This forum resource paper reviews the development of transportation in the United States to provide some perspective on how we might look at the future. During the 1800s when urban travel was primarily by horse-drawn carriages and wagons, a vision of future transportation would have predicted massive gridlock of these carriages accompanied by a major "emissions" problem. However, distinct transitions in transportation occurred, which prevented unacceptable outcomes and yielded a system more efficient from an economic standpoint and more acceptable from a personal standpoint. The railroad system spanned the nation, and all economic and personal predictions about the future of transportation were now based also on railroad use. And then, of course, came Henry Ford's invention of the production line. Similarly, Fulton's invention of the steamship led to a quantum improvement in the intercontinental movement of commercial products. Another quantum leap occurred later with the introduction of containerization. The American public's love affair with the automobile led to its becoming the preferred mode of personal transportation. The preference for the automobile is dominant even in the face of many daunting obstacles, and some defend its use as a God-given right. In looking at technologies of the future, it is important to consider the extraordinary significance of independent transportation. The evolution of aircraft mirrors the evolution of the automobile. The next section of this paper discusses briefly one of the major problems generated by transportation - automobile gridlock. We are reminded again that the right choices in solving this problem will be market driven--they will let people do what they want to do. Further, we are reminded that as problems increase in seriousness in a free-market culture, they tend to inspire solutions. The final section of the paper provides "A Look Ahead" to "virtual collocation" and telecommuting, to intermodal solutions, and to intelligent transportation systems.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper is included in the Appendix to Conference Proceedings 9. Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
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    Transportation Research Board

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  • Authors:
    • McTague, J P
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  • Publication Date: 1995


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: p. 150-154
  • Serial:

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00713061
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309061679
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Oct 20 1995 12:00AM