The Month in Transportation – May 2021

By John Halpin | Associate Account Director

Welcome to our latest review of news from across the transportation world.

Every month, we’ll share interesting links, thoughts and more about the transformation of transportation.

NC Chamber focuses on transportation

The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce has launched Destination 2030: The Road to a Stronger Transportation Future. Faced with challenges including population growth and the need for infrastructure repair, the chamber aims to accomplish its goals by “bringing together a broader alliance of businesses and business-minded organizations to push for the sustainable transportation solutions North Carolina needs.”

Question for readers: Many states make claims like this, often justifiably so. Which states are already doing things right on the transportation front?

Maybe not L.A. …

Los Angeles residents seem concerned about the prospect of flying taxis – er, “low-noise electric aircraft” – doing more harm than good. This article from Bloomberg CityLab looks back at other mobility innovations that met public resistance, including steam-powered cars, jitneys and electric scooters.

AI’s impact on transportation logistics

Supply & Demand Chain Executive looks at the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning in transportation management practices. COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of AI and ML, as they improve logistics visibility, offer data-driven planning insights and help successfully increase process automation “when used correctly,” according to the article, with data quality being the first step toward success.

“The Electrification of Everything?”

Well, maybe not everything. Still, this lengthy Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) cites a study that says “electrifying nearly all transport and buildings could contribute to doubling or more the amount of electricity used in the U.S. by 2050.” That will have impacts on utility companies, cybersecurity, renewables and more.

Lightning strikes at Ford

We talked on a recent podcast about cost being one of the barriers for entry in electric vehicle adoption. Ford appears set on changing that as soon as possible. This week, the automaker announced its new F-150 Lightning pickup truck with a starting price of $39,974 – not far above comparable gas-powered pickups. The Lightning also offers bidirectional charging, making it useful as a power source for tools, appliances and perhaps even a house if necessary.

For pickup drivers concerned about the power of an electric truck, Ford CEO Jim Farley said of his new vehicle: “It hauls ass and tows like a beast.”

Autonomous cars, coming to a European road near you

In late April, the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport announced that it will regulate self-driving cars on its roadways, with top speeds of 37 mph permitted, and cars on the road as soon as later this year. Germany’s lawmakers agreed to something similar, as they will soon permit some instances of Level 4 autonomy, while requiring that a human be able to shut the car down, either in person or remotely.

Public transportation, for free?

This eye-catching Washington Post piece looks at how three major U.S. cities – New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. – are assessing ways to make public transportation free for riders. Proponents cite economic and racial equity, along with environmental benefits. Those opposed raise concerns about budgetary impacts, and reference similar programs that were discontinued in other cities.

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