First, "objects" "act on their own" all the time. "The weather changes". "The sun rises." "The paint crumbles." If we needed passive voice in these cases, we'd have serious problems, not just grammatically, but also philosophically.
Second, "persist" in this context means "stay unchanged", which is a totally appropriate thing for an object to "do" (by the way, the subject of "persist" is "form", not "transportation"). In this text specifically, "staying unchanged" is something that the object "does" on its own as long as no one does anything about it, which makes perfect sense to me.
Third, "to persist something" as a transitive verb means something entirely different - I only know it as a technical term in software development, where it means "convert a data object to a form where it can be stored, and store it" (e.g. in a database or text file). That's clearly not what is meant here.