Yes, the cost and liability would be very low, and life support not needed. Lessons learned would benefit large scale use.
Tubes less than a foot in diameter would have use for mail and small packages. Tubes 20 feet in diameter could accommodate a bus. It is estimated that a 5 foot (1.5m) diameter tube could accommodate almost all transport needs.
Capsules 2 feet in diameter and 8 feet long could be used for one person lying down. Capsules could be made big enough to accommodate a bus. Economics will dictate capsule size, and our research shows that the best capsule size has already been proven by the most successful vehicle in the world - the automobile. The average car carries 4-6 passengers, or 800 to 900 pounds of payload. A 51" (1.3m) diameter capsule 16 feet long could accommodate 6 persons. This is estimated to be the best compromise between utility and cost.
Both underground and above ground systems will be built, according to local conditions and economic requirements.
Since primitive man first made a dugout canoe, the demand for transportation improvements has increased. Transportation expenditures are around 14% of the world economy. The rate of growth of transportation is double the rate of growth of the world economy. In developed countries it has grown to 20% or one trillion dollars per year in the USA. Experts have estimated that the costs of ETT transport will be much less than current systems. The right-of-way requirements are around 5% of an interstate freeway. The materials use for spans will less than one tenth.
The tubes can be made of any durable substance that is capable of holding a vacuum. Every route will have special requirements according to local conditions and economics. Some possible materials include but are not limited to: Sealed concrete, glazed ceramic, steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and plastics.
Economics and politics will come into play to determine the optimal location for the first systems. Attractive routes will be between major cities, over unpopulated flat, dry terrain, below the latitudes where the ground freezes. (India and China are the most promising places for initial system implementation).
Those who license the technology and collaborate with one another will build ETT systems. The philosophy is an open system (like Linux), with chaordic rules (like VISA credit card service) where improvements are made by many collaborators working to achieve mutual benefits, but the collaborators have a mechanism for getting paid to the extent of their contribution. People who now work in almost any field will build components, or provide services that make the ETT system possible.
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