Transit & Trading in Chicago

February 2, 2023

Lowering transition costs in Chicago

When was the last time you had fun traveling, in Chicago? It's like we don’t even think it is possible anymore, so Chicago stopped trying.

Okay, true enough, the last 30 years of Silicon Valley’s exponential growth, excitement, and California dreaming took the wind out of Chicago’s sailboating.

Enjoyably connecting people, places, and things with metropolis-wide civility. Of course we could do it, but do we want to? With globalization came the recognition that each place needs to understand where it best fits in the universe. Chicago has a past, but more critically, Chicago exists in a geographical location: In the Center of the North American continent connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. Our location is and has been perfect for transit and trading.

It is not an accident that Chicago became the hog butcher of the world after becoming the center for trading fur. It is not an accident that Pullman made places and railroad vehicles. It's not an accident that the Board of Trade and a Mercantile Exchange emerged in Chicago. It is not an accident that Sears Roebuck initiated the first “online” ordering and distribution system in Chicago. It IS an accident that Amazon located it’s distribution system in the upper-left corner of the continent. Oops, we missed that one.

Chicago’s core asset, a manifestation of this evolving place, is lowering transaction costs by providing better transit and trading services. Regardless of what dreams might want, this is our geographical strength.

Logistics are changing rapidly, and Chicago continues to be a part of that transformation. And yet if we open our eyes, it is astonishing that Chicago hasn’t advanced “mass transportation” since the public takeover of the “EL” and construction of post-war highways and the subway 70 years ago. Will we miss another amazon-sized opportunity?

Today is the perfect time to reinvent transportation, and Chicago has the strengths, if not vision, to pull it off. We know this because even Tesla is shaking. Technology doesn’t go in a smooth line, and neither does green economics. Trading too, is transitioning… to something else. With today’s technology, we can integrate transit and trading: An Infinite Transit flyway moves people and goods. Lowering transaction costs for people and businesses in Chicagoland’s entire metropolis.

Mass transportation was a way to get lots of workers to industrial-sized workplaces far from home early in the 20th century. Ironically by the late 20th century, mass transportation came to mean people, each isolated in a car, stuck in traffic. Upside-down: A common system led to an individual system and reduced daily social interactions. It took society generations to understand the pernicious social effects of the automobile. Making cars electric won’t change that.

For millenniums, humans only had three levels of transportation, walking, animal power, and boats.

Quickly in 150 years, there are now seven levels of commonly used transportation: In addition to the invention of bicycles, we have trains, planes, and automobiles. Obviously as human technology introduces higher speeds in transportation services, human lifestyles change, and society is transformed.

Shared transportation services, with distinctive ride styles suited to travel moods and frames of mind, can make travel enjoyable again. Such different ride styles accommodate safety needs for children and the elderly, energetic needs for those accomplishing work, and peaceful needs for other traveling purposes. Rahm Emanuel now sees such services as “magical.” Advanced transportation services simultaneously can distribute and trade goods, lowering the overall energy usage and transaction costs, thus enabling smaller entrepreneurs to transport their gear with the effectiveness of robotics and digital tracking. Socially, shared transportation can feed the Midwestern forgiveness and kindness necessary as we share this planet with our fellow residents.

Imagine a future where kids could learn about Chicago’s geographic strengths by riding an infinite transit flyway:

"Dad makes pancakes on Friday morning, which gives me the energy to dive into my science lessons.
Sixty students, teachers, and tutors help us do experiments about our airport. Students are testing all kinds of things like water and air quality. My group of seven students and one tutor learn from Mr. Dostoevsky, in the laboratory overlooking the plaza. He is responsible for verifying the cleanliness of the transport system after UV light cleaning. We learn about chemistry and biology and how molecules move, and we have to test the actual transportation system, which is great because we learn about our city. Plus, we get to have lunch at my favorite BBQ place two cities away, which only takes 10 minutes on the Learning Rides."
"Mr. Dostoevsky is a quirky guy, he is meticulous in clarifying that mythical stories contain partial truths, and simultaneously, how great scientists are open to contradictory evidence.
Lately, he has been particularly interested in the  solar particle forcing models influence on the climate. Mr. Dostoevsky seems to think that the sun is changing our climate. He told us about some very expensive laboratory in Europe called CERN built to find Dark Matter, but it was not there! Even though the scientists didn’t find Dark Matter, he says we are learning different things, and he would love to see us become plasma cosmologists. I don’t know Dark Matter from Pink Matter, so I doubt that is my future, but I love his science lessons."
"My friends and I take the Learning Ride, because it is safer for small people than the other Rides. We spend the afternoon at the hospital waiting rooms cleaning or helping with whatever they need. When I’m finished, my parents meet me at the hospital and we go for dinner to mom’s favorite Senegalese restaurant. When we get home, dad and I sit up watching the thunderstorms roll in. From our living room, we can see the tallest building in our city, and another building one city away, getting repeatedly struck by lighting and sparks flying from the antennas. I fall asleep thinking of Mr. Dostoevsky talking about electromagnetism."

Let’s have fun, learn a little, and be kind to people and the environment. Building advanced transportation services will connect people again in unimaginably new ways. People around the world trade and travel every day; there is no reason not to make it enjoyable. It would be great to enjoy traveling again, with lower trading costs. New travel services would allow us to interact with interesting others, whatever the day brings your way.

Next week we'll be thinking about Fairness to Fellow Residents.

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