A Modern American Transportation System

The modernization of our transportation system can be a step in moving our civilization from Type 0 to Type 1

We need to move away from a society that requires humans to waste their life on food, water, education, energy, healthcare, housing, communication, and transportation. Each one of these areas are the gears of society and are too important to be used as a weapon against a society’s citizens. They are also too important to be in the hands of a corporation. If any one of these gears stop functioning society will collapse. If we move past this primitive way of thinking we can devote our life to something much greater than the basic necessities. We could, in fact, create a great society. This essay will focus on over land transportation excluding air transportation. I will address the other gears of society in separate essays. First, we need to ask ourselves why do we treat transportation as a social status and not as a primary system required for a functioning society. Instead of focusing on owning a car to impress people, we need to turn our focus towards building a highly efficient and sustainable transportation system. 

Transportation has evolved from walking to using animals to using technology, mainly the automobile. The first automobile was steam-powered built in 1769 by the inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. The steam-powered automobile was redesigned to used the internal combustion engine in 1808 by François Isaac de Rivaz using hydrogen as the fuel source. The fuel source for the internal combustion engine was switched to gasoline in 1870 by Siegfried Marcus. Gasoline is still the primary fuel for the automobile 148 years later. The automobile is probably the most resource intensive consumer product ever produced. The resources needed for the manufacturing of an automobile requires steel, rubber, plastic, copper, and timber to name a few. The resources are extracted from all over the planet and are environmentally destructive. According to the United States (U.S.) Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration in 2015 there were 263,610,219 registered automobiles. This is just the registered automobiles in the United States. You can imagine the total number of automobiles manufactured in the world and understand that this mode of transportation is unsustainable. In addition to the amount of resources used to produced this enormous volume of automobiles, the human cost is just as high. In the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Administration in 2016 there were 37,461 people killed in motor vehicle crashes. This statistic doesn’t include injuries. Other negative impacts of the automobile include but are not limited to driving while intoxicated, legal issues, indebtedness of purchasing an automobile, and cost of maintenance and operation. In addition, when we age we are unable to drive and lose our access to mobility. If you add in the environmental cost of manufacturing, operating, and disposal of the automobile, there is no logical reason to use the automobile as it is used today as the primary mode of personal transportation. As technology advances and as future generations have different priorities in life it is estimated that by 2030 the automobile as used today will be obsolete.

As a society we must start viewing transportation as a primary system of society and approach transportation as an engineering problem. We can no longer view transportation as a class issue in that the wealthy can have unfettered access while the majority of citizens have access only to a limited portion of the transportation system. Currently if you are wealthy you have access to automobiles that have the latest safety features. If you are unlucky and are not wealthy or are unwilling to subject yourself to debt slavery, you are blocked from having the latest safety features on your automobile. This is class warfare and any civilized society should not tolerate this narrow-minded train-of-thought. No society in the history of civilization has survived when there was extreme classism or inequality. I know that changing the minds of a citizenry that has been subjected to propaganda from the beginning of the creation of the U.S. will be almost impossible. However if people would honestly ask themselves why is having a particular type of automobile important to their life, but instead ask the question, why doesn’t society have the most advanced efficient transportation system that technology will allow? If we truly changed our view of transportation we could as a society start to move the world to a Type 1 Civilization. In the beginning of the U.S. the creation of the transportation system was not only limited by technology but also by not having a detail map of the entire country. Of course there are many other known reasons why we have the inefficient out-of-date transportation system of today but I will concentrate on technology. Earlier I stated that society needs to approach transportation as an engineering issue instead an issue of class. If we look at what it takes to build a modern transportation system we can get a better understanding why we need to change our view of transportation. On one hand our current system relies on highly educated engineers to design and build our highways. Current open jobs are listed on the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) website.

We then turn around and rely on salesmen and propagandist or public relations companies to convince us to buy one type of automobile over another. An advance civilization would not have to entice its citizens to purchase a piece of equipment to use on its newly built highway. Of course in our current society very little enticing is needed because the citizens have very little options. I could go into details why there are very little choices but that is another topic. I will say that our choices, in regards to over land travel, are the results of racism and special interests and not because it was the best solution or design. Our primary individual mode of travel over land as you know is the automobile. The automobile, regardless of type, electric or internal combustion engine, is by itself a highly inefficient piece of equipment. For example, an automobile by itself is basically useless. I say useless because you have to first build a highway before you can use an automobile. If we continue to use the automobile as the primary mode of individual transportation, we will end up with 1000 lane highways which is impracticable. The amount of environmental damage would cause the country to be uninhabitable and accelerate climate change. If we use this year, 2018, as the starting point for modernizing our transportation system we could in approximately 20 years have a modern over land transportation system or at least 1000x better system. To start this modernization we must first build a national modernization plan. This plan cannot be left to individual cities or states because of the importance a transportation system is to a nation. You can go as far as saying that by not modernizing our transportation system we are putting national security at risk. We can also say that we have allowed our classism and racism to jeopardize national security. I say jeopardize because our current over land transportation method for individuals and for food is the automobile, which requires highways. During any major crisis highways are in gridlock which not only prevents people from fleeing a disaster but also prevents food and other supplies delivered to cities. I have not verified this statistic but I understand that grocery stores only have a 3 day supply of food. Let’s say this is factual and for some reason a main artery to a city was cut off for 2 weeks because of flooding. This means that within 4 days the city would start to run out of food for its citizens. You can only imagine what it would be like to live in a city of millions that is running out of food. Not a pretty thought. This is just one example of why transportation should not be left up to individual cities to develop. We could leave the development to cities if we disestablish nations and live in a world with just mega cities. I will not go into this topic at this time but we should give it some personal thought.

