Post-modern transport is stuck in a rut. From car to commercial air travel was a quantum leap, but now we just have hybrid cars and bigger jets. These are incremental gains, which don’t even feel like it cause you’re still stuck in traffic or getting your crotch groped en route to sitting in a chair for hours. Nothings changed the game and it’s like we’ve stopped even thinking about it. However, in 1972 the Rand Corporation envisioned a vacuum tunnel system that would get you from New York to LA (2,500 km) in around 21 minutes. At potential speeds of up to 14,000 MPH. That never happened, but Tesla/PayPal genius Elon Musk is announcing a similar plan for half hour travel between San Fran and LA (381 miles).
Archive for the 'transport' Category
This week the Sri Lankan Police have been stopping cars to conduct a survey on traffic. Colombo actually has far less traffic than many global cities, but it’s still not good. So what to do? The survey created more traffic and was only in Sinhala, but it’s a start. There are a few obvious answers already on the table.
Halik has a great post on Upali, a professional trishaw driver. Well worth a read. With it he breaks down some of the numbers involved in the business. I’ve put the prices together to to guess how much profit they make. It’s not too much, really. Upali breaks down his basic operating expenses as follows:
Colombo badly needs middle class public transit. This is a start. This is a Micro bus (which is mad nice) plying from Kadawatha (Kiribathgoda, horror) to Kollupitiya. It’s a comfortable A/C bus, it has bookings, and it says it runs on time. This seems fairly ordinary stuff, but it isn’t. I’ve talked about the need for new buses and the resistance from some entrenched interests before. This is an example of something actually happening.
Sri Lanka’s public transit is neglected and mad messed. Generations ago they tried to fix this by privatizing buses, but there was so much rent-seeking and regulation that this also didn’t work out well. The buses are ancient, race around, and don’t serve the need.
I’m a big fan of public transit, but it’s not that cool right now, in Sri Lanka at least. This bus is cool. From Germany. This is how public transit should be. Nice seats, panoramic windows, its own lane, big and long. That’s cool. You can watch this video with or without subtitles on (the CC button). 90% of the content is communicated through sheer tone.
So I called David Peiris (Motor Company) cause I want to buy a trishaw. This was always a dream of mine but people laughed at me. Now that it’s part of a business idea, we were checking out prices. They’re actually horrific, Rs. 450,000 for a new Bajaj 4-stroke. But that’s not what really bothered me. It’s that the dealer said we’d have to pay an extra Rs. 4,300 to transport the thing from Hambantota. Why?
Traffic sucks. Sitting in traffic just feels completely unnecessary, and that’s the sort of feeling technology evolves to fix. So what will future traffic look like, in Sri Lanka especially?
I like the bus, when I can catch it. Usually. Rush hour the bus is horrendous, but there’s nothing like a nice not-full bus, sitting on the not-sunny side, listening to music, watching the city go by. And it feels damn near free, Rs. 20 max. Mounting and dismounting is a bit of an Olympic event, but besides that it’s generally chill. Unless it’s full, in which case the whole thing sucks.