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Community Solutions: Smart Jitney Transportation in the Coming Era of Peak Oil & Fuel Scarcity

The Smart Jitney is a system of efficient and convenient ride sharing that addresses in the short-term the problem of transportation in a post-peak oil world. The system utilizes the existing infrastructure of private automobiles and roads due to the time, expense, and difficulty of building a new transportation infrastructure amongst such a dispersed population. The goal of the system is to insure that each private car always carries more than one person per car trip, optimally 4-6. This would cut auto gasoline usage by an estimated 80 percent and commute time by an average of 50 percent within two years.

The Smart Jitney system would use cell phones and the Internet for ride reservations and coordination. Riders and drivers would have modified cell phones with a Global Positioning System (GPS) function. Software experts from the military command-and-control communication systems would join engineers and programmers from the nation's airline and automobile reservation systems to create the tracking and scheduling database for a new nationwide human transport system using existing cars.

In a Smart Jitney system, every person may be a "driver" or a "rider" at different times. The system would connect drivers with riders to insure optimum routing and minimum time delays. Each person who wants to take a trip, whether to work, school, shopping, or recreation, would use his or her cell phone or web browswer to request a ride from the system. The system will locate the appropriate vehicle and driver to pick up and deliver the rider (or riders) making the request. Drivers are those who have planned trips of their own and need riders to fulfill the requirements for ride-sharing individual trips will be limited in a time of energy scarcity.

As the system develops, a huge decrease in roadway accidents and fatalities can be expected. This could result in substantially fewer insurance payouts and, hopefully, a concurrent reduction in premiums. Additionally, the nation would experience a major reduction in road construction and maintenance since wear and tear would be reduced. We expect that, as people became aware of the system's benefits, any sense of sacrifice would diminish, replaced by a sense of excitement.

A completely developed Smart Jitney Car System will take some years and some millions of dollars. Currently, a detailed 15-page specification of the Smart Jitney is available in our New Solutions report #12. This specification covers the function, vehicle and driver rules, police involvement, privacy, dispatching, reporting, benefits, societal changes, cultural barriers, and financing and implementation.

We are next focusing on developing a more in-depth specification and implementation plan. It will address the specific design issues in order to define a rough specification from which pilot projects can be developed. A similar specification must be developed for legal implications and include a summary of the changes in laws that must be made to achieve full scale implementation.    

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