In January this year, Beijing saw its air pollution hit the highest toxicity levels ever. On a scale that runs between 1 and 500, it somehow managed to score 755.
When levels between 301 and 500 are described as “Hazardous” and people are advised to avoid all outdoor activity, I have no idea what you are supposed to do when it hits 700. Rapidly repent your sins, perhaps?
What Beijing’s smoggy skies proved to us is that our current transport methods are incompatible with the scale of our modern populations. That is, unless we’re content living in the centre of a gigantic cloud of thick sludge.
So how do we revolutionise a world’s obsession with the motorcar? Well, ahem, we’re not exactly sure yet. There’s lots of ideas – some good, some bad and some lifted directly out of a Z-list sci-fi film – but none have yet stuck their head above the parapet and shouted “Pick me! Pick me!”
But we think there’s some good ideas out there and that all they need is a bit of traction. So, in the interests of saving the entire planet, Caledonian Couriers is going to pick out the front runners to lead a world transportation revolution.
It’s a car, Jim, but not as we know it.
Our love affair with the car is, in all likelihood, never going to go away. So, rather than waging war on the car, we’re going to concentrate on tweaking our relationship with it. Don’t panic, this is just a very slight tweak.
With the advent of the driverless car comes potential for huge change. In bygone days, a car required a person. That person was its driver and probably its owner. If we cut away the the necessity of a driver, we could get rid of the traditional owner relationship, too.
Rather than an asset, cars could become a service.
Imagine a fleet of autonomous cars. You stand on the street and input your journey into an app on your phone. Your journey is matched against everyone else and a bespoke car share is created. A car is then dispatched to pick you and you are then ferried to your destination.
Automated car sharing could wipe out congestion and open up city centres to breathe once again. There would be no traffic jams. There would be no car parks. There would be no rush hour. There would also be no need to stay sober on a night out.
Our transport but better.
At Caledonian Courier HQ, we look at brand new transport methods a lot. There! We admitted it. We enjoy sticking our heads into the clouds and having a peak. And while we’re busy fawning over hyperloops and flying cars, we admit that there may be quite a lot of interesting happenings going on right now on terra firma.
Our current transport methods are developing at a rate of knots. I mean trains have been floated along on a track of magnets for ten years now. Floating on magnets. It’s the stuff of children’s books and it’s happening right now.
Maglev trains (magnetic levitation) are already in operation in Shanghai, Japan and (almost) in South Korea. And they’re planned in dozens of other locations.
These 300-mile-an-hour bullets are a mile away from the diesel-powered relics and electricity-powered antiques that grace our creaking railways. So, maybe what we need isn’t so much a revolution as an evolution.
Our transport but better. Or maybe we need hyperloops and flying cars. Only time will tell.