June 9, 2000
The 20th century was defined in large measure by transportation technologyæthe advent of air transportation and motor vehicles dramatically reshaped the way Americans live, work, and even fight wars. As we begin the 21st century, it may be the other way around, at least for the first several decades. Demographics, organizational and institutional considerations, travel demand characteristics; human adaptability, information and telecommunication technologies, and refinements in existing transport technologies will have a greater influence on transportation than any likely revolutions in transport technology. The speaker will examine recent trends and projections in these areas to explore what U.S. transportation will be like in the 21st century. Particular attention will be directed to the prospects for transportation-related proposals such as smart growth, high-speed trains and maglev, privatization of transport infrastructure, intelligent transportation systems, congestion pricing on the highways, and new automobile technology.
Mr. Robert E. Skinner, Jr. earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia, and a Master's degree in civil engineering/transportation systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a registered professional engineer. Mr. Skinner is the Executive Director of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a unit of the non-profit National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, dedicated to coordination and dissemination of transportation research. TRB maintains 430 technical committees dedicated to promoting innovation in transportation; publishes over 150 transportation reports, proceedings and other documents each year; holds an annual meeting attended by more than 8,000 participants, administers contract research programs on behalf of the states and the federal government; and conducts studies on national transportation policy issues. Mr. Skinner joined TRB as a Senior Program Officer in 1983; was named Director, Studies and Information Services Division in 1986; and became Executive Director in 1994. Prior to joining the TRB he was Vice President of Alan M. Voorhees and Associates, McLean, Virginia, a transportation consulting firm specializing in services to local, state, and federal transportation agencies.