However we are generally desiring a better live for our children, than the one we had, it seems that we are unable to imagine a better world. The sci-fi and anticipation books and movies present us merely worlds where we would not like our children have to live. So, for once, let us try to conceive a one that will yet be better, modestly, just in mobility, and dive into the life of a family…
… It is 7:14 this Tuesday morning, Mary sits in the kitchen, with her coffee. She will leave the home within 10 minutes to join the pick-up point ‘Mayflower’, at the corner of the street, to get in the car and travel on the seat she has booked. In the car, there will probably already be another person, on top of the driver of course, and along the 50km of travel, someone else will undoubtedly be picked-up or the other passenger will get out. Or perhaps should this happen more than once along the travel. Who cares ?
The car is connected, so that she will make use of the 40’ drive to work. The seat she has selected to book is a one within a no speaking sphere, but she could also select a speaking one or a one that would bring her at destination in a shorter time, or a longer, or only with people of the same gender, or musical sphere (and type), or a gaming one, or library one, or … the possibilities are now numerous. The I-way system has encountered so much success, and have so rapidly grown, that people owning a car are now fewer than the ones that had not a car before.
7:26, Mary is standing in the comfortable pick-up point ‘Mayflower’. It is rather a quite small, welcoming, waiting room, with seats that are nearly never used, since the cars arrive always within the minute of the appointment. Indeed, since the amount of cars on the road is barely 1/3rd of what it has been, there is never congestion anymore, and traffic jam has become a concept her children will have difficulty to imagine.
Her children … she thinks. Ana and Peter, had left the house with James, her husband, nearly 20’ before her. James and her organised the week, by the end of the week-end. Today, he will bring the children at school. With the I-way app, they could be fetched by a car with ‘children-school’ sphere, in a larger vehicle when enough children can get together along a sufficient part of the travel. But especially today they preferred to let them go with their father.
At school, which has got a much larger pick-up point, they all 3 will leave the car, enabling a last cuddling moment. Then James will get in another car, on the seat automatically booked, according to the travel he selected. That very nice feature of the I-way is surely the corner stone of its flourishing: to book a ride, you select the day, the destination, the stops (if any) and their durations, and the suited arrival time. The system offers you the possibilities, with additional intermediary stops or not, and with several departure times at pick-up points, in the neighbourhood of your departure place.
Of course, the shortest (so the fastest, thus the ones with the latest departure time) is also the most expensive one. That’s understandable, the shortest ride would generally not enable any other person to be picked-up. But, let be honest, the real gain in time is not huge.
At the very beginning, it was not yet so, but Mary and James have rather easily convinced some of their neighbours and colleagues to use I-way, they directly, all, reap the benefits of it. So that some of them in turn also convinced other ones and so (rapidly) on … It is so smart, using the app for a few minutes, to review the bookings for the week ahead, or more if you want, and confirming the travels some 8 hours upfront, or more if suited and possible. In any case a reminder helps the forgetful, 12h upfront. You get then the time(s) and pick-up point(s), when and where you will sink into the booked seat.
Of course, an incident or an accident is always possible. Not so much implying directly 2 or more cars, but in case of flat tire or when a tree has fallen on the road, or another unpredictable event. All predictable hitches, like demonstrations, important summits … that cause the closing of roads, have already been considered by I-way, when providing the timestamped itinerary. Also the unforeseen events, affecting your drive, are taken into account in near real time, so that you are brought aware of the possible travel updates (in compliancy with your booking, within tight tolerances), till you arrive at destination.
Every user is encouraged to give feedback on her/his travel experience, and in case of low satisfaction, the other passengers are kindly invited, by notification, to give their opinion (if they not already gave their feedback). Only if a severe dissatisfaction would be registered, they would be personally contacted. The driver is also encouraged to share her/his feelings, they are considered evenly.
