While the idea of casually commuting to work via flying aircraft is quite exciting, Uber Elevate still has many obstacles to navigate before takeoff. One hurdle consists of developing the infrastructure to support VTOL aircraft. This new infrastructure would include building ‘vertiports’. A ‘vertiport’ is a VTOL aircraft hub comprising of multiple takeoff and landing pads as well as charging stations for the vehicles. Vertiports would need to be constructed all around the cities and suburbs in order for Uber Elevate to be effective. As of now, Uber plans to build vertiports on existing helipads, on top of parking garages, rooftops, or on unused land around highway interchanges. Uber believes in the long run creating this new infrastructure will be more cost effective than continued work on building and repairing roads, rails, bridges, and tunnels.
This is a silly pie in the sky pipe dream. It calls for the construction of more transportation infrastructure — a 20th century solution to automobile commute congestion — to accommodate a 21st century vision straight out of The Jetsons. At a time when infrastructure funding is constrained.
We don’t need another form of transportation infrastructure to reduce commute congestion and the associated time suck of sitting in traffic. Instead, we need to better utilize and expand as necessary existing telecommunications infrastructure to serve knowledge workers in communities where they live, working at home or in shared supported office facilities. That can effectively reduce and eventually eliminate the commute rather than taking it to the skies.
As management expert Peter Drucker famously asked, why move a 200 pound body when all that’s needed is its eight pound brain? That question applies whether it’s ground or air transportation.