If Katla (above: she’s Eyjafjallajökull’s much bigger sister) blows, and grounds flights forever, will this finally be Dr Storkey’s moment?
The blogwaves are already filled with links to Seat 61. But as I’ve Cassandra’d here repeatedly (yes, I’ve made it into a verb) train travel is not all that light once total system costs are factored in.
As the graph shows, the best motorized way, by far, to move long distances is by coach. Buses produce 29g of CO2 for every passenger kilometre travelled, compared with 52g for trains and 170g per passenger km for cars and airplanes.
[Plug-in electric cars are very popular with politicians and car companies: they embody the myth that we can all carry driving around in private vehicles as normal, and the planet gets saved. It’s a dangerous con: the true costs of electric cars – from the heavy metals in their batteries, to the coal-generated power needed to run them – mean that their viability as a long-term alternative to unsustainable mobility is an illusion].
Car, road, and aviation industries have had a death grip around the necks of policy makers in most countries, so bus travel has not flourished. But this could be its moment.
To develop as a mass alternative to flight, what’s needed next is an integrated combination of enhanced vehicles, improvements to existing infastructure, web 3.0 platforms and social innovation to make each step of a journey easy and fun.
A few weeks ago I asked a group of senior car designers to consider coach travel as a product service system. I asked them to identify what elements would need to be improved, in such a system, to persuade them to consider coach travel seriously. Here’s a summary of what they came up with:
COACH TRAVEL DESIGN ISSUES
Free parking at hub
Shuttles from home/work
Info at hub and on web
Clear route data
Better experience than air travel
Can you add to this list? Have you done a project on any of these items?