Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

– Doc Emmett L Brown, 27th October, 1985.

Fast forward to 21st October, 2015. Today. The day of the flying cars, Jaws 19, and Hoverboards.

Of course, there are no flying cars. Atleast not yet. I’m personally upset that while there was word of Nike’s Shoes with Powerlaces, I don’t have an auto-adjusting jacket that dries itself when wet. But enough of flying cars, we all know that’s still going to cause traffic jams, on the Skyway instead of the Highway. We have already seen a 100km long traffic jam in China, and with the number of cars being added to the roads each day, I won’t be surprised to see the same on the Western Express Highway. If flying cars did exist, expect a massive jam on the Western Express Skyway.

Now given that I am a Bus Aficionado, let us change our focus to buses. Right now, the closest we have got to Back To The Future is a Metro Rail, which is a railway line above the ground. Or, as they refer to the MRTS line in Madras, “Parrakum Rayil” [Flying Rail].

 

If Flying Vehicles existed in 2015, like BTTF predicted.

  • Western Railways and Central Railways would be plying flying trains from Chruchgate to Virar, or CST to Karjat and Kasara. Striking workers and rioters would have to tie themselves up to each other and suspend themselves, but the train would skirt them. Thankfully.
  • Idiots who drive like maniacs on the ground will do the same thing in the air. The impact of accidents may be worse because you’d fall a long way, but atleast people on the pavements won’t get run over.
  • BEST will operate them flying Purple Faeries on two types of routes: AS [AC Standard] and AExpress. AS-1 will fly on the Service lanes of the Eastern Express Skyway while A8Express will fly over all traffic. Don’t ask me how they intend to keep coming down to pick up passengers. Of course, they will continue to be loss making due to lack of passengers.
  • NMMT will continue to flood the Mumbai skyline with its fancy Volvo buses, introducing new routes from Worli to Navasari and Mulund to Dehu Road.
  • TMT will continue to operate it smokey, rickety rattle-trap buses, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear news of accidents caused due to the bus parts falling down.
  • The Bandra Worli Sea Link would become a place where homeless people hang out.
  • Thanks to technological advancements, the Metro tracks would be in a condition similar to that of IRs tracks with people using it as their personal loo.
  • Autos will fly and cause traffic jams. Some of them would be replaced by Tata Nanos. Don’t worry, Tata Nanos won’t catch fire in the air.
  • Jaywalkers will find a way to jump across the street, so high up.
  • MSRTC’s Shivneri will reach Pune faster. The Dadar (East) to Pune Railway Station journey will take 3 hours instead of the current 4 hour trip because of the sheer number of cars flying around Lonavala. Don’t forget flying cars selling Maganlal Chikki.
  • KSRTC’s Airavat will take 12 hours on the Bombay to Bangalore route. The Hubli Dharwad Skypass is still two lanes.
  • Ashok Leyland will flood the Skies with the SKiBus.
  • The Andheri flyover will be used by people on Hoverboards.
  • Dadar will continue to be a mess because of flying trains, buses, cars, taxis, everything. Kabootar Khaana would be the root cause of Congestion.

Note. I was originally intending to Photoshop a Cerita in the sky over the Western Express Highway, but it would have looked way too tacky. I’m laughing as I type this.

 

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Travelling with your television

So, I was randomly going thru the internet when this one thing stood out: Tata Sky Transfer. I couldn’t resist, so I went thru all the possible search results and came across this video:

It is a very interesting thought and I personally feel this would work wonders to provide a comfortable mode of transport for us. As you know, we spend quite a lot of travel time to work. Now imagine this scenario, I work at the World Trade Centre in Cuffe Parade, and I live in Thane. My work times are such that I am unable to catch the A8Express, so I end up catching AS1. Now I have to contend with sitting on that bus from 8am to 10am to reach work and sit from 7.30pm to 10pm on my way back as it makes its way thru Sion, Dadar, Parel and Byculla. I’m spending close to five hours of those in a bus. Now, I, for one would be happy because I love buses. But what if you wanted to do something else?

