Future Ahead, Drive Slow Thursday, 2 September, 2010Posted by ~uh~™ in Cartoon, Mumbai.
Tags: Cars, Cartoon, distance, Future, insane, ips, MOHO, Mumbai, speed, time, traffic, year 2050
Of late I am spending too much time on road, driving. My travel time has increased significantly since last six months. I spend an average of 1.5 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening every day, to commute a distance of 18 kms between office and home. Sometimes it takes me more than 2.5 hrs in the evening. Just about a year ago, I used to travel almost double the distance in the same drive-time. May be it’s the excess of flyovers, eradication of the traffic signals (to justify the ‘expressway’ term), construction of further infrastructure, intense monsoon, deeper potholes or greater number of vehicles or a combined effect of all the factors which is responsible for the phenomena. Whatever it is, it has given me more time to be inside the solitary confinement of my car. With nothing better to do, I spend that time listening to music and thinking. Yeah, I used to think earlier too and have published my thoughts as general advice on driving or narrating silly road rage incidences. But of late I am thinking about the future.
I am no transport planner, or a strategic policy maker, but from the statistics that we get to read about the number of increasing vehicles this becomes a cause of concern for me. They say 500 vehicles get added into Mumbai roads every day. Using common sense I can safely assume that that many vehicles don’t go off the road every day. Our knowledgeable and experienced civic authorities and transport planners, after much deliberation has eliminated the traffic signals by building flyovers and pedestrian over-bridges to facilitate signal free commuting. Ironically, that has made the situation worse. Now the traffic snarls are sometimes longer than ten kms. Avoiding flyover is faster in some cases (e.g. Bandra or Airport or Malad flyover). Sometimes I have to drive for an hour at first gear to travel five kms. With my limited common sense but huge confidence on Indian civic authorities, I am very sure that over coming years, the commuting is going to be longer and longer.
So, say what will happen to Mumbai road traffic in the year 2050? Here’s what I think. It won’t be all that bad.
1. The cheap suburban local train network won’t sustain due to excessive commuter load. Being the fastest mode of commuting it would be converted into a premium luxurious transportation system (PLTS) which would be ten times costlier than driving a car. There would be two different class- luxurious saloon cars and executive first class. Both would be air-conditioned, equipped with television and wireless broadband. Luxurious saloon would have a bar and complimentary feet-massage service. Gorgeous stewardesses would serve alcohol on the seat. Each compartment would be manned with armed bouncers to take care of unwanted incidences. However, all these facilities would come with a hefty price tag, which could only be afforded by the rich and elite. A one way PLTS ticket from Dahisar to Churchgate would be equal to the airfare from Mumbai to Delhi.
2. On road, the concept of speed would change. The speedometer would be calibrated in Inches/ second (ips). Considering 10.9 ips is equivalent to 1 km/hr, an average speed of 10-15 ips would be considered great. City roads would have speed limits of 20 ips for cars and 30 ips for heavier vehicles. Bandra-Worli sea link would have a faster limit of 40 ips. Ferrari, Lamborghini and other sports car manufacturers would have special fast Indian models with as high as 100-150 ips as top speeds.
3. The concept would distance would change. Instead of Kms, distance would be measured and represented in hrs on the road signage. For, example Bandra to Kandivali would be 5N / 8R where N denotes normal and R rainy conditions respectively. Similarly, Colaba to Mira Road would be 18N/ 24R and Juhu to Panvel would be 24N/ 36R.
4. Because vehicles would have to spend prolonged period of time on the road, driving bumper to bumper at a speed of 5ips, all cars would be manufactured with gigantic petrol tanks. Passenger cars would resemble oil tankers. But auto pilot and proximity detectors would be mandatory installations. These sophisticated equipments would allow, the driver to do shopping or taking a quick nap, while the vehicle would be pre programmed to crawl in accordance with the speed of the vehicle in front and the rear, for a limited period of time. Gears would be extinct; all vehicles would have three automatic modes- reverse, crawl and auto-pilot.
5. Only people with immense patience and wisdom would survive, others would either die from the stress, road rage or in the ambulance enroute to hospitals. That would make the society more peaceful, young and advanced.
