A recent story in the New York Times provides a fascinating and fairly balanced look at worldwide oil supply and demand. In brief, the story is that we don’t know for sure, but the long-term prospects are cause for concern. The issue is whether new reserves can be discovered and exploited fast enough to keep up with growing demand, in particular, as China becomes more industrialized and more dependent on oil.
There are those who go around talking about “peak oil,” apparently suggesting that soon all of us will be riding bicycles.
I am not one of those people.
Cars and trucks are currently the dominate forms of transportation in the United States, and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. Even if oil supplies dry up, it is likely that motor vehicle technology will gradually shift to other sources of energy, thus perhaps making oil and gasoline obsolete but not motor vehicles and roads.
But the cost of gasoline will likely rise significantly over time, if not overnight. We are already seeing that with the current high gasoline prices. Of course, we have seen gasoline prices go up before and they eventually came down. Gasoline prices will probably fall somewhat after summer ends. But the long-term trend is upward.
As the price of gas rises, people won’t suddenly stop driving cars and trucks. But failing to plan is planning to fail. And those communities, states or nations that plan for a diversified transportation system that provides multiple practical transportation choices for both people and freight will have an economic advantage over those who don’t.
In particular, Oregon and especially the Portland metro area should strive to provide of a diversified transportation system, for economic and security reasons as well as for environmental reasons. We can and must do better in planning for a strong economic future for Oregon, in part, built on a well-diversified transportation system. To do otherwise would be to bury our heads in the (Saudi Arabian) sand.
14 responses to “The Breaking Point for the Supply of Oil?”
Peak Oil seems to be all over the news this week. Yesterday, Fresh Air featured an interview with the author of the article Rob cites.
There were also commentaries in the Sunday Oregonian by Tim Holt and Alexander Lane.
These include mentions of a local advocacy group, Portland Peak Oil.
So my question is, are we at, or will we soon reach, a “tipping point” at which the general population will accept the idea of peak oil, or do we have an extended period of denial ahead of us yet?
I will say in simpler terms what I said elsewhere here. I don’t think the price of oil has much to do with transportation decisions. The cost will go up but, as Rob says, it will be replaced by other sources of energy.
Moreover, fuel costs are not the major expense for operating an auto. The current federal reimbursement rate is 40.5 cents per mile. About 14 cents of that is fuel costs. The AAA estimates the cost per mile of a new vehicle at over 50 cents per mile.
I also think that when the tipping point does come the larger immediate issue is going to be for freight and business transportation, rather than the personal automobile. People have a lot of opportunities to control their costs, businesses that have large transportation costs dependent on trucks are not going to have those options. There are probably some opportunities that can be planned for to make the region more competitive. Perhaps we should be placing a higher priority on improvements to the freight rail system in the I-5 corridor rather than a huge bridge across the Columbia for “freight”.
Ross makes some good points re: thoroughly analyzing the issues of transportation cost. If it were only fuel costs which have risen in order to operate a vehicle, that would be one issue. But as time goes by automakers figure out how to further gouge the public on items such as spare parts and maintenance parts, and that, of course, means higher insurance rates, too. It is a spiral of higher person/mile costs. Ditto for businesses.
The unfortunate thing is that really crafty individuals and businesses are going to figure out how to pass the cost on to John Q. Public (read: honest taxpayers) even if it is only walking away from your debts via bankruptcy. And I know from plenty of experience that there is an ingenuity in this land for passing on those costs.
But should JQP jump on the first bandwagon promising relief from the manipulative, community destroying, private auto commuter and the spectre of runaway petroleum prices? With the American tendency to “do something, even if it’s wrong” some solutions are still putting the poor US taxpayer back at the welfare line. While it is true that critics of rail transit (such as Cascade Policy Institute) seize upon only a portion of the truth, they do raise some valid criticisms. And it is only fair to ask: Why can’t the alternatives to autos be even more cost effective?