Let us assume that I want to catch up on my Television viewing instead. Now I’m a fan of Mash, Knightrider and Scooby Doo, and I hypothetically imagine that Comedy Central, Star World and Cartoon Network are playing the three of them respectively. So, I decide to record the episodes in the morning while I catch up on my sleep. I wake up, refreshed, and head to work. I finish my days work, and head back to Backbay Depot, from where I board my AS1. I want to unwind, so I pull out my phone, and turn on the latest episode that I recorded earlier in the day. What if one morning, I decided not to sleep, I could watch Scooby Doo instead. Or maybe, I recorded an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Present the previous night and decide to catch up on some intriguing mystery before I get to work? Imagine, one day, there is less traffic, and I reach home before I can finish my episode. I get home, and finish viewing it on my large screen TV. Or what if there is crucial Football or Hockey match that is going on, and I need to watch it, but don’t have the time, or am at work? I simply hit record, and watch it in the comfort of my AS1, and maybe even my home; that too with the added benefit of pausing and rewinding whenever I want.

Overall, I think #TATASkyTransfer seems to be a good deal. Go for it, and if you take A8Express or A13Express, ditch those for an AS1 so you could spend more time watching the Telly.

 

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Public Transport and Cleanliness

They say Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Well, I wouldn’t disagree with that. When PM Modi started the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, I, for one was really happy. Here was a mission, endorsed by the Prime Minister himself with half the parliament supporting it. Indeed, it would mean that we could soon progress towards becoming a cleaner nation. However, this movement alone won’t suffice, for a lot remains to be done. Here, I am going to have a look at how cleanliness affects us while commuting.

Commuting is a very sticky situation from a cleanliness point of view. Lakhs of people use Public transport, we do not know where they come from, we do not know what they have  touched, nothing.

Among various factors, germ transmission is very high in public transport. Among various carriers for germs, apart from the air, especially in air-conditioned buses and trains, are currency notes and coins. Due to their extremely long life, since they are in circulation for periods extending to several years, they are hotbeds of germ activity. Similar to bank currency,  are the reusable tokens that are used in modern rapid transit systems. However, that isn’t all. If you use a ticket vending machine at a railway station, like in Mumbai, or the automated machines on the Metro, you would still be performing germ transactions. Possibly, the cleanest mode of payment would be using the Coupon Vending machine, since you won’t be touching the Coupons, or, using the UTS app. In BEST, I carry my prepaid card inside a small plastic packet, so if I buy a pass, I put it into that packet and keep it there behind the pass. Other sources of germs are the grab handles of course, since most people hold on to those, as well as the seats themselves, especially the fabric ones. Thankfully, on most long distance routes these are fumigated after each ride, but I still recall cockroaches behind the last seat of a Volvo B7RLE owned by TNSTC between Madras and Pondicherry in 2012.

Now, this brings us to another source of contaminants: Insects, Pests, Rodents, et al. Cockroaches on a TNSTC Volvo is  noteworthy, for it signifies that they are providing services on par with Greyhound buses. Similarly, there have been cases of rodents in transit systems. These, could lead to serious health issues.

Then there is the case of people spitting everywhere, inspite of boards asking them not to spit, or litter, everywhere. These give rise to other problems, they may not be contagious, but I sure wouldn’t want to step on them.

In PMPML and BMTC buses, I have noticed that there is a lot of junk on the floor of the bus. These include dust, hair, wrappers if food items, tickets, and what not. Most people may not realise it, but these can cause dust mites to spread as well as cause respiratory issues.

So, what exactly needs to be done?

For starters, we can not litter in buses and trains, as well as in stations. Find a dustbin, and dispose of trash in that. Transcos should ensure that they provide dustbins at all stations/stops and handover maintenance and disposing of trash to a private party. Metro rail and BRTS services have totally banned consumption of food and water on their premises as well as during transit. It would further help if major bus stations, BRTS terminals, and Metro stations had clean, paid, well maintained toilets on their premises for commuters to use, thus preventing the need for people to do it in the open.

However, the situation can be brought under control, if commuters changed their mindset. For example, I always carry a packet of tissues along with a plastic cover to store used ones when I’m sick. I also carry a Hand Sanitizer with me, but I realise it isn’t practical for everyone to carry a bottle of Dettol with them everywhere.

Prime Minister Modi indeed started a noble mission with the Swachh Bharat Mission. While previous governments may have done it, nobody made it such a major affair till now, and that must be commended. It is up to us citizens to honour our PMs wishes and help keep the country clean. So, stop littering, and keep our country, and its transport systems safe. Maybe, it’s high time someone kept a bottle of Dettol Hand Sanitizer next to the ATVM or Ticket counter for people to use after purchasing a ticket.

What are your opinions? Do post them in the comments section below.

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