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"Science and science fiction, how do you even distinguish the two?"
- Jerry Pournelle

Vacutubes  
  A system of public transportation that used partially evacuated tubes and capsules big enough for passengers.  

This is a very futuristic scenario - or it was in the 1950's. Some thought has been given to underground trains that would make use of partially evacuated tunnels to reduce air resistance.

We hit the sub-basement and went at once to the express tubes. A two passenger capsule was just emptying; Dak shoved me in so quickly that I did not see him set the door combination…

The few minutes we had been crammed in the vacutube had been long enough for me to devise a plan…

Technovelgy from Double Star, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Doubleday in 1956
Additional resources -

However, I once worked in the "tube room" of a large hospital that used pneumatic tubes to deliver paperwork throughout the large building. What Heinlein has created here is effectively a tube system for people.

In 1870, Alfred Ely Beach, tried to construct a prototype pneumatic train subway in New York City. The city fathers were not impressed and decided on the elevated train concept instead.

If you want to check out what a factory conveyor belt system for a country would look like, see the entry for rolling roads, from The Roads Must Roll, also by Heinlein.

Also, take a look at a "vacutube" that operates in the vertical dimension for one passenger at a time; see bounce tube, also by Robert Heinlein.

Compare to the single vehicle tunnel from Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov, the pneumatic tube station from Exiles of the Moon (1931) by Schachner and Zagat, the submarine tube from An Express of the Future (1895) by Jules Verne, the sub-Atlantic tube from Ralph 124c 41 + (1911) by Hugo Gernsback and the public tubes from The Houses of Iszm (1954) by Jack Vance.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Double Star
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Double Star
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Vacutubes-related news articles:
  - Evacuated Tube Transport Idea Is 200 Years Old This Year!
  - Musk Tweets A Boring Tunnel Pic

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