The future of transportation and its impact on world's economics

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Since the arrival of commercial flight and high-speed train services, no huge innovative technological change has influenced the transport sector. The 21st century has seen consumers rely heavily on autos or trucks for day by day transportation along with planes, boats and trains for everything else. The dependency on such transport is expected to gradually diminish the world’s oil reserves, so increasing the value of oil enormously, making it unaffordable for the average person. This will trigger a shift in the way people and businesses transport themselves and the merchandise they require for their everyday living. Therefore, this essay will look at the ways transportation organisations are being pro-active in their search for speedier, more efficient and affordable transport as populations are expected to move toward automated transport systems in the future. I will additionally concentrate on the effect such changes will have on worldwide economic matters.

Historically, the invention of the bicycle and train in the 1800s made transportation an importance catalyst for economic growth in regions and countries. In addition, it has allowed globalisation, communication and willingness to trade between countries around the world. This in turn meant the growing accessibility to goods and services, increased profits yield and overtime a country’s GDP. (especially for countries with limited raw materials. E.g. LEDCs – Less Economically developed countries). The introduction of high-speed rails and commercial flight in the early 21st century inevitably led the public and businesses to rely more heavily on daily means of transportation such as; cars, planes, boats and trains.

For example, investments into railway in New Zealand around 1860 to 1880 opened new areas in the country for primary industries such as; mining and agriculture. Also, the arrival of steam ships and refrigerated containers provided New Zealand with international market for goods such as dairy products and meat, then providing the basis for a thriving tourist industry which now represents 17 percent of New Zealand’s export earnings. Here investment into the transportation drove the country’s economic growth by unlocking new areas for development and helped businesses tap into international supply chain, which provided consumers with cheaper resources and it made the country an attractive place for industrially skilled people to live and work. These positive benefits are seen when a country’s economy is developing because they put in place an efficient transport system to support their economy. However, because most sources of transportation are machines and only function with the use of a fuel. Oil resources are decreasing forcing countries with them to inflate their prices and others who can’t afford it to look towards creating alternatives sources.

The depleting oil resources would have a direct effect on transportation and the economy as most businesses work on a quick, cost efficient, supply and demand trend. Therefore, if these cannot be met, it will most likely prompt a shift in the way companies and businesses transport their goods and services. Forcing them to move toward automated transport systems in the future, because they are a lot faster, more efficient, and a more reliable way of transportation. Also, ‘green’ sources of energy would be an option as the current use of oil produces toxic greenhouse gases that contribute towards global warming. Most businesses already produce substantial volumes of waste that can cause environmental and health problems which some customers, other businesses and international regulations frown upon. Reduction of the transportation sector’s greenhouse emissions will create potential markets to green inventions such as electric vehicles, so it allows businesses to invest more into cleaner and renewable energy sources. Consequently, these businesses can become suppliers of power for their own use and consumption or to sell to other companies or consumers.

The relationship between transportation and economic development is more complex than the simple movements of goods and services from one place to the other. Although there is no doubt that for an economy to grow, the uses of a quick and efficient transport systems are vital, much of its other effects (which are mostly negatives) are still disregarded. For example, transportation has had a large impact on how our environment and the world has changed over time. Therefore, for future innovations in transportation to replace that of current and pollutant ones, new policies needs to be made. Which should include; the effects of transportation on businesses and people’s location, land use, congestion, natural resources, air and water etc. because transportation services function as a system and whatever occurs in one place would affect the other. So, humans or the environment is not affected much and new developments will be cost-effective in meeting an area’s transportation needs whilst benefiting the area and economy.

Moreover, a cost-benefit analysis could be carried out to ensure the investment into a means of transportation would lead to lead to economic development. A good example of where transport have had a significant effect on a location’s economic activity was the opening of the Auckland harbour bridge in May 1959, this increased activity and development in the north of the central business district of Auckland. Other examples include the location of the river Thames in England, which increased economic activity and helped London develop, as it was an effective passage for the imports and exports of goods and services.

The future of transportation will be likely based solely on the government’s decision and investments, hence plan to improve transportation for economic purposes would either be to expand current infrastructure by developing them to accommodate additional demands. For example, building bridges or turning a two-lane motorway into four in order to reduce traffic or coming up with new innovations that are more effective than the previous. An important aspect of research will be to explore these productivity-enhancing innovations being introduced into the already existing transport system. A model and targets should be provided by using innovations of the past to understand their impact on the economy.

