Star Trek has always used transporters as the primary means of travel to and from a Starship. Shuttles are used for short to medium range interstellar trips, not for planetary exploration except for in certain circumstances. Why would you need to do an "aerial survey" when you have powerful computers and sensors (located on the bottom of the ship for just that reason
) that can discern individual blades of grass from planetary orbit?
Because half the time, the sensors CAN'T locate those hazards from orbit. I can recall just off the top of my head at least five separate occasions where a landing party beamed down to the planet's surface not less than fifteen feet from an extremely deadly animal/plant/machinegun-wielding gangster. I have to think that many of those situations could be avoided by simply siting the area on approach and saying "Hey, there's a Mugatu roaming around our intended landing site. Better stun it before we set down."
Point is: Star Trek HAS used transporters as their main means of transportation, and it probably should not.
It's a waste of energy, time and resources.
It's a USE of energy, time and resources; I highly doubt it would be a waste.
Basically all your criticisms seem to reflect your underestimation of the power and capabilities of the ships as depicted in the series and films.
And yet the power and capabilities have been wildly inconsistent over the years, both internally and logically. Especially with regards to the helm console: Kirk tells Sulu "lock phasers on target and await my command." Sulu looks down at his console
and says "Phasers locked."
It's one thing to say the computer does all the aiming work... but then, what the hell is Sulu actually looking at?
IOW, those capabilities have undersold THEMSELVES over the years as the basic assumptions behind them proved to be untennable for one reason or another.