A New Vision for Transportation
As the U.S. auto manufacturing industry slows to a halt, the evidence seems clear that car-centered transportation models are economically and environmentally unsustainable systems. However, the downfall of the traditional car industry presents us with exciting opportunities to re-envision cost effective transportation systems that move people on-time and provide economic growth opportunities while also minimizing negative impacts on Earth’s limited natural resource base.
In order to realize the exciting new opportunities that lay ahead, what we need most are entrepreneurs and policy makers who are willing to create an innovative and compelling vision for alternative modes of transportation. Most importantly, what we need is a leader that can engage the public in being a part of creating and supporting a new way forward.
There is a worldwide need to stabilize global carbon dioxide emissions, prepare for decreased oil production, alleviate traffic congestion and reduce air pollution. The truth is, we don’t have to look very far for transportation systems that accomplish all of these goals. A potential leader to look towards is Japan and the country’s high-speed bullet trains that travel up to 190 miles per hour, carrying almost one million people each day. As a pioneer in this arena, Japan’s high-speed rail network spans over 1, 350 miles, linking the nation’s major cities with trains that depart roughly every three minutes.
Indicators for progress on this issue in the United States include California’s 2008 passage of Proposition 1A which will provide a statewide high speed passenger train system and President Obama’s vision for a national high-speed rail system in the U.S. Ultimately, an impactful solution will require unprecedented partnerships between land use and transportation planners who have the knowledge and tools required to construct housing centers that are located within proximity to centers of employment and adequate transportation routes.
It will be some time before these types of partnerships are realized and the resulting solutions become available to passengers. In the meantime, the best solutions happen to be our own two feet.