We Americans are doomed by our car-based infrastructure.

So now, as indicated by the massive commitments among automakers into AEVs, we will see the death of the personal car. Since we ignored efficient mass transport like a convenient railway system, and embraced sprawl to accommodate our beloved stinkpots, if we live between cities we may have no affordable ways to access them conveniently.

There are mass-transit urban systems which require a car (and parking) to access their sometimes isolated pickup points, and if you're more than 10 miles out, even that may not be plausible. From 100 miles away only a snail-paced, antiquated bus system may be available and ride-hailing service gets too expensive to be palatable.

As enlightened Amsterdamers, we need your advice in facing the future. It's too late to build a Euro-style rail system. In the long term, if we go without cars how can we move between cities and then have personal mobility inside them? Would be interesting to see how you are addressing that problem, assuming it even exists for you.

Air-taxis like Lilium.com? What about urban mobility? Car-sharing like Mavendrive.com? Scootriders in towns are fast but require serious skill.

We may have a different problem, but if you're interested would enjoy your thoughts.


Rajarshi Sahai's picture
Rajarshi Sahai

Thanks. I believe much of what I said is applicable right now and there are no technological barriers, just collective-behaviour ones. As for using airspace than the scarce road space is concerned, I do think that air space is more abundant, risks lower when we look at airline industry, and costs may be comparable as currently cars do no incur the true cost of expensive real estate that are the roads. I do think that we cannot be dependent on Musk and likes, a bottom up demand has to be the driver for sustained change (think Tesla assuming the volumes of popular trucks in US, basis strong demand from users, and Mr. Musk just being an agent than the principal). I agree that air commute for short trips requires a new kind of control- currently we simply separate aircrafts basis heights (altitude separation). The system is not precise and take off and landing times require isolation of aircrafts to avoid collision possibilities. Once we have drone like abundance of AEVs, we will have to shift to an ATC that uses direction (at least 2 dimensions) and altitude to avoid collisions and navigation in dense urban fabrics.

This year we will see how the on demand bus systems fare, with many a pilots coming up. That said, I am very positive about the trend with the pool taxi services being a success, essentially an on-demand-bus with lesser capacity.



jackson Coleman's picture
jackson Coleman

Rajarshi Thank you for your well-considered reply. Yes there are good ideas there.
These projections always have the complication of duration- how far do you dare project? Have never been a city planner, but I am a product designer and entrepreneur always trying to catch the next wave. The disposition of mobility may depend on that of other common services, like shopping. You have to project the ultimate success of Amazon, AR, drone and AV delivery to know how important brick-and-mortar retail will remain. Think urban transport concepts are well under way, but it's mobility from the interurban areas that concerns me, being of the age where cost of living tends to drive one out of the metroplexes.
I wrote Seba's group RethinkX suggesting that as of now, Lilium personal skycars may have similar potency to Waymo ground transport. If Musk applied his powers to that concept I wonder if it could take it's place with the other eco-friendly, affordable modes of on-demand transport for the fringes, operated by Uber/Lyft as just another type of AEV. The difference is Air Traffic Control of course, where a new form of control may be needed. And btw totally agree with your thoughts on US public transport, but fear that a generation may have to pass before that prejudice is overcome. On-demand is also just more "livable" than scheduled Anything- one reason TV networks are passing away. Anyway thank you for the thoughts!

Rajarshi Sahai's picture
Rajarshi Sahai

For one, you should see the municipal federation approach to transport, across the border in BC, Canada- if all municipalities pool resources, public transport can be quite an efficient network (think of it as Uber drivers from various small towns in a metropolitan area contributing to the overall mobility in that metropolitan region). Also, car pooling is a good idea if you can identify corridors that have sufficient volume of rides (so as to bring more reliability to it than traditional unrated pooling, where you are left waiting for someone to pool with…). In the urban area (downtown) it is useful to think of mobility as a network, including the possibility of modular inter modality (simplest example being bicycles/scooters on board buses so that people can come from small suburbs and use those bicycles/scooters in the downtown). If scooter rides are a skill issue, bicycles are always to rescue, and so can the many many iterations of personal electric vehicles (check out the full diversity of Segway). All said, in all pooled/shared/public systems, it is important that people from all classes participate to improve riderships - it is a chicken and egg problem and it never helps to see e.g. buses as a mode only for the poor and marginalised.