Earlier we discussed the use of personal rapid transportation or PRT in space settlements, and O’Neill cylinders in particular. In a previous post we proposed that the public transport system of a O’Neill cylinder would consist of:
1. A maglev metro along the heart line of the valleys, serving as the backbone of the transportation system;
2. A PRT network serving as a secondary network, aimed at short distance transport.
A question one could reasonable ask is whether having both systems is actually necessary? One could argue that an extensive PRT system would make the maglev metro obsolete.
In a smaller space habitat such as Stanford torus or Bernal sphere, having these two system would indeed be superfluous. The the distances within the settlement are too short. However, in greater settlements, such as O’Neill cylinders, there will be a differentiation between short and long distance travel. The longer the length of an O’Neill cylinder, the greater the justification for a dual transport system.
PRT systems are usually designed to travel at speed 40 to 50 km/h, while maglev trains in vacuum could easily reach 8,000 km/h.
It might take several decades to complete an extensive PRT network (a maglev metro needs to build during the construction of the space habitat). Hence we need to consider an alternative transport system.
Again we suggest to use the maglev metro as the backbone of the public transport system. Additionally there will be a bicycle sharing system, which would allow people to travel to and from the maglev station.
In a bicycle sharing system people can use publicly owned bicycles against a low or even zero price. One takes a bike from station A and go to station B and leaves the bike there.
There are many methods to prevent people from stealing these public bikes. The system as we propose, is the following. First public bikes will be of an unusual model, to make a clear distinction between privately owned bikes and public bikes. Further bikes will be locked at their station and only be taken after paying a refundable deposit, for which people need to buy a special coin. The coin is returned once the user brings the bike to a public bike station.
The requirement to buy a special coin, rather than to use normal coins, will allow the operator to charge a higher price for the use of public bikes. This would create a greater deterrence for potential thieves as well providing some revenue to fund the program.
A bicycle sharing system could be extended to include tandems and freight bikes as well. The bikes could also be provided with an electric support motor.