We have seen quite simple innovations–when American industy is forced to change. I now have in my home: A water saving wash machine, low wattage fluorescent lightbulbs, water saving toilets, an energy efficient fridge, energy saving windows, a high efficiency furnace. I have discovered natural home cooling. I could convert to: on demand water heating, radiant electric heat, programmed heating cycles.
See, we can do it! American industry could similarly make mass transit vehicles, perhaps buses and streetcars, that are far more cost effective than what we have now. I don’t think federal taxpayers (JQP) want to keep subsidizing mass transit (like MAX)that is under-utilized– anymore than they want to support a highway lobby. If we could get the cost per mile of PortlandStreetcar down further-perhaps by mass production of trackbed or locally producing vehicles (and analyzing their components)-THAT would be the true alternative–not some system conjured thirty years ago that gets more expensive every year.
As I read the proposals for the Portland-Vancouver Crossing in the Tribune I saw only one of the three was trying to figure out how to make better usage of what we already have. The others didn’t seem to care about what the true bottom line was. But JQP will feel it!
Here’s an interesting comparison of current gas prices from around the world, varying from $6.48/gallon in the Netherlands to $0.12/gallon in Venezuela.
Wow! $0.12 per gallon in Venezula! Thats why the Rev. Robertson wants Chavez murdered! I forgot about their prices.
Back to transpo;
Call it what you will, but a commodity that is the sole provider of all sectors of commerce (think Dune) will cause one of two eventualities (total isolation or total involvement). I wrote one of the articles in the Friday Tribune. I too believe that freight movement is the issue we need to confront (mostly rail).
But I also want Portland to stay connected if and when the costs to fly or drive to Seattle/San Francisco becomes so expense for the average individual or family. That is why I suggest that the new bridge includes high speed rail in its design. We don’t have to lay the tracks through Portland right now, but we need the corridor and we can plan for this future now.
With laws to support alternate fuels (biodiesel for my Jetta!) and well placed distribution centers for food and fuel, we should be fine. We have multiple ways to get from A to B. We are designing our city around the individual instead of around the automobile.
There isn’t anything basically wrong with the car other than our use of it (think obesity rates). I thank God I live in a city that considers all modes of transportation as important. Hopefully, freight movement and understanding how “peak oil” could effect our freight movement and distribution options.
Sorry, it wasn’t your article in the PT that impressed me; it was the one by Jim Howell. Your plan is kind of like Bush’s war: it is not so much the principle; it is the economics. I like planners who can pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat–and find a way to make do with what we have. This agenda (remove I-5, build Caruthers Bridge, Downtown Mall, build Milwaukie LRT, build thru town high speed rail, etc.)that our planners have is going to leave the public treasury bone dry and not solve local traffic problems. It is not going to demonstrate the responsible policy that Portland needs to msintain its reputation. Any area, e.g. Boston, can go after the pork.
On the other hand, Howell’s view of maximizing the existing I-5 bridge and then adding what is needed to sustain improved MAX and regional rail makes more sense. I think, similarly, we could make use of the lower reaches of the Marquam Bridge for a streetcar rail (the piers and huge concrete beams are already there and it lines up perfectly with required destinations) for perhaps twenty million instead of the hundred million our planners want. We could link to the Eastside streetcar and then go to MIlwaukie and to Lake Oswego for less than a hundred million more instead of the additional four hundred of the MAX line. And then we wouldn’t even need the Downtown Mall, or could postpone a plan until it is adequately thought out. That is what AORTA is advocating. But then, we couldn’t get rid of the MArquam Bridge. But, hey, it’s federal money, anyway, so who really cares? (sarcasm) But, I have been asking: What are we really going to end up with for the billions these projects will entail?
For the cost of merely removing the structures that you name we could have a system that is used to full capacity and then get on to local projects that other Portlanders care about, not just what might be nice in the central city.
As far as removing UP I have heard some comments from Blumenauer’s office that the Brooklyn yards may be moved by UP. To where, I don’t know. But if they are I presume that the rail ROW will also be moved. Therefore, negligible tax dollars on that one, too. Whether this is merely politician falderall or not, I don’t know. I know that some Portland neighborhoods have had some legal skirmishing with UP over noise issues.
