Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Solving the Transport Problem

Let’s face it. We’ve got ourselves into a bit of a jam with the traffic situation in Dublin 15 and tinkering with bus routes and putting more rolling stock onto the Maynooth line is not going to make any significant difference to the hard-pressed commuter.
The way things are going, it won’t be long before starvation is listed as one of the major causes of road deaths in the capital, with drivers being advised to clunk-click-make-sure-you-have-your-emergency-rations every trip. Drastic problems call for drastic solutions, as a very wise man once said (I can’t remember if it was Victor Hugo or Rick Astley) and, answering the call, I have pondered long and hard on the problem for the past fifteen minutes or so.
My proposals are radical, I freely admit, and possibly require a modicum of fine-tuning. They have also been registered at the patent office, just in case one of them sees the light of day.
What better way to travel in style to and from the City Centre than by hot air balloon? I propose building a heliport on top of Power City and a second one somewhere in town, say that funny little park in Jervis Street that no-one knows the name of.
Of course, they would not have tiny baskets and only carry four men in top hats at a time, but long, sausage-shaped baskets carrying up to sixty men in top hats. It probably would not be possible to run the service during thunderstorms or hurricanes, but other than that, I see no obvious drawbacks to the scheme, and the benefit to this country’s ailing top hat industry would be enormous.
In Switzerland, they run cable cars thousands of metres up sheer mountain sides and never bat an eyelid. How much easier would it be for us in this country to run a cable car that travels seven miles horizontally? The cables would run thirty feet above the ground and run all the way from the Blanchardstown Centre into the heart of O’Connell Street following the Navan Road most of the way.
The cables would be supported by giant wooden supports that rise vertically from the footpaths, which means you don’t have to inconvenience road users for several years while you lay tracks. In fact, it could probably be done on a Sunday afternoon, before the Antique Roadshow comes on.
With a hundred cable cars running in a giant loop every thirty seconds apart, the amount of people it could transport would be phenomenal. It would be important, though, to build the cables high enough to clear double decker buses, or the consequences could be disastrous.
Speaking of footpaths, what is there to prevent them moving (apart from their natural inertia, that is)? They have non-rising escalators in Dublin airport, why not along all the arterial routes into the City Centre? One line moving quite quickly, and a slower line running alongside it, for when people want to alight. Stick a bit of an oul’ bus shelter over the top, and Robert is your parent’s brother. You could even have little foldaway seats, so people could travel in comfort.
With the recent construction of the financial centre in Spenser Dock, more and more people who work there are finding that their transport needs are not being met by traditional services. But there is a readymade road all the way from Clonee to the heart of this area. It is called the River Tolka.
Now, many of us have experienced the thrill of banana boats while on holiday in Puerto del Carmen. They don’t seem very expensive, even allowing for inflation (sorry) and they would seem to me the ideal way of transporting financial whiz kids directly from Mulhuddart right into the heart of the city. Services might occasionally have to be cancelled due to drought or amorous swans, but there is surely a market there for the intrepid entrepreneur with a speedboat and a large quantity of rubber.
As we approach yet another energy crisis, with helpless motorists finding it cheaper to fill their tanks with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (extra virginity?) it is surely time to consider one of the cheapest, and greenest means of transportation known to man – gravity.
My proposal is very simple. We build an enormous spiral staircase in the Little Chef car park, say five times as high as the Quinn Direct building, and buy in a large quantity of straw mats. Commuters take a mat from the bottom and ascend to the top, thereby fulfilling their daily exercise needs. At the top there is a giant but extremely slippery slide that descends gradually all the way to the Garden of Remembrance. Naturally we would require a bored attendant in lycra shorts at the top of the slide to tell people when it was safe to go, though we probably wouldn’t need to have reached the bottom before the next person is waved forward. And naturally again, you would need another spiral staircase in the Garden of Remembrance for the return journey. Fares would presumably be on a sliding scale.
A couple of years ago, a research paper was published that has the potential to revolutionise transportation in all major cities. Written by an obscure British scientist, and going under the name “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” the paper claims that floo powder holds the key to easing gridlock in large conurbations. The commuter simply flings the powder into an empty fireplace, shouts out “The Pound Shop in Henry Street!” and hey, presto! He instantly finds himself being escorted out of the shop by a moustachioed goon with a piece of plastic in his ear.
Of course, this method of travel still requires detailed research, but with all the money that Dublin Bus are amassing, by handing out bits of paper instead of change, funding for the project should not be a problem.
(How can Dublin Bus get away with this? If I went into the butcher’s in Ongar and bought a pound of sausages and three Euro worth of turkey mince, and offered him a twenty, would he hand me back a little piece of paper and tell me I can cash it in down in Moore Street? )
Of course, I am only scratching the surface with the ideas detailed above. My designs for giant catapults will have to stay locked away in the bank vault for now, and my research into human cannonballs is still at a very early stage. My proposal that we turn the City Centre into an exclusively residential zone and push all shops and industry out to the suburbs is currently before the Daíl, although the Minister is seeking to delay ratification until the run-up to the next election.
Remember, you heard it here first.

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