Hyperloop for Indian roads

Traffic jams and gridlocks have truly become way of life these days. We most certainly miss precious something if a free silky lane welcomes us to cruise comfortably every morning.

Don’t we secretly love the roads bustling with automobiles struggling for space on roads? Isn’t it a perfect excuse to be late for an appointment? Aren’t we fond of buses run by the government? We patronize them like royals! We encourage all kinds of hybrid human carriers and swear by auto rickshaws. Why not? Aren’t they the top heavens jammed with sweating subaltern superheroes? They hang onto the railings putting Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark to shame.

Our public commute means are no less than sacred Cenotes. Only their similarity with the sinkhole ends here. Metaphorically, they are not pure sub subterranean water bodies but psychological sinkholes that set an unsettling pace to our lives as we emerge from the side (other door). We are born again: pure and sacred with a feeling so smug and warm with relief at the even–handed democratic treatment meted to all fellow mortals. Everybody’s wheels are off the wagon right? This is justice! My cynicism acquires N dimensions after my travel travails every morning.

Do we actually loathe the days when there are no two oversized stinking people to sandwich us? And, why am I cribbing about the heavenly black fumes? After all they are made of same stuff as humans. Carbon! Even diamonds are made of carbon.

People like me vent out frustration, disenchantment, and disillusionment with the system and take solace in the futile philosophy that everything goes to dust eventually.

On most days, on entering my cool, hip, snug work-place, I wrap the warped disdainful memory and shove it to a corner of my mind.

Sheer Helplessness on Some Days

However, there are days when shrugging does not help. It is with sadness, one looks at one automobile helplessly wanting to navigate out.

It is the Ambulance.

All the drivers behind the steering wheels are gentlemen or ladies with intent of highest order. They mellow down at the sight of an ambulance racing toward a medical centre. 9 out of ten times, they and I squint and take a wimped peek with a terrifying fear of spotting a loved one or a friend in the dreaded vehicle. After a moment, that primeval debilitating fear vanishes, but now transforming into a new emotion: empathy.

Please, we want to make way; we silently sigh and pray; yes it is the only rational route remaining.

If possible, everybody would get down and carry the patient over to cross the bottleneck at the traffic signal that invariably forms a narrow end of the funnel.

But a huge thanks to traffic network mis-management, blissfully excluding latest technology and adding another concoction of pouring multitudes into the cities, this agonizing experience is here to stay and grow into malignancy.

Here are some maladies facing our cities.

  • Increasing population

For instance, Pune has only eight super specialty hospitals catering to total estimated population of 3.99 million.

  • Super specialty medical centers are few and far between.

Only eight super specialty medical centers and all the patients requiring intensive, urgent or critical care converge to these centers taking busy traffic roads.

 Solution for Real!

There is a solution in sight. It is distant. It is novel. It could only be a lift off from Marvel comics or other pop culture bases. It may sound pompous. It is an idea nevertheless.

I can venture to only whisper coyly like a scared cave-woman behind my teepee flap. Okay, carefully. “A Hyperloop”.

Yes, I visualize people rolling their eyes in dead-pan disbelief. Readers of this post are possibly roaring with laughter. I can almost hear them say with a yawn, “I expected better from her!!”. Isn’t this some quixotic concept making headlines on CNN?

Hyperloop-2015-9/

Wait, high thinkers of our generation have actually had the proof of concept tested. Elon Musk, Rob Lloyd and their team may very well have a remedy to this unbearable ordeal. Give the idea some time and it could become a life saving means of transportation.

The outline of the original Hyperloop concept was made public by the release of a preliminary design document in August 2013, which included a notional route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area, paralleling the Interstate 5corridor for most of its length. Preliminary analysis indicated that such a route might obtain an expected journey time of 35 minutes.

(Source: wiki/Hyperloop)

 Translating this solution to our local problem:

The distance between the nearest super specialty hospital and my residence is roughly 10 kms( ~ 6.2miles). At an average speed of 40 Kms/hour, the ambulance reaches the hospital in two or more hours. Isn’t this a real problem?

Imagine, a Hyperloop exclusively for ambulances reaching the care centre in 10 minutes or less even at 40Kms/hour. Math here is not based on LA and SFO of the proposed Hyperloop. It is a scaled down and toned down version for cosy ride for the person needing prompt health-care.

Roadblocks

  • Call it H-Hyperloop, if you wish. I don’t wish to get creative here. All I need is a solution to my mental dismay every morning and evening. Critics disregard Hyperloop at this stage as something that actually induces sickness and is therefore anti-climatic as a solution to my commute problem. The version for ambulances needs to address the problem of traffic and not the speed and distance. For Indian conditions and roads, Hyperloop for ambulances can be customized with equipment and world class facilities. They need not be lifeless steel encasing.
  • Naysayers may actually call it a glorified version of a fly-over. So be it. Quote the collapse of flyover in Kolkata and say it is “An act of God!!!” Excuses for inefficiency are countless.
  • What about the matrices, resources, funding, cost, project management? I will wisely leave that to experts.
  • Last but not the least, what is the Return on Investment? Even one life saved is equal to 100% ROI.

When I read aloud, Hyperloop almost sounds grandiose, bombastic and untrue. The experience is akin to a 13 year old boy watching Star Wars. It is a risk to ballyhoo a solution fraught with danger to human life. If project LIGO, inspired the pursuit of knowledge for the soul, why not Hyperloop for the body?

I almost put a hard stop proposing this solution. Who gives a damn anyway? But again those frowning nameless faces in the ambulance with worry writ across their foreheads loom large into to my sub conscience and make me go mushy with cornucopia of emotions.

And again a loop begins. Why discount a fantastic idea that will literally and figuratively save lives. Generations ago people must have discounted great ideas and decried every novel proposition. Howard Hughes was certainly not a hero all the time. He was not placed on pedestal and nobody adored him with laurel wreath around his head. HedyLamarr, undoubtedly ravishing is more known for her glamour and was rebuked for proposing her hard earned patent worthy Secret Communication System.

One plea to the Government of India

Standing on a steep cliff of insignificance and anonymity here, trying hard belaying, I am spelling out a quick To-do list to any government representative, who may care to heed:

  • Engage with Hyperloop Technologies Inc immediately. Slovakia has already taken a step ahead in this direction.

hyperloop-transportation-technologies-signs-agreement-with-government-of-slovakia

  • Study the Engineering Feasibility Report
  • Invite the Public-Private partnership. If this has worked in Bandra-Worli Sea Link, it will certainly work.
  • Increase the tax base. I am sure; people will part away with a part of their sweet hard earned money for any meaningful projects.
  • Kick off the project in a selected city. Nobody will chuckle or suspect foul play, if you choose Pune, Hubbali or any place.
  • Start with a Minimum Viable Solution or Service.
  • Believe and Build it.

Apart from the noble cause, there will certainly be incidental super benefits in terms of investment, employment and a start to slumbering manufacturing sector in India.

While I am at it, here are some of my questions to our government representatives or people doing public service:

  1. Where do I suggest such solutions?
  2. Which are the platforms do provide suggestions to the ministries?
  3. How does the messaging and communications team work in Government?

Alternatively, I request the readers to suggest and post plausible alternatives to the ambulance management at Hospitals websites. Only actionable thing we could do is redirect the ideas to the hospitals.

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