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Study shows transportation beliefs of 20 years ago and predicts what is next

"As long as humans have been moving, there have been fantastic predictions about how technology will revolutionize transportation. Most of them turn out to be myths. A University of Kansas researcher has written a study revisiting an influential article that called out widely held transportation predictions of 20 years ago as myths, finding it is still highly accurate.

In 2000, influential transportation geography scholar William Black published “An Unpopular Essay on Transportation.” The highly cited study argued that nine popularly held beliefs about the future of transportation at the time were just myths. Bradley Lane, associate professor of public affairs & administration at KU, revisited that study for a 25th-anniversary commemorative issue of the Journal of Transport Geography. Black was quite accurate in his predictions, Lane said.

“Black identified what he thought of as nine myths in transportation at the time. Some related to sustainability, some not. In hindsight, some were laughable,” Lane said. “Others were not as much, but especially ideas like ethanol could replace oil, because there’s only X amount of arable land to produce corn and the idea that telecommunications technology could greatly reduce the need for transport were not realistic.”

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