Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Rolling the Roads

A nice little piece today from Age scribe Matthew McLean to solve Melbourne’s public transport woes:

They shall construct above-ground, domed corridors, each complete with lanes of non-stop conveyor belts. The corridors will be minimalist but comfortable in design, the roofs fitted with solar panels to power the belts.

Stations will be dismantled. Passengers can mount and dismount at will, with the speed set at a gentle 25 km/h in the CBD, increasing to 40 km/h in the suburbs. Padding will be placed beside the conveyor belts to cushion people's landings. Those laughable blue documents known as "timetables" will be stacked higher than the Eureka Tower, and a massive bonfire will ensue.

It’s a great idea, but hardly original. Heinlein came up with this almost 70 years ago in his short story masterpiece “The Roads Must Roll”.

Now I’m all for giving our cities a retro-future look, and moving walkways are a staple of that particular genre. They’re right up there with jetpacks and robot butlers and silver jumpsuits.

We might want to be careful about this one, though. In Heinlein’s story, this particular idea didn’t turn out so well.


Sarah said...

Have you read Ringworld? There's a city that has teleporters on every corner and you teleport block by block. That could work in Melbourne.