Eclipse Phase | AUSTIN, TEXAS | 2015-2019 A.D.
The cities of pre-Fall Earth were often choked with ground vehicles operating on millions of kilometers of roadways. The pollution, noise, maintenance costs and resources this system required make duplicating this kind of transportation system impossible elsewhere. As a result, highly efficient public transportation systems were necessary to handle the large populations of colony cylinders and other large facilities. Operations research specialists are continually working on improving the efficiency of public transportation systems. This has coincided with improved efficiency through advanced technology in developing transportation infrastructure. There are numerous payment options for the use of public transportation, with the cost varying little between locations. A six hour, unlimited-use pass costs one credit. Monthly passes are 40 credits, and annual passes are 400 credits.
Monorails form the basis of any colony cylinder‘s transportation infrastructure – extensive road systems require too much space and are too inefficient. The system places the monorail between quadrant boundaries with terminals located at the intersection of quadrants and the mid-point between intersections. Vivarium cylinders also have a monorail “subway” line that runs the length of the sunline for access to zerogravity facilities and cargo transfer areas. Monorail cars are computer-controlled from an onboard system that coordinates monorail operations with a central computer. The system is has several redundancies that allow direct network operation through inter-car communications when the central computer is down; on the other hand, the central computer can take remote control of a car if the onboard system malfunctions.
Transit buses that run on fuel cells or superconducting batteries operate within the quadrants between the monorail lines of the colony cylinder. They usually run in circular routes that move people to and from the monorail stations. Varying in capacity from twenty to forty passengers, the buses allow quick access to areas that don‘t have immediate access to the monorail stations. The bus service also provides mobility to the elderly and disabled within the quadrant where they live. Within the largest space stations, or even smaller stations and surface habitats, small open cars that offer standing room only for ten to twenty passengers operate within the limited space available while still providing quick and efficient travel.
The Moon and Mars are the only two locations in the Solar System, other than Earth, that have permanent surface transportation systems; the nature of Venus’ surface requires that all public transportation be airborne. Both have monorail systems that provide regularly scheduled service between major settlements. Numerous private companies provide schedules and charter travel services between smaller regional settlements using wheeled or tracked vehicles. On the Moon, modified OTVs called hoppers launch themselves into low-altitude ballistic trajectories between destinations.
Regularly scheduled shuttle flights move people and goods between the clusters of colony cylinders throughout the Solar System. There are few people who commute between cylinders and stations for work, so it is sufficient to limit cargo capacity on some flights to accommodate extra passengers. If a shuttle is not carrying passengers, it is carrying cargo. Within a cluster, the round-trip fee is 15 credits per person or 100 kg of cargo, 10 if one-way. For service between clusters, the fee goes up to 35 credits (25 for one-way trips). Shuttle passengers who reserve a seat at least twelve hours in advance are guaranteed a spot and receive a 15% discount. Passenger reservations after this deadline up to the departure time must pay the full fare and risk losing their seat to cargo shipments; after the deadline, cargo is given equal priority for passage.
Ownership of a personal vehicle – beyond a bicycle or scooter – is very rare throughout the artificial environments people occupy in the Solar System; within space stations, the only personal transportation systems available are one’s own legs. This does not mean there are not vehicles, but the majority of them are service and cargo vehicles. Colony commuters are compact reverse-tricycle or four-wheel vehicles that carry two to four people. The cost of owning, operating and parking these vehicles is very high compared to public transportation. Bicycles are a popular and inexpensive transportation choice. Designated bike lanes allow for quick travel with fewer worries about pedestrians and other hazards. Some colony cylinder administrations greatly favor bicycle riders by also provide public bicycle stations where a person can use their public transit pass to check out a bicycle. The person can then return the bicycle to any bicycle station, whether it be the same one or a station halfway across the cylinder.