SkyTran allows the elderly to move around freely

Living in Paris, I see frail elderly people walking, shopping and taking the Metro -- living independently in their old familiar neighborhoods, surrounded by people they've known for decades who look out for them. If they lived in suburban America where I have spent most of my life, this would be impossible. There, independence depends on driving, and their slow reactions, physical weakness, and perhaps occasional confusion would quickly cost them their licenses. Dependent on family, expensive taxis or unreliable public transport, they are under "house arrest"; they are dependent; they are at high risk of decline and institutionalization. This is a crime!

Yet there are good reasons why this is so. Driving your own car imposes many requirements -- for the public's safety and your own -- that many otherwise independent elderly people can't meet. They may have cataracts in their eyes, slow reaction times, or poor hearing. Maybe early Alzheimer's, small strokes or the side effects of needed medicines sometimes make them confused, or Parkinson's, arthritis or physical frailty might make them unable to control a car in an emergency. Perhaps they visiting or living with their children in a country where they don't speak the language, or they may be illiterate or too proud or set in their ways to go through the hassle of applying for a license.

Every one of us will end up as an elderly person. Do you want to rely on anyone to take a trip to the doctor, or the store to buy a birthday present for your grandchild? With a fully built-out SkyTran system, you will be independent as long as you can walk or ride a few blocks to a station. Many elderly are scared that each drivers' license test they take will be their last. Even if it just solved this one problem, it would be worth building it. We'll all be there; so let's make our lives better!

SkyTran's design is inherently very safe. The fact that it is fully automated means that hardly any of the above limitations will stop them from using it to ride anywhere the young-uns do. If they can hobble up the steps to the platform (unnecessary for stations attached to buildings or equipped with wheelchair elevators) and board a car at an ergonomically-optimum platform far easier than today's cars, and speak (in their own language, assisted by a relative in the next town or a call center half a world away if necessary) or touch-select their destination -- they can ride SkyTran. They don't need fast reactions or constant attention like a driver does. They won't put others at risk like they can as drivers. Their children or friends can call at any time to make sure they are OK, and they can ask them or system operators for help whenever they need it. They can have them program a PDA with simple destinations like "Home", "Sally's house" or "Dr. Morrison" so they don't need to select enroute. If they are at risk of actually choosing an unsafe destination, they might accept some limitations on where they can go, like young teenagers or people with mild retardation (see SafeTran). For as long as possible, to the limit of their actual abilities, they can go where they want, when they want to, instead of being dependent on the schedules of senior buses or their children's jobs. Also, they won't be at risk from SkyTran vehicles every time they cross the street the way they are today from cars.