Personal rapid transit: The future of public transportation, maybe
Since writing about Seattle’s infrastructure fustercluck, I’ve been thinking a lot about transportation. It’s really a b*tch of a problem.
The internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle had its disadvantages from the very beginning, not only relative to public transportation but relative to other types of car. (There’s a fantastic chapter in Alexis Madrigal’s Powering the Dream about this history.) But its advantages — power, personalization, and modularity — mattered more. It could go farther than other cars; you could drive it wherever you wanted to go, whenever; and it was small enough to be within the reach of average citizens, who had little control over larger transportation projects.
The ICE car has arguably passed the point when its drawbacks — particulate pollution, traffic, sprawl, climate change — exceed its advantages, at least from a social-welfare perspective. But it is still firmly rooted in human life, almost everywhere, despite much-hyped…
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