Reports / Reports

The Future of Transportation

Getting from here to there in the United States today can feel a lot closer to an episode of The Flintstones than The Jetsons. Every day we deal with problems that should be relics of the past: congested highways full of single-occupancy cars, mass transit systems continually under threat of service cuts, and aging infrastructure on the verge of obsolescence if not total collapse. For all humanity’s advances, our daily haul can still be a nightmarish experience that reduces productivity, increases stress, endangers public safety, and hastens global climate change.

Fortunately, the future is not all bleak. The flipside of these challenges is a bounty of ideas for how to improve travel in and around America’s cities. We’re recognizing the limits of our current highway systems, finding ways to increase transit efficiency and expand its development, and preparing for the not-so-distant day when our cars will drive themselves (and our “smart” streets will guide them). For every commuting obstacle we face there’s a brighter dream of better mobility.

In a nine-month special series called The Future of Transportation, which ran from February to October 2014, CityLab explored the initiatives and technologies being developed right now that will change the way people travel around cities in the years to come. Our team of writers reported from every big metro area across the country, while mobility experts and local officials shared thoughts and lessons that can apply to cities of all sizes. In both a physical and intellectual sense, we covered a lot of ground.

This e-book includes a dozen of our favorite stories from the series: three from each of its main parts (commuting, sustainability, and design), and three companion policy pieces. While it was impossible to choose every great moment, these selections reflect both the geographic and multimodal reach of the series, taking readers across the country on roads, rails, and runways. The articles have been copyedited slightly since their original publication for clarity and consistency, and any factual corrections have been made to the text.