The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Case for Jitneys

This is the html version of the file

Community, a solution for saving the environment and conserving resources with equity for all.
Number 12, April 2007
Plan C, Community Solutions’ response to Peak Oil and climate change, recommends energy
conservation alternatives in three categories: buildings, agriculture and transportation. Of the
three, transportation is the easiest category to address, but the solution involves changing our
value systems and the way we view the world, rather than relying on high risk technology.
For many decades, the problems of transportation have revolved around the issue of private
versus public. AfterWorldWar II the country made transportation via the private car the top
priority at the expense of public transportation.This choice is not sustainable.The private
car, regardless of its convenience, can no longer serve as the principle mode of people
transport. Its high cost, the depleting of fossil fuels, and climate deterioration – along
with high rates of deaths and injuries – make it unacceptable. Our choice today
is to determine what kind of strategy should be adopted to move the basis of
transportation away from the private automobile.
Since Peak Oil could arrive sooner than expected and the depletion rate
could be faster than predicted, prudence requires a backup plan other than
merely changing car technology. A “Smart Jitney” system could be developed
rapidly, and provide for a very sizable (50-75%) reduction of gasoline con-
sumed and greenhouse gases generated by transportation. It could also be the
model for a new and more efficient approach to personal mobility. Ultimately, it
could be vital in keeping our economy going by giving people a way to get to and
from work if there suddenly was not have enough fuel for private cars.
The U.S. transportation system is extremely
complex.The car dominates our economy
and our way of life. Before we can change
to a more sustainable system, it is important
to understand the effects of the automobile
as well as the major trends – a growing car
population, increasing use of fossil
fuels, decreasing vehicle occupancy, as well
as great numbers of deaths and massive
property damage.
In 2006 there were 210 million personal
vehicles in the U.S. including SUVs, cars,
pickups, and other “car equivalent units” or
CEUs, not including motorcycles or motor
scooters.This represents about 30% of the
approximately 750 million cars in use in the
world today.
Worldwide, there are 75 million new
CEUs built each year, 20 million as replace-
ments and 55 million as new additions
to the world passenger vehicle fleet.The
world’s growth in automobile fuel con-
sumption for CEUs is about 8% annually.
Figure 1: U.S. Transportation Fleet
Median Life
Cost to replace half the
fleet (in 2003 $)
America’s cars and CEUs generate
45% of the world’s total generation of
auto-mobile CO
On average, every American buys 13 cars
in his/her lifetime.
Figure 1 shows the total
U.S. transportation fleet except for trains.
The long life of these vehicles illustrates
the difficulty of replacing them with more
efficient ones, assuming highly efficient
vehicles are available.
Heavy trucks are extremely important
when considering the transportation of
food and other materials. In addition, the
8,500 aircraft flying at 30,000 feet do more
climate damage than their numbers suggest
Page 2
U.S. drivers tend to be solitary (see
Figure 3).Typically, American drivers
average about 1.5 persons per car for a trip.
Vans have only slightly more than two pas-
Averaging all the different kinds
of vehicles gives an occupancy of about 1.3
persons per vehicle; a great quantity of fuel
distances traveled far outweigh the mileage
improvement from any new kind of engines.
And, even supposing there were sufficient
oil to fuel this growth, the amount of CO
it would generate would increase, rather
than reduce, global warming. Rapidly
increasing use while performance improves
only slowly is neither sustainable nor
because the emissions from burning fuel are
deposited at higher altitudes.
Automobile engine technology improves
at approximately 1.5% annually.
even this improvement does not necessarily
result in better mileage because at the same
time that fuel efficiency improves, the size
of both vehicles and engines increases,
cancelling out the potential miles-per-
gallon improvement.
For instance, if the current car fleet were
still at 1981 engine size and vehicle weight,
the passenger car would now get 38 mpg
instead of the current 28 mpg.The reason
it hasn’t is because technology improvements
have gone into other attributes demanded
by the marketplace, such as speed, accelera-
tion and size rather than fuel economy.
...if the current car fleet were still at
1981 engine size and vehicle weight, the
passenger car would now get 38 mpg
instead of the current 28 mpg.
Another reason our petroleum consump-
tion (and with it our CO
emissions) are
steadily increasing is that the number of cars
and trucks is rapidly growing, not just in the
U.S. but on a worldwide basis (see Figure 2).
This chart, which projects growth based on
current trends, shows the numbers extend-
ing to completely unsustainable levels. And
it does not take into consideration Peak Oil.
When oil production peaks, there will be
a steady yearly decrease in the availability of
diesel fuel and gasoline.Those who argue
that basic changes to the transportation
system are not needed because of improved
car efficiency are not addressing the implica-
tions of going from 750 million cars that
get 35 miles per gallon with an average
yearly mileage of 10,000 miles to something
like 1.3 billion cars (in just 23 years) that
might get 50-70 miles per gallon and drive
an average yearly mileage of 15,000 miles.