The driver … another very positive point of I-way. They are of course carefully selected, along a well-defined and openly known procedure, to get a licence, which is not a kind of tax but a real certificate of ability and must be renewed every 12 months. This enable also I-way to guarantee a safe and correct service level towards the customers, rather the citizens, together with providing the drivers a correct remuneration. They don’t need to own a car, it is provided by I-way, which is planning the (regular and incidental) cleaning, maintenance and parts replacement in a secure and optimized way. I-way also provides and organizes regularly the continuous training of the drivers, empowering the delivery of the targeted service level and facilitating the certificate renewal.
There are 3 types of vehicles, whose definition has resulted of a deep analysis of the real transportation needs, and within each type (driver + 3-4 seats, 8 seats, 30 seats), the models are very similar. The 3-4 seats vehicle is a car, which is not always the most adapted vehicle, roughly 1/4th of the fleet has 8 seats and 1/10th has got 30 seats, never more. Larger vehicle would require too much stops and too long journeys for nearly no gain at environmental/societal level. When a school wants to organize a trip, it is so easy to book several 30 seats, making the organization so flexible to afford any situation.
The amount of drivers is huge, giving employment to a lot of people. They can work all along the day, not only to transport passengers, but also goods. The service is available 24 x 365, always with sufficient offer and demand. The less solicited driver, has always the highest priority to drive, in respect of her/his working time preference and necessary rest time.
I-way is not a commercial monopoly, it has been built on the model of a platform of platforms, shared by the users (passengers and drivers, in one word: the citizens). It manages a lot of things in behind, but in open transparency for the citizen. Everyone can become a driver, full time as well as part time or even very occasionally, provided she/he has a valid licence. Mainly it optimizes the amount of vehicles on the road, at any time, in function of the needs. There are consequently, among a lot of other changes brought by the system, much less vehicles parked. The availability of a seat is never a problem, at an affordable price, and the travel duration is always more than acceptable. Along the time, new services have been made available, like the possibility to have coffee on board (also using your preferred capsule’s brend in the vehicle’s machine).
… Mary has finished her workday, it is a bit after 16:00, she has been working from 7:30 (in the car) and did not need more than 30’ to lunch today. She will fetch the children at school. From her workplace till the pick-up point, where she will get in the car, she has no more than 3’ walk. After a drive of some 40’, she will reach the school before 17:00 and get home with Ana and Peter 20’ later, including the 10’ drive to home. She could also leave her work 30’ earlier and end her workday in the car, but she has chosen to change her mind and selected a speaking travel to exchange ideas and information with others.
This evening, the children do not have an external activity and the family has planned a dinner downtown. They confirmed their booking at the restaurant, and the related trip on I-way, yesterday evening during the few minutes they spend to their update. James will arrive at home some 30’ before the pick-up time, largely enough to keep on being relax. The demand on I-way is so intense, all along the day, that the availability of seats is better than guaranteed. In parallel the spectacles, movies, sports, restaurants, … offer a very broad panel of possibilities, their opening hours is no more limited by the absence of transport. And the money saved by removing the burden of a owning a car, and using it to transport merely 1 person, can be used to enjoy from a lot of nice things.
… They are so happy not to have to afford possible traffic jam (and getting nervous about it, already just by expecting them), seeking for a parking … and also not to bear the costs of 1 or 2 cars, which are much higher than what they spend on I-way. Indeed, there are so few vehicles on the road, using I-way, that the roads are much less solicited, requiring less maintenance and avoiding to build new ones or to broaden existing ones, enabling the state to make other use of this large savings. Among other initiatives, incentives are so paid, in the form of subsidies, for each shared kilometer-passenger, reducing the cost for the citizens.
Besides, the space that was used by the standstill cars, is now freed-up, the parkings and garages have been converted respectively in playgrounds or parks, and leisure rooms (library, music, playing, gaming, workshop).
Is this not a world where we, all, would like our children to live ? Rhetorical, question, sorry. Today it is no more than a fiction, but fictions (we will now rather say anticipations) of writers (and, I’m not pretending I’m a one, far from that) have often got their realisations, let us just think about the books of Jules Verne, for instance. Even facebook (however I’m not a fan, at the contrary), is born from something that was not more concrete than the perspective narrated here.