I studied the countryside as we drove for hours in the Senegal (West Africa) desert. I was always amazed by the solitary walkers in the center of the vastness, coming from nowhere evident, going to no evident place on the horizon. Foot travel is timeless. For me, time is money, but as travel changes as we leave a cheap-energy world, I do not know what the new expression will be. Time will change back to what it was before 1750 and the Industrial revolution.
Travel is already changing as it should have been doing for over 30 years. The rail roads remain efficient and we shall have to restore rights of way and the old lines torn up. Already buses, subway and train travel pick up to reduce personal costs, not as an energy effectiveness strategy. Buses are diesel-expensive. I saw the dangerously open train doors in China and India and now read that in the San Francisco areas removing the doors of BART trains may allow more standing room for riders. Mass transit costs, of course, are high but so is the ridership. The energy cost per person per mile has to become part of the computations. The costs to the energy supply, the future, has to be evaluated.. The entire economy of the widespread nation depends on exchange of goods. It is essential that public and private means be encouraged to rebuild or build a modern energy-efficient system for the nation before all energy is used, reduce highway and and trucking costs, and restore a diverse system (unlike the one based on cheap fossil energy) to meet the food, health, emergency, and economic needs of a rapidly-changing society. The American Public Transportation Association estimates a mere $45 billion is need annually for public transportation facilities. That makes no sense. That will make sense within the context of a reasonable national energy-based plan, i.e., one that assures the facilities so developed remain in effective use by everyone, not just the current 20%.
I think there is no chance that the above planning and re-allocation of funds will be done. I remain sad for the people at the ends of the degrading transportation lines of all types (including the energy-hog aircraft and fast cars). I remain sad for the workers in the auto and truck plants. There will be room for The Survivalists among the extra 50 million people amongst us in the next 20 years in which we have to rebuild a national comprehensive transportation system.
"Work at home, use the Internet." has been a good mantra. The internet only carries ideas, not potatoes, injured people, the recently dead, new babies, milk, the last gallons of gasoline, and Ebay exchanges.