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.