The increase in the number of cars and the
Number of Passengers per Trip for Different Vehicles
Figure 3: Number of Passengers per Trip for Different Vehicle Types
Figure 2: Increase in Global Fleet Size and Petroleum Use
Source: World business council for Sustainable Development, International Energy Agency, Sustainability Mobility Project
These projections assume present trends continue, no new policies are implemented, consumer
behaviors do not change significantly, and alternative fuels and radical technological innovations
do not significantly penetrate the market. Limits in oil availability are also not considered.
Page 3
is wasted when driving vehicles that could
contain more passengers.
Unfortunately, this tendency to drive
alone is increasing, as shown in Figure 4.,
and is coupled with the increase in auto-
mobile size and weight and longer driving
distances. Our own society and the societ-
ies of other countries are risking climate
degradation by rapidly expanding our more
car-intensive way of living.
The current car paradigm encourages
people to take as many car trips as possible.
Such heavy use of cars requires building and
maintaining an enormous number of roads,
garages and parking areas. Advertising
that supports the cultural ideal of rugged
individualism encourages driving the largest
possible cars while we allow our buses and
trains to be unpleasant. Walking and cycling
are inconvenient and dangerous, and the
priority is always “don’t delay the car.”
The cost of the private automobile goes
beyond financial and environmental con-
Figure 5 illustrates annual auto
deaths and injuries.The world total is about
1.2 million deaths and about 40 million in-
juries yearly. In the U.S. about 40,000 people
die each year in auto-related accidents.
There are hundreds of thousands of
people injured in auto accidents who never
fully recover, many condemned to a wheel-
chair for the rest of their lives. Deaths and
injuries are even higher in theThird World
where the infrastructure to support the car
paradigm is not as well developed as in the
U.S. As the car begins to penetrate societ-
ies such as China and India, we can only
expect that pollution, injuries and deaths
will increase.
Home to work
amily/personal business
Social and recreational
All purposes
Home to work
amily/personal business
Social and recreational
All purposes
Vehicle Occupancy 1977 and 2001 (personspervehicle)
Figure 4: Change in Occupancy 1977 to 2001 (personspervehicle)
Worldwide there are close to 1.2 million deaths and 40 million injuries each year from traffic accidents and there is a strong correlation between
the wealth of a country and its relative automotive safety.
Figure 5: Worldwide Traffic Fatalities and Injuries in 1998
Instead of improving, the occupancy level of our vehicles has decreased since 1977. Only
by increasing this level can we accommodate our need to use less oil and produce fewer
Page 4
It is likely that oil supplies will be virtually
exhausted in about 40 years at the cur-
rent rate of consumption. Although the
internal combustion engine, now into its
second century of use, is being constantly
improved, it does not appear to have the
potential to do more than its historical
1.5% per year mileage increase.
Many people hope for some kind of
technological breakthrough.The favorite,
under development for more than 30 years,
is the hydrogen fuel cell car. But after so
many decades of failed promises, its success
is unlikely. Only a few hundred have been
built as experimental models.This may
well be one of the longest technological
proposals in history with the least amount
of progress. Only the futile efforts for fusion
power offer a similarly hopeless effort.
Electric cars are another hoped-for
option but they too have been around
almost as long as the automobile itself, with
only minor improvements. In the 1990s,
under pressure of California law, several
auto manufacturers built about 4,000
electric cars, most of which have now been
scrapped.The electric car has always been
limited by battery technology and hoped for
breakthroughs have not materialized.
A recent development is the successful
hybrid car, based on the combination of a
gasoline engine and an electric drive, both
well-researched technologies.Two problems
face the hybrid. One is the tendency to use
the electric engine for faster acceleration
rather than mileage improvements.The
other is the small numbers being purchased.
After 10 years, only about a million hybrids
had been shipped through 2006, about
one out of every 750 cars in the world.
Possibly in 5-10 years, 1% of the total
fleet might be hybrids.This does not seem
adequate, considering oil may peak in the
next five years.
A hybrid fleet might give a 20-40%
overall improvement in gas mileage. But,
as said before, the increasing growth in the
number of cars cancels out any mileage
In recent years, proposals have been
made for what is called a “Pluggable Hybrid
Electric Vehicle (PHEV)” based partially
on the work of Dr. Andrew Frank at the
University of California - Davis. Frank
modified several vehicles by adding batteries
that allowed them to operate in either a
gasoline or electric mode.This is proposed
as a logical and straightforward extension
of the hybrid concept. However, since the
electric component of the typical hybrid is
essentially a form of extra power for the gas
engine under heavy driving loads, it funda-
mentally differs from the classic electric car.
An electric car requires a much larger
battery and one which is subject to a much
heavier load than is the case with a hybrid.
The fact that a hybrid system successfully
uses batteries in a particular way does not
mean that an electric car (with much larger
batteries) combined with a gasoline engine
can be designed and built quickly. A heavily
promoted modifiedToyota Prius could
not be driven at a speed above 34 mph on
But most important, such a car with
its heavy dependence on pure battery
operation just shifts where the CO
produced, replacing gasoline burned by the
engine with electricity generated through
the national power system. Since 50% of
electricity is generated from coal, 20% from
natural gas, and 20% from uranium, the
electricity used by a pluggable hybrid is
generating CO
at the power plant roughly
in the same amounts as is generated from
the tailpipe of a gasoline engine.
