Shrinking Cities

One of the biggest challenges for the world this century is how to accommodate the hundreds of millions of people who will flock to cities, especially in emerging economies. Coping with this human torrent will be fearsomely difficult but at least the problem is widely acknowledged. That is not true of another pressing urban dilemma: what to do with cities that are losing people.They are hardly unusual. Almost one in ten American cities is shrinking. So are more than a third of German ones and the number is growing. Although Japan’s biggest cities are thriving, large numbers of its smaller ones are collapsing. Several South Korean cities have begun to decline a trend that will speed up unless couples can somehow be persuaded to have more babies. Next will come China, where the force of rapid urbanisation will eventually be overwhelmed by the greater power of demographic contraction. China’s total urban population is expected to peak by mid-century; older industrial boom towns are already on a downward slope.

An abandoned street containing a rotting nursery or primary school is a sad sight. And declining cities have more than visual problems. Disused buildings deter investors and attract criminals; superfluous infrastructure is costly to maintain; ambitious workers may refuse to move to places where the potential clientele is shrinking. Where cities are economically self-sufficient, a smaller working population means a fragile base on which to balance hefty pension obligations. That is why Detroit went bust. So it is unsurprising that governments often try to shore up their crumbling smaller cities. Japan recently announced tax cuts for firms that are willing to move their headquarters out of thriving Tokyo. Office parks, art museums and tram lines have been built in troubled American and European cities, on the assumption that if you build it, people will come. For the most part, they will not. Worse, the attempt to draw workers back to shrinking cities is misconceived. People move from smaller to larger cities in countries like Germany and Japan because the biggest conurbations have stronger economies, with a greater variety of better-paying jobs. The technological revolution, which was once expected to overturn the tyranny of distance, has in fact encouraged workers to cluster together and share clever ideas. Britain’s productivity is pitiful these days (see article) but it is almost one-third higher in London than elsewhere.  Policies meant to counteract the dominance of big cities are not just doomed to fail but can actually be counter-productive. The most successful metropolises should be encouraged to expand by stripping away planning restrictions. If housing were more plentiful in the bigger conurbations it would be cheaper, and the residents of declining cities, who often have little housing equity, would find it easier to move to them. Rent controls and rules that give local people priority in public housing should go, too: they harm the poor by locking them into unproductive places.

A new kind of garden city

Even so, many people will stay stuck in shrinking cities, which will grow steadily older. Better transport links to big cities will help some. But a great many cannot be revived. In such cases the best policy is to acquire empty offices and homes, knock them down and return the land to nature—something that has worked in the east German city of Dessau-Rosslau and in Pittsburgh in America. That will require money and new habits of mind. Planners are expert at making cities work better as they grow. Keeping them healthy as they shrink is just as noble.

In the US at least, cities house poor people, often racial minorities or from lower classes, who global capitalism no longer wants to employ. The excesses of finance with harmful if not predatory mortgages, ended up kicking people out their houses, which become vacant and vandalized, driving people away from cities. Who will pay to restore or repair them? Excessive wealth inequality may favor a few high lifestyle metros, but also prevent capital from investing in places where the those who control capital seek only to exploit. Growing populations may keep property values inflated, but low and stagnant wages will not make cities liveable. Our biggest crisis is how to employ everyone, or if that is becoming more obsolete, to ensure that the productivity of the society is widely shared. Whether that happens in large metros, smaller cities or even repopulated and renewed farmlands is less important than that it happens at all.

Cities rise and fall. Take the former City States of Rome and Venice as two significant examples. This pattern will continue and the global pattern of key cities will also shift. Cities with strong economic drivers will prevail. Cities with attractive natural qualities will prevail. Cities which are well marketed and offer a better quality of life will prevail. Cities in countries whose governments offer significant financial and taxation advantages will prevail. Competition will always prevail at the Local, Regional, State, National and International level. Larger cities with characteristics such as those above will continue to prosper provided they can compete. Smaller centres located within short travel times to such cities will also benefit and transport technology here can play a large role. In addition locations with good cyber connections to people in such centres also have potential. The urban settlements patterns of the past and today will be quite different to those of tomorrow. Government will always have a regulatory role in ensuring that citizens are safe and prosperous and make a fair contribution to society. People will migrate to seek a better life. Those people captive to their own predicament and their country’s policies will be unable to move and policies of countries may restrict immigration. Humanity adapts.