As far as high speed “Cascadia” rail: I’m all for that, but Howells’ idea seems to be a a new rail bridge, combined with rethinking the I-5 traffic lanes, will get the job done, and cheaper. BTW, other areas of the region might want some crossing,too, and that could relieve usage of the present bridge. And who says we should be ” a true cosmopolis,” anyway. You? Vera Katz?
I think the era of super-cheap transportation and oil prices has been one of the primary reasons for the rapid growth of big-box stores and ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing. Well, easy access to freeways and large parking lots are the flip side of the equation, too: without the critical threshold of thousands and thousands of people arriving in their cars to fill up with goods, these large stores cannot function on their tiny profit margin (which is what makes them so competitive for more traditional [smaller] stores).
With more expensive transport costs – which will be a result of increasing oil prices, even if we replace it with alternatives – it will make these kinds of industries less profitable… and I would bet that as fewer people want to drive as much as before, their expansion will slow down and perhaps they might disappear.
Course, there could always be a Wal-Mart bailout ala the airline industry in 2010…
This is to say nothing of what will happen to leapfrom residential real estate developments 40, 50, 60+ miles from any employment/shopping centers in places like SoCal & Arizona.
The claim that “peak oil” means we will all be riding bikes soon is a (willful? or just silly?) distortion of the issue.
Peak oil means that production of oil will decline, and, by implication, that the cost of extraction will grow. It’s about a production function. That’s all.
What that will do to price is an entirely different issue, a function of demand and available technologies and policies.
A rise in the average cost of energy and all the goods that are built or moved with it is predictable.
How soon and how much the rising cost of energy matters depends on your income level… aren’t you lucky to not have to worry about it? Of course, people who make $30,000 per year may have a different view of the necessity of bike riding from those who make $70,000, at a given point in time on the rising energy cost curve.
And global oil production declines (a better term than the mysterious “peak oil” phrase) have recessionary implications that could endanger even the fattest pay checks, but never mind, never mind.
As usual there are those who believe that “science” will swoop in with alternatives to keep things running just as they have for 100 years, but I’ve never seen what I considered a persuasive technical analysis of how that will happen. Of course humankind’s capacity for invention is impressive… but a generic belief in the inventiveness of scientists does not seem to be a good basis on which to plan one’s future. If it works for you though…
Here’s a guy who believes that the cost of energy always and everywhere goes down and he’s putting his money where his mouth is: Tierney, New York Times
Clearly there are people who think like this in the world.
People know the price of gas at the pump, the price of home heating, and whether or not they have a job.
Most of the recent coverage is fueled by the price at the pump.
Nobody has to “accept” the idea of peak oil. It doesn’t work that way. Energy costs are an “invisible hand” that shape economic decisions, and political views. On a national scale I wouldn’t even predict that the Democrats will do any better than the Republicans in benefiting from a long energy price induced recession/depression. We just don’t know.
Finally, on the public investment side, I guess that if you see an energy cost induced recession, depression, or Kunstlerian “Long Emergency” ahead, maybe it makes sense to invest in low energy transportation systems now while tax revenues, federal funds, and all the rest are still relatively abundant…
On the other hand will we be able to keep all that fancy paraphenalia operating in the Bad Mad Max world of the future? Can we invest intelligently today if we think that transportation economics is going to change radically, but we can’t really be sure how?
Hell if I know.
Bike paths and rail seem like good bets though.
Sorry, it wasn’t your article in the PT that impressed me; it was the one by Jim Howell.
(No problem. I wasn’t writing the article for one persons approval.)
Your plan is kind of like Bush’s war: it is not so much the principle; it is the economics.
(I think this ‘vision’ is nothing like “Bushs War” and personnally that statement is an insult to this Democratic Party member. The economics of the vision is based on a twenty to thirty window. I think we can manage.)
I like planners who can pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat–and find a way to make do with what we have.
