This multi-faceted wonder of engineering touches every aspect of your daily life from the delivery of goods to your daily commute. As with everything else, the system is falling into disrepair.

Mass Transit

The mass transit system carries passengers within the urban areas. It has neither fixed routes nor fixed schedules, with the motions of the myriad buses, rail cars, and trucks determined in real-time by the ever-changing needs of the traveling public.

Once you have specified your destination, the routing system will assign you a departure time and a route, which will be uploaded into your headset. Your first stop will usually be a close by bus terminal. There is at least one in every housing complex, and it is never more than a ten-minute walk to get there — unless the AIs are annoyed with you and decide to send you the long way around. On arrival, you will scan your wrist at the turnstile, submit to a search if the automatons deem it necessary, and be guided to the appropriate queue for whichever bus you have been assigned. Depending on your merit score, the wait may be short or long, and you may be directed to a reserved seat in the front or jammed in with the standees at the back.

Once embarked, you are expected to remain in place for the duration of the trip. Jostling for position is strictly prohibited and is sure to draw a reprimand from the ever-diligent AIs. Surveillance within the passenger compartment is intensive; there are numerous security cameras, and the AIs are allowed peek through headsets and mobiles if they need to get a better view. Once in motion, buses will lock up head-to-tail in a convoy, which improves aerodynamic efficiency as well as reducing the chances of a collision.

You will eventually disembark at a subway station, where your headset will guide you through a maze of tunnels, stairways, and escalators, leading you to the platform where you will queue up for your train. Again, your wait may be short or long, and your place on the train may be comfortable or cramped, based on your social merits score and whether you have recently annoyed the AIs. Once you have arrived at your final station, your headset will guide you up onto the street, into your office building, and to whichever workstation or cubicle your employer has assigned you today.

It is a bad idea to miss your scheduled departure time or board the wrong train; doing so will force the AIs to reroute you, guaranteeing a week of uncomfortable and tedious commutes.

The Maglevs

The magnetically levitated trains (maglevs) run through evacuated tunnels far beneath the earth, and attain speeds comparable to modern day aircraft. They are the preferred mode of long-distance travel.

The primary maglev line runs through the area once known as the northeast corridor. The train from Sector 6 (formerly Baltimore) to Sector 1 (Old Boston) reaches a top speed of over 600 kph, and takes less than an hour and a half, with stops in Sectors 2, 3, 4, and 5 along the way. There are also longer-range routes, providing access to the western and central provinces. Air travel is nearly unknown.

Due to the g-forces encountered on the trip, standing is not permitted, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. This is due to the ancient nature of the reservation system, which predates the rise of the AIs. This egalitarian approach annoys those in the upper echelons of society — but, as is often the case, the source code was lost ages ago.


Conventional trains serve places which are not on the maglev system, hauling both goods and passengers. Some of the trains are in good repair; others not so much. Due to ancient union rules, not much has changed in the railroad business; human engineers still sit in the locomotives, and conductors still collect tickets.

In some of the outlying areas, hobos ride the rails, hopping onto freight trains and sometimes dying in the process.


The delivery system is part of an integrated manufacturing system in which the things you buy — food, clothes, and such — are produced in middle-district factories then immediately loaded onto delivery trucks. Once your order reaches the loading dock at your apartment building, it is transferred to a cartbot, which takes it to the delivery chute in your apartment via a network of hidden tracks and lifts. Delivery times can be as little as fifteen minutes for high-priority goods.

Intercity freight is sometimes carried by trucks which run on the ancient highway system, and sometimes by rail.


Human-powered pedicabs provide an alternative means of transportation if you have been banned from the mass transit system or wish to escape the scrutiny of the AIs. Unlike other corporations, The Pedicab Company does not impose any terms on their customers; fares and terms of passage are both governed by ancient laws. Your identity and itinerary are not shared with any other company, so pedicabs are a popular option if you wish to escape scrutiny.

The pedicabs are lightweight two-wheelers, with the passenger lying behind the driver in a recumbent position. The cabs are covered by a thin plastic cowling which improves their aerodynamics as well as protecting occupants from the elements and the ever-prying eyes of the AIs. Pedicabs are allowed to use electric boost motors, as long as they provide less than 50% of the vehicle’s power; once that limit is exceeded, they are considered motor vehicles and must be driven by an automaton.

Most of the cabs are owned by The Pedicab Company, but there are numerous rogue operators who skirt the regulations; these form a key part of the underground economy.

Ground Cars and Aircraft

Private citizens are not permitted to own motor vehicles, but this rule does not apply to The Government, UCE, and The Companies, which maintain fleets of sedans and limousines to chauffeur around their leadership, to provide transportation for their security forces, and to transport prisoners. They are also permitted to use aircraft, primarily helicopters, and long-range corporate jets still exist.

Water Transport

Barges are still used to transport bulk goods on the inland rivers of the central province, but there is no significant use of water transportation within the northeast province where the stories take place.

Only Oceanian nations are permitted to carry cargo or passengers by sea.