As the car’s contribution to global warm-
ing and the threat of dwindling fossil fuels
becomes more obvious, the hyping of new
auto technology, whether it is the fuel cell
or a pluggable hybrid, delays what is really
needed – cultural change. People assume (as
advertising and even our government tell
them) that there is no need to modify their
habits since the new technology is presum-
ably “close at hand.”They are led to believe
that there is no need to change their behav-
ior and, of particular concern to automobile
and oil corporations, there is no need to
reduce consumption by buying smaller cars
and driving less.
Our current CAFE (Corporate Average
Fuel Economy) standards were passed by
Congress in 1975, just a couple of years
after the beginning of the first energy crisis.
We have been in the new energy crisis now
for at least five years and Congress has failed
to address the issues, leaving the responsibil-
ity for intelligent action to individuals.
It is difficult to realize how something that
is so ubiquitous and popular can also be so
damaging and harmful. Cars have played
a major role in destroying community, a
loosely used term that represents a feeling of
home, of family and neighborhood. With
the private automobile,
people are now
footloose and “free.” We have speed and
mobility but have lost community
relationships. We have chosen the freedom
of the individual over the integrity and
support of the community.
Our culture includes an idea of freedom
known as “the freedom of the open road.”
A rite of passage for teens to become men
and women is getting a license to drive.The
automobile allows a young person to leave
their “community,” to experiment with high
speed, and, removed from their family, with
sex and drugs.The automobile is constantly
being marketed to them. Our culture has
accepted this so-called freedom for our
children, ignoring the damage and danger
to their well-being.
The greatest fear of parents is not drugs
or pregnancy but death or injury in a
car accident. And no wonder parents are
...the electricity used by a pluggable
hybrid is generating CO
at the power
plant roughly in the same amounts as
generated from the tailpipe of a
gasoline engine.
Page 5
Our urban sprawl has no precedent in
history, so the feasibility of a mass transit
system has yet to be proven – a true mass
transit system for the U.S. today may, in
fact, be impossible. In addition, the energy
savings of mass transit, in the context of
implementing such a system in today’s con-
figuration of cities and urban sprawl, may
be highly overrated. Figure 6 shows that
existing mass transit systems do not provide
significant fuel savings.
It depicts the Btus
of energy per passenger mile (assuming
average passenger densities) for each type
of transportation.
As previously noted, it is not obvious
that a mass transit system can be imple-
mented on top of our current sprawl. The
mantra of “We need light rail” provides
no evidence that a light rail system would
work. Modeling of this complex system is
required but has not been done to date.
That leaves us with the private car as
the only option. In spite of its numerous
benefits, the many conveniences and the
sense of freedom associated with the auto-
mobile, it is unlikely that the concept of the
private car, as we know it today, is viable for
the future.Traffic is worsening all over the
world. We can’t continue using a machine
that has been so devastating for the planet.
As energy resources deplete and pollution
worsens even a 100 to 200 mpg automobile
cannot be the main vehicle for billions
of people.
Another option is needed.
concerned – almost every beginning driver
in the U.S. has an accident. Parents don’t
want their children to be among the 40,000
lives lost each year or the 2 million injuries,
many permanent and crippling.
Because we crave what the car provides,
we have accepted the destruction of our
communities, the negative impact on family
life and the deaths and injuries. But now
the private car is threatening to destroy life
on the planet as climate change becomes
a critical problem. Peak Oil and climate
change are challenging our current transport
paradigm – without their threat, it is incon-
ceivable for Americans to consider that life
might be worthwhile without a private car.
At first glance, mass transit appears to be a
possible and obvious alternative. European
cities are often praised for their superior
transit systems.The New York City subway
supposedly offers an alternative to the
private car. But in all the cities with mass
transit systems, there is still a growing car
population. Streets are becoming more
crowded, and far more expenditures are
made on roadways than subways and buses.
Subways and other forms of mass transit
today are only supplemental to the car.
High density is required for mass transit.
In successful past implementations, resi-
dential developments were laid out in dense
corridors, typically along a rail or streetcar
line. Between those corridors were open
spaces and farms.The ideal configuration
was analogous to a wheel, the hub being
where people went to work and shopped,
while the spokes represented where they lived.
When the private car became popular,
the areas between the spokes were more
accessible and were eventually filled in.
Food growing was transferred further and
further away from where people lived.This
led to urban sprawl, making mass transit
more difficult. After some time, there was
no longer any attempt to build along mass
transit lines, so today they have mostly faded
or disappeared.
The world is threatened with the combina-
tion of declining fossil fuel resources and
a climate that is already severely damaged
by the products of fossil fuel burning.
The damage is already so bad that severe
restrictions may have to be placed on the
consumption of the remaining fossil fuels,
making the need for alternative transport
systems even more important. A new
transport paradigm would place the highest
priority on minimizing the use of fossil
fuels, a priority higher than convenience,
speed, or personal “freedom.”