(I like to look at the here and now and decide if its where we should be in the future.)
This agenda (remove I-5, build Caruthers Bridge, Downtown Mall, build Milwaukie LRT, build thru town high speed rail, etc.)that our planners have is going to leave the public treasury bone dry and not solve local traffic problems.
(My article says nothing about most of this statement, so I’ve ignored it.)
It is not going to demonstrate the responsible policy that Portland needs to msintain its reputation. Any area, e.g. Boston, can go after the pork.
(I’ve heard this knee jeck reaction before “Big Dig”, “Big Dig”. The “Big Dig” in Boston cost up to $15 Billion dollars. I’m costing this plan out to $5 Billion over thirty years (Oregons half) to fix our freight rail lines ($1 Billion); our main north/south auto/MAX route ($2.5 Billion); and ($1.5 Billion) to create a 21st Century passenger rail corridor using TGV like trains from here to Eugene. Thats one third the cost of the “Big Dig”. I might be way off on the HSR to Eugene estimate so lets just call it 2.5 Billion then. Remember, I’m talking thirty years for everything to be done. Kept your knees straight ;-))
On the other hand, Howell’s view of maximizing the existing I-5 bridge and then adding what is needed to sustain improved MAX and regional rail makes more sense.
(I hope the bridge of the minor channel is used for the MAX lines; and the high speed rail corridor; foot traffic; plus local auto access to Hayden Island from Oregon. I also could see using one or both of the current bridge piers for the rail and foot traffic if the decking and framework was elevated enough or create a larger free span for the barge channel. But I will trust the civil engineers who understand materials, aging of materials, and loads tell us if the piers could be reused. Do you honestly believe the current bridge will last the next 50 to 100 years though? There is also the major issue of safety for the barge traffic. One mistake and the I5 Bridge might need to be closed for major rework. Why is this acceptable? Risk Management is part of my job and when the possible failure of the main link between the two state could be broken, I look at mitigating that risk. Same thing with the Sellwood Bridge. At some point, the car is rusted out and needs to be replaced. My bottom line is to get High Speed Rail into every ones mindset where the service can get through Metro Portland in fifteen minutes with three stops (Oregon City, Oregon Convention Center, and Vancouver).
I think, similarly, we could make use of the lower reaches of the Marquam Bridge for a streetcar rail (the piers and huge concrete beams are already there and it lines up perfectly with required destinations) for perhaps twenty million instead of the hundred million our planners want.
(I don’t see the alignment required matching the Marquam Bridge which moves SW to NE and the possible Milwaukie MAX line would come into town from the SE to the NW.)
We could link to the Eastside streetcar and then go to MIlwaukie and to Lake Oswego for less than a hundred million more instead of the additional four hundred of the MAX line.
(MAX and streetcars are two different services so I truly don’t see the connection you are advocating.)
And then we wouldn’t even need the Downtown Mall, or could postpone a plan until it is adequately thought out.
(The update to the Portland Mall for MAX is because we have two issues: we can only handle two MAX cars at a time in the downtown grid. And with the addition of the many more MAX trains that intersection downtown requires more capacity to move the trains through our main employment center.)
That is what AORTA is advocating. But then, we couldn’t get rid of the MArquam Bridge. But, hey, it’s federal money, anyway, so who really cares? (sarcasm)
(I care about the federal budget, which is why I will never vote for the GOP. Last time was Hatfield. In whom do you trust? Honesty question.)
But, I have been asking: What are we really going to end up with for the billions these projects will entail?
(If you can’t see it, you never will. Its similar too having faith.)
For the cost of merely removing the structures that you name we could have a system that is used to full capacity and then get on to local projects that other Portlanders care about, not just what might be nice in the central city.
As far as removing UP I have heard some comments from Blumenauer’s office that the Brooklyn yards may be moved by UP. To where, I don’t know.
(Maybe you need to look East and understand the Troutdale rail/truck project being proposed.)
