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London to Land’s End – in Two Hours Aboard a Tram

by John Brian Shannon | November 10, 2016

How would you like to board a tram in Bristol that travels to London in one-hour, has comfortable seating, a snack bar, free WiFi, and costs less than your daily London parking fee?

What an outstanding resource for commuters south or west of London!

Even with five-minute stops near Swindon, Reading, and Heathrow Airport — you’ll still arrive downtown London in one hour — even as you work on your laptop computer courtesy of the onboard WiFi.

At the weekend, Londoners could hop on the tram, travelling all the way to Land’s End in two hours (unless you stop for tea in Bristol) and enjoy a glorious day at the beach for a fraction of the cost of driving your own car the same distance.

(I’m talking about the total per kilometre costs of driving a car; Including purchase, insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Most experts suggest a range of 18 pence per kilometre (economy car) up to 30 pence per kilometre (luxury car) as the rate to base all-in vehicle costs per kilometre.

Which totals £153 for a one-way trip, by car, London to Land’s End 511 km, all-in vehicle cost for a luxury car owner — and £306 for a trip, by car, London to Land’s End and back home to London 1022 km, all-in vehicle cost for a luxury car owner)

Not only is this type of tram technology available, it’s operating in major cities around the world today.

One fascinating idea is China’s new line of Transit Elevated Buses (TEB) although it is presently speed-limited to 60 kilometres per hour when sharing roads with cars and pedestrians.

The Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) built by China can carry 1000 people and travel at speeds up to 305 kilometres per hour — but important to state here — only when it’s on an elevated roadway where it isn’t sharing the road with cars and pedestrians.

UK transportation

Artists original concept. Image courtesy of CCTV.

The video below shows the compartment of an early TEB with a spartan interior for general city bus use.

According to the company that builds China’s new TEB, each 3-car unit can replace 40 city buses, but up to four TEB cars can be linked together. Each 22-metres-long car can carry 300 passengers.

UK transportation

China’s TEB-1 received its inaugural test run in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, China, on August 2, 2016. Image courtesy of AP.

In China, the TEB is set up as a simple transit bus for short duration trips, but there is no reason that aircraft or passenger train type seating couldn’t be employed, with a hostess serving soft-drinks from a cart.

UK transportation

Inside one of China’s new TEB transit buses. Image courtesy of AP.

In Britain, seating compartments could fit across the width of the TEB but leave plenty of room for a spacious centre aisle.

Due to the much longer routes envisioned in this proposal, trams could have larger and more comfortable seats than shown in the image below, and a pulldown laptop table with a USB3 connection.

UK transportation

Britain’s TEB could have seating compartments across it’s full width (but with plush seating and a pulldown laptop tray) plus a spacious centre aisle. Image courtesy of the old Berlin-Warsaw train.

The Last Car could be set up as a restaurant or even a sports bar with widescreen TV’s. The image below shows what a restaurant-only car could look like.

UK transportation

The Secret Train (restaurant) in Bloomingdale’s Department Store in New York City.

The Last Car is obviously ‘the place to be’ during World Cup Soccer, cricket matches, and other sporting events!

UK transportation

Goooaaalll! The last car could be a sports bar. Image courtesy of SportsBar Bangkok.

As the premiere railway-building nation on the planet, the United Kingdom could design and build such a Made in Britain tram.

Each tram unit could be self-powered by 24 onboard 100kW TESLA batteries that automatically receive a 5-minute charge at each stop, and a full charge overnight. Not to mention 168 square metres of solar panels built right into the roof of each car that continually charge the onboard batteries.

An additional benefit for walkers and cyclists would be the paved ground-level paths under the elevated road system, allowing cyclists to ride any portion of the route.

Faster commute times, lower traffic congestion, lower air pollution levels in cities, a tourism boost for every city on the route, and a more comfortable and productive way to travel — that’s what a double-wide, elevated tram system can do for Britain.

NOTES: Below is the map from Bristol to London, as the crow flies. You can see the UK highway system isn’t direct from one city to the next — unlike an elevated tram which can go from city centre, to city centre in the straightest possible line.

UK Transportation

‘As the crow flies’ from Bristol UK to London UK, the distance is 171 km.

Below is the map from Land’s End UK to Bristol UK, as the crow flies.

UK Transportation

‘As the crow flies’ from Land’s End to Bristol, the distance is 283 km.

The map below shows the route for an elevated, high-speed, double-wide tram that connects southwest Britain to London.

UK transportation

Land’s End to Bristol, Swindon, Reading, Heathrow Airport, and London in 2 hours. (Land’s End to Bristol = 1 hour) and (Bristol to London = 1 hour) including stops.

