CATS: Auto shuttles, car trains, et al make sense

Number 24 in the Clean Air Technologies Series.

In one previous post, I suggest there could be as many as 200 million or more motor vehicles plying American roadways.

Invariably some are sidelined as in parked and have been relegated to “non-use” status. But, most I would presume are fully serviceable and see consistent, regular use.

As soon as these motive-power-mobiles roll off factory assembly lines they are then dispatched to dealer lots and showroom floors. I would guesstimate that most arrive at these gathering points, not under their own power but that provided courtesy of over-the-road auto transport or carrier services. The intermediate portions of these trips may have been carried out via rail-, road- or waterway or any combination thereof.

Sometimes when people move or vacation and do not wish to drive, they can arrange to have their personal vehicles forwarded to a specific destination/location via a third-party means, such as via railway or waterway, for instance. Examples of this include Amtrak’s Auto-Train service, which shuttles rail passengers and their automobiles between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida. Another would be the Alaska Railroad’s passenger/auto shuttle that transports patrons and/or their automobiles, busses, trucks and even recreational vehicles between Portage and Whittier, Alaska; what I would classify as a transfer service. Vehicle ferries and over-the-road auto transport services as well fit this bill.

Maybe the original intent was with convenience or necessity in mind, but by people utilizing these services – whether they realize it or not – such contributes to helping to improve air quality.

As many as there are of these in operation, there are probably more that have been proposed, such as the Advanced Vehicle Transport from AVT SolaTrek as well as another that just recently entered the spotlight – Elon Musk’s “Hyperloop” proposal.

Why there just are not more similar opportunities available, it is difficult to say. Maybe, in many cases, it just doesn’t pencil out dollars-wise. This notwithstanding, motor-vehicle shuttles, auto-carrier trains, car ferries, et al just make sense!

Incidentally, and I have mentioned this many times in the past, another way to slim down miles of vehicle travel is through location-efficient, pedestrian-, bicycle- and transit-centered or oriented, smart-growth-development approaches.

– Alan Kandel