Aside from the overriding need to stabilise atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to stabilise climate, there are several other compelling reasons for countries everywhere to restructure their transport systems, including the need to prepare for falling oil production, to alleviate traffic congestion, and to reduce air pollution.
The shape of future transportation systems centres around the changing role of the automobile. This in turn is being influenced by the transition from a predominantly rural global society to a largely urban one. With world oil output close to peaking, there will not be enough economically recoverable oil to support a world fleet expansion along US lines or, indeed, to sustain the US fleet. Oil shocks are now a major security risk.
While the future of transportation in cities lies with a mix of light rail, buses, bicycles, cars, and walking, the future of intercity travel over distances of 500 miles or less belongs to high-speed ...