Minneapolis, Chicago, And The Step Backward

In 1950 a passenger train trip from Chicago to Minneapolis required a little more than four hours to complete. Today, the same trip takes more than eight hours. For a variety of reasons–poor track conditions, lower speeds, more stops, and mismanaged scheduling–the time has lengthened. We’ve taken a step backwards.

This points to something I’ve seen elsewhere. When you go back and look at books about the future that were written forty years ago or longer, the one consistent area that the predictions were horribly off-target was transportation. Many of these futuristic books envisioned individual travel at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. There would be small, jet-like vehicles or perhaps some type of transporter machine that would make us reappear in a new location. Whatever it was, the authors believed that the rate of progress in transportation that had been true down to the mid-20th century would continue apace by the 21st century. Not true, as it turns out.

What do we make of this?