At the same time, a new approach could
solve some of the problems of the existing
system. For example, it could be much safer.
A new system could protect people from
irresponsible drivers – something that is
not possible today. It could allow parents
to retain control over the safety of their
children’s lives a little longer. It could also
give people precedence over vehicles. Walk-
ing, cycling, and buses could be made more
convenient and cars less convenient, revers-
ing the trend of the last century.This differs
from most of today’s proposed solutions
that simply involve combinations of mass
transit and the private automobile.
No viable approach can be a one-for-one
replacement of the current car fleet with
more efficient ones. It would take decades
to replace the 210 million vehicles in the
U.S. with some superior version, even if
such a version were already on the drawing
board. However, it might be possible to
convert the existing private car to public use
for a jitney system.
Figure 6: Mass Transit Over-
rated (Btuperpassengermile)
Mass transit offers only a small improvement
over private vehicles for personal travel, and
is hardly applicable.
A new transport paradigm would place
the highest priority on minimizing the
use of fossil fuels, a priority higher
than convenience, speed, or personal
Page 6
The Smart Jitney is an intermediate tech-
nology which increases service and reduces
energy use with existing vehicles. It could
provide – anywhere, any time, any place –
pick up and drop off. It is not limited to
tracks, lines or schedules. It could also pro-
vide a very high level of security and safety.
A jitney is defined as a small bus that
carries passengers over a regular route on a
flexible schedule. Another definition of a
jitney is an unlicensed taxicab. Basically,
a jitney is a form of mass transit using
cars and vans, not passenger buses. Jitneys
typically are not required to travel specific
routes on a specific schedule as are trains,
buses and street cars.They are both ancient
and contemporary.
degradation, combined with reducing avail-
ability of oil, require an option that can be
implemented rapidly. A jitney system would
make it possible for people to continue to
travel fairly long distances to work, school
and for necessities if transportation fuels
were no longer available in the quantities
currently being consumed or if the dete-
riorating climate effects of CO
could no longer be tolerated.
One key benefit of the Smart Jitney would
be faster transit time. Commuters sitting
on any freeway in any large American city
(most of us) are aware of the stop-and-go
traffic at rush hour, averaging only a few
miles per hour for much of the journey. Use
of a Smart Jitney system could eliminate
three-fourths of the cars currently on the
road, and allow much more rapid flow of
traffic. Even the time for stopping to pick
up and drop off riders would be small rela-
tive to the time spent in the current conges-
tion. Scientists have developed many kinds
of ride optimization algorithms for complex
pickup and deliveries for both people
and materials.
A second benefit is that the Smart Jitney
would use the existing car fleet instead of
requiring all new vehicles. It is important
to begin thinking about passenger miles per
gallon, not car miles per gallon.Thus an
SUV getting 10 miles per gallon containing
six passengers is getting the same passenger
mpg as a Honda Insight with one passenger.
The Hirsch report
has pointed out that
replacing the current fleet could take 10 to
20 years.The high mileage cars that would
be needed to replace the current fleet are
not yet available and may never be, if one
considers the failed promise of the fuel cell
car and the marginal improvement of the
hybrid automobile.The Smart Jitney could
address the important task of improving
passenger miles per gallon by changing the
current car paradigm rather than waiting
decades to change the car miles per gallon.
The third major benefit is to drastically
reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.This
would help avoid economic disaster, lower
the chances of worldwide wars over fossil
fuel resources and, even more important,
reduce CO
emissions. Increasing the
passengers per vehicle substantially would
provide a very large reduction in such emis-
sion, helping to eliminate the specter
of global warming with its potential for
massive disasters and loss of life.
The Smart Jitney could address the
important task of improving passenger
miles per gallon by changing the
current car paradigm rather than
waiting decades to change the car’s
miles per gallon.
The fourth major benefit would be to
eliminate much of the current carnage
which is accepted as part of our ordinary
way of life. Just as we have accepted the
possibility of destruction of planetary life
by nuclear war or climate degradation, we
have accepted the huge number of deaths
and injuries associated with the private
By monitoring driving in real time,
keeping records of driver performance,
enforcing speed limits and other laws via
Auto Event Recorders (AERs), lowering
speed limits to save gasoline and by many
other options which would be designed into
the system, the Smart Jitney could save tens
The concept of the Smart Jitney is simple: you
use your car, pass a test, apply a magnetic
sign to your car door and you’re off!
Where parking is an issue, parking spaces
could be reserved for Smart Jitney drivers and
their passengers.
A jitney system could basically increase
passenger occupancy from the current 1.5
persons per trip to 2-4 times that num-
ber. An increase of 2-4 times would allow
using one-half to one-fourth the number
of vehicles to achieve the same number of
passenger trips, removing most of the cars
on the road at any particular time and thus
substantially reducing fuel consumption
and CO
A jitney’s advantage is that it could be
quickly implemented, using the existing
personal vehicle fleet. More and more evi-
dence says that the CO
reduction required
to stabilize the atmosphere may be as
high as 70-80 %. And the reduction must
begin soon. Non-linear increases in climate
Page 7
of thousands of lives every year. Additional
lives could be saved because there would be
significantly less traffic and the best drivers
would be at the wheel.
