Travel, Interstellar

Commercial starships usually make two jumps per month.  They spend one week in jump, followed by one week in the star system, travelling from the jump point to the local world, refuelling, marketing cargo, finding passengers, leaving the starport, and proceding to a jump point again.  The week in the system usually provised some time for crew recreation and wandering around the planet, and for multi-jump passengers to stretch their shore legs and sight-see.  In fact, almost all starships -- commercial or not -- follow this routine as a matter of course.

If haste is called for, a ship may refuel immediately and rejump right away.  This allows the ship to make one jump per week, but makes no provision for cargo, passengers, or local stops.  It also allows no time for crew downtime, or for the frequent safety checks that are customarily performed on all ship systems while in port.  A passenger travelling this way, or someone with cargo to ship rapidly, would be expected to pay a substantial premium to cover the increased risk and hardship.  More usual -- and cheaper -- for rapid transit would be to spend two or three days in system, which would allow enough cursory system checks and crew relaxation to reduce the risk factor substantially.

The Imperium sets fixed prices for regular interstellar travel.  These prices also tend to be observed in Imperial border areas as a matter of convenience and professional courtesy.  The actual price depends on the level of accomodations alone.  The ticket covers a trip from starport to starport, encompassing one jump regardless of length.

Staterooms for passengers are ticketed on a single occupancy basis.  Travelling couples or groups generally take adjoining staterooms.

There are four types of passage:

High Passage (10,000 Cr) is the best method of travel.  It involves first class accomodations and cuisine with a private stateroom.  High passengers have the services of the ship's steward, entertainment, and complete attention to their comfort.  There is a baggage allowance of up to 1000 kilograms.

Middle Passage (8,000 Cr) is offered on a standby basis only.  In the event that a ship is not sold out with high passengers, or there is insufficient baggage space for more high ticket holders, middle passage is offered to fill the remaining staterooms.  While middle passengers occupy private staterooms normally similar to those occupied by high passengers, they do not receive the service or entertainment accorded the high paying passengers.  In addition, the quality of the cuisine is mediocre.  Baggage totalling 100 kilograms is allowed.

A middle passenger may be "bumped" and the stateroom taken by a late arriving high passenger; the middle passenger's ticket is returned, but no other compensation is made.  The bumped individual could, of course, then buy a high passage and in turn bump some other middle passenger if the extra cost seemed worth it.

Working Passage costs nothing, but is not always available.  A starship captain with a crew shortage may hire an individual to fill in the vacant position and pay not money but passage in return.  Working passage may not continue for more than three jumps, or the individual is considered to have been hired for standard salary.  In order to be hired for working passage, the individual must have some expertise in the position for which he or she is hired.  Working passage provides double occupancy of a crew stateroom and food in the crew mess.  Baggage totalling 1000 kilograms is allowed.

Low Passage (1,000 Cr) is transportation in cryogenic sleep (suspended animation), and is available at relatively low cost to the passenger.  The passenger is placed in a low berth before the ship takes off, and travels the entire journey in a state of suspended animation.  He is not revived during intermediate stops of a multi-jump trip.  He does not age, and requires very little life support.  Unfortunately, the low passage system involves some intrinsic dangers to the passenger, and he runs some risk of not surviving the voyage.  Baggage allowance is ??? kilograms.

Commercial starship lines offering low passage typically guarantee that deberthing will be conducted by a physician of at least skill rating 3.  TAS advises all travellers to exercise caution when travelling by low berth -- the starship, freight line, and supervising physician carry no liability for death or injury to low berth passengers, so it is well advised to check guarantees carefully before boarding.

Stowaways also do, on occasion, travel on starships.  Stowing away on a starship is a fifth form of passage, and the least advisable.  Sneaking aboard a starship in order to gain passage to the next world is illegal on almost all worlds, as it not only operates to the detriment of the starship owner's economic standing, but is also often a violation of various customs regulations.

Imperial Law allows spacing of stowaways by verdict of the captain.  Some starships will vent unused areas of the ship to vacuum on takeoff to discourage stowaways, or for control of other vermin.

-cam MW
-IE trav