Atlanta 2040: What life will look like in the city’s third century

Commutes will be safer

2040 transportation
Illustration by Harry Campbell

The “happy me” would like to think we’d be a market for a magnetic levitation train of some sort that would travel 310 miles per hour with people on top and freight in the belly. Or a dual-mode transit vehicle—a train would have steel wheels to run on tracks and rubber tires to run on roads. Cars will get smaller—and smarter. If we can improve battery efficiency and facilitate the electric grid, they can go as far as we want with a rolling recharge. If batteries are improved, the emissions benefits are substantial. With better technology and autonomous vehicles, we would see dramatic improvements in safety and crash reductions—between a 50 and 90 percent reduction in crashes, if I had to estimate. AVs will see other cars and impediments and read occurrences on the roadway that are far beyond our ability to see now. They’re just smart. They’ll avoid collisions.

Just because cars can travel farther doesn’t necessarily mean sprawl will exacerbate. If you look at this first urban century, people are making decisions based on amenities, most of which are available in cities. We will continue to see this new investment.

—Catherine Ross, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development