Thinking aloud: Back to the Future [of Transport]

Public transport comes in many forms

A few days ago, I blogged: What does the future hold? [Transport], in which I began thinking aloud about what transport might look like in the future.

It followed a Twitter conversation with John Murray and Caroline Robinson, and was prompted by Rob Price‘s article in Business Insider: Aggressive drivers are going to bully self-driving cars.

Damn, forgot Hyperloop…

There’s a new development on the horizon which I completely forgot to mention – Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, in which pods or capsules, suspended in low pressure tubes, whisk travellers from city-to-city, at speeds of over 700mph. This video from ColdFusion is a great introduction to Hyperloop.

It’s early days, but it appears that Hyperloop might be a real alternative to air travel over certain distances, and could potentially link-up with other forms of public transport, like high speed rail, and more local, personal-use alternatives like autonomous vehicles.
The second video, from Transpod suggests how the interior might look for in economy, business and private family pods.

Different perspectives – what about car enthusiasts?

Model T Ford – someone’s pride and joy

Since my earlier post, I’ve also read Autonomous Cars- Am I missing something? by Jim Reid in which he looks at autonomous vehicles / self-driving cars from the car enthusiast’s viewpoint. There are also some interesting comments at the end of his article, words to the effect that, for many, the very act of driving a car is a pleasure, the car is an object of beauty, and a source of great personal pride.

So why is it that manufacturers almost perfected the driving experience with man/woman and machine in perfect harmony that they then decide that ‘man’ no longer wants to control the machine they are inside travelling at speed. When has ‘man’ or ‘woman’ became so emotionally detached from the motor car that they WANT autonomous self driving cars?

I think I need to update my thinking, and accept that future transport will not just be about getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’; there’s more to it than efficiency, and doing our bit to minimise damage due to climate change: There’s also driving for pleasure, cars both as personal possessions, and as art-forms in their own right. The same probably applies to motorcycles.


I’m including an extract from my original post here, and updating it slightly to take account of these points (updates are in bold, italics).

I reckon, in 10 years time…

  • car ownership will no longer be the norm for most people* [for whom their primary reason for owning a car currently is personal transportation]
  • we’ll be able to book / summon a vehicle at will
  • options will include
    • people, basic transport
    • people, mid-range comfort
    • people, luxury, on holiday etc
    • single (expensive), multiple occupancy (mid-price), group travel (cheapest)
    • moving bulky goods (accompanied)
    • moving bulky goods (unaccompanied)
  • most vehicles will be in continuous use, except when they’re being charged and maintained
  • car parks will become prime development land
  • vehicles will be electric, of course, with long life, interchangeable batteries (if batteries are still even needed)
  • rail will continue to be popular, and will become better value once it is returned to public ownership. There will continue to be guards on trains, but not drivers.
  • vehicles won’t necessarily be on roads, though that’ll continue to be the norm for some years until self-driving airborne vehicles come of age and alternative technologies like Hyperloop are established
  • there won’t be a long term problem with aggressive drivers, as there won’t be [m]any drivers
  • * Very rich people will still of course continue to collect luxury cars and maybe even drive them on sunny days, and car enthusiasts may choose to retain their cars* to continue their driving pleasure

*Still wondering about ownership

Many transport options

I still wonder about car ownership. Sure, people who live in beautiful locations – and for whom the drive to work is pure pleasure – may well choose to continue to own their vehicle, but I suspect numbers will diminish in time, particularly as new generations find their basic transport needs met by ubiquitous, autonomous vehicles.

That’s it for now

That’s all for this post – I suspect I’ll need to do a few more updates!

Photo credits

The British Library Image taken from page 272 of ‘Gately’s World’s Progress:

Model T Ford via Wikimedia Commons,_1913.jpg

British Library Evans’s Road-Engine and Steam Boat

By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism