Technology, Transportation, and Society Term Paper

Pages: 10 (4111 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] All of the transportation methods consume fossil fuels, each linked directly to oil. The price of oil fluctuates, with oil prices capable of affecting all other areas of the economy. A rise in oil prices means businesses raise their prices to absorb the increased price of transporting their goods. This in turn means a higher price for the consumer. Transportation then, becomes a basic factor in determining the state of the economy.

The economy relies so greatly on oil prices and oil companies have so much power, there are even theories that alternative fuel and power systems could be developed but are being repressed.

Eisen (1991, p. 408) describes this suppression arguing that alternative energy systems could be developed but are not because of the power of the oil companies, power and petroleum companies have been resolute in their denial that alternate energy resources exist. When faced with irrefutable proof, they have been even more resolute in their efforts to suppress devices that would allow us to harness this energy. The power of these corporations is such that today, neither free energy nor hydrogen have a place in a world reliant on fossil fuels."

Business

The world of business is affected by developments in transport and also contributes significantly to the developments.

To consider the impact business has had on transport, one can consider the number of companies involved in the transport industry and what they have achieved.

Boeing has made air travel a convenient option for any traveller. Without Boeing, commercial aircraft would not exist as they do today. Greyhound achieved similar results with bus travel, making bus travel a feasible option. FedEx have used transport systems to supply a reliable next-day delivery service. And Ford and many other car companies have produced wide ranges of vehicles types. Without these companies developing the technology and the products, transport systems would not be what they are today.

Secondly, we can look at how transport systems have impacted on all businesses. The convenience of shipping and air travel has meant that businesses can export their products and expand their businesses. This has resulted in a business environment where international business is becoming common. This refers not only to companies sending their products overseas, but also companies having offices and manufacturing facilities all over the world. It is the transport systems for both people and freight that make this possible. This has resulted in our current business environment where international business is common and more businesses are becoming multinationals (Ball & McCulloch, 1999).

Culture

Culture is so affected by transport that urban culture is called 'the automobile culture' and the automobile is described as "the ubiquitous means of local and interregional travel" (Fellman, Getis & Getis, 1996, p. 240).

The automobile culture refers to the uniformity of different areas, for example two cities having the same hotel chain and the same restaurant chain. This uniformity is based on having standardized facilities. This is closely related to the car as a common means of transport, as the uniformity is designed to attract travellers from different areas. This also means that the standardized facilities are grouped along highways. The overall effect is that "the public face of town and highway is everywhere the same" (Fellman et al., p. 240).

This same concept is also applied to urban life. With travel by vehicle an expected part of urban life, similar activities become grouped together, as a means of convenience to consumers. For example, shops are rarely scattered throughout a particular suburb or city. Instead they are grouped together into shopping malls. Shoppers then travel to all the shops.

This is also related to the use of public transport, with public transport leading to a specific destination. This grouping of items is true of shopping malls and also of restaurant strips, workplaces and even schools. The basic cultural effect of modern transport systems is to create certain places where people live and certain places where people go, grouping everything into sections.

Another cultural effect of travel is to break down cultural barriers. This is mostly related to the plane, which allows easy travel between countries. Richard Potts describes this effect saying, "we now meet other people anywhere in the world in less than a day's travel. Thus things foreign and strange have become familiar" (Brockman, 2000, p. 38).

Environment final consideration is the effect transportation systems have on the environment.

A report by the Federal Railroad Administration (2000) compiles information on all the environmental concerns related to transportation systems. These concerns include air pollution, noise pollution, oil pollution, hazardous materials, land use issues, water pollution and energy issues. This extensive list effectively communicates the many environmental concerns associated with transportation systems.

Alternate Forms of Transport

Alternate forms of transport focus primarily on the urban situation. While planes and ships are continuing to develop, the focus is on aspects such as increasing speed and comfort, not on new technologies.

It is the automobile that is undergoing the most change, with many new technologies seeking ways to replace the automobile and its associated problems. These problems include traffic congestion, traffic accidents, safety concerns, air pollution and noise pollution.

There are a range of new concepts, each one designed to maintain the convenience of the automobile, while removing the negative aspects. Some of these concepts focus on ways to increase mass transport, however the majority focus on ways to allow individuals to travel.

New Developments in Transport

Automated Highway Systems

Automated Highway Systems, as the name suggests, are systems where vehicles drive themselves. This involves the combination of some kind of rail system and computer technology.

Richard Bishop (2001) describes a successful trial program of an Automated Highway System carried out in 1997 in California.

The program involved 20 fully automated vehicles and the trial was successful. However, in 1998 the development program was halted, with the reasons cited as budget pressures.

Since then, the interest in automated systems has grown with a number of initiatives started, each looking at different forms of automated systems and several new technologies developing from this.

Maglev

Magnetic levitation, or Maglev, is a new technology that uses magnetic forces to lift and propel a vehicle over a guideway (Washington University, 2002). The lack of physical contact between the vehicle and the guideway means that speeds of up to 300 miles per hour can be reached, around two times faster than the fastest current rail services (Washington University, 2002).

This new technology is expected to be a suitable alternative to automobiles and to national flights.

Development of Maglev systems are underway in Germany, China, Japan and the United States.

The United States Urban Magnetic Levitation Transit Technology Development program began in 1999. This program is designed to develop the required technology. The first stage, completed in 2000, involved giving a funding grant to a corporation to develop the technology. In 2001 two potential locations for building a Maglev were selected, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The final stage is to complete a thorough assessment of each potential location and then to provide the funding for the Maglev to be built (Washington University, 2002).

Jpods

Jpods are a new technology designed to eliminate the problems of urban transport systems.

Jpods are defined as "the integration of Distributed Networks, Intelligent Controls, Materials Handling and Bicycle Technologies to replace commuter traffic" (James Integrated Technologies, 2002).

Jpods are electrically driven vehicles that travel on tracks. They are programmed to a destination and automatically drive there. They are designed to transport single individuals (James Integrated Technologies, 2002).

Dualmode Transportation Systems

The ideas of dualmode transportation systems have been around for decades. Dualmode systems are an idea that combines the personal convenience of conventional vehicles in urban living, while removing the associated pollution and traffic congestion problems.

A dualmode vehicle is defined as "one which travels under manual control on the street network for some portion of its trip, and operates under automatic control on an exclusive guide way for some other portion" (Benjamin, 1973).

This combination allows for lower density travelling and also for high density travelling between popular destinations. The guideway system also means travellers will be safe even when travelling in high volumes of traffic and at high speed. In addition, these can be designed to produce much less noise and air pollution than conventional vehicles (Benjamin, 1973).

Area Personal Transit (APT)

Area Personal Transit, or APT, is most often describes as a horizontal elevator. The concept was first developed by Ben Carpenter and has since been developed and integrated into a planned community known as Las Colinas in Texas.

The community incorporates a people mover that replaces the need for urban transport. Currently, the transport system has only completed phase I, with three more phases to be completed that will provide for a complete people-moving service (Bourland, 2001).

This APT system has generated some interest in producing other similar ones. The problem associated with this is that Las Colinas was built… [END OF PREVIEW]

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