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Transportation in 2018: Three Predictions

Paul Lewis of the Eno Center gives his forecast of how next year will play out. Prospects for new technologies are good, but come with caveats.
December 26, 2017, 5am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Matej Kastelic

The Eno Center for Transportation's Paul Lewis weighs in with three predictions for 2018. As is usually the case, the frustrating accompanies the exciting.

For one thing, Lewis writes, "2018 will be a landmark year for electric vehicles. Automakers and analysts alike are predicting strong sales growth, which boosters say will help tackle climate change. Analysts predict that electric vehicle sales in the United States will be around 250,000 to 300,000 in 2018 – a new record, and an impressive increase from just a few years ago."

But at the same time, "Americans are buying SUVs and light-duty trucks at a much higher rate." Gas remains cheap, and charging stations are far from ubiquitous.

In a similar vein, Lewis predicts that automated vehicle developers will push back their heady timelines. "Automakers are finding it more difficult to design the system than they originally expected. Instead of putting a product on the road that is unsafe, they are responsibly taking the time they need to make sure the system is ready for the public."

As for transit, the picture isn't great. Ridership is down, and Lewis thinks that'll continue. However, ">Public transit is and will continue to be a vital part of how Americans get around, especially in its largest cities. Transit ridership is still a third higher than it was in the mid 1990s. But the decline in ridership must force agencies to rethink their services and innovate."

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Published on Friday, December 15, 2017 in U.S. News & World Report
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