Land’s End is a great place to spend a weekend — walking the beach, cycling the entire region with many interesting stops, and an abundance of natural settings. A weekend in Cornwall is restorative to the soul!

For more information click here.

The Synergy of Quintile Economics

by John Brian Shannon | November 1, 2016

How Britain could use Quintile economics (Q-economics) to Build a Better Britain

In 2016, the population of the United Kingdom is sixty-five million people. When we divide the UK population into five equal parts, we see that we have five groups of thirteen million citizens. (65,000,000 / 5 = 13,000,000)

Let’s do as the economists and call each group of thirteen million people, one distinct economic quintile.

In the economic quintile system, each group is further classified by annual income, with the top thirteen million listed as the top fifth of income earners in the country, while the bottom thirteen million are listed as the lowest income earners, etc.

We see in the chart below how the various quintiles fare in regards to original income (wages), final income (wages + tax credits + investment income), and the all-important disposable income

The Synergy of Quintile Economics in the UK.

The Synergy of Quintile Economics in the UK. Image courtesy of the UK Office of National Statistics.

Clearly, the top two quintiles are in no economic distress, contributing significantly to their own lives and to the overall UK economy.

The top two quintiles are also known for paying their fair share in every way except for their inordinately high CO2 emission levels (larger homes, more vehicles per person with much-poorer fuel economy, and frequent air travel) and the cost of policing and security for higher income earners is much higher per capita compared to the other quintiles.

Yet, it works for those fortunate enough to be in (or born into) the top two quintiles and it works for Britain’s economy.

When we look at the third quintile group incomes of £26,669 (original income) £33,758 (final income) and £25,833 (disposable income) economists see a healthy middle income group — even when measured against other developed nation third quintiles.

Thus far, we have three groups of thirteen million people that (at least, economically-speaking) are faring well in a developed nation economy. Each of those thirty-nine million people are either holding steady or improving their economic position, and one would like to think that they are doing the same in regards to their overall life satisfaction. All of those people (with the exception of CO2 emission levels) are paying their way and are no drain on the UK economy. So far, so good!

The second quintile numbers are challenging. With group incomes of £13,462 (original income) £22,337 (final income) and £19,251 (disposable income) this group is definitely suffering, often face unemployment or are permanently unemployed due to the offshoring of manufacturing jobs — a process which began in the 1980’s. These people through no fault of their own and probably doing their best to succeed in life, simply haven’t had the opportunity, nor (perhaps) the higher education to allow them to join the higher economic quintiles.

In the end, they probably contribute as much as they take from the UK economy. And their overall life satisfaction is likely to be low. The first and second quintiles are also the most vocal and unlikely to vote for incumbent politicians.

Finally, we get to discuss the bottom quintile group with group incomes of £6146 (original income) £13,841 (final income) and £11,883 (disposable income)

Either because of young age/entry-level work or part-time work, or diminishing opportunities in their chosen career, or poor opportunities for higher education in their younger years (in the case of older members of this group) this quintile suffers from low income, much poorer health, poorer housing, and lower life satisfaction index scores. They also die younger, spend more time in hospitals, and as a quintile have more dealings with police and security agencies. Through no fault of their own (as offshoring of jobs isn’t their fault, nor is increased immigration where lower paying jobs are taken by cheaper labour immigrant workers) this group costs the UK economy billions of pounds sterling every year.

If there were jobs available for the people in the bottom quintile they would take them, and no longer find themselves in the bottom fifth with all the attendant costs to themselves, their families, and to UK society

But the simple fact is, in the UK there are many more people looking for work, than there are jobs available — and this is particularly true since the beginning of the influx of eastern European immigrants and immigrants from other regions.

While the highest income quintile costs UK society via extremely high CO2 emissions and policing and security costs — the lowest quintile costs the UK via higher healthcare, crime, policing and incarceration, and social welfare programme spending.

And much worse than all of that, is the lost opportunity that these people represent for themselves and for the UK. This group also has (by far) the lowest life satisfaction levels and the highest suicide rate of all the quintiles. Yet, little is being done to resolve this poorly-understood strata of UK society.

