Urban Transportation's Four Separate Challenges

At the Shared Use Mobility Summit in Chicago, Jarrett Walker cautioned the tech world to keep four key transportation problems in mind.

1 minute read

April 3, 2018, 5:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Jeff McMahon sums up transit expert Jarrett Walker's comments at the National Shared Mobility Summit held in March. "Walker argued that technology can solve some problems, but not the same problem that public transit solves." 

McMahon references a memorable Twitter spat between Walker and Elon Musk in which the Tesla founder criticized typical modes of transit and insulted Walker directly. At the summit, Walker called attention to "four separate problems of urban transportation which have four separate kinds of solutions," further arguing that "it is very important to not mistake the solution for one problem for the solution for a different problem."

The list includes 1) communications and real time information, for which digital tech has proven useful; 2) emissions and energy efficiency; 3) labor and safety; and 4) the amount of urban space different modes take up. 

Walker argued that "The fixed-route bus or train is the vehicle of the future [...] because it remains the most efficient way to move large numbers of people through the congested space of a city."

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