Advent Of A Sustainable Economy

There is a symbolic movement of our times that is promising a new lifestyle. A lifestyle that is not only transforming the vision of the future but changing the way we do business and invest. It is a possibility where the energy is produced and consumed sustainably, the environment is clean, and all of nature is in its healthy state. I know this could sound very idealistic when we are constantly bombarded by bad news. But if we look deeper the sustainable revolution has inspired and compelled governments and corporations to make goods and services such as clean power, extend green tax credits and encourage local recycling mandates that affect our day to day lives. This trend has also resulted in a new race to create better and more efficient cars and buildings which consume less energy and resources. New and advanced methods of growing food, and developing medications with organic ingredients are influencing nutrition and health care sectors as well. More humane procedures, like using fewer chemicals and minimizing animal testing’s has been advocated by consumers and activists alike. Even Local counties and schools are encouraging their constituents to recycle and conserve, this has resulted in many of us reusing shopping bags, using public transportation paying a premium for locally grown organic food and driving a fuel-efficient car.

But then we must also pay attention as to who are joining the movement to “LOOK” good and who are actually participating to” DO” good. Green washing is another technique where many may use to fit and conform into the new trend. Following the investments and the money chasing green projects is one way to keep abreast with what’s happening in the world of sustainability. As an entrepreneur or consumer pputting your money where your heart is another way to ensure the brightest idea will not get anywhere with the wrong funders. Don’t get intimidated by traditional start-ups and their glamorous image. You are not in the business of looking good, you’re in the business of doing good! And this is particularly what makes you stand out from the crowd. Invest in your purpose, put your heart and mind to nurture that big idea. Slowly, but surely, you can get the ball rolling further than you would have ever imagined.

Many VC monies may come with lots of strings attached and loss of creative liberty to steer businesses in the right direction hence not getting get stuck on the idea of VCs and cash in the bank but with key partnerships and  resources instead could be essential. People, skills, relationships that bring the right mix together to co-create things which at the end of the day may increase capacity to help move businesses further that otherwise would have been paid for. The right partners will embark on a journey with you because they believe in what you do and will give time, skills, networks and passion. That may be worth a whole lot than just cash!. If we must need to go the traditional route and go for the big money – VCs, grants etc – being picky about who we are pitching to may be critical. Research the VC’s or foundation’s history of giving, their pre-existing conditions and their relationship with their beneficiaries. Before pitching, try to meet with them informally and see if you click on the same things. Do you trust that person after you have left the meeting? Would they be an enjoyable teammate? Do you want to share more with them and value their advice, beyond just the business side of things? If your answer is yes, then go for it. Investments will come pouring.

In short align your values and stay true to yourself, your mission and your vision.  Never compromise and never lose sight of the purpose of your business, organizations or projects. Be authentic in everything you do!  Authenticity reinforces your purpose. Funding will only make it flourish. But if the Mission of sustainability is not there then there is nothing that can flourish.

Curated By Naved Jafry


The impossible just happened in Texas. The so-called spot price of electricity in Texas fell toward zero, hit zero, and then went negative for several hours.As the Lone Star State slumbered, power producers were paying the state’s electricity system to take electricity off their hands. At one point, the negative price was $8.52 per megawatt hour. Impossible, most economists would say. In any market — and especially in a state devoted to the free market, like Texas — makers won’t provide a product or service at a negative cost. Yet this could have happened only in Texas, which (not surprisingly) has carved out a unique approach to electricity.
Consider these three unique factors about Texas.
wind texasFirst, Texas is an electricity island. The state often behaves as if it were its own sovereign nation, and indeed it was an independent republic for nearly 10 years. Alone among the 48 continental states, Texas runs an electricity grid that does not connect with those that serve other states.Texas is an electricity island thus the grid is run by Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or Ercot. By contrast, most states are part of larger regional bodies like PJM (which covers 13 states in the Midwest and Middle Atlantic) or MISO, which oversees the grid in a big chunk of the middle of the country. Being an island has given Texas has greater control over its electricity market: Texas won’t suffer blackouts if there are problems in Oklahoma or Louisiana. But it also means electricity produced in the state has to be consumed in the state at the moment it is produced it can’t be shipped elsewhere, where others might need it.
WIND TEXAS 8Second, Texas has way more wind power than any other state. In 2014, wind accounted for 4.4% of electricity produced in the US. Texas, which has more installed wind capacity (15,635 megawatts) than any other state and is home to nearly 10,000 turbines, got 9% of its electricity from wind in 2014.But that understates the influence of wind. Demand for electricity varies a great deal over the course of the day it rises as people wake up, turn on the lights, and go to work; peaks in the late of afternoon; and then falls off sharply at night. The supply of wind can change a lot, too, depending on how much the wind is blowing. So in the middle of the night, if the wind is strong, wind power can dominate.On March 29 2015 at 2:12 a.m., for example, wind accounted for about 40% of the state’s electricity production. There’s another nice feature about wind. Unlike natural gas or coal, there is no fuel cost. Once a turbine is up and running, the wind is free.

