|Podcar: AKA 'Personal rapid transit'. (Wikicommons)|
Last night I read in The Hindu that the Delhi city government is considering an elevated pod car system. CM Dikshit, quoted in the Times of India , had this to say about the effort: "We are willing to consider a new modern, convenient, pollution-free and affordable City Pod Car System to supplement the existing modes of public transport in the capital." Officials promise the city won't have to pay anything and the rides will be affordable. The cars, they say, would be battery powered. Hmm.
Apparently, Smt. Dikshit is disappointed by her government's failure to eliminate pollution in Delhi through construction of new flyovers. So she figures that we can do the same though the use of high-tech, battery-powered elevated pod cars.
Now I have been known to employ parody when writing about the CM. But not this time; this is all real.
For the record, I want to be clear: this is an incredibly stupid idea. I just can't figure out why the press seems to be simply printing government-issued press releases on the subject with no critical questions whatsoever.
We have a public transportation system, we just need to improve it. If we want to get people to stop using their private cars, we need to think of a way to make driving more expensive. The 'good news' there is that the world energy market will do that for us if we don't get around to being proactive about it. What we do know is that nobody is going to stop driving just because the can travel in a system that seems to be something out of a science fiction film.
This reminds me of the times Smt. Dikshit said we should eliminate auto rickshaws. Or the time World Class Toilets (number 1 on my CWG pet peeve list) were built--but never operationalised--in many Delhi markets.That, my friends, was a high cost, high-tech scam. There is a pretty good chance that this pod car stupidity is one more way for some friends of some powerful person to get a contract to build something we don't need.
Let's be realistic. Put more buses on the road--the ones we have are full; if we build more, those will also be full. And while we are at it, we can add more trains to the metro. I love the metro, but it is also bursting at the seems. The other day, my 11 year old son whispered to me while we were riding on the Yellow line at rush hour: "YOU think this is bad? I'm at armpit height! I can't wait till I grow a little bit...it won't smell so bad then!"
As for this high-fi, sci-fi pod car thing--forget about it. It's a stupid idea!