While this series tends to focus on the future of the private sector of transportation, changes in the landscape of the automotive industry will likely manifest in public transportation early on and could indicate more about the industry at large. Today we’ll explore how EV technology, self-driving cars, and high-speed train travel might change the landscape of public transportation as we know it.

EV Technology

American public transportation has already followed suite with the private sector pushing towards 100% electric technology with state and local governments adding electric-powered vehicles in many forms including school buses and city buses. While the trend appears to be obvious here (going towards 100% electric), the often missed side effect of EV in public transportation is the thousands of hours of in-practice testing and feedback. This raw data will benefit all EV manufacturers and dealers, increasing the speed of a transition to more electric vehicles on the road. 

Self Driving Technology

With self-driving, it’s all a bit more speculative. While we expect to see self-driving technology utilized in public transportation, it seems more likely that the increase of self-driving vehicles would actually result in more set-route public transportation means like trolleys, trains, and light rails. As we transition to electric and (eventually) self-driving vehicles, the price of each unit is likely to increase massively. The long-term result of a more expensive individual vehicle just might be an increase in the use of public transportation with some arguing that the pandemic highlighted the need for low-cost or free transportation. 

High-speed Travel

Already, the race to perfect high-speed train travel has begun with Virgin Hyperloop announcing their aim to carry passengers by 2027. Many know about Elons Musk’s (mostly) failed Hyperloop project which has scaled back it’s claims, but is essentially looking to use the same high-speed, 0 emission technology, just underground instead. While it’s impossible to say when and how the technology will be implemented if perfected, we can speculate that it’s usage would apply to public transportation just as well as private services. Perhaps one day the New York City subway system will be hyperloop technology. Only time will tell.

What do you think the future of public transportation will look like? Leave a comment below!

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