Trolleybuses seem like a really good idea. They don’t have to carry around big batteries and they never need to stop and charge since they can just run on overhead wires. But do they make sense in our cities now that we live in a dangerous world of extreme weather?
Because the Trolleybuses run on set routes that can’t be changed, what happens if you get localised flooding from extreme rainfall? You can’t just divert the buses around the flood like you could with a battery bus.
Maybe you could fit them with batteries small enough that would allow them to circumvent a flooded area but not too big to increase the weight by a huge amount. There’s also a potential problem with the overhead wires being affected by extreme heat. But that is also a risk for trams and trains so not really relevant here. Although perhaps the way Trolleybus pantographs hold the wires rather than lift up to touch them makes them more resistant to sagging wires than pantographs on trams and trains.
I think we’re going to see a lot of variation in bus drivetrains. We’re already seeing hydrogen buses up in Scotland which are at the moment pretty well suited to the rural routes, and EV buses in city centres. I don’t see new trolleybuses being installed in places that don’t already have them unfortunately, but hopefully I’m wrong about that.
But cities that do have them really need to promote the buses to the people once private cars are finally banned. Let them know that we were right the first time about public transport, and that car ownership was an epic mistake we can recover from.
I started writing the draft for this post last year as a follow-up to this post. At the time, I was quite heavily focused on technological solutions to transport and the climate crisis. Things have changed a lot since then. But before I go into how and why, check out the draft first paragraph I wrote before.
Hyperloop looks to be a serious threat to high speed rail. As a rail fan, this is a somewhat bittersweet realisation. But not only is Hyperloop a threat to rail, the Boring Company Loop system and the Tesla RoboTaxi Network that would operate within it is also a threat to metro systems and commuter rail.
I intended to write about how hyperloop and the boring company loop systems were going to give metro and high speed rail systems a hard time. I don’t want to write these systems off entirely, but now that we’re a year later and the climate crisis is looking like an imminent threat to the functioning of society, these types of solutions can’t be the priority. We have to drastically change the way we live now to be somewhat like full lockdown in terms of living more locally, with empty roads and more cycling. The time just isn’t there to be able to wait for self driving RoboTaxis to come along.
Perhaps the loop system could be great in the future when full autonomy is realised, but so far the Las Vegas Loop has been roundly criticised. Currently it’s being driven manually and quite slowly, so it’s not really doing anything a bus lane couldn’t do much better and more cheaply. And if we just banned private cars as I keep saying, then you’d get rid of the traffic which was the main driving force behind the loop concept to begin with.
With that said, maybe the Boring Company should instead focus on their plans for creating special small tunnels for running utility pipes and cables through. That really does seem like a great idea.
As far as Hyperloop is concerned, I saw a YouTube video that made me think a lot about it. It was on the channel “Adam Something” which I strongly recommend. I’m happy that I was able to still be open minded despite having most of my savings bet on Tesla (that might change soon, we’ll see). The video on Hyperloop compared it to High Speed Rail and maglev trains. Adam pointed out that Hyperloop cost estimates per mile are far lower than maglev, despite Hyperloop being effectively maglev technology plus a vacuum tube. The cost is therefore very likely to be significantly higher, and because of the way the vacuum tube works, you would assume that the maintenance will be a nightmare as well. Especially for really long routes.
From my perspective, if we’re to live more simple and low consumption lives, the most obvious thing to do for long distance transport would be to run more sleeper trains. We need to stop living the fast life and start enjoying the journey, not just the destination.
But for right now, the absolute priority must be to reduce emissions as fast as possible to zero. That doesn’t mean 2030 and it definitely doesn’t mean 2050. It means right now. During the first lockdown, we were told that global emissions dropped by about 13% during that time before climbing back up. If we were to do that on a permanent basis and improve from there, we might actually have a chance.
I got to the point a few years ago where I was hoping for the extreme weather to get worse and worse, because I knew it was the only way we’re ever going to get sufficient climate action. And it seems now that we’re rapidly approaching the point where it will finally force massive change. But then we got the news that methane is leaking from limestone bedrock underneath thawing permafrost in Siberia. This made me question everything, because if this gets as bad as scientists have speculated for years, then we could be in for massive warming in a very short time. If the climate is still in our control now, then it definitely won’t stay that way for long in this scenario.
It would no longer matter if tomorrow we ban private cars, planes and everything else we could do to reduce emissions immediately. Nothing we do would matter as it would be the ultimate tipping point. The nightmare scenario.
Imagine far-right nutters telling us climate change is still imaginary as the methane spews out of the bedrock, rapidly heating the planet and leading to societal breakdown at a speed so fast that no one can even understand it before we’re living in the apocalypse. I can honestly imagine it and that’s the nightmare.
I always thought that we would get to the brink and be able to turn back at the last second, but this news took that assumption and trampled all over it.
I keep saying that the left might only finally take power when the climate is so fucked that there would be nothing left to win. But now, could it even be that the far-right / corporate centrists could govern us all the way to our collective demise?
Is that the ultimate “owning of the libs”? To despise the people with the facts to such an extent that you’re willing to destroy all of life on Earth? Is that the grand ambition of Rupert Murdoch? To end life on Earth to teach those lefties a lesson in neoliberal corporate capitalism?
Most people want bike infrastructure and a green recovery, but the loud minority don’t. And they’re the ones that always get listened to. And not only that, the nice people even assume that most people disagreed with them. The tiny minority of sociopaths dictate the narrative in the media and the direction society takes.
I keep hearing this type of thing. Greta posted a while ago when I first started writing this blog saying that climate deniers are no longer the issue. The problem is with “general ignoring and belittling of the climate emergency”. And it’s no less true a year later.
This is becoming increasingly obvious as a problem in almost every aspect of society. The bad people run the show and the good people let them. I don’t believe for a second that there are more climate deniers in this country than people who care deeply about protecting our future. I mean why would you want to hurt your own future and that of your children and the rest of the future generations?
Same with politics. I can’t imagine that there are more people in this country that when fully informed would choose to vote for Boris Johnson over Jeremy Corbyn. The reasons they didn’t were that many of the good people were either not paying attention, or they were tricked by the media and the evil people who want nothing to change.
The only way we can move forward is to ignore these people and get everyone else properly informed. People like Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage will never have an epiphany and change direction, or admit what they’ve done was wrong. They will continue all the way to us roasting, drowning or starving to death in the climate chaos to come.
If we’re to have any chance for a better future, the quiet majority need to get the fuck informed and engaged. And fast.