The Future of Mass Transit
Mass transit or mass transportation essentially means the way the public travels in large numbers, especially in urban areas. In the past, mass transit has been limited to buses or trains. However, with the advent of bullet trains and other modern means of transportation, mass transit is stepping into the future.
The importance of mass transit
The increasing population has made mass transit necessary, especially in big cities like New York and London. Mass transportation plays a vital role in the economy in large urban areas. Businesses rely on mass transit systems to get quality, skilled employees and customers. The ever-increasing pollution and environmental damage could get a lift with the increased use of mass transportation. Future modes of mass transportation need to become more capacious, pollution-free, fast, and energy-efficient.
Challenges facing mass transit
Statistically speaking, public transportation is one of the safest forms of transportation. However, since the emergence of covid-19, public transport has decreased exponentially. Given the impact that covid-19 had, we must make adjustments in public transportation that can prevent or at least reduce virus transmission.
Congestion is another challenge in large urban areas that mass transit can help or potentially hurt. The issue is not only with infrastructure capacity but with parking as well. Congestion and parking are interrelated as parking on the street reduces the driving infrastructure and increases congestion. Finally, congestion adds to urban pollution and poor overall air quality.
The biggest challenge facing the future of mass transit is money. The local government owns most mass transport operations, and most don’t break even financially. Instead, most rely on government subsidies or grants to stay afloat financially.
Future means of public transportation
Any future means of mass transportation must efficiently address safety, congestion, and cost challenges. Let’s take a quick view at some promising ideas:
Hyperloop comes close to addressing all three issues. The idea is to have pods travel in vacuum or semi-vacuum tubes at speed almost equivalent to the speed of sound! Hyperloop is not only fast but is also environmentally friendly as it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. However, whether it is cost-effective and able to carry loads of people is still under debate.
Automated or driverless buses are also among some of the up-and-coming ideas for the future of public transportation. Not only will they reduce the need for human resources, but they will also eliminate the chances of human errors if successful. Similarly, self-driving shuttles are also expected to be driving around soon, carrying a small number of people on fixed routes. The big question around driverless vehicles; does it address any of the three issues of safety, congestion, and cost.
Any discussion of the future of transportation would not be complete without talking about flying vehicles. Flying public vehicles would operate above the city but lower than most commercial airlines; imagine a futuristic cross between a taxi and a helicopter. The biggest obstacle for aerial vehicles is regulation. One can only imagine how long the Feds would take to pass laws and regulations for flying cars. However, despite the challenges, over a dozen companies are working on prototypes.
The future of mass transport also seems to promise us a truly ticketless or, should I say, paperless world. Ticket vending machines are expected to be planted at all bus stops so people can buy their tickets directly but, more important, digitally. This allows for payment via an app (think Lyft) or card. Furthermore, the shift to digital payments will help the overall environment (think less paper and less mess).
The future of mass transportation also involves technology beyond just the vehicle. For example, smart traffic lights and smart streets use sensors, cameras, GPS, and other means to observe the pattern of traffic and the number of cars and then adjust the lights accordingly. This helps avoid congestion and will save drivers valuable time. In addition, smart technology prevents an enormous amount of greenhouse gases that cars emit while unnecessarily waiting for the signal.
Due to the overall economic impact, we must wisely step into the future with mass transportation. Any future means of mass transportation needs to efficiently address the challenges of safety, congestion, and cost. There are interim solutions, such as bullet trains. Still, we need to eventually embrace technology such as the hyperloop and air taxis to address the transportation needs of an ever-growing human race. The future is now.