The Sisyphus Analogy in Transportation
Sisyphus is a character of Greek mythology that because of his misdeeds was condemned for eternity by the gods to roll a stone up a hill, only to see it roll back down. The legend offers several analogies to introduce key concepts behind transportation, which are volume, distance, friction and effort. Volume represents a load of passengers or freight that can be carried as a single load. Friction is the difficulty of moving a volume per unit of distance; the friction of distance. It can be related for instance to the quality of transport infrastructure. Effort is the amount of energy required to move the volume per unit of distance, considering the friction. It is commonly represented as the cost of transport. Essentially, Effort = f(volume, distance, friction). If friction was reduced, it would require less effort to move the same volume over a distance. A core goal of transportation is consequently to reduce the friction of distance, mostly through infrastructure, capacity and technological improvements.
Another element of the myth is its repetitiveness, which applies to transportation. Commuting is an activity that must constantly be repeated as the effort spent for one commute cannot be transferred to another.