Transportation in the future

Self-driven vehicles are just starting to scratch the surface.  The idea that technology will get us to where we need to go without being involved except perhaps talking to your car like Alexa or Suri.  You could name your car.  “Alfred, please take me to work (already pre-programmed in the app)” and off you go while you grab a few minutes of sleep in the back, catch up on email or finish the book you are reading.  It might be the future but how does that affect all areas of transportation?

Take a step back into train travel and above rail transport in cities.  I could add the electric car to this thread as well.  All of these platforms were pushed back just as they were making in-roads because of lobbyists.  The gas and car companies were not that excited about train travel but they were excited about semi-trucks taking transporting our goods from one end of the country to the other.  Light rail, particularly in Southern California, would have been created a completely urban environment if they continued to build on the original rails of the early 1900’s instead of being dismantled by companies such as General Motors to monopolize transportation.  This shifted train travel as well.

As our urban cities continue to grow with people and traffic, bringing back light rail is on the move vs building more subways underground.  The new light rail line between Santa Monica and downtown LA is a main line that my guess will be built upon in the years to come creating arms into other areas.  There is a light rail proposal that has been approved to run between Brooklyn and Queens.  Over time this will become a preferred method of transportation as people will own less cars and with companies like Uber and Juno many of the youth aren’t even learning to drive.

How will this play out in train travel?  The majority of people who drive semi-trucks are in their late 50’s and older. Their work pool is dying.  Those semi-trucks can be self-driving sooner than later.  They will also be electric vs gas.  What will the American roads look like in the decades to come?

Based on the people who are going to be running Trump’s cabinet, it does not appear that many of them are forward thinkers but old white men holding on to the power, the past and their pocket books.  Perhaps (let’s hope) that this is their last grasp of the past.  They are no different than the people who crushed the future of transportation that was beginning to take place in the 30’s when the powerful companies pushed their agenda for more cars and gas vs electric and rail.

It is time for some forward thinking that will make our streets safer, to move into new energy, to make sure our air is clean and more.  It is time to think about what could transportation look like in 15 years.  I believe the answer is more high speed trains that carry goods and people, all urban areas with light rails that move past city boundaries into connecting with high speed trains to the suburbs and wifi on every single one of these vehicles.  There should be policy shifts and benefits to get the public sector working on this through Government and private funding.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Lots of great ideas here. I would love to see a really high speed train between major Eastern cities like New York, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Montreal for example.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Me too.

      1. pointsnfigures

        In the upper east corridor high speed rail works. It’s probably the only place in the US because of density. Why would I do high speed rail to NYC when I can fly from Chicago in an hour? Makes no sense. When there are driverless cars, I can get to places like Champaign and Madison quicker via car than I can with a train or plane.

        1. William Mougayar

          true, but getting to the airport and from the airport to the city is a drag, both in NYC and Chicago.

          1. pointsnfigures

            20-35 minutes tops from downtown to either airport on the L. Simple, painless.

          2. William Mougayar

            well…these are no-traffic numbers 🙂 , in fairness.A 1 hour flight can turn easily into a 3.5-4 hour door-to-door expedition, once you factor in arriving early at the airport, getting searched, then going through city traffic. I would take a 3-4 hour steady train ride anytime, if I could.

          3. Gotham Gal

            totally agree on that.

          4. awaldstein

            NY airport to Manhattan is not great.Subway solution is inadequate compared to most every other metropolitan center.

          5. William Mougayar

            agreed, vs. european cities or even Japan where they have everything well connected.

          6. awaldstein

            how do you get home from toronto airport? or to the city from your house?

          7. William Mougayar

            Taxi or drive & park to airport. Drive to the city. Rarely use public transport bc it’s neither convenient, faster nor cheaper.

      2. William Mougayar

        In the meantime, we might have to contend with automated server-less restaurants, like this one that just opened in NYC…

        1. JLM

          .The Automat has been around for more than a half century in NYC. Everywhere I travel in Interstate America, McDonald’s is going to ordering kiosks.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. William Mougayar

            That one in NYC seems to be different, taking it to another level, no?

