Many people would agree that Malta’s public transport system still has room for improvement, but ahead of the next election, plans and proposals for the next couple of decades have started surfacing in full swing. While some ideas have been brought up time and time again, rapidly evolving technology might make some popular incentives redundant by the time we get to implementing them. But these same technologies might make them even more efficient.
With PN’s recent proposal of an electric underground and overground metro reportedly requiring 20 years to be completed, here are six other ideas from around the world that might see transport changing drastically by 2037.
1. Elevated Buses
Known as the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), the elevated bus is a concept that was introduced in China in 2016. Its inventors claim the TEB has the same functions as the subway, but is five times cheaper and can be constructed in just one year. It’s driven by electricity and solar power and is able to carry 1,200 people at a time, which makes it sound like the answer to all our problems.
2. LightLane and other bike innovations
Well before shiny flying cars and teleportation become a thing, the quickest way to embrace the future of transport is to work with what we already have. By no means a quick-fix, these can be an evolution of machines we know, love, and understand as being very efficient, like the bicycle.
Even though Malta might not be the safest place for cyclists right now, many would agree that bikers are part of the island’s solution, not its problem. If we want to encourage more people to leave their cars behind, however, we’re going to have to make sure that riding a bicycle and motorbike is a safer bet than it currently is.
Technologies like LightLane, a set of lasers and LED lights that project your own personal bike lane from under the sea as you ride, might very well be the foundation of a nearer (and definitely more manageable) future of transport, which is as efficient as it is safe. Technologies like this are already for sale online, but can pave the way for augmented modes of transport in the next couple of decades.
3. Driverless Highways
Countless companies have joined the race to develop self-driving cars, which is expected to reach a worldwide market of over $900 billion by 2035. With giants like Google, Tesla and Mercedes-Benz (and now even Apple) leading the fray, it’s high time everyone understood and accepted that self-driving cars are going to be a big part of the near future.
The obvious next step after autonomous personal cars, of course, would be bringing the technology to commercial vehicles, cabs and public transport, which could very well end up being Malta’s best bet for a truly punctual transport system.
4. Tri-Panel Systems
A couple of years ago, Höweler + Yoon Architecture studio developed a way of bringing all modes of transport in a singular tube through Shareway.
The whole idea centres around making it easier and more efficient to be mobile in extremely urban and busy cities, which Malta definitely qualifies as. While this is merely a concept, it certainly adds a different perspective with which we can start looking for solutions in the future, where we don’t have to separate modes of public and personal transport.
5. Taking everything underground
Metro systems have been part of the infrastructure of cities around the world for more than a century, but increasingly over-populated (and extremely polluted) cities in countries like China are considering taking more than just their trains underground.
NODE Architecture & Urbanism‘s plan for the future of cities like Shenzhen, for example, have the city’s entire transportation below ground, freeing up a whole city above to more housing and public space. While it may be difficult to implement in a such a densely-built island like Malta, it’s definitely a very interesting concept to keep in mind.
When the world gives you high-rises, maybe you could make low-falls?
6. High-Speed Tube Transportation
As if producing fully-electric self-driving cars and experimenting on space tourism weren’t enough, Elon Musk is also investing in Hyperloop. This high-speed tube transport system proposes to drastically decrease travel time… we’re talking Malta to Italy in 20 minutes fast.
Using magnetically levitating pods that travel more than 1000km/hr, Hyperloop is currently working on being up and running by the 2020s. With other companies eyeing grand concepts like global rings that would connect all the countries in the world to one tube system, here’s hoping concepts like this drastically change not only how we go abroad, but also travel within our tiny island.
Imagine going from Marsaxlokk to Ċirkewwa… in less than two minutes.