Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Monday, 26 April 2010

Electric Islands

There are a vast fleet of vessels harvesting the seas around the Western Isles . The resource that they greedily extract for consumption is not fish but something far more valuable and for which the population has an ever-expanding requirement. This resource is carried unseen beneath the waves to the shore where it then snakes its way towards those whose needs it meets. It is electricity.

The isles have become, save for some emergency vehicles and licensed carriers, a petrol-free zone. All transportation, whether by bus, car or via van, is powered by electricity. Further, the cars are not privately owned but operated by a smartcard system that tracks their usage and charges for it accordingly. The GPS monitoring of journeys in real-time enables the system to construct a vast database of patterns of usage so that it can look-ahead for potential problems such as rush-hour shortages as well as alerting users to bottlenecks, breakdowns and other potential problems.

The system employs people offshore constructing and maintaining the power generating system and on land ensuring that the provision of that power is permanent. A vehicle maintenance and supply team deals with the inevitable breakdowns and accidents and also ensures that enough vehicles are available in the right places at the right time.

Consumers can request a vehicle if one is not to hand and the system is sophisticated enough to avoid duplication of journeys by near-neighbours. The integration of buses, taxis and the elimination of the petrol-driven private car combine to provide residents and visitors with a cost-effective, pollution-free and community-friendly transport system.

Visitors will leave their vehicles on the mainland and a new fleet of faster ferries convey them to the isles. Whilst the environmental impact of the new car parks at the mainland ports is controversial it is a price the inhabitants consider worth paying as less of their taxes are spent in subsidising fuel and transport on the islands.

Such schemes have been tried in other places with bicycles. They failed in Cambridge, via vandalism and theft, but still flourish in, I think, the Netherlands. The isles, by their very nature, are the ideal place for such a scheme to exist for powered vehicles to the benefit of all.

Jobs, lasting jobs, would be created. Pollution, whether noxious or 'noise-ious', would be vastly reduced. And the communal spirit of the ancient townships revitalised in a modern manner.

(I am sure that there are several colander's-worth of holes to be found in the above, but the idea of shared vehicles is something that I first considered some 30 years ago when the technologies necessary were science-fiction. Today they exist)

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