SERIES: The Future of Transportation

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Image: Amtrak

We’re changing how we move, and that’s changing how we live and work. Transportation Nation partner, Marketplace, is exploring the Future of Transportation this week. We'll collect the stories in this post as they air. Check your local station to find out when the show is on in your area.

A quick hint of what's to come: 200 mile per hour trains will steal business from airlines, cars will talk to each other and traffic, well, there will still be traffic--but there’s innovation there too.

WEDNESDAY: What are the real prospects of high-speed rail in California? In 2008, voters approved a $10 billion bond measure to fund a train that can zip people from L.A. to San Francisco in just two-and-a-half hours. A rail trip faster, safer than driving and, well, we'll wait and see on the price. But the train would also be noisy, and to some residents, and unwanted eyesore. Palo Alto and two other cities are suing the state to stop California's plan. It's by no means a sure thing.  So what are the real chances and real obstacles to the nation's bigger rail project underway right now? (Listen to the full story here)

WEDNESDAY: Could high-speed rail kill short hop flights? Last month, the U.S. government pledged another $2.5 billion for high speed rail. That money will go toward building train lines between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Chicago and Detroit–the kind of short trip a business traveler right now takes to the skies for. So what will happen to airlines when trains will get us to a place almost as fast?(Listen to the story here)

TUESDAY:  Are fast buses the ticket? Buses have a bad rap, but done right, experts say, they can be as fast as subways, more pleasant, and WAY, way cheaper.  A look at Cleveland's healthline, and why Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Portland are paying attention.  (Listen to the full story).

TUESDAY: Leading the electric charge in Houston

Houston, Tex., is usually better known as a capital of Big Oil. But things may be changing, as the nation's fourth largest city is also trying position itself as a leader in electric cars. (Listen to the full story)

MONDAY: Intelligent Cars

It's tempting to daydream -- as you're fighting traffic to and from work every day -- of a time when cars will drive themselves. When all you'll have to do is climb in, sip your coffee and read the headlines on your iPad -- whatever's going to take its place. Google did make big news last month sending four driver-less vans down the Pacific Coast Highway.

But as exciting -- or perhaps scary -- as it might be to think about life with a robotic chauffeur, that reality is way, way down the road, so to speak. Soon enough, though, cars will be equipped to help us drive better and safer.  The Department of Transportation is funding research to build "intelligent" cars that can warn you of potential accidents and suggest less-congested routes.   (Listen to the full story)

MONDAY: Congestion Pricing

This is a given:  Transportation is vital to our economy. But what happens when fuel taxes are lost to more efficient cars and better mass transit? In the first of a series on the "Future of Transportation," Cathy Duchamp looks at one alternative to the gas tax, something called congestion pricing. As cars get more fuel efficient, and transit becomes a better option, the amount of gasoline tax the government collects gets smaller and smaller. Congestion pricing might the answer, even on highways.  (Listen to the full story)