, STT tubes would transport 8352 riders in each direction, equal to grade-separated light rail.

Automobile drivers can go anyplace, anytime, and with whom they choose. These great freedoms are why there are now a billion cars on the planet. Solar Tubular Transit retains these freedoms delivering the rider door to door using predominantly solar energy. STT operates faster, safer, with no traffic congestion, pollution, with very little noise, and at much lower costs.  

Solar Tubular Transit provides individual transportation as a utility like electricity, water, gas, phone, and data services.  


Like a shopping cart, the customer uses any vehicle available and relinquishes it when done. Vehicles drive on normal roads and can enter guideways along city expressways for high speed commuter travel. They also use intercity guideways for high speed travel between cities. The system’s cars are taxis, family cars, commuter vehicles, and  fast intercity travelers. 

Comparing system passenger capacities and cost per mile to build.

Closed or open system?

Since this is a new system, rather than an improvement to an existing one, it can be designed, like air travel, to be extremely safe. Travel on the guideway should be foolproof and any problems that arise will be engineering or software failures that can be corrected. Autonomous travel on surface roads will be much safer than with a driver but still subject to the rare happenstance. With the seats facing one another, the riders are all sitting in the equivalent of the “back seat”, the safest place in an automobile.

System cars will have their mechanical condition constantly checked by sensors.  A car with a deteriorating mechanical condition will be excluded from guideway travel or if already on the guideway, sent to exit at the first opportunity.  In these cases the customer will quickly be able to get a replacement car. If a car loses power while in the guideway, the cars in front and in back can link with it and take it off the next exit.

Fire is a real concern, especially in the guideway. System cars, by not carrying fuel, will be at much lower risks than automobiles. Batteries can be a fire hazard but the proliferation of electric automobiles is securing that technology.  A fire suppression system is installed to serve any areas within the mechanics of the car that can overheat. Fireproof materials are used in the car and the guideway. Unlike present automobiles, plastic is not used in the body panels and the car’s interior is fire resistant. 

SYSTEM                                RIDERS PER HOUR              COST PER MILE TO BUILD


Light Rail at Grade                           13,000                       $35 million (average)

Light Rail Grade Separated (1+1)  50,000                       $45-400  million 


Heavy Rail Subways                       30,000                        $551  million - 2.1 billion

Expressway (2+2 lanes)                   9,280                        $23-48 million 

Hyperloop  (1+1)                               6,600                        $17-47 million

Solar Tubular Transit  (1+1)           16,704                        $10-20 million

 
Note: Systems built on grade vary wildly in costs depending on the terrain and the degree of  urbanization. An elevated light system using existing corridors, like STT, will have much less variability.

The guideways use the airspace above existing expressway and interstate right-of-ways. Various governments agencies contribute the right-of ways to regulated corporations that build and operate the utility.

Presently there are trillions of investment dollars sitting idle while the possibility of getting federal or state investment in new infrastructure is slim. STT offers investors an opportunity to be rewarded for fulfilling a large universal need at a lower cost. 

As with our current utilities, numerous enterprises can participate but they must operate under a regulatory umbrella to assure compatibility and fairness to the customer.  Cellular phone network, trains, and electric distribution are all examples of utilities with diverse investment participation but where compatibility is guaranteed by government oversight. These utilities also participate with the government to obtain right-of-ways


Corporations will profit by reducing the enormous inefficiencies and duplications in the present automobile mode. They will participate in every phase of private vehicle travel from providing vehicles, guideway, fuel, and parking. The utility will compete successfully with automobiles, taxies, busses, light rail, commuter rail, high speed rail, and short haul air.

Freight

System Car.

Expressway throughput capacity.

System vehicles have their batteries charged while running on the guideway or stored in system storage or at parking venues. A fully charged vehicle has a range of 80 miles off the guideway. Customers who travel away from the system can plug the vehicle in to recharge it. If a vehicle’s batteries begin to run low, the customer can always go to a system location and swap the vehicle in for a fully charged one.

Navigation.

A relinquished car moves autonomously to highly compact storage facilities or to pick up a new customer. Released cars can also travel to locations where customers need them. 


Americans drive their cars an average of 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year.  At 40 mph that is just 3% to 4% of the hours in a year. A car being driven 15,000 miles is only on the road about 1 hour a day. The system car is used by several customers every day which greatly expands its utility.

When an automobile is used to take a trip, the owner only calculates the costs in gas and parking.  I drive a 400 mile round trip several times a year and the costs for gas and parking are about $60.  According to the American Automobile Association, however, the average American sedan driven 15,000 miles per year costs $.61 per mile or $9,122. My 400 mile drive, more realistically, cost $244.  

Given the multiple efficiencies that STT offers, it should be possible to provide the 400 mile trip for $122. But then, why should I pay $122 when it only costs half  of that for gas? The point here, of course, is that it will take some education for the consumer to see the $4500 in yearly savings. It will be easier, however, for a prospective customer to understand that the trip can be made in half the time without having to drive, worry about traffic jams, or parking.

It is not enough to leave the car at home and take a STT unit because the automobile’s meter for insurance, depreciation, and loan interest continues to tick even when the car is parked in the garage.  Real savings only accrue when the owner relinquishes his/her car for a system car. Eventually, driving an automobile will be viewed as anachronistic fun, like riding a horse.