An important advantage of the proposed
Smart Jitney is that the technology needed
for implementation is already available and,
for the most part, in mass production.The
vehicles are already available – existing cars.
Jitneys can be any vehicle, new or old, small
or large but with the minor addition of a
cell phone connected to the car.
Each passenger using the jitney system
would have a personal cell phone although
computer access or regular phone access
would also be available. Eventually, the cell
phone would include GPS capability as well
as an emergency call button for security.
Whenever the rider feels any sense of danger
or threat, punching the emergency call but-
ton would automatically transmit informa-
tion to the nearest law enforcement center
for assistance.
Initially there would be relatively small
adjustments to the existing vehicle fleet
and the ubiquitous cell phones currently
dominating communication. Reservation
tracking systems accessed by the rider’s and
driver’s cell phones (or via the Internet)
would need to be developed and installed
throughout the country.The reservation
system would control both the ride manage-
ment and bookkeeping of this new trans-
portation modality. Rides would be planned
and scheduled in a similar way to an airline
reservation, except in a more timely, local
and responsive manner.
An existing technology that would be
incorporated into the Smart Jitney system is
the Auto Event RecorderThe AER is analo-
gous to the flight recorders on airplanes.
AERs already exist on more recently manu-
factured automobiles.The NationalTrans-
portation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates
that 65 to 90 percent of all vehicles in the
United States contain some type of AER.
These systems record driving activity that is
taking place in real time including vehicle
speed.This information would provide the
basis for adding a new level of traffic safety
and could be fully implemented nationally.
As previously noted, the Smart Jitney
system could be accessed by the Internet
or telephone. In either case, a request for
service would be initiated by the passenger
dialing a reservation number using their
cell phone (or the Internet) and entering a
pickup location and a destination loca-
tion along with desired times for pick up
and drop off. A fifth number to be entered
would be the level of service desired.
The Smart Jitney computer would
constantly be monitoring all cars that are
part of the system, including the number
of passengers, the destinations and the
vacant seats available. Once the analysis was
completed (a few seconds of calculation) the
rider would be assigned to a participating
vehicle.The driver of the vehicle would be
notified and provided the pickup location
and time, along with directions.
The rider would be picked up and
dropped off as requested. After the trip,
the rider would submit an evaluation by
cell phone or web, similar to the evaluation
used by the Internet based company E-Bay.
E-Bay’s method of evaluating customer
satisfaction and publishing the information
has eliminated many complaints because
people stopped buying from sellers with poor
delivery performance. By having both a
ride evaluation and AERs, driver records of
long-term performance would be available.
The easiest and most efficient system would
be one where all riders take whatever ride is
available. It might be difficult for Americans
to share in such a completely democratic
jitney system.Therefore, different levels of
service would be required with at least three
levels provided in the initial system. Other
levels could be developed as the system
The first level of service is more or less
random. Only the pickup and destination
locations are entered along with the time of
pickup and preferred time of drop off.The
rider would input the data and the system
would inform him or her of the car descrip-
Smart Jitney vehicles and drivers would be
evaluated in much the same way as E-Bay
users evaluate sellers.
When Cuba lost access to Soviet oil in the 1990s virtually every vehicle was put into use as a
jitney in an effort to solve their new transportation problem.
Page 8
tion and time of pickup.The rider would
accept the random assignment to the most
available vehicle.This level would allow for
the most possible rides and the quickest
The second level of service would allow
a person to input preferences, requesting
rides with certain groups of people. Possibly
the most important would be for women to
be able to request rides with other women.
Men could also request non-coed trips.
Other options would be to limit selection
by requesting certain age groups. Still others
might want to put limits on the playing
of radios or wish to ride with people who
will be quiet. Any rider should be allowed
to select the mode that best suits them.
Of course, if a rider’s preferences were too
strict, availability of rides would decline.
The third level of service would be to
allow scheduling of rides in the future with
a specific set of people. For example, a
group of people with mutual interests who
have a predictable schedule on a regular
basis (such as work or school), would be
accommodated.This would mean that
for family outings, all could ride together.
Other levels of service would be added as
experience dictates.
The Smart Jitney need not be implemented
as a separate business like a taxicab service
or a mass transit business. It is intended to
be a form of ride-sharing using existing pas-
senger vehicles and existing drivers. Anyone
with a good driving record could serve as a
jitney driver.
Overall, the number of people driving
should decrease significantly. Although
people could still drive and maintain an
automobile, it is expected that eventu-
ally most people would accept the role of
passenger. Certain limitations would be
required. For example, teenagers could not
be jitney drivers. Minimum age limits for
drivers would correspond to the age limits
set by insurance and rental car companies,
which reflect the very high accident rate of
young drivers.
