What Will the Future of Public Transportation Look Like?


elon musk hyperloop
3 min read

Forget high-speed rails and overhauled bus systems—it’s looking more and more like the future of public transportation will actually look like, well, the Future (minus the homogenized gray one piece suits for everyone, fingers crossed). With legitimate private and public interests investing in new technologies, public transportation options like Hyperloop and driverless buses are starting to actually be realized.

Hyperloop AKA Capsules Flying Through Vacuum Tubes

For the uninitiated, Forbes summed up Hyperloop: “It’s that far-out idea billionaire industrialist [and CEO of Tesla] Elon Musk proposed in a 58-page white paper in August 2013 for a vacuum-tube transport network that could hurtle passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles at 760 miles an hour.”

elon musk hyperloop concept sketches
Hyperloop concept sketches. Image: Elon Musk/Space X

WIRED explains that a fully realized Hyperloop could become, “a transportation network of above-ground tubes that could span hundreds of miles. With extremely low air pressure inside those tubes, capsules filled with people would zip through them at near supersonic speeds.”

In 2013, Musk encouraged others to work on the idea of Hyperloop, as he himself didn’t have the time to pursue the futuristic method of transportation, and they have. This year, a crowd-funding startup called JumpStartFund created Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc and crowd-sourced input from over 400 well-respected scientists and other experts (from places like NASA and Boeing) willing to work for shares in the company.

Some big-name tech groups hope to make traveling at near supersonic speeds a convenient reality.

WIRED writes that JumpStartFund, “plans to start construction on a full-scale, passenger-ready Hyperloop in 2016. The prototype will run 5 miles through Quay Valley, a planned community rising from nothing along Interstate 5, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

With big-name technology groups like Oerlikon and Aecom actively involved, it seems many powerful interests are planning on Hyperloop becoming a reality sooner rather than later.

Driverless Buses

Here at Quoted, we’ve talked a lot about self-driving cars, but autonomous tech can be found in public transportation, too. Namely, driverless buses. In February, the Meridian Shuttle began testing in London.Discovery.com described the shuttle as, “a driverless public transport vehicle designed for short routes in urban areas. It’s part of the larger GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project, which is in turn one of three driverless vehicle pilot programs currently being tested in the UK.”

meridian shuttle
The Meridian shuttle. Image: UK Department for Transport

Though the Meridian Shuttle is quite modest and, as Discovery.com reports, “looks like a moderately ambitious golf cart — with a maximum speed of 13 mph and a range of around 60 miles on a single battery charge,” the driverless vehicle is merely a first step in planned autonomous public transportation around the UK.

Tell us what you think—would you feel safe in a driverless bus? And how does the prospect of hurtling around the country, resembling a human bank deposit, sound to you?