Can a transportation system yield happier, more productive people? If it
embraces the 3 pillars of sustainability, the answer is an unequivocal yes. The
fundamental, fatal flaw of conventional mass transit is the consumption of fuel.
Even in nations with vast carbon resources, the price paid per ton of fuel can
fluctuate in a capricious market. Such variations make it difficult if not
impossible for strained municipal budgets to plan from year to year.
Consumption of any type of fuel involves an expense, does it not? Yes,
indeed. However, humanity possesses the technology to migrate to the least
costly fuel which also happens to exist on every continent, solar radiation, in
varying forms, direct sunlight being the most common.
If we adopt solar energy for mass transit system, the only ongoing cost lies
in the method of harnessing and later tapping the power from the sun. Hydrogen,
solar hydrogen to be specific, as advocated by noted scientists such as Dr. Roy
McAlister, unlocks the potential to embrace all aspects of sustainability, not
just environmental conservation, because the costs of using it are a mere
fraction of the total cost and impact of fossil fuels.
How, specifically, does solar hydrogen achieve this important goal? The
hydrogen is cracked from water during hours of sunshine or blowing winds and
stored in large tanks from which the vehicles are fueled. If the hydrogen is
compressed sufficiently, it can provide performance and range comparable to
liquid fossil fuels.
People – The first pillar of sustainability is people. No
successful policy for environmental sustainability can forget people. They are
the ones inventing and adopting the green techniques and technologies of
yesterday, today and tomorrow which can help preserve the planet for all living
People need reliable transportation. The freedom of movement is a basic human
right but too many people suffer from poverty of locomotion. What is to be done?
Many mass transit systems operate with government subsidies, most of which
are dedicated to purchasing fossil fuels for energy. With a system powered by
solar hydrogen, the subsidies can be dedicated to the short-term project of
acquiring the technology to produce, store and dispense the hydrogen as well as
converting the vehicles to burn hydrogen. Once those steps are complete, the
same fare box and advertising revenue which the system generated while burning
fossil fuels should be adequate to buy the water to convert to hydrogen and
maintenance of the hydrogen production equipment.
In short, the subsidies can end or they can be used to add new routes and
Planet – It is the unanimous conviction of properly informed
government officials of every level in every nation that anthropogenic global
warming is real. What is to be done? People still need to move from place to
place and earn a living. Converting mass transit systems to solar hydrogen
eliminates nearly all pollution from fuel and can reduce urban smog
significantly as the tailpipe emissions consist of water and filtered air.
Profit – The effects of the global economic crisis continue to
wreak havoc on municipal, provincial and national governments the world over. As
commerce slows, the reliance on social obligations by disadvantaged, and even
middle class, citizens rises with inverse proportionality. Further complicating
matters is the slowing of revenue into government coffers from constricted
commerce, leaving less for subsidies to the same mass transit systems upon which
even more people rely.
Conventional for-profit mass transit solutions seldom offer permanent
solutions as their stockholders demand a steady, positive trend in annual
profits. What is to be done? A properly managed mass transit system which uses
solar hydrogen for fuel not only can free its benefactors from the need to
contribute ongoing subsidies but turn a profit as economies of scale begin to
apply and operation of the system is optimized. By reducing the cost of fuel to
bare minimum, a new paradigm of profitable mass transit systems with low fares
In closing, if you are skeptical as to the viability of embracing solar
hydrogen for mass transit systems, I invite you to contact me. I will be
delighted to connect you with peers of mine who can point you to proven, cost
effective technologies which exist today.
I can't wait till a widespread mass transit system is implemented in the United States. I know I've heard that there are plans to build a number of bullet trains connecting major cities, kind of like the bullet train system they have in Japan, and the EU. That would rock, and as far as solar power goes, I hope our country can move forward with its
solar panel plans. I think the recent oil spill in the gulf will put a lot of public pressure on companies to go "green" or more accurately go "clean energy", which will be good.