Online Canon — Mass Transit

Most well-populated worlds in the Inner Sphere and Clan space have developed cities and enclaves all over, in some cases even underwater and underground. In many cases, these settlements were widely dispersed over the planetary surface, rising up wherever the most valuable minerals, most fertile lands, or greatest abundance of fresh water could be found. To connect these early colonies, mass transit systems were often put in place, establishing regular routes of trade and enabling the planetary inhabitants to stay in touch better.

The most popular mode of planetary transit on Inner Sphere worlds is atmospheric aircraft, whether by jetliner, propeller plane, helicopter or airship. Flying from airfields tailored to the needs of sub-orbital craft, these transit systems regularly shuffle thousands from city to city in the space of a few hours, grounded only by the most severe natural or manmade disasters. The sophistication of the air transit system is directly related to a world’s economic and industrial classification, however. More populous, economically strong and heavily industrialized worlds, for example, tend to maintain and operate thousands of aerodromes, employing civilian aircraft fleets larger than a military regiment, all dedicated to moving people and cargo on subsonic and supersonic aircraft. Poorer, less developed planets, on the other hand, may employ a handful of antiquated dirigibles instead, if they are lucky enough to obtain sufficient quantities of lighter-than-air gasses to make such craft economically feasible.

Sub-orbital and in-system craft, an offshoot of the atmospheric air fleets made necessary on particularly well-populated star systems, work slightly differently than atmospheric transit systems. Spaceworthy craft including surface-to-orbit shuttles and smaller DropShips, ferry people and goods from a planetary surface to low-orbit stations, planetary satellites and even neighboring worlds within the same star system. Far less numerous, with trips scheduled and logged well in advance, these short-range aerospace craft are found mostly on major Inner Sphere and Clan worlds. In a pinch, these craft are sometimes pressed into the service of an army operating on planet, providing an additional layer of logistical support during a planetary military campaign.

Second in popularity to aircraft and in-system aerospace traffic are overland mass transit systems, such as rail trains, magnetic-levitation trains (maglevs or MLTs for short), hovertrains and subways. The exact vehicles differ based on the needs and resources of the world in question, but a major benefit of such transit is the relative safety of being on the ground rather than airborne in the event of an accident. Much more fuel efficient and easier to maintain, many worlds use these transit systems in place of aerospace transportation.

Water-rich worlds also support the third most popular mode of mass transit, and the one often preferred by wealthy elites and visiting tourists: sea travel. Run almost exclusively by civilian concerns, seagoing vessels often weighing as much as a DropShip cross the oceans of humanity’s worlds, ferrying cargo and people at an unhurried pace compared to air and overland systems. Cheaper than air travel, and more direct when the destination lies across a vast gulf of water, the drawback to naval craft is their much slower pace. Of course, for luxury cruise lines, slow travel is part of the charm. Worlds with undersea settlements and enough resources to build such a system often add submersible vessels to the mix, though such vessels most commonly serve in a military capacity.