The nation’s transportation system modernization plan could have two main sections: intercity transportation and city-to-city transportation. City-to-city transportation system would be the least complicated because there would be more open space to work with and fewer options. Intercity modernization would be the most complex because of current design and space limitations. The technology that would be used would be the same except intercity modernization would use more pedestrian modes of travel. The technology that is currently available for over land transportation is rail (high speed and light rail), automobile (electric and non-electric), and Hyperloop which is currently in development.

Let’s start with over land transportation between cities. Currently the majority of people travel between cities by automobile. This is highly inefficient and the most environmentally destructive mode of transportation. First, interstate highways and refueling stations must be built. Even if electric automobiles are used depending on the distance between cities refueling or recharging stations has to be built. Recharging stations would be less environmentally destructive than fossil fuel refueling stations. Solar panels or photovoltaic could be used to provide the electricity for the recharging stations for electric cars. I will go more in-depth on electric automobiles in intercity modernization. Automobiles for city-to-city transportation is outdated and environmentally destructive and should be abandoned. High speed rail and Hyperloop are much more efficient and less environmentally destructive than automobiles. High speed rail uses a technology called Magnetic Levitation or Maglev. Maglev trains will require less land and will eliminate pollution. The time between many commutes between cities can be cut in half or more. Every country in the industrialized world has high speed rail except the United States. Hyperloop can also replace the automobile for city-to-city commute. Hyperloop, just like Maglev, will require less land and will reduce pollution compared to interstate highways and automobiles. Virgin Hyperloop One is the current leader in the development of hyperloop technology. Virgin Hyperloop One is currently scheduled to install hyperloop between Dubai to Abu Dhabi. This will cut the travel time between the two cities from 2 hours to 12 minutes. As technology advances over land travel will become more efficient and safer. What ever the technology we must ensure that the technology is safe, environmentally friendly, efficient, and accessible to all citizens.

Intercity transportation must be modernized with the focus of providing safe, environmentally friendly, efficient, and accessibility to all citizens. The modernization must focus on reducing the number of automobiles. Auto ownership must become a thing of the past. It is estimated that an automobile owner only utilizes their automobile only 4 percent of the time. This means 96 percent of the time your automobile is not being used. The internal combustible engine must be phased out and replaced with electric automobiles. Electric automobiles will eliminate the need for fossil fuels, motor oil, exhaust systems, anti-freeze, and other consumable items needed to operate and maintain an automobile. In addition to reducing the amount of natural resources cities will have cleaner air, less noise pollution, and cities will become cooler. Automobile design must be standardized. In other words, there should be only one design of automobile. This excludes utility vehicles. By standardizing the automobile every automobile will have the same safety features and will reduce the number of injuries and deaths. Standardization will also reduce the amount of natural resources used by reducing the number of different sizes of automobiles. Automobiles must be autonomous and an on-demand environment must be created. On-demand means that no one owns an automobile but can request an automobile for transportation when needed. However the overall goal of modernization is to provide mass transportation as the primary mode of transportation. The vision is to have autonomous electric automobiles operating on a continuous basics and requested when needed. We currently have a form of on-demand automobile transportation called “Taxis.” This “on-demand” will reduce the amount of parking spaces and parking garages that are needed and will reduce environmental destruction. These spaces can be converted to food forest or allow nature to reclaim the land. Light rail and straddling bus systems should also be implemented as the solution for the modernization of the intercity transportation system. Another solution to both intercity and city-to-city transportation is drones.

In summary, as stated earlier we need to first have a paradigm shift on how we view transportation. We can no longer view automobiles as a class status. This narrow-minded view of life is literary destroying the country and the planet. A modern transportation system will also be free to its citizens. The modernization of our country’s transportation system must phase out fossil fuel automobiles. A modern transportation system will take advantage of the latest technology and should be designed to reduce environmental impact. We can no longer continue to use technology that pollutes the environment. By using electric automobiles we can reduce air pollution, noise pollution, and land pollution. By taking the step in modernizing our our transportation system we can start to move our civilization from a Type 0 civilization to a Type 1 civilization.

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