For over half a century travel in the American West has been defined by the automobile. But one author decided to find out what it would mean to travel in the West without a car. Colorado Public Radio recently published an excerpt of Tim Sullivan’s book, Ways to the West: How Getting Out of Our Cars Is Reclaiming America's Frontier. Sullivan points out that a century ago almost half of American school children walked or biked to school. Today, however, 90 percent do not. 90 percent of Westerners also commute by car to work. But this appears to be changing, if slowly. The number of Vehicle Miles Traveled per person leveled off in 2004, and then began to decline for the next decade. In this century’s first fifteen years, transit use and bicycle travel have jumped.
Sullivan hopes to find out what will define the West in the new century. Many High Plains residents hope to see a boost in passenger train service to the area. But the change won’t come easy. The Southwest Chief and other passenger trains have been at risk of losing funding for some time.