Third, Texas has a unique market structure. It’s complicated, but Ercot has set up the grid in such a way that it acquires a large amount of power through continuous auctions. Every five minutes, power generators in the state electronically bid into Ercot’s real-time market, offering to provide chunks of energy at particular prices. Ercot then fills the open needs by selecting the bids that are cheapest and that make the most sense from a grid-management perspective i.e., the power is being fed into the grid at points where the distribution and transmission systems can handle it. Every 15 minutes, the bids settle at the highest price paid for electricity accepted in the round. So if 100 MW of electricity are needed, and some producers offer 60 MW at $50 per megawatt-hour, some offer 30 MW at $80 per megawatt-hour, and others offer 40 MW at $100 per megawatt-hour, all the bidders will receive the highest price of $100. (Note: The price Ercot pays is the wholesale generation charge.)
WIND TEXAS 4After midnight on Sunday, the combination of these three factors pushed the real-time price of electricity lower. Demand fell at 4 a.m., the amount of electricity needed in the state was about 45% lower than the evening peak. The wind was blowing consistently much later in the day Texas would establish a new instantaneous-wind-generation record. At 3 a.m., wind was supplying about 30% of the state’s electricity, as this daily wind-integration report shows. And because the state is an electricity island, all the power produced by the state’s wind farms could be sold only to Ercot, not grids elsewhere in the country.That gave wind-farm owners a great incentive to lower their prices. The data shows that the clearing price in the real-time market went from $17.40 per megawatt-hour for the interval ending 12:15 a.m., to zero for the interval ending 1:45 a.m. Then it went into negative territory and stayed at zero or less until about 8:15 a.m. For the interval that ended 5:45 a.m., the real-time price of electricity in Texas was minus $8.52 per megawatt-hour.
WIND TEXAS 9How could this be? I mean, even the most efficient producer couldn’t afford to provide electricity free or pay someone to take it.Well, there’s one more wrinkle. Typically, wind is bid at the lowest prices because you don’t need fuel, it doesn’t really cost that much money to keep wind turbines moving once they have been built. But wind operators have another advantage over generators that use coal or natural gas: A federal production tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour that applies to every kilowatt of power produced.
And that means that even if wind operators give the power away or offer the system money to take it, they still receive a tax credit equal to $23 per megawatt-hour. Those tax credits have a monetary value either to the wind-farm owner or to a third party that might want to buy them. As a result, in periods of slack overall demand and high wind production, it makes all the economic sense in the world for wind-farm owners to offer to sell lots of power into the system at negative prices.
Only in Texas, folks. Only in Texas. Great policies and the leverage of new technology may be the reason Texas will always continue to host the present and future energy capital of the world ( Houston).


Contributed by Naved Jafry & Garson Silvers


solar 2Solar perovskite cells, patterned with gold electrodes, await tests that
measure their efficiency at converting sunlight into electricity. (Plamen Petkov)

In the 1950s vertically integrated giants such as IBM and AT&T evolved its telecommunication and semiconductor businesses by having their global network of suppliers compete for its business at every step of the value chain including and not limited to redesigning components and dramatically improve the performance and cost of electronics. But if you look at how clustered sustainable technologies supply chains in China work, it demonstrates that it will only reinforce the industry’s focus on today’s technology, rather than allow competition to drive tomorrow’s advances.

For instances the next generation technologies of solar and LED are developed at a slower pace in laboratories all over instead of today’s promising technologies such as the solar perovskites that could beat silicon on efficiencies and costs many folds if ramped up to scale production. But the more the solar/LED industry concentrates and calcifies in China, the harder such a disruption will happen. By subsidizing its domestic manufacturers, China also subsidizes clean energy deployment around the world. But this sort of argument by pro-deployment activists suggests that China’s dominance in solar/LED manufacturing is a boon to the world. In the near term, they may be right as the solar deployment is booming around the world, fuelled by cheap Chinese panels. But in the long term, today’s silicon/LED technologies will not displace even a substantial fraction of fossil fuel energy. This near-term/long-term disparity stems from the economics of electricity grids as solar’s/LED’s value declines as its penetration on the grid increases.