More rigorous driving tests would be
administered to be qualified as a Jitney
driver. People with poor driving records, as
measured by accidents and traffic citations,
would also be barred from being Smart
Jitney drivers. People with DWI convic-
tions would not be permitted to be drivers
until some time had elapsed or some type
of re-qualification had been passed. People
with child molestation records could not be
drivers. Existing Smart Jitney drivers could
also lose driving privileges based on poor
driving or the use of intoxicants. Finally, not
everyone would want to be a jitney driver.
Drivers would be compensated for
providing the transportation service, with
the fee regulated just as mass transportation
fees currently are. An additional benefit
for drivers would be greater access to
dwindling fossil fuels and more flexibility
in transportation.
Evaluators of the Smart Jitney proposal
typically are concerned with issues of secu-
rity, safety, and privacy. In general, women
are more concerned than men, particularly
with regard to security. Other issues deal
with a feeling of loss, both of private time
while driving and the loss of the self-esteem
associated with ownership of a vehicle.
Americans have been taught to believe vehi-
cle ownership says something about who
they are.The automobile – for them – has
become far more than transportation – it
represents the good life. However, it might
be that it represents a form of addiction.
Increasingly, the private automobile
has also been responsible for the fears and
concerns many of our Smart Jitney evalu-
ators expressed. Its availability certainly
makes crime much easier – perpetrators can
be miles away from the scene of the crime
in minutes. Date rape becomes easier when
a man and woman are alone in a vehicle.
Moreover, the image of the private auto-
mobile, as presented in advertising, is typi-
cally one of power, speed and force. Cars are
sold on that basis, with strong emphasis on
the individual and implied contempt for the
community.The poor record of young male
drivers is possibly based more on driving
with a certain machismo image in mind
than from a lack of driving skill.
The Smart Jitney could serve as a vehicle
for cultural change as well as a new transporta-
tion modality. But to do so, security, safety
and privacy problems must be addressed.
The Smart Jitney program could also include trucks and other vehicles, for transportation of all
kinds of goods.
The automobile has become far more
than transportation – it represents the
good life. However, it might be that it
represents a form of addiction.
Page 9
per 100 K
per 100 K
per 100 K
Figure 7: U.S. and G7 Violence Rates
Security is a term that covers the risk and
danger from other people who, for whatever
reason, may intend some kind of harm to
our persons or psyches. Concerns about
personal security are not trivial. Figure 7
compares the members of the G-7, the
seven wealthiest countries in the world.
It shows that the U.S. has about four times
the murder rate, 2.5 times the rape rate
and 3.3 times the assault rate of the other
six countries. A comparison to Japan alone
shows that the U.S. has 8.6 times as many
murders per capita, 15 times as many rapes
per capita and 22.5 times as many assaults
per capita.
The U.S. is a very dangerous culture
and its citizens are more violent than the
majority of people in the rest of the world.
Women have good reason for concern. But
most American men, although feeling safer
than woman, must also take the necessary
precautions for living in a violent country.
“I wouldn’t ride with a man,” many
female reviewers said, stating openly their
fear of the violence in our culture. Initially,
the ability to choose to ride only with other
women must be a component of the Smart
Jitney system. Additionally, children and
minors must also be protected from bully-
ing or other anti-social behavior. Everyone
– men, women and children – must be
protected from the potential of violent or
bullying passengers.
At the completion of each ride, passengers
would be asked to rate their Smart Jitney
experience, covering such categories as the
condition of the vehicle and the skill and
suitability of the driver. With multiple pas-
sengers daily providing reviews, poor or
unsuitable drivers would quickly be identi-
fied and their jitney license taken away.
Eventually, selection of top-rated drivers
could become an option when scheduling
a ride. Obnoxious passengers would also be
identified by the rating system.
Safety in relationship to automobiles
refers to the accidents, deaths and injuries
that come from a myriad of causes includ-
ing auto and traffic equipment, roads, unin-
tentional driver errors and reckless drivers.
Initially, to insure vehicle safety, there would
be mandatory inspection of vehicles for
Smart Jitney licensing. Annual inspections
would also be required. Passenger reviews
would include questions on the apparent
suitability of the vehicle.
At first, Smart Jitneys would be existing
cars but eventually replacement vehicles
could be designed with a focus on safety.
Rather than more electronics for watching
TV in the car or automatically parking the
vehicle, collision avoidance electronics could
be implemented.
Automobile companies have always
given priority to speed, styling and image
over safety.The failure to set standard
bumper heights, to provide governors to
With multiple passengers daily provid-
ing reviews, poor or unsuitable drivers
would quickly be identified and their
jitney license taken away.
Security is a primary consideration, particularly for women in the U.S. given the high rates of
violence in this country compared to most other G6 nations.
A reduction in the number of car wrecks,
deaths and injuries could be one of the best
results of the Smart Jitney system.
maintain speed limits, and to limit perfor-
mance and weight to protect slower and
more frugal drivers (including those who
choose smaller cars) calls for some form of
regulation that places the priority on safety
at the expense of marketing features.
If the forty billion dollars a year spent
on automobile R&D were redirected from
styling changes, then major safety improve-
ments could be realized quickly. Further-
more, cars could be designed for longevity
and ease of repair, which would contribute
to reduced CO
emissions by minimizing
the amount of embodied energy expended
on the automobile fleet.
