In 2011 I wrote an article that described my solutions to India’s transportation problems. It was very popular, so I wrote a few subsequent articles on the topic.
The spoke system of transportation for a new Indian city
India’s main problem is that their level of affluence grew faster than their infrastructure. Roads were designed for bullock carts, not cars and buses. Bus drivers are often rude and drive in a jerky and unfriendly way. If you take the bus, you’ll be squeezed like a sardine, but if you drive a car, you’ll be creating more congestion. There must be a better way.
Transportation systems should be created for specific environments. Downtown areas have a very high population density and are ideal for certain types of transportation that wouldn’t be effective in sparely populated areas.
Moving walkways are perfect ways for people to get around in busy airports, and downtown areas. There could be enclosed above ground passageways with moving walkways. People could move roughly 8km/hour by walking on these contraptions. At that speed, you could get anywhere in any downtown area in minutes, as well as getting to various railway stations in minute as well.
Tolls For Cars
Instead of creating new systems of transportation, taxing the existing ways make a lot of sense. India has too many cars. Less cars mean that the other vehicles on the road will be able to move more freely. If cars are monopolizing roads, they should pay for that with daily tolls.
A Minibus Network on a Raised Network of Roads
Buses are no fun because they take too long to load, and don’t come frequently enough. However, minibuses are smaller and are fast to load. India is busy building flyovers. However, I believe that the money should be invested in raised roads that travel the length of the city. Minibuses could travel on a web of raised roads around the city traveling at speeds unheard of for cars. The raised roads would have no traffic other than small buses, so 70km/ hour would be possible and your commute might take minutes instead of hours!
Regular Routes for Share Taxis
Share rickshaws are unpleasant to get in an out of not to mention dangerous. But, enlarged golf carts or elongated cars might be very comfortable to travel around the city in. If there were regular stops for share vehicles, that might be a nice way for the middle class to get around.
A New City Built Around Transportation
I like the idea of building completely new cities in India. Tech workers and outsourcing workers might be able to popular these new areas. By creating a new city, you can design the city around the transportation instead of vice versa. You could leave extra space available in case technology changes.
Imagine a new city where offices are build in such a way that a cubicle could move from someone’s home to the office and be “plugged in.” Yes, this is a crazy idea, but fun. If your cubicle plugged into your home at night, a system could be devised where you could work in your cubicle while the cubicle was moved down the street into a slow cubicle train and to your office where it would get plugged in at exactly the right location. I love crazy ideas, but this is by far the best.
A Live Next to Work System
Let’s say you got a new job downtown. What if a new city in India made it a law that companies had to provide housing for employees within .5 km of work? You could have a flat walking distance from work which means no more traffic. But, what about your spouse and parents. How would they go to work? That is a harder question to answer. And what if companies could set up mini-offices in your neighborhood so you wouldn’t have to go too far. Instead of one huge office, mini-offices. It is an interesting concept.
Industry Specific City Design
Another interesting practical idea for a new city would be laws governing where certain industries could have their offices. If all call centers were in the same area, if you changed jobs, your new job would still be near the old job. If you were a programmer and there was only one IT park, your new job would be nearby.
Parking lots and trains
A new city in India could accommodate many large parking lots near train stations. It is normal for India to always skimp on parking lots and make the parking lot smaller, and more cramped than it needs to be. It should be the opposite if you want people to take the train. Parking lots should be large, easy to maneuver around and pleasant. Fast trains could leave every several minutes from the parking lot going everywhere in the city.
Imagine a city where there is a huge office building, a beautiful garden, and on the other side a huge residential high rise. If you live in one and work in the other, your commute could be across a bridge going above the park unless you prefer to walk.
Instead of going halfway across town to work, imagine shared offices. If there were shared offices in all neighborhoods, you could lease a workstation with a computer, desk, phone, and whatever else you needed. Shared offices are becoming a more popular concept in America, Berlin, and even Indonesia these days. They are popular with entrepreneurs, but why shouldn’t they be popular with big businesses? There would be less traffic if people could walk to work.
The Lake City Idea
Imagine a city on a huge lake or by the ocean. You could work on a huge ship. This is a bizarre idea, but a fun one. The ship could move around from port to port in the lake picking up workers while the other workers were busy at work. Cruise ships sort of operate on this principle as you can sleep in them while you move from travel destination to destination.
The Train Office Idea
A similar concept could be created for trains. If your office were on a train that moved very slowly, instead of going to work, you wait for work to come to you, and then jump on. It is a really strange idea, but interesting. Stores could also be on very wide railway tracks and come to you. The office might be on a mag-lev track to avoid friction and might only move two miles per hour. But, you’d never have to commute to work again. I guess during the middle of the day, the office could pick a location to “park” itself while people did their work.