solar ledTo look into this view a little deeper there are two reasons why dramatically superior technologies will likely not emerge if the solar/LED industry remains concentrated in China. Firstly, Chinese firms are more likely to pursue incremental process improvements and cost reduction e.g., optimizing factory layouts, strengthening supply chains rather than product innovation. Some might argue that this is a dated caricature of a newly dynamic Chinese innovation complex which benefits from lavish state-funded laboratories (cf. Chinese “State Key Labs”) and improved coordination among universities, research institutes, and corporations. Still, fundamental technology researchers in China are struggling to close the gap with Western counterparts, and most major manufacturers have displayed little interest in seriously funding alternative technologies. The second reason for pessimism is that if innovation flourishes only in a Chinese-dominated industry increases, vertical integration will eventually stifle disruptive change. For example China dominates not only the panel manufacturing business, but has consolidated the entire upstream supply chain within its borders, from polysilicon to solar cell production. Where the supply chain is not formally vertically integrated, it is de facto monolithic, simply by virtue of colocation in massive industrial centers like the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone.

solarFrom 2006 to 2011, venture capitalists invested over $25 billion in clean technologies and lost over half their money needless to say, VC interest in new solar start-ups today is minimal. But there still appears to be a silver lining when large U.S. companies can play a crucial role in driving innovation in solar and sustainable technologies. Firms like Applied Materials and Dupont still achieve levels of quality that the Chinese have been unable to replicate (in solar cell production equipment and materials, respectively), giving the United States a toehold in the solar supply chain. Moreover, two large solar panel makers First Solar and Sunpower are American and employ more advanced technologies than their Chinese competitors. And SolarCity, a downstream residential solar installer, recently acquired an innovative solar technology company and will produce its own panels in Buffalo, New York. These American solar players are far more amenable than Chinese counterparts to exploring new technologies for commercialization, and they have the sector expertise, manufacturing prowess, and project pipeline to bring new solar technology to market where VCs failed. State incentives such as those that attracted SolarCity to New York, can support American companies to drive local economies. I would strongly recommend more federal research funding to be aimed at fostering partnerships between major American firms and cutting-edge research in universities and national research laboratories. Ideally we can look forward to a time when sustainable technologies such as solar is an industry waiting to be disrupted in the US and eventually worldwide.

Transformation Of A Liveable City to A Smart City Through Its Citizens

citizen engagement 3
There is a small but fundamental difference between a ‘smart’ city and a ‘liveable’ one, and it pivots on citizen participation. Cities which directly engage their residents in creating solutions to systemic challenges such as climate change are more likely to deliver successful outcomes, and establish liveable urban communities.
citizen engagement 5

This approach is at the core of Seoul’s Eco-Mileage System – a citizen participation project that rewards households and businesses with refunds based on the reductions they make in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a timely approach given that South Korea is among the world’s top 10 carbon emitters.
Every participant must show that they have reduced their electricity, water, gas, or district heating consumption by at least 10 per cent, compared to the previous two years. This progressive measure pushes households and organisations to think long-term about their energy efficiency, rather than short-term fixes, and as a result, the percentage of buildings that have reduced energy consumption has increased from 38.4 per cent in 2010 to 56.5 per cent in 2012.

Since the project began in 2009, the Municipal Government estimates it has stopped the emission of 1.46 million tons of CO2. The benefits of this can be seen right across the social, financial and environmental spectrum, by generating cleaner air and contributing to cheaper utility bills. What’s perhaps most surprising about this initiative is that is has 1.88 million members, and counting. This is remarkable for a voluntary scheme, and is testament to the value that citizen engagement brings to complex and overlapping sustainability issues. It is even more remarkable that it has been introduced into every elementary school in the city, which drives behavioural change from an early age and deepens a cultural mind set around environmental adaptation.Those participants who show repeated energy reductions over time are encouraged to dig even deeper into their carbon offsetting by accruing mileage points, which can be redeemed on a wider range of benefits including transport vouchers and LED lamps.
citizen engagementFor those seeking more personalised approaches to energy reduction, the programme offers energy consultants who can create tailored schemes – and every participant is freely able to track and adjust their progress through a simple online platform.
South Korea is projected to reach emissions totalling 850.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030. It is no wonder that Seoul South Korea’s beating heart – has honed in on this urgent concern. With a new nationwide pledge to reduce the country’s emissions by a hefty 37 per cent by 2030, Seoul will undoubtedly pave the way by demonstrating that people-powered solutions can create the most lasting changes.
This innovation is part of Sustainia100; a study of 100 leading sustainability solutions from around the world. The study is conducted annually by Scandinavian think tank Sustainia that works to secure deployment of sustainable solutions in communities around the world. This year’s Sustainia100 study is freely available at