But if they are I presume that the rail ROW will also be moved. Therefore, negligible tax dollars on that one, too. Whether this is merely politician falderall or not, I don’t know.
(Look into it, I would like to know what you discover.)
I know that some Portland neighborhoods have had some legal skirmishing with UP over noise issues.
As far as high speed “Cascadia” rail: I’m all for that, but Howells’ idea seems to be a a new rail bridge, combined with rethinking the I-5 traffic lanes, will get the job done, and cheaper. BTW, other areas of the region might want some crossing,too, and that could relieve usage of the present bridge.
(But for one big issue you and Howell are missing a major issue about the current bridges design. Studies show that Portland has major traffic issues during “incidents”. A new bridge for the auto traffic would include state and federal required widths for the shoulders. Right now, there are no shoulders on the two bridges. How is Howells idea going to deal with the safety and traffic flow during a “incident” issue? I have spoken too having more bridges already on this site, mainly to support foot and bike requirements. I am not advocating a ten lane freeway and believe a system at the Columbia River Crossing including a six lane freeway with shoulders for safety (expandable to eight in forty years if needed), a High Speed Rail corridor set aside for the future, MAX line built with the auto decks, and foot traffic would be perfect and supports all modes of traffic. Whats more, my moving the HSR to this corridor helps the rail freight issue through Portland. Which is a known issue right now. We are a bottleneck for rail freight.)
And who says we should be ” a true cosmopolis,” anyway.
(Do you want to close the door on growth? Are you just for the average? Below average? Maybe you wish us to become isolated from Seattle and San Francisco too once a barrel of oil reaches $100.00 per barrel. Delta Airlines is almost bankrupt and United Airlines can’t get out of bankruptcy because of jet fuel costs. The airline industry is going to loss $5 Billion this year (Nighty Business Report on 08-24-05. What happens when our airline industry shrinks? Does Bush bail them out again? Maybe, they use alot of his buddies oil).
You? (Sure, why not? Ideas are first pushed by one person.)
Vera Katz? (Potter has her job and Vera doesn’t need the issues that go along with “global paradigm shifts”.)
End of line
Just to let you know the process on where this “Project” would start since it is a twenty to thirty year job: The Central Eastside Business community has, for years, asked for access to Southbound I5. The first phase would be the tunnel system for the Willamette River to create the capacity for I5 and US26. Using this tunnel system for both I5 and US26 gives the Ross Island Bridge the ability to become a local access bridge with more foot and bike capacity.
The second half of the first phase of the “Project” would be the creation of the tunnel for the UP line under the Lloyd District with a split for the Steel Bridge and for the Brooklyn Yard (if needed). The reason for the move of the UP line is to start the freeing up of the land at the I84/I5 Interchange.
That is the location I would choose for the “Trails End Transit Center” for its access to the river; for its access to the MAX stop at the Rose Quarter; for its access to the OCC; for its access to the Rose Quarter; and centrally located for Portlands population. High Speed Rail would have direct access to the three rail lines leading out of town. Greyhound(?) would move to a new facility near MLK and Grand just to the East of the Train Terminal for direct access to the Interstates and Hwy 99E. A parking structure would separate and support both terminals. Streetcars will soon be using MLK and the Burnside Bridgehead and the new Oregon Convention Center HQ Hotel will be expanded to 1000 rooms by then (here is hoping the LaSalle Proposal is chosen instead of the Ashforth Massive box).
This location already has docks built on the Willamette for watertaxis. Having Hotels located up and down the Willamette River with watertaxis bringing tourist and business executives right onto our best asset would turn our city into a “cosmopolis”. A city with many cultures and types of individuals. Plus just getting off of a High Speed Rail train or a bus right near the river near the Eastbank Park has the advantage of “Making a First Impression” that nothing can compare too.
Our Central City is our jewel and needs to be supported as such. It is where all roads lead to in this region. We have not done any major work on this critical part of our region in thirty years (I405 and the Fremont Bridge was the last project. I505 does count since its really how the Fremont Bridge should have been constructed, but we took ten years just for that half mile section). Isn’t it about time we modernized I5 for the 21st Century from the Columbia to the Willamette?