Traffic equipment and roads must be
carefully evaluated but are not the main
reason for accidents. Driver errors could
be dramatically reduced by setting a lower
speed limit, 50-55 miles per hour, the opti-
mum speed limit for efficient performance
of the internal combustion engine. Slower
moving vehicles with higher passenger
density would leave more of our streets
Page 10
available for bicycles and also reduce the risk
of riding them. Irresponsible drivers would
quickly be eliminated by the rating system.
Through a shift to ride-sharing, the
nation could set a high priority on reducing
highway carnage. Legislation and market
demand for safe jitney vehicles could force
new safety standards from the automobile
Privacy refers to people’s need to main-
tain the confidentiality of their personal
identification including name, employer or
place of residence. Whereas safety refers to
the damage done by irresponsible drivers
and passengers, a breach in privacy refers to
people intruding in one’s life through inap-
propriate access to their personal data.
In modern times, real privacy is increas-
ingly limited even though we have a sense
of it in our private cars and homes. Internet
access and phone records, along with other
private information, can now be purchased
by businesses, corporations and government
agencies such as the CIA and NSA. Market-
ing of people’s personal information is now
somehow acceptable, and viewed simply as
a business opportunity.The 2006 Hewlett-
Packard scandal on “pretexting” shows how
easy it is for people’s personal information
to be obtained.
With people sharing rides with strangers
on a daily basis, the protection of privacy
will be a challenge.The Smart Jitney system
would utilize the same methods of anonym-
ity and protection as banks or any other
institution promising confidentiality, with
the same caveat – “We cannot absolutely
guarantee that your ride sharing informa-
tion will not one day be inadvertently
revealed or stolen from us.”
Infractions of privacy would be traced
back in the ride-sharing system by reviewing
records and appropriate responses taken.
Implementing a system of this complexity
would not be difficult. At least one rental
car company,, has an Internet
system with some of the features proposed
for the Smart Jitney – scheduling with
many options and tracking cars via GPS.
In the United Kingdom,
administers a ride-sharing program which
matches riders and loads to cars and trucks
around the country, utilizing phone and
Internet connections. Liftshare has more
than 150,000 individuals and businesses
as members. And, based in Germany, Mit- offers ride-sharing through-
out Europe to its 600,000 members.
The technology effort is far less than
that associated with creating a new video
game for teenagers. An 18-month feasibil-
ity model could be done for approximately
$500,000. Prototype systems could be
made available a year after that with expen-
ditures of a few million dollars.This is a
much lower-risk effort than building fuel
cell cars or beefing up the national coal-
intensive power system for battery vehicles.
However, there will be enormous resis-
tance to the concept as it will require a para-
digm shift that will include changing the
legal system, the law enforcement system,
and all aspects of the transportation system.
Because of this resistance, a grassroots effort
to develop the system may be required. A
cooperative public development, similar
to that of the LINUX computer operating
system, may be the best way to achieve early
All development to date onThe Smart
Jitney has been put into the public domain,
as an “open source” approach is desirable.
Hardware changes are minor and, should
manufacturers with vested interests be
reluctant to develop the ideal products,
existing technology can be adapted. Once
the system is underway, the market may
find and develop lucrative options outside
the purview and control of major auto
manufacturers. An effort by a few hundred
systems engineers and programmers could
lead to this paradigm shift in an amazingly
short time.
The combination of Peak Oil and Climate
Change challenges both the last century’s
industrial economy and rapid growth. It
is becoming ever more apparent that this
economy is based on a concept of no
physical limits.
The accepted view is that the world
will never run out of fossil fuels, or, if it
does, technology will find replacements.
Yet, as the world peak in oil production
approaches, no clear replacements are visible,
and many of the alternatives presented are
themselves finite, merely delaying the reality
of physical limits.
In terms of climate change, popular
wisdom and practice have been that the
earth and air are adequate depositories for
toxins from fossil fuel use.These so-called
“sinks” have been viewed as essentially
limitless. However, the accelerating increase
in CO
emissions worldwide and the rapid
melting of polar ice suggest the “sinks” are
getting full.
The use of fossil fuels changed the world
from one of smaller more local communi-
ties with limited mobility and resources to
one of large urban concentrations with high
mobility. Goods and food are shipped from
thousands of miles away. High mobility is
based on the private car with its continuous
use of significant quantities of gasoline.
The advantages of this way of living are
becoming more and more questionable.
Low energy ways of living will need to
include many changes, such as devolution
from concentrated urban centers to smaller
communities and local food supplies. Even-
tually a pattern of smaller neighborhoods
and towns with a focus on walking and
bicycling will be more the norm.This is not
...the Smart Jitney system would utilize
the same methods of anonymity and
protection as banks or any other institu-
tion promising confidentiality, with the
same caveat...
