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CoachTrain: the challenges of innovating the inter-urban public transportation system

Peter Miller 
(@petereastern)

Transport is entering a period of epic transformation, where mass private car ownership is yielding to the likes of Zipcar, Uber, bike share and traditional rail. Peter Miller, a computer scientist and entrepreneur who has being working in this sector for 20 years, will highlight some of the more interesting trends and opportunities before talking about his plan to reinvent inter-urban passenger transport by road, using a vehicle that can dock whilst in motion to transport passengers.

CoachTrain is a radical inter-urban public road transport mode based either on coach-like vehicles that can dock and undock end-to-end on the strategic road network (SRN) to allow passengers to transfer between vehicles whilst in motion, or using carefully positioned static transfers stations on the SRN for the same purpose. By allowing transfers without detours into intermediate urban areas, the system will enable passengers to travel nearly as fast as when driving a private car and at a similar cost, but with the benefit of being able to work or rest on the journey, rather than having to concentrate on the road.

This project is in a research phase, with a focus on creating a simulation of the system. This problem has many degrees of freedom which includes the routing of vehicles, timing of departures, the timing and location of dockings and the allocation of people to vehicles. To this one could also add yield management pricing, which could be used to both drive demand and optimise revenues. In parallel with the development of the logistics software outlined above, CAD designs for possible vehicle interiors and docking mechanisms will be created.

Peter will discuss his approach to developing an ambitious project, and explain how he will be using open source and social media to both create the software and build demand.
 
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