The marriage of technology and transportation is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon as we see significant growth in companies like Uber – the largest ridesharing service in the world, that owns no cars – to the driverless car by Tesla where soon, you’ll be able to get to work in your own car without ever touching the gas pedal!

What are the trends in transportation and what can we expect to see in the coming years in the Caribbean Region and internationally? As a company we, Caribbean Transit Solutions (CaribbeanTSI.com) – focused in providing realtime information on taxis and buses in the Caribbean, are interested in what is changing in the global transport space and ultimately how that will translate to regional improvements and growth!

California, USA

Driverless cars in Beverly Hills have been granted permission to run a programme that could replace LA’s public transport system. The city is to test the fleet of driverless shuttles and customers within the city would be able to access the service by using their smartphones. Google and Tesla are also developing autonomous vehicles, which will dramatically change how we view and interact with our transportation – as ownership will likely become a thing of the past and sharing vehicles will be the mode of the future.

Caribbean Region

The Caribbean Transport and Logistics Trade Fair (SCTL) was held in Fort-De-France in Martinique, from 11 – 13 May 2016. It is the first event of this kind, held in the Caribbean region. The event showcased new and varied options for transport & logistics stakeholders in the Greater Caribbean.

The objectives of the fair were to showcase equipment, products, new technologies and services for the industrial and logistics businesses; to contribute to the development and performance of the Logistics and Transport sector in the Greater Caribbean; and to connect the major operators of maritime and air transport: ports and airports around matters of the region. A second event is being discussed for Summer 2018.

Driverless Cars and the Interconnected Car

In Boston, MIT researchers have developed a conceptual traffic system that would enable driverless vehicles to speed through intersections without colliding, therefore reducing the number and severity of accidents. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla believes that self-driving cars will be on the road within the next two years. Many designers and companies are supporting the infrastructure of this model as the technology becomes more tangible.

Uber – the major player in ride sharing services having just reached a valuation of $60B+ (June 2016), has confirmed they are testing self-navigating cars, which could spell the end of their own group of drivers – which is likely one major step towards their endgame (hypothesised as autonomous taxis) and one that could change how we think about public transit.

Imagine the situation where on-demand self driving cars are the norm and the interconnected car network can determine the best route for you to work or play – now we’ve got an on-demand efficient public transport network that will enable massive time and fuel efficiencies with fewer accidents and negative consequences. The US Department of Transportation, certainly seems to agree as in Jan 2016 they have pledged $4 billion to implement driverless cars across the USA over the next decade.

New forms of Public Transit

It is not only players in USA that are paving the way for change in the transport industry. China of course will always have an input in revolutionising how the future looks. A Beijing company has revealed an elevated bus which would be able to glide over China’s incredible and well-known traffic jams.

Called Transit Explore Bus (TEB) which was unveiled at a technology expo in Beijing in May 2016. The “straddling bus” is designed with two legs, blade runner style, which will run along rails along the roadside. It’s those legs that will enable the bus to glide over the traffic with speeds of up to 60km per hour. Vehicles that are less than 2 metres high will be able to drive under it even when it is stationary.

It is reported that the bus will be able to transport 1,400 commuters. One TEB could possibly replace 40 standard busses. The other advantage is that it would make very efficient use of existing road space and possibly ease pollution. While a trial run of a prototype is expected during Summer 2016, however we think that focusing on using existing roadways and infrastructure to enable new types of transport will have an even greater positive effect on transport systems.

While some countries want to diminish the use of busses, other countries are using alternatives as not everyone has the opportunity of implementing such designs!

Australia, Adelaide

The city introduced the first solar-powered bus in 2013 called Tindo. They are 100% electric therefore generating zero emissions. It runs on a battery that is charged at the central bus station before it goes on its routes, it can cover approximately 200km before it needs to be recharged.

With the ongoing growth in solar technology, and the need to improve highway systems we see significant advantages to improving, retrofitting and modernising our road networks. The use of solar roadways aims to generate clean renewable energy on roadways and any other surfaces that can be driven or walked on. It’s to collect solar energy from these surfaces which is not being utilized at present. Imagine the impact for modern infrastructure and smart power grids that could leverage this sun-road network to power houses and businesses nearby.

Is it possible that maybe by 2040 solar roads, solar busses and driverless cars, will all be standard for the world in which we live in?

Exciting Road Ahead

There are many more technologies that are being developed and commercialised such as the HyperLoop and water-skimming electric craft. What it shows is that we’re on the cusp of great developments in transport and the coming years will see an acceleration in the technologies to enable the next wave of transportation.

Of course these changes can positively impact our regional economies and enable a new wave of businesses and commerce. We are living in exciting times – it’s now for us to embrace them as they begin to enter our daily lives.

About the Authors

Cheryl Rock
Cheryl Rock -

Cheryl Rock is an experienced Producer and writer who has worked for the last twelve years on popular shows such as Supernanny and shows for HBO and VH1. She has also been involved in Michael Jackson West End Theater Production, and has written for MJ, Pride magazine and Kush Films.

Khalil Bryan
Khalil Bryan -

Khalil Bryan is a Director and the Business Development Lead of Transit Caribbean.