The Tranquility of Transportation
Local artist Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong, envisions a Hawai’i of 2050 where electric transportation means shorter commute times, more gardens and green spaces, and the sounds of bird-song and laughter instead of the roar of today’s traffic.
Sleek electric vehicles zoom noiselessly atop Ala Moana Boulevard, barely one meter apart. Public, app-summoned carpods glide alongside private vehicles and delivery drones. All are piloted autonomously, orchestrated by the DriveGrid to merge, pass, and re-route with optimized synchronicity. Commute times are shorter with each system upgrade, and it’s been years since the city’s latest traffic fatality.
A thin solar substrate coats each vehicle’s tempered glass facade, drinking in sunlight to keep wheels spinning longer. Without bulky engine blocks and steering gears, interiors are roomy and oriented for pau hana conversations and sharing snacks with family on the way home. Smart vehicles valet themselves with inhuman precision into ultra-compact, fast-charging stalls; blocks once used for parking lots have been transformed into neighborhood gardens and agroforests.
By 2050, the melodic trill of ‘elepaio birds have replaced the roar of combustion engines in Downtown Honolulu. The rail’s Alakea Station has evolved into an urban kīpuka, host to native trees and their natural ecosystems. These days, a rail rider exiting the station can just as easily grab an e-bike from under an ‘ulu tree and freewheel to their front yard or hop onto an autonomous electric bus without having to wave a single transit pass.
In the silence of electric streets, most nights are filled only with the sounds of leaves rustled by tradewinds. Even those living near busy roadways sleep soundly and breathe deeply.
“If you ever stand at a corner and listen to what’s going on … the sound of transportation can be really loud. It’s not natural. Just that sound can be grating to people’s psychology. But with clean transportation—whether it’s electric vehicles, bicycles, or walking—it’s all very quiet. So, instead of having that white noise of buses and cars, hopefully we’ll have people laughing, people talking, those types of noises that are more human.”
– Aki Marceau, Director of Electrification of Transportation, Hawaiian Electric