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Category: Rail

Revitalize your city’s probably-terrible public transit system with a new and unexpected source of funding!

Background:

In many cities, there is no substantial funding for public transit. This results in extremely poor service (routes with minimal coverage of the city and few buses). This leads to a “death spiral” where people stop taking the (terrible) public transit, the service gets even worse, and so on.

These problems can, in theory, be fixed with enough money, but who wants to pay for it?

Proposal:

There is a simple way to encourage companies to pick up the tab for public transit. Currently, advertising is the only method of obtaining private funding for buses, but maybe we need to think of some other options.

Consider the bus route in Figure 1:

2-sponsored-route-before.png

Fig. 1: Here is a default bus route, before it is changed it due to corporate sponsorship. Circles indicate bus stops.

In order to entice a company to help pay for this bus line, we’ll let the company have some influence over where the buses go!

This could result in several possibilities, including:

Possibility 1: A bus route could be “detoured,” with a new stop added in front of a specific business (Figure 2). This would bring new customers to the business, and allow the business’ existing signage to reach more eyeballs.

3-sponsored-route-after
Fig. 2: If a chicken-themed fast food restaurant sponsored this bus route, the final route might be detoured as shown. Although the route might take a few minutes longer, the passengers would be delighted by delicious and economical fast-food chicken!

Possibility 2: One or more bus routes could be re-routed so that the route itself spells out a company name or slogan on the map. Since these routes would show up on online map searches for transit routes, the chosen phrase (e.g. “CHICKEN_4_LESS”) would be shown to countless map-viewing individuals, even if they didn’t end up actually taking that specific bus.

Possibility 3: As a more nefarious option, the sponsoring company could route the buses around competing businesses, rather than toward their own.

Conclusion:

This is a great way to fund public transit that does not require city bonds or taxpayer funding.

PROS: Helps promote the futuristic cyberpunk-style dystopia that was promised in 1980s science fiction.

CONS: Might slow down buses a lot, since these chicken-vendor-based routes are unlikely to be optimal for commuters.

Improve public transit efficiency and never worry about train delays again! One incredibly practical engineering trick that you won’t believe isn’t already a standard feature.

Background:

Rail-based transportation has an inescapable problem: in a single-track situation, there is no way for a train to pull over and let another train pass.

The issue:

Thus, a single stopped train can block an entire track indefinitely. And a slow train can’t be overtaken by an express train.

This can be solved by adding multiple rails, but that is prohibitively expensive except in very small sections of track. Additionally, it increases recurring maintenance costs.

Proposal:

There is one incredibly simple solution to this problem: just put an additional set of tracks on top of every train car (Figure 1).

1-passing

Fig. 1: Each train car has a set of standard rails mounted on top, shown here in red. The very front-most and last-most cars must have a ramp as well.

 

Now, a slowed or stopped train can be passed by simply driving the passing train over the stopped train (Figure 2).

2-passing-train

Fig. 2: Here, the passing train (purple) is able to pass the stopped train by going onto the second set of tracks (red). The passing train would presumably also have a second rail on top, but it is omitted here for clarity, and definitely not because I forgot to draw it.

 

Conclusion:

As seen in the illustration above, this will definitely work on train cars weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds, so construction on this project can begin immediately without further testing.

PROS: Effectively turns every single track into a double track.

CONS: May cause complications if this method is employed while the being-passed train enters a tunnel during the passing process.