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Roadmap to the Future

Here are some ways in which the desperately needed transportation system of the future can be made more efficient, safer, and cleaner.
                 

More than half a century ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower inaugurated a program to construct the nation’s Interstate highway system. The program changed the way Americans live. Today, facing oil shortages and a climate crisis (tailpipe emissions make up 29 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions), our transportation needs have changed. Here are some ways in which the desperately needed transportation system of the future can be made more efficient, safer, and cleaner.

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image of Daniel Grushkin
Daniel Grushkin is a freelance writer who covers science and the environment. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Businessweek, National Geographic Adventure, Popular Science, and Scientific American. He is also a co-founder of Genspace... READ MORE >
I am curious what the sources are for the numbers? For example, that buses use 1/4 the energy per passenger mile of cars. According to the Dept. of Energy Transportation Fact book, buses in the US use about the same energy per passenger mile as cars on average, some years being worse, less often doing better. Similarly the number for the low emissions for the high speed train. Per passenger emissions depend entirely on ridership, and there are quite varying ridership predictions for regular and high speed trains, and a lot of controversy over what they will be, though most expect they will be well below riderships in Europe and Asia.
This depiction does a real disservice to common sense by not emphasizing the importance of walking and bicycling. Sure, I was enthusiastic about hot wheels as a child, but I'm sorry that is NRDC's artistic rendering. High-tech limited-access roadways (elevated in your depiction) and motor vehicle dependence (where's the coal plant?) is neither a healthy vision nor likely to be much more than a fantasy.