I’m a dreamer Ron. Do some Dreamin.
While I admit that I don’t have a crystal ball to know when it is going to happen, I know the nanotech revolution approacheth! We may eventually find it cheaper to airfreight many things than send them by rail. No matter what fuel is used at that time, the vehicles will be tremendously lighter and their cargo may frequently be, too. How we construct the infrastructure, including transportation, will also change. By the time that we get around to completing the system you propose–twenty or thirty years–industry will have grasped nanotech principles. At the 1961 Seattle World’s Fair a world with freeways with flying cars and modular homes was envisioned by this time. I guess they didn’t figure on a revolt against freeways, and then romanticism and environmentalism followed by nerds and geeks. The future always takes unexpected turns leaving prognosticators with the ‘deer in the headlights’ expression.
Just because Portland was originally settled by New Englanders doesn’t mean we have to have “Manhattan envy.” Having been a victm of a serious white collar crime I am leary about luring too many high-rollers, here (Elliot Spitzer, you’r my hero); but I did support the South Waterfront project, even though I will never be able to afford a condo there, myself. Now, I’m Thinkin’ of movin’ to Astoria’s west end so I can watch the ships come up the river!
Concurrent with the Sellwod Streetcar, which I am actively seeking, I began to have some serious thoughts about the Milwaukie MAX. Being within a half mile of the proposed MAX route I knew there would be appreciation to my home, but when I saw the projected price and the need for the new (Caruthers) bridge, I wondered if it was really worth it. If the MAX went all the way to Oregon City and was fully utilized throughout the day it would make sense. But since it doesn’t and isn’t I concluded a Streetcar would be far more cost effective. C. Smith remarked that the capacity was only one hundred. But couldn’t they just run more cars? A little higher investment, but still only peanuts compared to MAX and you get more diversity of routes. Is everyone going downtown? And then I realized that the Marquam bridge was exactly in the place where a streetcar line would cross, between the Harrison connector at RiverPlace and OMSI. And without a Milwaukie MAX there is less need for the downtown Mall-as envisioned at present. I think there may be some other proposals equally valid to AORTA’s, we need to field them out. Oh well, if I’m wrong Portland can just raise taxes!
Howells remark was that other parts of the Portland Metro area might need a Columbia crossing; so you could kill two birds with one stone–perhaps cross from Highway 30 to west Vancouver and reduce traffic on the I-5, while a completed MAX line and hi-speed interstate rail also reduces traffic.
Maybe your vision is good, but remember if we are now up to 100 million per mile for MAX, in another ten years the needed extensions will be 200 m. So, connecting Milwakie to OC and to Clackamas adds 1 billion or more to your plan. OTOH, if we start building streetcars here (at Oregon Iron Works), build new lines at the time of throughfare reconstruction, and, perhaps prefab the railbed, 25m/mile may hold steady.
Of course, I know we won’t get the federal pork to the same extent, but is it time for federal pork to diminish? and Oregon’s delegation can lead by example.
AS far as bridge lifespan: Both Multnomah Co. and Portland have been renovating old bridges and we are almost done. I sure hope they appraised the integrity of the steel since these have been averaging thirty million a piece. Now the Sellwood: Only the approaches are old; the center truss span is from 1925 and I believe the steel will be good for another eighty years. It was in the other bridges. So I don’t buy Bechtel’s estimate of 100 miliion and a complete replacement. And we want it to remain two lanes, which will still be adequate for a streetcar. One thing to note in government contracts: private interests are always waiting like vultures for governments to screw up and spend more money than is needed. The government always makes good on payment. Already we are seeing that downtown with longer hours on the parking meters–to pay for the MAX of course!
Your vision of expediting traffic though Portland is good. Is it possible to double up some of the components(like removing UP) and, also, consider other fundamental solutions? Yup, two birds with one stone.
