Chapter 39: Transport For The High-Minded
He’s at it again. Kevin Spout, inventor extraordinary, is working on a remarkable new project. No doubt some Madazine readers will recall Mr Spout’s last venture, which was an attempt to bore to the Earth’s centre and bring up a variety of high-value metals. The scheme was aborted after two weeks, when Kevin drilled through his own foot. Discouraged by this setback, he turned his fertile and restless mind to an endeavour he had been thinking about for some time. As with his last exploit, the venue is the Spout family’s home in the suburbs of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. However, on this occasion that is merely the headquarters, as Kevin’s plan is all about mobility. Once again, our occasional science reporter, Axel Griess, was invited to see how the work is progressing.
The intention is to get more people travelling by bus and to this end Kevin has come up with the revolutionary notion of a triple-decker vehicle. “I’ve always been good at lateral thinking,” he said, “and I got this idea by fusing together two apparently unconnected things. First, I was watching a film which had a clip about one of those huge road trains – a truck and a couple of trailers – crossing the Northern Territory in Australia. Not long after that, while driving through town here I happened to look at the window of a restaurant. I saw a picture that seemed to be an artist’s impression of a triple-decker sandwich – four slices of bread interspersed with one layer of salad, one of cheese and one of beef. It dawned on me that the road train comprised three things in horizontal format while the sandwich was the same in a vertical layout.
“I spent the rest of that day seeking what proved to be an elusive connection, finally making it just before midnight. Once one has grasped something like this, it seems so simple. My brainwave was to envision a triple-section horizontal object as vertical and apply the result to the field of public transport, hence my idea for a bus with three decks. This will enable us to make much better use of our limited road space.”
After pausing to take a swig of his homebrewed beer, Kevin went on: “I believe that people have toyed with this notion from time to time, but nothing has come of it until now. My finances didn’t permit me to make the vehicle from scratch, so I bought two old double-decker buses, removed the upper deck from one of them, placed it atop the other and added an extra flight of stairs. I shall soon apply for a licence to run my bus on the public highway, and while dealing with the paperwork I shall also seek permission to get an exceptional concession allowing people on the top deck to smoke tobacco. That will calm their nerves, which I suppose might be a bit jangled in the early journeys.”
Reservations have been expressed by some experts, notably Oleg Ostrogoth, former advisor to the Moscow public transport authority. He said: “Having studied Mr Spout’s project, I foresee difficulties. I am most concerned about the stability of his bus, as it is twenty-one feet in height and its sides have flat surfaces of over five hundred square feet. I mention in passing that anyone occupying the third deck of the bus will need something more soothing than tobacco to retain their equanimity. However, this man seems resolved to proceed, so we shall see what happens.”
The Spout family’s long-suffering next-door neighbour, widow Alice Neutron (94), was alarmed. “Kevin’s last escapade was foolish enough,” she wailed, “but this seems even sillier. My late sister once said that as an innovator, he was deft. I think she got the wrong vowel in that last word.”