Technology has greatly improved our way of life and quality of life over the last 200 years. At the same time this development has created problems too. As life expectancy has increased in developing countries, the population of the world too has multiplied dramatically over the last century.
Urbanisation has become rampant in many continents and associated demands have increased, especially so in both developed and developing countries. This has put a lot of pressure on resources, aggravated pollution and emissions, jeopardised the health of the planet and depleted natural resources. Transportation has been entangled in all these factors. Demands for both individual mobility and public transportation have increased the carbon footprint drastically. It is now critical that we pragmatically identify and source better alternatives to ease the strain and over-usage of conventional transportation and mobility facility. It is ever-increasing owing to the urbanisation conundrum.
The optimal solution should take into consideration of all urban aspects, suburban development and its peculiar requirements, plus the aspects of both mass transit and personal mobility involved with respect to energy efficiency, costs, infrastructure support, geographical factors and social mix.
Personal Mobility an important transportation factor
However well-planned infrastructure may be, individuals male or female have a preference for personal mobility as observed by studies. As fossil fuels are getting exhausted and expensive, car makers find that customers are turning to hybrid and electric vehicles. As a practical alternative the Electric Vehicle is apt for personal mobility and can contribute to the Green effort spreading all over the world.
The driving mileage, recharging cycle and charging durations, plus the initial cost especially of batteries for any EV, are a challenge to planners and infrastructure developers. We are in a transition stage. Customers in the USA and European continent are gradually shifting preferences to hybrid and electric alternatives owing to various reasons and awareness. Important factors that weigh here are cost of fuel and environmental issues. Some of the electric cars are made by dedicated companies, while others are proper cars from established automobile manufacturers, but many others are getting onto the bandwagon.
Some of the electric cars offered include i-MiEV (from Mitsubishi), iOn (from Peugeot ), C-Zero (from Citroen) and Vista EV (from Tata). Renault and other European manufacturers too are joining in. Currently hybrid cars have entered into the markets with a presence. Some of the hybrids available are the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic IMA, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mercedes S400 BlueHybrid, Nissan Ultima Hybrid and others are from different brands.
The other solution is to have electric vehicles available on rent to citizens and laying out an infrastructure for charging at parking places, on street as well off-street, with the involvement of local bodies or administration or voluntary organisations. On the other hand car sharing and car pooling concepts have been around for long now to ease pressures. An example of how trends are changing is that Fox Rent-A-Car in USA has on offer Hybrid cars for rental at most of their locations.
Mass Transportation solutions & systems
Various solutions for Mass Transit have evolved over the years. Some have stayed on and even evolved. Some have disappeared and some even have reappeared. The metro-rail services, underground or overground, are an examples of this evolution. Tramway-like options mark the re-emergence of a system that went once defunct. The recent UITP (International Association of Public Transport) World Congress and Exhibition had brought together industry bigwigs, administrators and various participants to Dubai.
Presentations like that of the Superbus prototype by Delft University of Technology showed how innovative solutions have been conceived to solve the problems and challenges of mass transportation. The multi-national Siemens had presented integrated solutions to mass transit systems through their Mobility Division. At the UITP show at Dubai, Siemens displayed a mock-up of the Inspiro metro-rail concept. Siemens also displayed the Avenio, the new tramway concept.
Bombardier Transportation showed its Bombardier Primove City e-moblity solution, which has a contactless power transfer solution to all vehicles, at the expo. It also showed the INNOVIA Monorail 300 system that uses low-space structure for medium to high capacities.
Infrastructure for Urban Transportation
The present infrastructure found in urban areas has evolved over a period of time. The structure and organisation of roads, rails and other forms of transport have developed and improved with the contribution of advancing technologies. Thus we have seen increased traffic being handled by more efficient management and methodologies. A lot of automation too has come into traffic management. On the other hand the present infrastructure needs to be altered or even changed extensively in order to face the problems of pollution and efficiency in future. Electrification of the rail network has contributed to this change as a forerunner much earlier. The tramways of early days, of which some are still present, is yet another system that can answer to the need for efficient and cost effective transport solutions.
Introduction of highly efficient technologies and newer systems of transportation are being planned to meet the demands of urbanisation. For individual mobility, the advent of electric and hybrid vehicles have brought to attention the necessity of a network of charging stations or units. A lot of standardisation and compatibility issues have to be addressed and sorted out if a new and efficient system that can cater to a large populace is to be developed, undoubtedly at the earliest to compensate for the time and resources lost. Here too the future is going to be electric.
Further, a fact that having access to convenient personalised transport for long, can determine how well alternative public transport will be perceived by commuters and the general public. The convenience enjoyed, the distances travelled and the cost involved in mobility are the determining factors to any alternative. The commonality of the decision a mass of people make actually determines the usefulness of any mass transit system being planned or introduced. Besides these factors there are many cultural, political, emotional and social factors that influence the decision-making process. All these factors will have to be taken into consideration by the planners of urban space. The rising cost of conventional fuel will be the factor tilting the tables in the decision making process. The awareness of environmental issues will also weigh in the decision making. Try to know more about Surface Transportation Alternatives.
Electric Solution to Energy Needs
Electricity, the important energy source for current transportation solutions, remains a critical factor in developmental issues. Electric power remains a very cost effective energy resource considering its generation and usage costs.
For both personal mobility and mass transit, electric power is now increasingly being used and appears to be a viable answer to our expanding future energy needs for mobility. The problem primarily remains in generation and distribution of this energy. Among the different sources like coal-based generation, natural gas-fired generation, wind generation or solar generation, the electricity sourced from advanced Nuclear Power generation seems to be economically feasible. Yet the cost of insurance against accidents could prove very high and may affect the costing over the long run. But electricity remains the most convenient energy source, most widely used and can be conveniently manipulated to our advantage.
Integration of Infrastructure & Systems for efficiency
Although we have many systems in place the way we integrate each system with one another is crucial as it can effectively resolve many development and expansion issues, especially that of transportation. Integration is critical in urban development. The optimal solution will do away the need for an individual or family to own a personal vehicle, even help cut down costs and time. Thereby holistically helping towards de-congestion of urban areas. One form of transportation can be used for short distances. Next a change over to another will help to cover long distances quickly. A sustainable multi-modal transportation system should be envisioned. Electric power again plays a crucial role in futuristic planning incorporating public or private solutions.
Dinesh VK writes about reviews and technology, who is keen in observing Broadband providers in UK. Also he enjoys to compare broadband service and their marketing strategies followed in different countries across the globe.