The Future of Transportation
The United States is a very large, land-mass country. Yet, it offers few options in terms of coast-to-coast mass public transit, particularly compared to other developed countries. Europe’s countries tend to be smaller and their cities more dense, making them more transit-friendly. Asian countries made enormous government investments in urban rail networks just as their urban populations began to rapidly expand.1
In the U.S., however, many metropolitan transit systems are dated and overcrowded. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council reports more than 6 million rapid rail trips and nearly 1 million suburban rail trips on any given weekday. One way to free up crowded subway platforms is to run more trains so there are fewer passengers on each train.2 This would require substantial investments to update the nation’s passenger railway system.
To add to the problem, auto traffic congestion, air pollution and fossil fuels are widely believed to contribute to our growing climate crisis. If there is a silver lining, it’s that the challenge of developing affordable and environmentally responsible transportation options has led to innovations that may help the U.S. develop comparable high-speed rail options as seen in other developed countries.3
To date, the U.S. government has had little success in updating the country’s railway systems due to fiscal debt concerns. Now, the push for improved rail systems is coming from the private sector, including projects with the potential to connect Washington and New York City in one hour, a high-speed train network running from Orlando to Miami, and a high-speed line between Las Vegas and the greater Los Angeles area.4
The city of Lincoln, Nebraska, purchased 10 battery-electric, zero-emission public transit buses. This is part of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 to 160 tons per bus per year, as compared to traditional clean-diesel buses.5
Another mass transit project anticipating a mammoth facelift is the traditional American airport. In terms of updating infrastructure and accommodating future demand, the investment can’t come soon enough. According to the International Air Transport Association, the number of travelers passing through airports worldwide is expected to double, rising to 8.2 billion by 2037.6
Because people spend so much of their travel time arriving early for security purposes and waiting during layovers, the future airport is being reimagined as an “aerotropolis.” In other words, they will combine small, technology-enabled hubs with public spaces featuring waterfalls, gardens and walking paths, as well as a plethora of retail and restaurant options.7
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Jonathan English. City Lab. Oct. 10, 2018. “Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.” https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/10/while-america-suffocated-transit-other-countries-embraced-it/572167/. Accessed Feb. 28, 2020.
2 Hitachi. 2020. “Key Strategies for Reducing Traffic Jams.” https://social-innovation.hitachi/en-us/think-ahead/transportation/key-strategies-for-reducing-traffic/. Accessed Feb. 28, 2020.
3 Trevor Bach. U.S. News & World Report. Sep. 10, 2019. “U.S. Cities Play Catch-Up on High-Speed Rail.” https://www.usnews.com/news/cities/articles/2019-09-10/us-cities-play-catch-up-on-high-speed-rail. Accessed Feb. 28, 2020.
5 Oil & Gas 360. Feb. 27, 2020. “Nebraska’s StarTran drives sustainability forward with 10 electric buses from New Flyer; celebrates arrival of first zero-emission bus to Lincoln.” https://www.oilandgas360.com/nebraskas-startran-drives-sustainability-forward-with-10-electric-buses-from-new-flyer-celebrates-arrival-of-first-zero-emission-bus-to-lincoln/. Accessed Feb. 28, 2020.
6 Honeywell. Bloomberg. 2020. “What’s the Next Hot Destination? The Airport.” https://sponsored.bloomberg.com/news/sponsors/features/honeywell/tbt/?adv=24625&prx_t=r3QFAtMA-AWCkPA. Accessed Feb. 28, 2020.
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