Pivoting – Fixing The Public Transportation System

by PagerDuty April 1, 2011 | 4 min read

Note: This post was part of an April Fools joke.

For every entrepreneur, there comes a time to pivot. For some its because their ideas are not producing the results they desire, and the users are not responding as they expect. For us, its the opposite; our product has been very well received and we feel like we’ve solved this problem, and now we need a new challenge. At PagerDuty, we’ve enjoyed waking you up in the middle of the night to tell you that your servers were broken, and if you didn’t acknowledge the problem in time, then we were even more excited to wake your manager up and tell them that you were too busy dreaming or that you didn’t even care. But now we’re even more excited about the new challenges ahead of us.

The public transportation system has been broken for too long. In the valley it’s so bad that to get from point A to point B, it will take you three times longer by a bus than it would for you to walk. The US public transportation ranks 104th in the world, behind Uzbekistan where a massive fleet of private vehicles will taxi you to your location for similar costs as their transit system.

To provide a solution we must first understand the problem. Why is the US public transportation system so broken? Some critics say:

“Everyone has cars already, so they don’t need public transportation” – It is true that every household in the US has multiple cars, but that is merely because there are no alternatives to driving. To get from point A to point B you must have a car. Carpooling is not always an option in the family if you want the family to live together peacefully, so every person ends up needing their own cars. Carpooling with coworkers is not possible since they often live on the opposite side of town, and besides there are too many hybrids in the carpool lane.

“Population density is too low to deploy a cost effective public transportation system” – This is also very true when considering traditional forms of public transportation such as buses and trains. With that said, while traveling through the Middle east and Asia, we’ve noticed that even in the low density cities and towns, you are able to easily grab a taxi at costs extremely affordable to the locals. This is mostly possible due to an unregulated taxi cab business, opening up doors for the unemployed and unemployable to buy a cheap car and start transporting people. In the US, the taxi cab business is so regulated that you can’t even have the word cab in your business’s name.

The Curated Arial Non-Orbital Navigation System

To solve these problems we would like to introduce the Curated Arial Non-Orbital Navigation System or CANON for short. CANON is the first non-traditional transportation system able to cover even the least densely populated cities cost effectively. CANON stations have a three to five days setup time and have a low footprint of around 5000 square feet each, the size of an average single family home lot. Many nodes will be distributed throughout the city and each node can transports a person to any other node in the city through the air avoiding traffic and the need to pool people into groups who are traveling the same path or direction.

The CANON’s non-orbiting transporters have dynamic weight distributors designed to avoid spinning and will travel through the air smoothly at high velocity, staying upright the entire time. Each CANON can rotate and launch a transporter quickly and percisely. The empty transporters can be launched to different areas in the city as the population shifts throughout the day.

The initial test phase has been completed successfully and we have just closed a round of financing partially funded by the government’s Alternative Public Transportation Fund. We are now piloting the project in the valley, and have a planned rollout to major US cities by 2018. The only small hurdles remaining are the semi-lethal issues dealing with the effects of rapid acceleration and deceleration, but we feel that innovation can’t happen without a modicum of risk. PagerDuty will continue to be our baby and we will still enjoy waking you up when sh*t breaks. But we hope that now we can also transport you quickly to your servers.

The picture below was taken as part of our initial testing, but was conducted before the idea for the non-orbiting transporters came into existence for softer landings.

Curated Arial Non-Orbiting Navigation System's First Trial