With Trump slashing funding for public transport, cities are looking to companies for help in addressing crippling congestion
Big US cities are filling with cars. Consider Seattle, for example, a large city in the Pacific Northwest. Traffic congestion, which increased 3% last year, is the fourth worst in the US after LA, New York, and San Francisco. The Seattle region is home to five of the country’s top 20 road bottlenecks, and Seattle, one of the richest US cities and also its fastest growing, has a traffic infrastructure that is in disrepair.
Seattle is emblematic of the problems that most large cities in the United States face. The bad news is that the new Trump administration favours tax-cutting rather than federal spending on transportation. But the good news is that in some regions private companies and public-private collaborations are stepping in to drive a trend towards electric vehicles, automated driving, and ride and vehicle sharing that will hopefully make urban mobility more sustainable.
The problem begins with crumbling infrastructure. US roads, bridges and also airports and ports are generally old and creaky, and the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates $4.6tr needs to be spent over 10 years on infrastructure (that includes water and sanitation).
It is unlikely that the federal government will spend anything near that; in fact, President...