Buses with ultracapacitors, solar panels, wireless passenger tech

Public buses and the bus system offer several opportunities for low energy and low cost operation.

Use of electric drive and storage schemes. Use of autonomous vehicles.

  • Buses can be electrified and they can be repeatedly re-charged as they travel on their route. The battery or super-capacitor used on a bus only needs hold energy for 5 or 10 miles of operation. 
  • The bus stops can be equipped with solar panels and capacitor storage, so energy can be stored for re-charging the next bus. 
  • Buses can be made to operate as autonomous vehicles. The driver can secure carts, load and unload freight. The driver can resume operating the vehicle when error situations arise that the bus navigation software can not handle.
  • An autonomous vehicle without a driver would have a vandalism or passenger mischief problem. 
  • Electric, autonomous buses could be made by modifying existing buses. Remove the engine and fuel tank. Install an electric motor and storage devices. Perhaps provide a fuel cell for supplementing the storage devices if there is a failure of the charging scheme.

Slashdot.org: Ultracapacitor Bus Recharges At Each Stop 

 Use of wireless computer technology for coordinating passenger and freight pickup and routing.

  • The bus and selected bus stops can operate cell phone base stations. All the phones calling through the bus or bus stop base station can have no-charge calls for organizing the pick up and drop off of riders and freight.
  • One of the ideas of putting carts on the bus is to push the load factor of the buses from below 20% (currently for El Granada traffic of mainly passengers) to above 80% by filling the bus with less time sensitive loads such as freight carts and unattended freight.
  • The cell phone communication can be used to link local electric taxi, local on-call ride-after-dark services to the bus service. The taxi can be guided to meet the bus. The bus can call a taxi. The bus can tell the taxi how many passengers and where each passenger desires to go.
  • The bus can call an autonomous driverless freight delivery truck. The truck can receive a load of carts and containers for local delivery. 
  • The local grocery store can schedule an early morning bus stop event to load 10 or 20 containers or carts for delivery.
Combine autonomous electric buses with 24 hour store and forward freight service. Use the freight revenue to facilitate 24 hour bus service, where present bus service is confined to busy hours with just a little night-owl service.

  • The present bus system struggles in a saddle of operating cost, labor cost and demands for service.
  • Move the operating cost down by selectively implementing autonomous vehicles. Experiment with ways for the "driver" to selectively leave the bus, or for the driver to lead a caravan of buses, with another driver rejoining the bus at a later station.
  • An euler path is the ideal way to structure an autonomous bus route. The path provides a very powerful simplification of freight routing.
  • A night time bus service might consist of one driver with three autonomous buses. The driver would load and unload the buses. He would sit in one bus and the other buses would follow the lead bus.

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