REAL MASS TRANSIT, 1985

CATEGORY: MORE PORT TOWNSEND

The trouble with most public or mass transit is that it is only intra city or inter city.  Then the traveler has to take other transit to get to his-her destination.  Or if one wants to go to Stixville in the state of Slapdiddle, one has to rent a car or take other public transportation. I have an idea for mass transit that I think will work for all land-based situations.

When I was a child and we went into The Dalles (our nearest “city,” 50 miles away), we sometimes shopped at J C Penny’s.  When we paid for our purchases at the counter, the clerk did not make her own change.  She put our money in a little tube-shaped container and put the container through a little door just its own size, and schlooouuup!!!—it was sucked instantly all the way up to the glass enclosed mezzanine where we could see another clerk take our money out of the container and make our change.  It came instantly back to our clerk in the same way.  It was called a vacuum tube.

SO!  Why not build a vacuum tube for cars and buses?  It could be built in the median strip in the middle of freeways, thus utilizing a right-of-way that is already secured, and it could be partially or wholly underground.  Entrances and exits would go through a compression and decompression  tunnel with enough length for speeding up and slowing down, and with computerized entry and exit, avoiding collision.  An ideal mass transit system would be able to accommodate travelers during all phases of its evolution.  So, first buses would go from city to city in the VTube.  The passengers would use the existing underground and leave them within a block or two of their destination.  Then tube-sized modules would be added to hold private cars.  When they got to the exit nearest their destination, the cars could leave the tube and drive the rest of the way.  Meanwhile, the freeway would still be available for those who preferred to drive without using the tube.  Eventually cars would be designed with a rounded shape and retractable wheels that could go onto the tube without the modules.

I first wrote this in 1985. Now it is 2015: I just read that some VIP scientist in China is proposing vacuum tubes for trains to ease China’s transportation problems, and an architect friend tells me that a vacuum tube is being considered between San Francisco and Los Angeles!