Clear and Present Solutions to the Climate Crisis
The conversation around climate change seems to be shifting from “Is it real?” and “Is it really all that serious?” to are more earnest and urgent, “Well now what do we do?”
And the answers is?
Wide-ranging and often unclear. We have the sensible but mundane: change your lightbulbs, ride, walk or take the bus to work. Expensive solutions like buying an electric car, still out of reach for most. Intangible options like purchasing carbon offsets, which require consumers to exercise great powers of imagination to understand what they’ve bought. And the exciting headline-making innovations that “could” have a significant impact on climate change but will take years to go to market.
If that were the whole story it would be a dismal one and we’d be in even more trouble than we already are. But thankfully, there’s more.
High-impact solutions absolutely do exist — solutions with a clear value proposition, ready to be deployed immediately. And it’s these sort of solutions that we must spread awareness of, as they hold the most promise for the climate crisis today.
I know such solutions exist because I have a front-row seat to one of them.
TransLoc, a company I founded which is now championed by a growing team of incredibly talented people, is currently working to optimize hundreds of billions of dollars of existing mass transit infrastructure around the world.
Mass transit is a key element to reducing carbon emissions — everyone’s heard that. Yet it’s a fact that often rings hollow. Because the truth is that mass transit needs modern technology to unlock its potential.
Simply put, most mass transit systems still do not enjoy the full benefits of the revolution in computer technology that has swept through so many other industries. Which means we can unlock total efficiencies without any trade-offs or drawbacks. We aren’t sacrificing quality for cost, or horse power for fuel-economy.
With this technology we’re answering questions like: “What happens if we show everyone where all the buses and trains are, in real-time, all the time?” “What happens if we put all the transit stops in the actual right places?” “What happens if we pick people up where they want to be picked up and drop them off where they want to go?”
The answers are powerful. The first generation of this technology proved capable of increasing mass transit ridership by over 20%. Later generations have demonstrated increases of over 50%. And the numbers are still coming in for what the most recent versions of this technology will do.
Could technology like this help double mass transit ridership in America and other countries? Absolutely.
And the barriers to adoption? Not consumer demand. Not even cost. This modern technology (small GPS-based microcomputers, web-based software services, and ubiquitous smartphones in every purse or pocket) are quite affordable when compared to typical mass transit expenditures (with a single new bus costing up to $700k up-front & many thousands to operate).
Beyond affordable, this technology yields savings since it allows transit systems to do much more with fewer vehicles. Beyond savings, more passengers can even mean significant additional revenue, in many cases recovering the costs of the technology within a year or two.
Yet despite the revolutionary night and day, before and after effect of this technology, it is very much still making its way through the industry. Half of transit systems still don’t have the benefit of any technology like this, and far less than 1% percent have implemented the more recent innovations that will allow them to radically improve their value proposition to riders. But it is happening and as a result, deployment by deployment, app-download by download, carbon emissions are being reduced.
So I offer this as a very reasonable hope: if such low-hanging fruit as upgrading mass transit with modern technology is still ‘out there’ to be harvested, then it must mean there are many more opportunities to apply very real and very ready technologies to the other industries and institutions that make up our way of life.