Another thing Ray,
If it were possible to make full use of the federal funds for whatever we wanted (which I know it is not, but its getting better) think of what alternatives we could achieve: Bike paths, already relative cheap, could proliferate; we could have indigenous mass transit manufacturing (which is the possibility with Streetcar/Oregon Iron Works); we could have a research lab to help other cities. Golly, maybe we could even figure a way to stagger work schedules, so the traffic doesn’t arrive in a clump.
I’m all for Oregon Ironworks being North Americas vendor for streetcars. It will help get them off the pigs trough of the DoD. Nothing against valid contracts for equipment that we truly need to protect American citizens. But right now, the DoD can’t account for $1 Trillion dollars (reports back in 2001) and the stolen $9 Billion dollars cash sent to Iraq in duffel bags on pallets that are unaccounted for.
Thank God for a new market like streetcars for Oregon Ironworks. I hope the Western Hemisphere catches on. But streetcars can’t be the backbone that MAX is because streetcar and cars share the same lane. MAX cars are design for higher speeds. I would be interested in a streetcar’ top rated speed (40mph?). I doubt they are rated to the 55 to 60 mph that MAX does daily.
I also don’t want Tacoma to be widened. If the Sellwood Bridge can be made into a local asset and have a streetcar line spur from the Lake Oswego line, that would really work well. I believe sometime down the line if Clackamas County can’t get the employment centers that I hope they can, there will need to be something straight West from the Hwy 224 terminus with McLoughlin. I would think that Sellwood would love to see the through traffic go South of Waverley to get over the river. Sellwood gets alot of traffic from Johnson Creek and Hwy 224, thats for sure.
Nanotechnology will help with materials (superconductors, micro surfacing, medical devices, and many other applications to list here including the biggest macro civil engineering project of all time: The Space Elevator is being resurrected with nanotube discoveries). But I am not banking on Science to save us from the hole/paradigm that we have created for ourselves.
I think trains, buses, bikes, and the feet are the best bets for the near and far term. The great thing about all the roads is they will still be there if or when the technology and the infrastructure are here to replace our current hydro-carbon economy.
All the roads will be used for bikes, buses, and local delivery vehicles. Speaking of delivery vehicles, check out http://www.bikesforwork.com. Even though, I want an older diesel truck. I am seriously thinking about getting something like these trailers for my bike. I would use it for grocery shopping and even picking up some 8′ long two by fours.
Speaking about federal funding is another topic but if the USA goes bankrupt as I suspect is the NeoCon/GOP plan, we will truly be on our own. If that happens, we will need our own assets (brains, environment, location, etc.) that other capitalists around the World and ourselves will want to invest in.
I guess that is why I use the term “cosmopolis” because I hope all capitalists worldwide will want to invest in our democracy (No Personhood for the Corporation!!!) because they see us as a good bet.
I don’t know the top speed for the Inekon vehicle, but I do know that the power/weight ratio is better than for a MAX car. MAX couldn’t handle the grades that Streetcar is doing right now on Harrison.
Oh, I’m sure we will all have personal teleporters by that time.
I hate to break it to you… but assuming we will have super-duper ‘nanotechnology’ air vehicles that will transport everything super-cheap in the future is – at this stage – a fantasy.
It is a pretty lame excuse to not invest in the future of a major metropolitan area – and our homes.
I really don’t have the time or willpower right now to sit down and start debunking any theories of whether nanotechnology will change the face of transportation within 30 years… but, c’mon! Even if we did have super-lightweight airplanes right now, they:
A) still burn jet fuel
B) require a helluva lot of airfield space to take off, land, load/unload, etc.
C) require road/rail connections to actually get stuff to the businesses
D) are extraordinarily expensive. Average cost of an airliner is $300 million. Average semi is $100,000. Each train… ???? $5 million? (out on a limb here)
go tell me how many freight containers are expected to travel through Portland in 30 years, and figure out how many airliners you will need carrying them. It is a LOT.
I really don’t think we are going to fundamentally change how we get stuff around on Earth in the next 50 years. Too much investment already.