    2. awaldstein

      I’m in with this.What NY should consider is updating existing right of ways. The land is already allocated but the rail services are very antiquated.

      1. Gotham Gal

        beyond antiquated.

  2. Twain Twain

    President-elect has appointed Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick to his Strategic Advisory Forum:*…Musk is super-intelligent about renewable energy and the visionary brain behind the Hyperloop. So we can hope his sensibilities prevail over the President-elect’s in these areas.

    1. Gotham Gal

      That is if you believe that Trump will actually pay attention to what they say.So far all of these meetings look good for the media but based on the people he has chosen to be in his cabinet there is a tremendous divide between future and past.Trumps loyalties lie with old white rich men who have golden handcuffs that keep them purely connect to the past

      1. Twain Twain

        I hear you, and Mark Suster posted a brilliant piece lacerating the tech summit and all the democracy and ethics issues it raises:https://uploads.disquscdn.c…The unfortunate thing is Silicon Valley played its part in bringing about the election outcome because of its algorithm structures and its weaknesses in the AI not having adequate Natural Language Understanding to be able to filter the fake news out and to tune better signals for voters. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…It also ties in with SV’s long-standing problems with diversity which means the AI’s biased and, frankly, less intelligent than it can and should be: https://uploads.disquscdn.c…In your ‘Being Prejudiced’ post, you wonder why and how kids have different political perceptions from their parents.Neuroscience shows our perceptions are part genetic and part social conditioning.So if the code gene going into the AI baby is only “white, middle class brogrammers” and the algorithm structures reinforce their mindsets, then … we’re not going to see or experience SV or the media being effective checks and balances to President-elect Trump and his cabinet’s mindset.So democracy, data, diversity, demagoguery etc are all interconnected. SV and the tech sector will need to dig really deep and overhaul its algorithms and inclusion practices — if we’re to make a stand for brighter futures for all and not be stuck in the past.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          The film “Chappie” explores this so beautifully, both directly and metaphorically.

          1. Twain Twain

            Thanks, added to my read+watch list, :*).Men have created lots of great technologies in the absence of women in the workplace. However, when we get to AI, it’s vital it has X and Y code and conditioning — in the same way that our natural intelligence benefits from male and female influences.

      2. JLM

        .Pres Trump’s Cabinet does, in fact, have a number of old, rich white men who have another shared characteristic amongst them — they are all extremely successful and possess specific skill sets of which America is in desperate need.About 70% of all elected officials — both parties — are white and 65% are white men. This is from a segment of the American population which is about 32% — white men.This is not a new fact.The country was created by old, rich white men.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredar…

      3. awaldstein

        You and I agree I am afraid on this.There is no indication of any logical other conclusion.

  3. JLM

    .The railroads pre-date the use of trucks (and the invention of the Interstate Highway system) by a century. There is no linkage between the advent of interstate rail traffic and truck traffic.There is not a single light rail system in the US which is profitable and, yet, there are a number of bus systems which are.Mass transit is a utility — one I am very much in favor of.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      Bus systems are faster to implement too and also can be changed/moved as population density shifts. If the right planning is in place to build out bus-only and/or commuter lanes as population density is shifting then, it is very easy to provide fast bus service.Some BRT data is here –

      1. JLM

        .Bus systems suffer from a social stigma in much of the country while light rail is “cool.” I served on a state agency, Capitol Metro, for years and got quite the education on mass transit.Buses are big now — physically and can carry huge loads while being able to be supplemented based on ridership.Happy New Year!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Indeed, being involved with mass transit is an eye opener! (several of my clients are public transit agencies). I have a soft spot for bus service because when I was a kid, I used to take the bus from the suburbs to Bridgeport, CT, and go to the public library there almost every Saturday. Both the library and public transit opened up a world to me that I did not know existed.

          1. JLM

            .I spent a lot of time in libraries as a kid. My mother was a huge proponent of reading. I honestly believe that any success I have ever achieved in life is as a result of reading voraciously as a kid. Plus, they were free.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. Susan Rubinsky

          And Happy New Year to you too!