Robert Whiting In search of awesome

On transportation


Tesla apparently passed Ford recently in value as a company, and rightly so. Tesla makes all-electric vehicles and continually makes strides in the automated vehicle field. The people killed in car “accidents” every year is staggering. Especially when we consider how easily we as a society could save those lives.

I put accident in quotes because by definition accidents are unexpected, but we know that distracted drivers will kill hundreds of thousands of people in the next few years. Humans are really bad at repeated monotonous tasks. Our brains seek stimulation, challenge, and distraction. Distracted driver doesn’t even mean that they were texting or tying their shoes, they could have just spaced out–it was a long day and traffic is boring.

Why is mass transit so looked down on in America? It solves so many of the problems that we (again as a society) have created for ourselves. Convenience.

Most cities don’t have a fantastic infrastructure for public transit. The bus that I’m on will drop me many miles from my house, it is rarely on time, traffic delays it just like any other car, and it doesn’t go all day, so my return-home options are limited. I still ride the bus though. I actually did the math. It’s slightly faster to drive in, park in a residential area, and walk into work, but it’s way cheaper to drive, wait, take a bus, and get to work a little later.

The flashy incentive is missing though. If the bus had a dedicated lane, everyone sitting in traffic would see the bus whiz by and say to themselves, “wow, that gets them to and from work faster than driving in traffic.” Or better yet, why not build a subway or light rail? Dedicated lines are fast, which drives demand, which drives profit, which enables more infrastructure.

But we live in out little bubbles of individualistic convenience which make every American city inconvenient.

Makes me mad.