New innovations and ideas are being developed and implemented at a rate like never before. This has caused some turbulence in societies across the world, as people of all different nationalities, age groups, and cultural backgrounds have had to wrestle with the idea and ultimate implementation of world-changing inventions, like the Internet. Now that people all across the globe have become interconnected and we’ve gotten used to gadgets and cameras in every corner, the next inevitable step in the progression of technological innovation is set to take place.
One way technology is going to have a huge impact is within our systems of transportation, especially within the United States. Looking back over the past century, the state of transportation across the country has evolved dramatically. In the early part of the 20th century, mass transit was the primary way people got around cities, utilizing public railways, streetcars and metro systems. That system was co-opted by a plan set in motion by petroleum companies and automobile manufacturers, who had a vision of getting everyone in the country into their own car, paving the way for incredible business opportunities in the future.
Sounds a bit like a wacky conspiracy theory, doesn’t it? Well, it’s grounded in the truth. A company owned by General Motors called National City Lines bought up a number of municipal transportation systems across the country, shutting them down one by one. But the reasoning behind it isn’t quite as nefarious as some would like you to believe, as those who study the time period have concluded that rail systems were simply being replaced with buses, which did not require huge investments in infrastructure in order to operate.
This was the dawning of the age of automobiles, a time where people started to take to the roads in great numbers, leading to the expansion of the suburbs, a greater level of inter-connectivity between communities, and ultimately the founding of our national highway and freeway systems. Through crafty lobbying from the automobile and petroleum industries, the responsibility of building and maintaining roads was pushed onto the public, whereas many private rail companies were compelled to provide at least a portion of the funding for rail systems.
The conspiracy theory crowd did have some justification in their line of thinking, however, as several corporate entities did see time in court facing anti-trust charges.