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A Transit Consultant's Take on Flying Cars

A journalist asked, so Jarrett Walker answered.
October 19, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Flying Cars

Jarrett Walker, of Human Transit fame, has seen the recent buzz surrounding flying cars, flying taxis, passenger drones, and Uber Air. A journalist that goes unnamed asked for Walker's opinion on the subject. Here's what Walker had to say:

For every technology pitch, you must ask not just “what is this like from the inside?” but also “what is it like from the outside?” All vehicle technologies are sold based on how cool or useful it will be to ride them.  And most of these pitches do not want you think about what it will be like to be outside of them, or to share a city with them.

The issues with flying taxis, cars, passenger drones, and on-demand helicopter services are obvious, according to Walker:

Even if they are much quieter than helicopters, they will introduce a new type level of noise to the city, anywhere near where they takeoff and land.  Their presence overhead in any numbers will have physical and emotional effects on the population.  They will introduce entirely new kinds of accidents that make everyone fearful of the space above them.  And in the end, by allowing elites to opt out of the transportation problems that everybody else in the city is having, they will encourage elite disinterest in solving those problems.

Walker isn't the first to communicate skepticism about the new wave of transportation futurism. Matt Caywood, CEO of TransitScreen, wrote an op-ed over the summer that said cities would be better off planning for and investing in public transit than fancy airborne solutions to the problems of urban congestion.

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Published on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 in Human Transit
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