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IziGo system for urban public transport: IziGo urban transport system, mass transportation without congestion
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IziGo urban transport system, mass transportation without congestion


The IziGo idea emerged long ago, around 1970, as my contribution to a Dutch think tank called "The Werkgroep 2000". What had to come together was a socially relevant modernization of our society, and a vitally alive democracy.
My contribution to the above related to transportation. I presented the potential of combined public and bicycle transport, later resulting in the design for "The Tin Bicycle".
An other contribution regarded urban public transport in a more democratic setting. Main target to handle was

  • Better use of open space in cities, allocating space in cities to other functions than traffic.
  • Faster, more frequent, non polluting, direct from start to destination, comfortable, single seat cabins, safe and cheap transport.
  • Making the periphery as accessible as the center, thereby upgrading the value of suburbs, specially those in recline.
  • To be build without destroying the existing charm of a city.
    In the year 2000 we studied the application of the Izigo urban transport system as a way of linking a new satellite town to the center of Utrecht. Utrecht is a Dutch city with less than one million inhabitants, Leidse Rijn is the name of the new to be build satelite town, planned to have three hundred thousand inhabitants.
    We made a more detailed design for the rail-system as well as for the cabins. Marc van der Kamp programmed in MS Exel a simulation of transportation along the rail network. As a private contribution, the public servants of the city of Utrecht Frans de Jong and Ad de Kat gave assistance in this study. Demotech looked for, but did not find (patent) information on comparable transportation systems.
    The study gave us the impression that the efficiency of transport in a town could be greatly improved. It could offer a dense network at a surprising low level of investment. Quality of life in suburbs could profit highly from better accessibility to the center, while functions of the center could dissipate into the periphery because of this good accessability. The application of the Izigo urban transportation system would have far less environmental impact than traditional transportation, private or public. Because of its structural simplicity, the system could be build and run by personnel with less formal education.
  • Present situation

    The need for public transport in crowded cities is evident. Congestion in towns results from the low effectiveness in which road space is used by private cars for parking and driving. A person using an automobile take 8m2 road surface standing still and at least three times as much when driving. A person moving around in a bus or tram needs only about half a square meter. This is something between a ten to twenty times higher effectiveness in the use of road space.
    Apart from this effectiveness, no parking space is needed. However, this advantage is compromised by what results from the combination of public and private transport, both getting stuck in the same congestion. Offering separate free traffic lanes to public transport solves this problem at the cost of -again- scarce public space.
    In poor countries a higher effectiveness in the use of road space is found by using small units for public transport, such as taxi's or even smaller, the three wheeled motor carriages.

    Ultimate effectiveness in the usage of road space

  • Ultimate is not to use any space for a driver, but choosing for automated transport units.
  • Ultimate is using one-person transport units weighting fifty kilograms or less, with cramped space for a second person, child or luggage. With the result that no non-used public transport space is driven around.
  • Ulimate is that it need not use space at street level. Such a carriage needs to weight no more that 50 kilograms and can move along a rail suspended from buildings and lampposts or use a sub street level gutter.
  • Ultimate is if the carriages can roll along the rail without a distance for safety between them. Carriages joining the same rail rub themselves into the line of ongoing carriages. When moving out of this line at a junction, carriages may close the gap again.
  • Ultimate is when locations for boarding and leaving the carriages is integrated in other use of city space, such as shops, theaters and pubs.
  • Technology choice in a democratic setting

    A technology is in support of democracy, when it offers its value without excluding people because of cost or lack of education. A technology supports democracy when it offers new chances to anyone who is ready to go for it, but not at the cost of those who are not ready. And of course not at the cost of nature and of coming generations.
    Two technologies comply with these demands: Internet and the "Technology of the Fair"

  • Automated transport comparable to Internet
    There is no better automated system, to serve as an example for the IzoGo transportation system as the Internet. The transport units that can roll along the suspended rails can be compared with the packets of information (bits) that move along the network lines of Internet. Each packet gets an address of where to go when launched. From there it makes the best use of the available space on the network to move towards its destination. When one connection is clogged or broken, a computer at a split of rails calculates the optimal direction of continuation.
    Exactly the same can be realized with the guidance of the small public transport units. Above this a user could change its mind halfway, just to get out or to go to a different destination, by offering to the computer chip an other address.
    It is clear that transport of goods that fit into similar carriages can be delivered in the same way, which is far more efficient way then using vans. As private transport for delivering freight take about a third of the total traffic volume in towns, it is clear that this simple automation of transport is of enormous value to release space in cities and enhance the quality of life for its citizens.
  • The technology of the Fair The ultimate city transportation system could be pictured as high-tech and in need of an enormous investment, taking at least ten years to build. But there is another approach with as guiding example: the fair.

    A fair attraction is set up in a day's work by a few youngsters with limited formal education. Someone going to a fair feels safe, although she or he is allowed to handle a dash cart rough. A fair goer actualy is safe, notwithstanding fast acceleration and the use of an attraction without any introduction.
    The technology of a fair is developing fast. Every year new attractions are presented to the public. This development is financed privately. The government has not invested a penny in this "Technology of the Fair".
    Could urban public transport be remodeled along the lines of a "Technology of the Fair" and be comparable to Internet?

  • How the Izigo Transportation system may function and look like

  • One to two person cabins with a roof, closed in cold and moderate climates, an open cage-like construction in tropical conditions.
  • Each cabin hangs with wheels in the overhead rail construction, the wheels are electrically driven and controlled by the computer.
  • The cabin computer controls the choice of way at a junction: either straight ahead or sideways. One of the ways this choice can be realized is to make the rolling suspension like that of a curtain. Two small wheels front and rear, run in the left rim, two others, positioned symmetrical to the first set roll in the opposite rim of the rail. Lifting one set of rollers ( the left one) free from the rim makes the cabin follow the opposite rim, the right one. This could be the rim that leads to rail bending away. If the right set of wheels are lifted, the cabin will roll straight ahead.
    A cabin from a rail track joining an other one, plays the lifting game of a pair of wheels from which it suspends, in a similar way.
  • The computer chip that took the address of destination of the cabin when boarding, compares its instructions with the chip governing the junction. This junction chip keeps count on the number of carriages on the forking line and on their flow. It does or does not allow the chip of the cabin (that controls the lifting of the rollers) to fork. If the chip of the cabin prefers to fork, but is not allowed to, it will run straight and try again at the next junction. Many levels of urgency can be programmed for the chip of the cabin to overrule the chip at the junction, taking care the cabin makes optimal use of the existing rail network.
  • At each station a number -say four- of empty carriages may park, waiting for a customer. When a fifth carriage wants to stop at this station, it pushes one of the waiting carriages back into circulation, empty. This empty cabin travels over the network, influenced by the fork computer chip, until it is caught by the fork computer chip of a station in need of empty cabins.
  • A person on its way in a cabin wanting to change destination on second thought, just feeds a new address into the chip of the cabin.
  • Refinements can be programmed to guide cabins to the close surrounding of a public meeting, such as a sports arena. When the event ends these cabins become available for the thousands who want to get transport with the shortest possible time for waiting.
  • The rails can be of a light construction, without structural problems to mount on walls and lamp posts. The rail can also be attached to the top of a duct, fully or partly sub-street level (see picture).
  • The construction of the cabins, of which a great many are needed, can be done in a program offering meaningful work for people. Its construction is simple enough to allow to be decentralized over existing small workshops.

  • IziGo system for urban public transport: IziGo urban transport system, mass transportation without congestion
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