There are three well understood paths to help the bottom-two quintiles (which applies in all developed nations, not only in the UK) which I can briefly touch on here:

  1. Short term: So-called ‘Helicopter Money’ where the government simply provides more money to the lowest economic quintile. It’s true, the money must come from somewhere and such spending is often resented by taxpayers who themselves, may have benefited from a better education, or inherited money, or both. However, whether £200 billion (for example) is spent on the social costs that are directly attributable to poverty (a combination of social welfare payments, higher healthcare costs, crime, policing/incarceration, and ‘other’ costs) or whether it is spent on helicopter money — it still totals £200 billion! Although, spending on Helicopter Money would have the added benefit of dramatically reducing poverty-induced homelessness, drug addiction, healthcare, healthcare wait times for all healthcare users, crime against persons and property, while insurance rates would fall and the UK would see a lower suicide rate due to higher life satisfaction levels among those in the bottom two quintiles.
  2. Middle term: Job retraining. Although it’s true that there are many more job-seekers in Britain than there are jobs available, some people that are willing and physically able to work will choose independence from social welfare programmes and thereby increase their personal income and life satisfaction. In a time of increasing unemployment, job retraining programmes are of little value. However, during a time of increasing employment, job retraining programmes score a triple-win — with lower unemployment insurance spending and lower social welfare spending, as retrained people are working and contributing to society, paying taxes, and supporting their own families — instead of being homeless, committing crimes and ending up in the hospital, prison, or both.
  3. Long term: Many countries now provide ‘one tuition-free university degree’ to each citizen. Each additional degree must then be paid for by the student, or by a sponsor. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Chile, and others, have various programmes whereby citizens can obtain one or more university degrees with no tuition cost for students. Notably, these countries have higher life satisfaction and boast much lower crime statistics when compared to similar developed nations without tuition-free university opportunities. In the United States, those who sign-up for military service under the ROTC programme gain one free college degree in addition to receiving valuable military training and post-military job placement assistance. Britain could offer ‘One Free University Degree in exchange for Gap Year Military Service’ allowing students to take a year off from scholastic learning (their Gap Year) and enter military service as a cadet. At the end of that year, they will have tuition equivalent to obtaining one university degree waiting for them at selected colleges or universities in the UK.

Which is best? All three!

If the UK simply increased social welfare spending to £1088. per month, that replaces all other social welfare spending — for unemployed persons over the age of 19, or to top-up the wages of those stuck in low paying full-time or part-time jobs, or to top-up pensioners on low incomes — all of that additional money instantly becomes available to local economies.

People who earn or receive £1088. per month (£1088. per month is a standard anti-poverty metric) do not have the ability to save money in the bank! Every pound sterling would be immediately returned to the local economy every single month; in rent payments, sales at the grocery store, hardware store, pharmacy, etc. — and if a person is looking for employment, at the barber or hair salon, and the (work clothing) store.

And due to all of that additional spending, personal income tax, business tax, and government sales tax revenue would be significantly higher, while small business bankruptcies would plummet as presently marginal businesses would see definite sales increases.

It would represent an incredible boon to the overall economy, and small business in the UK would receive additional billions of pounds per year — replacing all those billions going to homelessness and addiction programmes, to additional policing and court and incarceration costs, and to untold property damage and harm to persons from those people who feel they have ‘nothing to lose’ — all of which is paid for ultimately, by taxpayers.

If you’re a British taxpayer, where would you rather your tax money be spent? On astronomical policing, court and incarceration costs that the government won’t ever divulge (because there would be a taxpayer revolt!) or spending it to allow people to live decent lives for the same, or much less cost per year?

It isn’t about a ‘free ride’ for those who choose not to work, as Britain has millions more job-seekers than there are jobs available year-in and year-out (as in all developed nations) it’s about choosing to spend taxpayer money on the obscene social costs of poverty — or choosing to spend the same amount or less, on supporting local business.

It really is about the economy! It’s about appropriate job retraining programmes that meet the wildly varying needs of each particular decade. And it’s about one tuition-free college degree for a better educated Britain, via Gap Year military service.

How to pay for all of that?

Increasing social welfare spending to £1088. per month, means that policing, court and incarceration costs, homelessness and drug addiction costs, property crime costs and insurance rates, etc. would fall dramatically. Yes, there might even be an opportunity for savings once that programme would be completely rolled-out!

Highly adaptable job-retraining programmes geared towards the needs of the end-user (UK business) might well incur some additional costs compared to the presently available job-retraining programmes.

And the ‘One Tuition-Free University Degree’ costs would be borne by the UK military, as it would be the entity charged with paying for each cadet’s tuition after they have completed one full year of military service.

So yes, in totality, there would be some financial cost, but many societal benefits.

An unobtrusive 1% Tobin Tax could pay for simplified and more effective Social Welfare Spending, more appropriate Job-retraining and One Tuition-Free College Degree per student

There is one very-easy-on-the-taxpayer way to afford this (and, Bonus!) allow the government to never run a budget deficit again — by instituting a 1% Tobin Tax (a 1% tax on every financial transaction) that would cost each individual taxpayer a tiny fraction of their total investment spending, and for those who invest little it would affect them little.

As Prime Minister Theresa May has implied, Building a Better Britain is not about ‘doing the same things over and over while expecting a different result’ — it’s about looking at what works well in other developed nations and adapting it to Britain’s case. Sooner, rather than later.

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