The Future of Commuting

January 23, 2014 in Transport by bbadmin

We all know that there is a real need to reduce energy usage and emissions. Even if you are a climate change sceptic, you cannot escape the huge rise in energy prices over the last decade. Pretty much everybody agrees that insulating their home is a good idea, but most people are reluctant to trade in their cars for more eco-friendly alternatives.

What’s out there now?

Currently there are just a few alternatives available to commuters wanting to ditch their motor vehicles:

Cycling

If you only travel short distances then sure cycling can seem like a great idea. You get some exercise and you save a lot of money. However this is simply not an option for a lot of people. If you need to travel a long way, perhaps you need to carry equipment or you just aren’t fit enough to make the journey. Not everybody is lucky enough to be able to get a shower at work – there are lots of reasons why cycling may not be a viable alternative, it will work for a few people, but it is never going to replace the car.

Alternative fuels

Car manufacturers have invested a lot of money in developing alternatives to petrol/diesel engines. So far only one option has made it to the mainstream – electric cars. The government has done its part to encourage us to switch to electric with various grants and incentives to buy. But the buying public has yet to be convinced. High prices, short ranges long charging times and lack of charging points are just a few of the barriers to overcome. Then there are also questions about their eco credentials. They still run on electricity which is mostly produced from fossil fuels, then there are issues with the batteries and questions over the longevity.

Public transport

Public transport should be the perfect solution. Vehicles still use the same fuels, but by transporting people in bulk there are huge energy savings. For now though in the UK public transport just isn’t reliable enough.  Journeys can also take a lot longer than driving. For example my 30-40minute commute to work by car takes almost twice as long on the bus. For public transport to displace the motor vehicle it is going to take a huge investment and intense PR campaign.

Some eco-friendly concepts for the future

SKHy Bus

lahore city bus

Hydrogen has long been mooted as the fuel of the future, but as yet nobody has been able to create an economically viable engine. When they do we could be seeing these funky looking vehicles replacing double deckers in our major towns and cities. The Solar and Kinetic energy to produce Hydrogen (or SKHY) bus is the brainchild of Portuguese designer Alain Monteiro. It is designed to recycle waste water and absorb CO2. Its only emission – oxygen.

Takht Lahori Bus

lahore city bus

This futuristic bus was developed by Ali Murtaza for the the “My City” scholarship competition of Instituto Europeo di Design’s School of Transportation Design. The zero emission vehicle is powered by electric motors built into the wheels. The bus looks great, but it comes with all the problems associated with current electric vehicles so don’t expect to see one trundling through your town any time soon.

3D Express Coach

straddle bus

Brought to us from China, the 3D Express Coach attempts to tackle two problems at once – congestion and the environment. The bus is designed to run on solar power. It runs on tracks in the same way as trains. Between the tracks is a 2 metre high space to allow other vehicles to pass through, while passengers are carried on the upper deck. Of the concepts here this is the closest to production.

The city driver’s future

folding car

The future of commuting may not all be about public transport. There are designers out there who still believe in personal transport. The tiny Hiriko folding car has been designed to contend with the challenges faced by drivers in modern cities – congestion and lack of parking. In its normal driving position it can rival most micro cars, but folded it measures just 1.5 metres, meaning you can squeeze into the tightest of spaces. The car is 100% electric so emissions are as small as the car itself. The Hiriko folding car should be available next year with prices around £10,000 it will give Smart car buyers some food for thought.

The Bear Bottom

Overcoming transport problems has inspired many designers to find a solution. Few make it into production and so far nothing has been widely rolled out, but the future commute looks very exciting.