Can technology drag us out of the car-centric era of regional transportation design?

Technology has changed so many sectors of our economy, but most regional transportation systems in the U.S. remain locked in the middle of the 20th century. As cities and suburbs continue to grow disproportionately compared to the overall population, at some point we’ll need to upgrade our infrastructure and thinking before we grind to a halt.

Several speakers at TechfestNW on the campus of Portland State University Thursday addressed the need for more sophisticated “smart transit” options as smartphone use becomes nearly ubiquitous and autonomous vehicles loom in the distance. Ideally, this represents a mix of options including both public and private transit, with a decision-making process geared around data yet mindful of the needs of underrepresented parts of the population.