6. As it will take days to reach from one destination from other, offices would allow flexi timings. Office cubicle would house bunk-beds and lockers. Toilets would have shower cubicles and changing rooms. A dynamic resource monitoring system would map the working hours logged and compute the weekend hours accordingly. For example let’s assume every employee has to clock 40 working hours per week. Let’s say, an employee would start for office on Monday morning from Borivali and reach Colaba by Tuesday early morning during the monsoons. Now he will have to spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday by physically staying at office to log in 40 productive hours. The system would then allow him 48 hours of weekend. So the employee can leave office on Thursday night and reach home by Friday night. Unfortunately, the employee won’t be able to spend 48 hours at home because he will need another 24 hours to drive to office next week. For senior management and Directors of companies, driving hours would be considered productive and they would be entitled for longer weekends.
7. All vehicles would run in alternative bio-fuels which would include human wastes. Special arrangement would be made so that drivers and passengers can take bio-breaks inside their vehicles, which would be directly processed by the engine to generate power.
8. There would be Rescue Driver service who would, as the name suggests rescue the vehicles, in case there’s an emergency and the driver decide to abandon the vehicle midway and walks to his destination. Rescue drivers would work in close contact with the police and mobile mental asylums to rescue the cars abandoned by drivers who has gone mad with frustration.
9. Driving would be the next best lucrative profession after Pilots and MPs. The salary of drivers would be as high as CEOs and Director’s of companies. So, no one would be able to afford drivers except HNIs, the rich disabled and their children. Driving schools would issue degree certificates viz. Bachelor of Driving (B. Drv), Masters (M. Drv) or Doctorate (D. Drv) to the pupils as per their achievement.
10. It could cost a fortune to obtain a driving license. There would be a six level screening and counseling session including physical, emotional and mental health check-ups. All applicants would be tested in a simulated environment for 24 hours before announcing them fit for driving.
11. There would be mobile hospital (MOHO) vans fully functional with OPDs, IPDs, OTs and recovery rooms. An intelligent system of telephone hotline would connect the ailing to the nearest mobile hospital, which would take care of the patient that point forward. Delivery of babies, heart attacks, trauma and accident emergencies would be easily catered through such hospitals. These MOHOs will admit the patient and start the treatment enroute to his/ her home or the Hospital HQ, depending on the severity. In case of death they would deliver the body to the patient’s home free of charge. Rescue drivers would deliver the vehicle back home.
12. There would be mobile shopping vans selling vegetables, clothing, groceries, electronics, books and everything else money can buy. Similarly there would be massage parlours, laundry, ATMS, beauty parlors, lawyer’s office, stock broking and real estate consultancy and career counseling all on the move. However, mobile bars won’t be allowed, as drinking and driving would still be an offence.
13. Unsolicited calls from Insurance agents, credit card companies and Mutual Funds would cease to exist. There would be trained personnel who will knock at the vehicle windows to sell their products.
14. There would be on road services to cater to all kinds of tastes. There will be ROWs (restaurant on wheels), WOWs (waiter on wheels) to HOWs (Hookers on wheels, albeit illegal).
15. Cycles would be banned being too fast, due to the increased risk of accident to the rider. Only cops and emergency service providers like dudhwala’s, dabbawala’s and rescue drivers would get special permission to use cycles.
16. Auto rickshaws would only be used as VIP vehicles and ambulance, for their sheer ability to negotiate through thick traffic in emergency situations.
17. Two wheelers would ceased to exist, due to their inefficiency to withstand long journeys through potholed roads. However, special licenses would be issued to stuntmen performing at circus and Death well (Mauth ka Kuan).
18. Potholes would be leased to companies, who would conserve, beautify and maintain them. There would be proud and loud signboards like “This pothole is maintained by L&T since 2010- It’s all about Imagineering” or “This is a Kingfisher Pothole- Enjoy the Good Times” or “ Microsoft Pothole – Where Do You Want to Go Today?”
19.Anti-gravity cars, driverless cars, artificial intelligence, honest cops and smooth roads would still be subjects of research and development and millions of Rupees would be spend to fund the ambitious projects.
I can foresee, the Mumbai model would be highly successful in India and would be imitated by other fast growing countries. Being able to use the commuting time productively and efficiently, Indian economy will grow in leaps and bounds and emerge as one of the most powerful nations to control the global future.