Management & Operations

A Look at the Most Important Events of the 21st Century

Posted on January 5, 2000

Last week we revealed our choices for the industry’s 15 most important events of the 20th Century. Here are METRO Associate Publisher Cliff Henke’s predictions for the most important events of public transport’s second century: 1. TEA 21, the first important event of the 21st Century, brings the transit revolution finally to Main Street and Wall Street. Local neighborhood and city chambers of commerce, developers and other local leaders once again take part in transit planning transit-oriented development (WITHOUT federal assistance). All this is funded by new financial instruments created by Wall Street and made possible by giving transit the budgetary contract authority highways have long had. 2. Advent of highly efficient and power-dense hybrid propulsion makes practical railcar and articulated bus (even double-articulated bus) self-propulsion. This eliminates the need for wayside and overhead LRT and metro electrification. It also makes possible grade-separated right-of-way sharing of trains at peak and higher-capacity buses in off-peak (with track adaptations, of course). See Essen, Germany for experiments in this. 3. Computerization, radio-based signaling and satellite tracking become so affordable even for high-end supercomputers that all grade-separated buses and railcar rights-of-way become automated, except for long distance vehicles, which still have drivers aboard as a safety back-up. 4. All transit service is restructured so that public-sector agencies no longer operate transit service. Instead, they broker and manage service either by contracting it, controlling through franchises or dispatching a ride at a time in real-time using technologies in #2. (See "Is a New Model Emerging" in the "In My Opinion" section of this web site.) 5. President Bridgitte J. Slater, daughter of former Secretary of Transportation Slater, signs the "Federal Aid to High-Speed Rail Networks Act." The law gives aid to links between the various state and regional high-speed systems and creates a national information system, map and signage for passenger rail much like the Federal Aid to Highways Act of the 1920s. However, the difference is that this information system will give passengers real-time access to train status and reservations using state-of-the-art information technologies. Agree? Disagree? Can you think of any others? Write in yours to Happy New Century!

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