Abigail See

Scholarship Status: Awarded 2nd Place
Scholarship Awarded: Transportation Vision Scholarship
University: CSULB
Date of Graduation: December 2016


Essay:

Transportation is a necessary part of life that affects everybody every day. Workers in the transportation field have a widespread and profound effect on the public. This is especially critical in California, a state with one of the biggest populations in the country and a high population density in the big cities. California can alleviate the minimal transportation options to create more viable options for commuters and travelers. This can be done through big and small changes. Some of these changes can include road diets and converting streets to be complete streets, installing local streetcars and expanding existing light rail lines, and utilizing cutting edge technology like the hyperloop and self driving cars to increase mobility around the state. Road diets and complete streets are very effective to travel locally because the specially designed streets are made to best utilize all modes of transportation on a street. There is no one guide on how to design a complete street, which makes it very versatile and a cost effective option to alleviate local street traffic. Complete streets typically offer specialized travel space for bikes, buses, cars, pedestrians, and sometimes even light rail. This may include bus only lanes, HOV lanes, bike lanes, rail lines at grade sharing lanes with cars, and expanded sidewalks. There is no one way to design a complete street, so many cities (Los Angeles included) are starting to adopt this new way of designing new streets and redesigning old streets to encourage travel with modes of transportation other than cars. Streetcars are another great option to reduce the amount of cars on the road and encourage public transportation. Streetcars in places such as Portland, Orlando, and Washington DC have been very successful in transporting people around through their ever growing systems. Streetcars are small train like cars that carry a couple dozen people at a time. It travels on light rail at grade with the street, and even share traffic lanes with cars sometimes. They are a great option because streetcar stops can be spread around the city like bus stops, and users are not forced to travel to larger and more spread apart train stations to take a larger train. This is also a very new system of transportation starting to be adopted by cities around the country. Orange County is already in the process of planning an OC Streetcar Project in the Anaheim/Santa Ana area to be built in a couple years. It is a cost effective option more cities are starting to adopt, that could last for a long time and efficiently transport people around the local area. Self driving cars is a fast and very recent emerging option for transportation needs. It is a great option that will start to become more prominent in the near future. Self driving cars read the road, signs, and other cars to navigate the roads and freeways, and allow the driver minimal interaction with their car to get them to their destinations. This new technology allows cars to "talk" and communicate with each other and their surroundings to safely and effectively move amongst each other. It is safer than human driven cars which are prone to more mistakes than self driven cars. With the increased safety and minimal overrides a human driver would need to make, this option for travel is a very safe one that will appeal to a lot of people. An even newer technology on the brink of execution is the hyperloop, invented by the infamous Elon Musk. The hyperloop is a circular vacuum tube that would carry people at extremely fast speeds in small pods to their destinations. It is estimated that it would take a half an hour for someone to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco via the hyperloop. As we watch this project come to fruition, it will be a very popular option for travelers. A person could live in Southern California and commute to Northern California for a job, every single day with a very average commute time of half an hour. Instead of spending that half an hour in traffic on the 405 freeway, the time would be spent taking mass transit and utilizing a lot less resources than a couple gallons of gasoline per car, every day, in the process. This is a very exciting prospect, that people could travel long distances at speeds faster than an airplane. This kind of technology could revolutionize the world we live in and the way we travel it. Trains, streetcars, and hyperloops are viable options for the state that would dramatically reduce the congested traffic on our freeways and take people onto mass transit. But for people that still need to take cars, self driving cars that drive on streets to a complete street standard is the best option. My transportation vision for California is that we really delve into and explore our public and mass transportation options. There are so many systems like these I mentioned that other states and countries utilize and we are not currently utilizing and could make transportation around the state a lot easier for our ever expanding population.

CEC

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