Furthermore, demands of the economy in future needs to be identified as it changes over time and can pose a long-term problem if the innovation cannot meet up with these demands. With this high level of uncertainty, it would be best for engineers to work on an innovation that can accommodate as much long-term problems as possible by studying possible global demand patterns and how it can affect future demand patterns. For example; this can be based on the work of Bernardino, et al 2013, who’s analysis included; the identification of key factors of the transport demands’ evolution, the identification of megatrends with impact on transport system, the assessment of trends and challenges a country could face in the future in order to choose an effective transport system.

As I have stated above, the innovation of transportation’ new means for the future which will most likely lead to the development of vehicles such as automated highway systems and better freight trains that uses clean and green sources of fuels (due to our depleting source of oil). The goals of such innovations will improve and manage existing transportation infrastructure or to implement new ones that will work efficiently with future technology. However, the future transportation systems would face environmental, safety and energy related issues, because the question of which source of energy to use will arise. For example, in terms of the environmental issues, national and international regulations such as the reduction of the transport sector’s emissions would most likely force new innovations or technologies to use sources that do not involve oil or produce greenhouse gases. However, as the human population keeps increasing which would create a challenge for future transportation system and new mobility innovations as demand keeps increasing.

As a solution for the question of ‘which transport system would be most effective for economic use in the future and what source of energy power them?’, most developing countries have encouraged their scientists and engineers to work on more eco-friendly sources for the future alternative transport systems. These alternative means of transportation include the use of fuel cells and bio fuel to power vehicles, such as the magnetic levitating train and hybrid cars.

Fuel cells have been developed as a result of the fact that they have less environmental impact as they are using hydrogen as a fuel, instead of using oil as a fuel. Because hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth and it is infinite. Fuel cells convert chemical potential energy in between hydrogen bonds into electrical energy that can be used to power automobiles, whilst producing just water, electricity, and heat. On the other hand, bio fuels are types of fuel that are made from the decomposition and fixation of carbon in plant and animal which makes them a renewable source of energy and are ideal for powering vehicles instead of using petroleum or oil based fuels.

Magnetic levitation (or maglev) is a form of transportation that has no moving parts and allows vehicles to travel above rail by lifting the train using powerful electromagnets, whilst increasing speed (can reach up to 600km per hour) due to reduced friction. Maglev trains do not have an engine because Instead of using fossil fuels (like other conventional trains). A magnetic field is created by electrified coils on the track to move the train. Also, this uses the basic principles of magnets and old steel on the rails which can be replaced with magnetic ones. Some maglev train are already in use in Shanghai and Japan. Hybrid vehicles are already being developed with some already in use today. They can be electric and gas powered which make them more efficient because when the gas runs out, then the electric motor kicks in or to save gas used by the other engines. The adoption of these forms of energy and vehicles will lead to automated highway systems, new modes of bigger, better public transit and freight transportation for the future technology.

To conclude, my research has shown that the transportation itself is an economic activity and having helped to improve our everyday life in many ways as it has developed through time. However, because of recent exploitations and high demand for oil, it has brought a lot of negative outcomes to our environment. In addition, due to the growing population, there are possibilities that the new technologies and innovations of the future may not be efficient enough for the large population’s demands for goods and services. There remains a clear need to develop a better understanding of how future transportation system can be used as an enhancement tool for businesses and income opportunities in depressed areas.

Furthermore, anticipating how future transport will affect our economy is very uncertain due to unforeseen consequences. For example, a major concern about future transportation for London in the 19th century was that by the mid-20th century the amount of horse manure generated by transport carriages would become unmanageable. Also, the presented future transport and alternative sources of fuel also have disadvantages. In terms of bio fuel, more land will be used to grow plants for the use in transportation instead of food for our growing population. Fuel cells are costly to produce and can be potentially explosive which might lead to more accidents occurring. For maglev trains, their tracks are a lot more expensive than railroad track; whilst hybrid vehicles high voltage in batteries can be potentially dangerous as they can cause electrocution and because they contain a gas, an electric engine and a battery, this can take up space in the can and add weight which can lead to fuel inefficiency.

The world still in transition, and it is difficult to predict which future transportation will be successful. However, the best thing to do will be to fund and invest into new technological innovations because if they’re successful, so will the future of transportation, and that will benefit our economy in the long run.

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