Transportation History

collapse Topic : Commercial Transportation ‎(1)
collapse Topic : Sustainability Background ‎(1)
collapse Topic : Sustainable Solutions ‎(7)
Product Lifecycle
Fuel Efficiency
Driving Behaviors
Alternative Fuel Sources
Public Transportation System
Land Use Planning
Long-term Change
collapse Topic : Transportation History ‎(1)
collapse Topic : Transportation Issues ‎(1)

There have been considerable changes in America’s transportation systems over the past two centuries.

  • In the early 1800s, waterways provided the only practical option for long-distance travel, leading to America’s coastlines being populated first. Development spread into the country’s interior as railroads and roadways were built. By 1900, these roads and rails connected the coasts and allowed for growth throughout the country.
  • In the early 1900s, cities were rapidly developing, which led to electric trolley lines being used for public transportation. The car was also invented during this time, and quickly went from being cost prohibitive to a popular and widely-used mode of transportation in cities. Airplanes were invented during this time, and used primarily for small-scale and regional transportation.

  • Since the 1950s, the number of cars on the road has increased over five-fold. Air pollution became increasingly problematic, especially in urban centers. Air transportation became commonplace for transporting people and goods.

Wisconsin residents are driving substantially more than they did in the past.

  • Between 1980 and 2005, mileage driven in Wisconsin increased at a rate nearly three times as fast as licensed drivers, five times as fast as population, and fifteen times as fast as road miles.

Natural and social systems have been affected by the evolution of America’s transportation systems and increases in the commuter population.

  • Increasing populations of commuters and increased availability of personal vehicles has led to the rapid increase in the use of cars as personal transportation (31). This has in turn led to increases in the development of roads and highway systems. This rapid development and increase in personal transportation has altered environmental conditions, leading to land use changes and degradations in air and water quality (65, 66)

  • In the early years of transportation, the primary concern was development and convenience for getting people and goods from place to place. As negative environmental impacts of such an extensive transportation infrastructure along with increased travel time due to traffic have become evident, more and more people are recognizing the need for change.