Modern transportation ecosystem


Photo by Nasa on Unplash

First thing first: Walking – 2/4/X Wheels – Flying – Space.


By Nicoletta Moss

China landed on the moon, Japan on an asteroid, we are getting ready for our first manned mission to Mars. But so often I hear voices that we should first get our basics right before aiming for the stars.

How come that there are people taking their car to fetch the mail from the letterbox, ergo forgetting about the basics like walking? Kids who don’t learn how to ride a bike or to swim because it is too dangerous? There are countries who are fixing the roads – and widening them, but not adding at the same time bike lanes and walkways, as they think that nobody would use them anyway.

There is not one single right solution for all transportation needs. For long enough we relied on either a private car or on public transport, but nowadays we have so many more choices. We still can own our own mode of transport, or we can share it. Public Transport must always play a core part of our ecosystem – but sometimes we don’t have to go ourselves and a third party could travel for us.

The modern transportation ecosystem consists of the following parts:

*Land, Air and Sea – and yes, while we are at it – in some cases space.

The ecosystem must be viewed like a big puzzle – some pieces might be bigger, some smaller but if one part is missing, we can’t put the full picture together. The more option a traveller has, the more likely it is that the private vehicle will be exchanged for an alternative – something we should aim for in view of road congestion and the Paris Climate Agreement.

What strikes me is that transportation often is discussed in one dimension. The idea of adding the dimensions of water or air transport is not a common one. The technologies are available – but is our society too comfortable to change their legal system to allow drones or air taxis? I think it is time to add additional dimensions – and going to space will help us. Fancy technologies often make their way from top-down: Space – Planes – Trucks – Buses – Cars. Teflon was developed as a heatshield for space before it made it into our kitchens. And autonomous vehicles are exploring space.

So, yes – we have to work on all technologies in a parallel manner. There are reasons why organizations have operations teams and strategists. One group is making sure that the here and now works – the other team is working on future solutions. One can’t do it without the other. The key to success is cooperation – and being open-minded. Those who are taking care of the current situation should not be (lazy or) scared of changes, and the others who are developing new ideas, should not be impatient but take enough time to understand needs and share their vision. Leaders must have both skill sets: operation and strategy. Fix the road – add infrastructure for alternative means of transport – and get the legislation for the future on its way.

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