Meaning no disrespect, I think that you don't have your eye on the ball and you're not thinking medium-long-term.
The most important travel need in the US is simply the daily grind of home/school/work/store. Our interstate highways and our airlines work quite well, but grinding commutes are what eat up people's time, health, and cars and burn gasoline, oil, and rubber. I'm entering middle age, have a small family, and live about 31 miles east-northeast from the center of a major US metropolitan area. Working in IT as I do, I don't really have a whole lot of control over where I work from one year to another and right now, my work and life situation has me in the car about 12 hours from Monday morning to Friday evening. It would be even more if I took a job outside of the northeast quadrant of the metro area. A few years ago, I worked a contract job right in the center of town; most of the time I drove about 18 miles to get to the closest heavy-rail station and then took a third-rail-powered train with self-propelled cars the rest of the way in (about 25 minutes). I'm sure many of you have worse stories but my point is that a heavy-rail system can't provide me with a station within three miles of my house, much less one I can walk to - and the roads don't support biking.
I'm big on monorails because you can place smaller stations out where people live - a design freedom that comes from being able to have cheap inobtrusive aerial right-of-way, which means no grade crossings. A computerized transit system that would make it possible to get in a monorail car in one station and have the system get you to the station you want to go to in a close-to-optimal fashion (i.e., in near-minimal time and with nearly as few car changes as possible) would be the most transformative and beneficial use of mass transit money you could have. Of course, nothing precludes having trains or individual cars at smaller stations getting you to larger stations where long-haul monorail trains or for that matter heavy-rail trains stop and take you to other cities.
Don't live with the idea that "culture, ideas, people [crossing] distance boundaries much more easily" is a good thing. People freak out when they're surrounded by people and concepts that are alien to them and especially if they lose control over how much of that they're forced to process. Freaked-out people aren't content; they make trouble.
When you think about the future (just decades; no need to look out hundreds), the biggest difference between then and now will be that *distance will be expensive.* $100 ATL -> RDU flights will be gone and an 18-wheeler going from Minneapolis to New York City will be significantly more expensive to hire. Getting an object or a person from one city to another by *any* means will have significant costs, so the ability to not just get around and move objects around but also *get things done* within a relatively small geographical area becomes more important. "Cheap distance" connecting cheap labor to American consumers is what has decimated American manufacturing; this is something that we can expect to see reverse and the idea of buying a refrigerator or furniture that was produced within a few hundred miles of where you buy it may become reasonable.