I lay my claim to the Democrabus!

My idea finally made it onto the BBC!

I had a great idea a while back, called the Democrabus. Well, I thought it was a great idea. It combined the least bad methods of government (democracy and benign dictatorship) with public amenities (transport) and threw in a bit of crowdsourcing and gaming.

I submitted it to the Dave Gorman ‘Genius’ radio programme, and they chose it! However, they then told me I would be appearing on the pilot for the TV programme, so I said no. I’m not really up for appearing on telly.

Actually, this is what I said:

I recently submitted my idea for the Democrabus to the Radio 4 Genius programme. The Democrabus is my solution to public transport. Given that the challenge is to get the greatest number of people closest to where they live, why not combine the least bad method of government – democracy – with the omnibus, and give each passenger left/right voting buttons? As the Democrabus approaches a junction, they vote for the direction they want to take. In the event of a ‘hung bus’, the driver gets the casting vote. I can reveal that I was invited to appear but it was a TV pilot and whereas I’m prepared to make a fool of myself on radio, I’d rather not make an utter fool of myself on national television.

Anyway, I did tell them they could use the idea for the Democrabus even if didn’t appear.

And they did!

So, this is how the Democrabus panned out on the pilot. If the link doesn’t work then go to the Genius page and click the ‘democracy bus idea’ link top right.

I was a little dismayed at the lack of conviction shown by the person proposing the idea. He didn’t quite seem to believe in it himself. Although, hats off to Dave Gorman, he did point out that the current system works quite well. Problem for me with that approach is that you don’t actually learn anything while travelling, whereas the Democrabus would bring politics into people’s daily lives and we would all re-engage with it. We could have debating societies on buses espousing the virtues of left vs right, for example.

So they didn’t class it as genius. But don’t forget – you read it here first!


6 thoughts on “I lay my claim to the Democrabus!

  1. I’m sorry that your idea was judged “not genius” – but am really concerned that it got on to TV, so the world now believes that you aren’t a genius.

    The point – surely – that needed making here was that (with the democrabus) one would need fewer buses on the roads.

  2. That’s assuming it’s more efficient. I suspect this is more a case of idealism over practicality.

    I’ve been toying with another idea in which, instead of trains, we just have lots of those hand-pumped flatcars (like the one at the end of O Brother Where Art Thou) and we just hop on, pump away, then hop off at the destination. It’s a bit like cycle-hire, but different.

  3. I like the hand cart idea, nice and green and combines exercise with travel. Only flaw I can see is don’t you need two people to opperate the hand cart? If so what happens if your travelling buddy has a different destination to you and gets off earlier, leaving you stranded?

  4. Pingback: DemocraBus (crowdsource bus driving): Genius! « MobBlog

  5. The bus idea can be found in

    The Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes, by David E. H. Jones. W. H. Freeman (1982); ISBN 0-7167-1412-4

    which contains many other genius ideas too

    highly recommended!

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