How Making Solar Accesseble & Affordable To All Can Change The Energy Future

solar financing      We all would love to see free limitless electricity generated by the sun. But while it’s great to see large homes owned by wealthy pioneers being solar-powered, rooftop solar should be accessible to people across the socio-economic spectrum everywhere. But putting solar on all of these different roofs is currently a serious challenge. Even with lowered PV costs and the prevalence of third-party financing programs, solar is largely out of reach for many low-income families. Many are renters who do not own their homes, putting them at the mercy of their landlord. For those that do own their homes, few have enough tax liability to take full advantage of federal and state tax incentives for rooftop solar. That’s largely a moot point anyway, since even with incentives the steep upfront cost of rooftop solar puts a PV system financially out of reach for low-income families. That’s where third-party leasing can come in, but many low-income families have low credit scores and most solar leasing companies require a higher credit score. It’s one potential financial barrier after another.
Fortunately, there are groups around the world working to overcome these barriers to market participation and ultimately bring solar to low-income households. Giving low-income families access to solar PV systems can help lower their utility bills, provide employment opportunities, and bring about an element of environmental and economic justice.

Saving Money
Low-income families spend over twice the proportion of their total income on energy bills than the average person with a higher income. When low-income families have high energy bills one of the first thing they often skimp on is food. Researchers from the Boston Medical Center have found that children in energy-insecure households don’t get enough food, have poorer health, and are more prone to developmental problems. One way to lower energy bills and keep food on the table is to power homes with solar photovoltaics.
I believe that Low-income families pay into the rebate pool like everyone else. Yet often, even with rebates, they can’t afford a solar home system. Grid Alternatives, or simply Grid, as it is fondly called, is a nonprofit organization providing low- to no-cost PV systems to low-income families throughout California, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Homeowners who earn 80 percent or less of the median income and have a solar-appropriate roof qualify for a Grid Alternatives PV system. “We see people save an average of 50 to 75 percent off their electric bill. Money that can go towards paying their mortgage, putting food on the table, or saving for college.
Grid works with local partners to find qualifying families. The families do not have to put any money down, but do have to contribute 16 hours of sweat equity. They can work in the Grid office, help on the installation, or even cook lunch for the installation volunteers. They then pay $0.02 per kilowatt-hour for what their system produces. It’s a small price to pay for leasing the system, often adding up to only about $100 per year, but according to Chuck Watkins, executive director of Grid Alternatives–Colorado, “we want the homeowners highly engaged with their system and aware of their energy usage.”
solar saving graphA similar organization, Citizens Energy, provides free solar PV systems that reduce homeowners’ electricity costs by 40 to 50 percent in the Imperial Valley of California, an area with the highest unemployment rate in the country. With temperatures in the area climbing to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, homeowners can have a difficult time paying for the electricity to run their cooling systems. Citizens Energy uses 50 percent of its profits from its share of the Sunrise Powerlink high-voltage transmission line that brings renewable energy to the San Diego region to purchase, install, and maintain the systems. The homeowner signs a 20-year lease only after they receive a free energy audit and weatherization services. One of the 200 homeowners to receive the free PV system saw her monthly summer electricity bill go from $350 to $85.
A statewide program in California is also helping low-income families. SASH (Single-family Affordable Solar Homes) provides fully subsidized 1 kW systems to very-low-income households (50 percent or below the area median income), and highly subsidized systems to other low-income households. The incentives for the subsidized systems range from $4.75 to $7.00 per watt, depending on the customer’s utility rate schedule and tax liability. Incentives are higher for customers who cannot take advantage of the ITC. Over 3,600 systems have been installed, and participating families’ electricity bills have been reduced by approximately 80 percent.
Green Jobs
Another benefit to bringing solar access to low-income families is increasing employment opportunities. Low-income communities often have high rates of unemployment. Yet more than 140,000 people are employed in the solar industry, more than half of them in installation jobs that can’t ever be outsourced. That’s a drop in the bucket of the 46.5 million Americans currently living in poverty, but with solar installations growing at a rate of 40 percent, those jobs are going to keep growing as well. Grid Alternatives, for its part, installs its systems with local volunteers and partners with job training organizations to provide hands-on field experience students need to get certified as solar installers and to get jobs. Partners include community colleges and vocational schools, the Center for Employment Training, YouthBuild, Veterans Green Jobs, and Green City Force.
At a recent installation in Carbondale, Colorado, twelve local volunteers along with the homeowner helped install a 3.6 kW system for Dan and Pam Rosenthal.  Volunteer comes out to at least four to six installs where they can get valuable hands-on experience as well as experience in leading crews, and a lot of our team leaders end up getting employed in the industry.

