City Transport 2020: The Future Can’t Come Soon Enough

Panos Prevedouros, PHD
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Panos Prevedouros, PHD

BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD–  Here is a sample compilation of technological breakthroughs reported in the second half of May 2013:

The EconomistThe future of the car — Clean, safe and it drives itself

The EconomistHow does a self-driving car work?

The EconomistTesla “General Electric Motors” has high hopes for its high-spec electric cars


Daily CallerTesla electrifies the auto market (This week American electric auto manufacturer Tesla Motors (TSLA) broke $100 per share.)

INRIX Expands Real-time Traffic Coverage: USEU. Traffic conditions in Honolulu at noon on May 29, 2013 compiled as a digital layer that can be used by in-vehicle, broadcasting and other means are shown at the end of this article.

New GeographyDriving Trends in Context

Figure 4: Drive alone, carpool, motorcycle and telecommuting are over 90%.

I foresee an epic battle: Google and the Technologists vs. Sierra Club and the Greenies.

Where are the Planners and Transit in this bright future? They are largely irrelevant.

Back to now: Sadly greenies, liberal politicians and urban (transit) planners continue to waste a huge portion of public and transportation funds on Smart Growth, Rail Starts and Complete Streets. Like the current Plan Bay Area 2040 plan that allocates 62% of the transportation funding to the 10% mode of transportation.(1)

Note (1) Plan Bay Area Report: “The analysis for the most recent regional transportation plan, Transportation 2035, suggested that the region’s transit system is not sustainable based on current projections of transit costs and reasonably anticipated revenues. Transportation 2035 identified a region-wide transit capital deficit of $17 billion and operating budget deficits of $8 billion over the next 25 years.” These are staggering deficits for a transportation mode used by 10% of commuters and less than that by non-commuters.  Planners acknowledge that these deficits are not sustainable for the community. Yet Plan Bay Area calls for more deficit-making transit.





  1. With Tesla Motors, it looks like the $456 million loan they received from the Federal Government paid off!! It appears that you disagree with Paul Ryan and the Tea Party who had criticized the Government's support to this and other "green" companies.

    • I am a fan of Tesla Motors, however, government has a very poor record of picking winners.

      Honolulu government picked Ansaldo. Need I say more?

  2. Did you know that at one Oahu intersection in which a traffic circle, a complete street element, was installed, traffic crashes have gone from eight to zero?

    Complete streets make improvements for all roadway users. For example, in the recent Hele On Kakaako Complete Street demonstration on Cooke Street, a traffic simulation based on the demonstration showed that stops went from 2,320 down to 636 in a one-hour period and average speed increased several seconds. This was a very short demonstration. Imagine the improvements that can be made with the installation of more Complete Street elements.

    It's clear more education is needed on the subject.

    • So far this year, 30 people died in traffic accidents in Hawaii, and who know how many were maimed. What does The Economist have to say about these costs?

    • Natalie,

      As I mentioned to you privately, Complete Streets is about "traffic lane diet" or the taking lanes from primary modes to give them to tertiary modes. This is suicidal for Honolulu, arguably the most lane deficient metro are of its size.

      Roundabouts have been around since before the birth of our grandparents and they need no Complete Street program in order to be assessed and installed.

      • Thank you for your response, Panos. I posted my comment prior to receipt of your private reply – I wasn’t sure you had received my email.

        Complete Streets is much more than a “traffic lane diet.” Complete streets is a set of policies (and state law in Hawaii since 2009) that requires consideration of all roadway users and include such things as trees, potted plants, adequate sidewalks, attractive building facades, bulb outs, parklets and bike facilities. They encourage people to get out and walk or bike because people feel more comfortable doing so. They are “context sensitive,” meaning that the area is reviewed and elements installed that fit.

        We do not have to add lanes to make improvements to our transportation and land-use system. I would be happy to talk with you more about this.

  3. According to your thinking, there is no need to waste funds on building more highways. The self-driving cars will increase the existing capacity because they can go closer to each other and increase their speeds. Adding tolls to major roads will reduce traffic making commuting by car a breeze. If we sell the freeways to private companies they will increase efficiency even more. Imagine commuting from Kapolei to Honolulu at 60-70 mph any time. No more getting up at 5:00 a.m. to beat the traffic.

    • Actually Nobel Laureate Prof. Vickrey who I had the honor of shaking his hand said many of these things and I believe in most of them. It is the simple principle of externalizing the costs so actual users pay instead of having the society in total pay for them in the form of congestion and pollution.

      As for the autonomous vehicles, the future is not exactly here yet and most likely lawyers and politicians will distort it to something less safe and efficient…

  4. For a long time to come, oil will be priced just slightly cheaper than the most viable alternative, so Panos and the "more cars, more highways, more oil" guys can call the alternatives wasteful. The evil "Planners" referred to in Panos' article are all guys who laid our our current road system, and who would lay out all the new lanes of existing roads if Panos gets his wish. They're not irrelevant at all. It's only a question of what kind of future they're planning.

    • They simply have no idea of what it takes to fly a helicopter.

      A colleague of mine used to say (worried about his daughter who flew helis for the Marines)… Have you noticed? There is no Retired Helicopter Pilot Association!

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