The System: II

All the technology for the  FlexiTrain  system exists today. Systems integration and series production will make it affordable.
Enormous research funding has been committed to alternative fuel research by governments and the private sector. All the major car manufacturers are committed to producing clean air vehicles. All have electric variants proposed, with energy sources including hi-tech batteries, high-energy capacitors, or hydrogen fuel cells. This technology is growing geometrically. The first mainstream electric and hybrid-powered vehicles are already on the road.

A Day in the Life of a FlexiTrain Commuter (conclusion)

As they approach the bridge, the three lanes of conventional traffic start to slow down, then choke. The FlexiTrain is in the bus lane, so this doesn't affect John and his fellow travellers. Then the pilot comes through on the intercom: the traffic management system reports that their destination at 4th Avenue is gridlocked because a tanker has jack-knifed across two incoming lanes of traffic. Commuters are advised to stay clear of 4th Avenue for the next hour. The revised destination is Main Road/6th Avenue, and has been updated on the trip map displays. Estimated delay is 6 minutes.
Thirty five minutes after leaving home, John is in the office, and the sales report is complete. Forty minutes later his colleague, who lives in the same neighbourhood and prefers to drive his 1990's vintage oilburner, arrives muttering and starts his working day. John has a cup of coffee.

Later in the day, John has to visit a property development site 65 km out of town. He and the company land surveyor take a company EVute which has the same basic running gear as the four-door Shopper. It has two seats and a small load area behind. Because they are taking some bulky equipment, they hitch up a FlexiTrailer. This also carries a small natural-gas powered engine/generator set which is used on the sites as a portable power source. On the road, it doubles as an auxiliary power unit, which extends the vehicle range to over 300 km. They connect with a long-range off-peak FlexiTrain from downtown, which takes them to the next town 55 km away. During the three quarter hour trip they produce sketches for discussion with the client. Driving on the dirt track to the site,  John finds the all-wheel drive copes easily with the terrain, and there is plenty of low down torque to haul the trailer up some pretty steep inclines. On the return journey, John spends most of the time finishing up the day's business calls on his cell phone. He is used to doing this in the car, but this time it's not a dangerous occupation.

After work, John strolls down to collect his car. It has been locked to the charging post during the day, attached by its front coupling, and is fully charged. Vehicle theft is a care he doesn't have since he started using the Commuter. John gives Mike a lift after work. Mike's wife dropped him at the Park and Ride this morning, but has to fetch the kids this afternoon. So Mike booked a Commuter, to be collected from John's disconnect node on the highway. He will use it to get home, and to get to the company dinner party at the club this evening. Tomorrow he will drop it off at the Park and Ride site near his home. The rental will be debited to his smart card.

The party is a great success. Some, like Mike, have perhaps enjoyed it too much. There is no way John will let him drive home in that condition. There isn't a FlexiTrain staging area at the club, but on the second try they hook up Mike's Commuter to John's. The boss likes this idea a lot, and wants to know if he can get driven home, too. So they hook up his Commuter. John in the lead vehicle mutters about taking a good thing too far. They drop Mike and his wife off on the way, and take the boss home. It's 3:00 a.m. by the time John gets home. There is enough time for the Commuter to charge up, but today John might use the morning commute to catch a nap.

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