Environmental Justice
Clean energy access for low-income Americans is not just an issue of economics, but an issue of justice, as well. Lower-income people are more susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change, may be more affected by urban pollution, and face health issues from living closer to coal plants. Often times low-income families are the ones most affected by pollution but with solar in the mix it’s nice to see that they too can be part of the climate change solution.
Even more important is that the new systems are estimated to save 75 percent off their monthly electric bill each month along with the amount of CO2 that families will be offsetting in the lifetime of their system, helping communities reach its carbon footprint goals.
Over all I think cities around the world should embark on a minimum goal of generating 35 percent of its electricity by renewable energy by 2020. It’s a big goal but through participation from everyone, smart solar businesses can help erase the financial barriers to to the future of energy.

Are Helicopters The Commuter Transport Of The Future?

Courtesy: Getty Images

Courtesy: Getty Images

What cuts through traffic jams, avoids rush hour, doesn’t need a runway, and delivers you right to your door? The humble helicopter of course, beloved transportation method of oligarchs and billionaires is perpetually useful in a busy city.
In New York, ‘copters skip their way up the Hudson, and in London, the helicopter is no longer an unusual sight over the city. But for those of us who cram onto the tube or take the bus on a daily basis, what we want to know is could the helicopter ever become an actual commuting vessel?

Are they cost effective?
Robinson Helicopter Company are one of the world’s largest manufacturers of civil helicopters. The R44 Raven II is one of their most popular models and costs $463,800 new. According to Transport for London, their “New Bus” for London, a more eco-friendly model, costs £326,000 over a 14 year lifespan.The bus obviously is probably the most cost-effective form of transportation. But then take into account how many missed meetings have been caused by being “stuck on the bus”, and how quickly a helicopter can get from A-B.

Courtesy: Getty Images

Courtesy: Getty Images

Are the number of helicopters increasing?
Let’s take the latest available statistics released by the UK’s civil aviation authority to see how popular helicopter travel is in London. On March 31st, 2015, 67 flights were taken by helicopters, and only eight of those were police helicopters. The number of helicopters in London fluctuates wildly.
For example, after the fatal helicopter crash in Vauxhall on the January 16th, 2013, there was a marked drop in London helicopter usage. Despite it being the first helicopter crash since records began in 1976, the event encouraged Kate Hoey MP and Boris Johnson to suggest that greater helicopter regulation was needed in London.
But this doesn’t mean that the dream of helicopter commutes won’t become a reality. 16,376 flights passed over London last year, and there is space for the market to grow in every corner of the globe.

helicopterinthe eveningDo people commute by helicopter?
Atlas Helicopters is one company that advertises their services as “London’s helicopter charter” with a tagline: “Travel stress-free, avoid traffic jams and increase your productivity with an itinerary to suit your business needs.”On their website Atlas suggests that the helicopter charter market is on the increase – the main sell is that commuting by helicopter is efficient and effective. Alana Burns, the general manager of Atlas Helicopters said: “Helicopter travel to and from London could be more extensively used if the landing fees in London were not so prohibitive. For instance, the standard landing fee for an Agusta 109 helicopter at Battersea Heliport is £725 plus VAT, with extension fees of up to £700 plus VAT for out of hours movements and a cost of £350 plus VAT per hour parking (only 15 minutes parking is permitted within the standard landing fee).”
Is it really feasible?
Assuming the landing fees were reduced to be more reasonable, the beauty of helicopters is that their ability to land on relatively small helipads that can be located on small (compared to a runway) rooftops. Although private pilot permits are relatively difficult to secure, there is plenty of potential for charters to land.
Overall There’s a growing trade in green machines that can expect helicopters to become a regular feature of our commute? With the current cost of a helicopter flight averaging around $ 1000 per hour, competitively priced availability of skilled personnel and rising income around the world, the future of the helicopter commute could be a more attainable mode of transportation into the future!