Page 11
5. Transportation Energy Data Book, 25th
Edition, 2006, page 8-11, Center for
Transportation Analysis, Oak Ridge
National Laboratory;
6. Transportation Energy Data Book, 25th
Edition, 2006, page 8-12, Center for
Transportation Analysis, Oak Ridge
National Laboratory;
pdfs/NS9.pdf, page 9
10. Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam,
Simon & Schuster; 2001
11. Transportation Energy Data Book,
25th Edition, 2006, tables 2-11 and 2-12,
Center forTransportation Analysis, Oak
Ridge National Laboratory; http://cta.ornl.
pdfs/NS7.pdf, page 3
a return to some previous period in human
history. Medical science and other advances
will not be abandoned even if we drive less
and share vehicles.
The Smart Jitney may start as a short-
term emergency solution within the existing
infrastructure, since it will allow us to keep
the same patterns of living. Any inconve-
nience and discomfort we may experience
will be overshadowed by the possibility
of stopping planetary degradation and its
threat to basic survival. In the long run, the
Smart Jitney could evolve into some mode
of transportation not yet envisioned. It
could help serve the larger physical commu-
nity in the future as an intra-city mecha-
nism for longer travel. It’s possible that the
evolution from an emergency measure to a
key component of a jitney-based mass tran-
sit system, within the context of a decentral-
ized local way of living, will naturally occur.
Our culture has declined in many ways.
Skills like politeness, good manners,
courtesy and chivalry have atrophied.
Misbehaving in public is “cool.” Conversing
with strangers used to be an art form and
children were taught such social skills. One
of our principle cultural values is competi-
tion which is also the key principle of our
economic system. Cooperation, a key value
in other cultures, is viewed as a sign of
weakness in America. Walking or getting
in a car with a stranger or riding a bus is
just an unexpected inconvenience in other
cultures. For Americans, it is seen as a threat
to who we are.
What will be the effects of Peak Oil
and Climate Change? Will society make
a choice to be more competitive or more
cooperative? Or, as happened in the Great
Depression, will people simply begin coop-
erating and helping each other? Peak Oil
and Climate Change will be the test case of
people’s reactions – they could be the basis
for a new way of living or it could become
a dog-eat-dog world.
We are at the end of the era of the pri-
vate car, the ultimate example of American
consumer values and the most destructive
device ever made.The Smart Jitney can
replace the car and help restore community.
Men will have to start behaving well to
women. Society may have to give up pro-
fane language in public, like smoking was
disallowed in public places. Just as people
cannot drive when drunk, they will not be
able to ride when drunk. Such social criteria
must be imposed even though it is counter
to our so-called freedom, which is often
nothing more than a license to be offensive.
But if implemented properly, the Smart
Jitney ride could be a real pleasure.
Initially the Smart Jitney may be a
traumatic change to the current mode of
private cars. But the threat of energy short-
ages, loss of jobs, and life threatening climate
change can provide the motivation for such
a system.The concept and design are such
that long term benefits for the environment
and society will accrue. Eventually, the per-
sonal advantages in terms of time, safety
and economics will become apparent
and this transport approach will
prove to be superior to the exist-
ing private system as it helps
save us from climate disaster.
– Pat Murphy
This is not a return to some previous
period in human history. Medical science
and other advances will not be aban-
doned even if we drive less and share
Page 12
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You may also contact us through our websites: and
You might also visit our film website:
The Power of Community: How
Cuba Survived Peak Oil
This fascinating and empowering
film shows how communities pulled
together, created solutions, and ulti-
mately thrived in spite of decreased
oil imports from the USSR. ByThe
Community Solution. Order at www.
The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan
to Avert OilWars,Terrorism, and
Economic Collapse by Richard
Heinberg, September 2006
The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide
and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing
Times by Albert Bates, October 2006
Beyond Oil:TheView From
Hubbert’s Peak by Kenneth S.
Deffeyes March, 2005
The Final Energy Crisis. edited by
Andrew McKillop, April 2005
The Long Emergency: Surviving the
End of the Oil Age, Climate Change,
and Other Converging Catastrophes
of theTwenty-first Century by James
Howard Kunstler April, 2005
The Collapsing Bubble: Growth And
Fossil Energy by Lindsey Grant, Seven
Locks Press, May, 2005
Twilight in the Desert:The Com-
ing Saudi Oil Shock and theWorld
Economy by Matthew Simmons,
June, 2005
The EmptyTank: Oil, Gas, Hot Air,
and the Coming Global Financial
Catastrophe by Jeremy Leggett,
November, 2005
Design on the Edge:The Making
of a High-Performance Building
by David W. Orr
Your Money orYour Life:Transform-
ingYour Relationship with Money and
Achieving Financial Independence by
Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
The Small-Mart Revolution: How
Local Businesses Are Beating the Global
Competition by Michael H. Shuman
and Bill McKibben
The Logic of Sufficiency byThomas
Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on
a Finite Earth by Jim Merkel
The Conserver Society: Alternatives for
Sustainability byTedTrainer
The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the
Good Life by Cecile Andrews
The Small Community, Arthur
Morgan, 1942 (available from CSI)
The Long Road, Arthur Morgan, 1936
(available from CSI)

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