What should public transportation look like in twenty-five years? I’m not sure I want to even try to make a guess at that. I’m not sure what public transportation should look like in twenty-five months. Somehow my first experience riding a public bus has been lost in a sea of riding buses and other forms of public transportation for, well, a lot longer than twenty-five years.
Or has it? I wouldn’t exactly say I grew up sheltered but I didn’t ride a public bus alone until I was nineteen or twenty and in college. It was the easiest way to get to either of the two malls that were on the other side of town and it took forever for the bus to show up. It should have been more memorable but strangely it wasn’t, except for the time a guy got on and dropped a handful of pennies into the fare machine, but that’s another story.
When I was a kid we stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house in Connecticut and commuted to New York City by train a few times, which absolutely amazed me. We were crossing, well, two states, but having grown up in Tennessee I was unused to crossing state lines in a short period of time. And it was probably comparable to, say, commuting from Clarksville, TN to Nashville, TN, which some people do on a daily basis.
In twenty-five years what will such commutes look like? It doesn’t look like flying cars will ever happen but self-driving cars might.
Being asked to speculate about what the future will be is more than a little daunting. That long ago I didn’t imagine I’d still be living in Nashville now. I assumed I’d be out exploring the world—and I did explore the world and continue to do so. But I’ve also found a lot to explore right here, without even crossing county, let alone state, lines. Transportation—public and private—can be a way not just to get from one place to another but to get to know a place.
What do you think the next twenty-five years will hold?