An old solution adapted to today’s needs.
During a late night meeting in a small basement room close to Parliament, Minister for Extraordinary things, Mr. Batbold, explained to the international press, the new plans for a “catapult based” rapid transport system in the city.
“The principle is easy” said Mr. Batbold, “we will build specially adapted catapults at strategic points throughout the city which will fire large inflatable balls, each containing six individuals, to Sukhbaatar square” He carried on by saying: “this is a unique system which are proud to pioneer in Mongolia, its cost effective, environmentally friendly and well adapted to the size of Ulaanbaatar city”.
Sukhbbatar square, the primary landing platform, is to be fitted with a giant net which will receive all the balls coming in at 1 minute intervals from the various points in the city fitted with the catapults. The net will consist of a “super strength” flat net strung above Sukhbaatar Square along with vertical nets above it aimed directly at the catapults. Allowing up to 6 catapults to launch balls to this primary landing platform simultaneously.
The passengers themselves will be travelling strapped in on the inside of a large inflatable “passenger ball”. Those balls can accommodate up to 6 adult passengers and have a fast entry and exit “release” system.
The catapults will have a maximum range of 7.2 kilometres with a certain allowance made for winds. Each catapult will have a capacity of launching an average of 55 passenger balls per hour, if the project proves to be successful, plans are being made for “double catapults” which could potentially nearly double the rate of fire. Both the catapults and the passenger balls are being designed in Germany and will be manufactured in China.
While Sukhbaatar square will be covered with a large net, this net will be strung 6 meters above the ground and will thus not impact the use of the square nor will it prevent people walking underneath it. Once a ball has been received on the Sukhbaatar Square net, it will be deflated and put on a lorry to be brought back to the catapult launching site. It is hoped that over time, catapults will be installed at the Sukhbaatar Square central so that balls passengers balls could be fired both ways.
Minister Batbold further added that “While certain tall buildings which currently surround Sukhbaatar square such as the Blue Sky Tower, the ICC and the Central Tower may prove a hinderance, we will make sure the catapults are carefully calibrated so that the flight path of the passenger balls is not impacted” he carried on to explain “Even if one passenger ball is knocked off-course for any reason whatsoever, it will cause no danger to its occupants or to property. It is designed in such a way that it is bouncy and cannot harm its occupants. Its similar to being inside a large airbag. The passenger ball on the other hand has such a large surface area of flexible material that it cannot do any damage to property.”
Mr. Batbayar, Chief Catapult Launch Officer for Ulaanbaatar, mentioned in a recent interview that ‘The only technical issue we are still faced with is the problem of birds that might find themselves on the same flight path as one of our passenger balls but since there are so few birds over Ulaanbaatar, this is not something that particularly concerns us at this stage”. Further on over the course of the interview he continued to say that ‘In previous tests, some passengers complained of some form of sea-sickness but we believe this is simply a case of people wanting to complain about something. If there is such a feeling once we have moved on to full operations, passengers will quickly get used to it or those few that might be feeling slightly nauseous can stick to standard forms of public transport”.
It is planned that the first catapult will be installed in the Zaisan residential area as it is one of the most heavily congested in the city and residents of Zaisan can take up to 2 hours to go from Zaisan to Sukhbaatar Square during peak hours. The new commute with such a rapid transport system would be over in less than 5 minutes. Once the Zaisan catapult is operational and a success, the city will install two more catapults in different parts of the city for 6 months long trials. For the moment all catapults will be aimed towards Sukhbaatar Square but eventually it is hoped that catapults and nets can be installed throughout the city so that transport from one part of the city to any other is done quickly and efficiently.
The first catapult will be installed in May 2013 in Zaisan and the city expects the system to become operational from mid-June 2013. The second catapult will be installed in Yarmag in August 2013 with the last catapult, in a yet undisclosed site, will be installed by November 2013.
The cost for such an operation are minimal at less than a 100 million USD, it will further create over 250 jobs throughout the capital. It is expected that a single ticket in a passenger ball would cost an average 5,000 MNT (about 3.5USD) with a higher tariff during peak hours (08:00 till 09:30 and 16:00 till 17:30) of 7,000 MNT (about 5 USD) per passenger.
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