People walked... it was good exercise, but they had no choice.
Later, mankind found that beasts could carry them faster and farther than they could walk, although they cost a great deal to have and maintain.
Then, in what could be described as the first effort for "mass transit", multi passenger carriages were constructed to be pulled by the animals of transport. It slowed the speed a bit, but allowed for the cost of the animal to be shared by the passengers.
Eventually, this crude form of mass transit evolved to using a larger bus-like carriage... the horse-drawn streetcar was born. As the dominant form of transportation within communities, it enjoyed free-reign of the right-of-way. Around 1830, the relatively new form of transport, termed "The Iron Horse" (locomotive), offered a fast means for moving from town to town, but did nothing to move people within each town. Despite the innovation of this then-new "heavy rail technology", the horse-drawn streetcar remained more convenient.
With the dawn of electricity, the electric streetcar debuted. No longer limited to the speed and distance of a horse, the electric streetcar became very popular, well out-performing other modes of transportation in speed and reliability...
..until the risky, new technology known as the "horseless carriage". No longer restricted only to major pathways, the automobile offered greater service to the rider than did streetcars. And, since cars provided service whenever the rider needed it, their convenience was unbeatable. Only the wealthy could obtain an automobile initially. It was a symbol of status to own one.
As the manufacture of automobiles reduced the cost of owning one, their number increased on streets. Eventually, because of stopping in the middle of the road and causing drivers a delay in their automotive commute, streetcars were more of a traffic problem than a solution. Soon it became evident that the era of the streetcar was past its prime.
Now it seems that the automobile is so pervasive that its sheer popularity has scripted its own demise. Roads are congested to the extent that people endure hours of sitting in traffic. More roads get paved, but more vehicles fill them up. Terms like "commuter", "gridlock" and "road rage" are mentioned and instantly associated with aggravating traffic congestion.
Some, particularly those elected to public office, seek to provide a solution without "taking chances" on anything new. Reminiscing of the successful days of the streetcar, many have declared that society should migrate backwards technologically as a means for solving the problem. But, such a backwards step requires that we ignore the issues which caused the streetcar era to come to a halt. Re-labeling the concept as "light rail" and adding some new "bells and whistles" won't resolve those fundamental issues.
In order for any system of transportation to succeed it must attract people out of their cars, just as cars attracted people out of the streetcars. This means honestly competing with the advantages of traveling by car:
Until transit systems can offer quick service whenever the rider needs it with a predictable outcome in an upscale way, riders will have to be coerced into leaving their cars. We believe the HighRoad Rapid Transit System can provide a major piece of the solution that will result in drivers voluntarily leaving their cars, without resorting to coersion.