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Self-Driving Cars as Public Transportation

No one in the business doubts that autonomous vehicles will have some role to play in the future of transit. But right now, questions abound and answers are still only speculative.
July 6, 2015, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Becky Stern

"The autonomous vehicle, some predict, will replace many of today's forms of transportation and radically expand mobility by allowing people, including the young, old, and disabled, to get around without having to walk, without having to know how to drive, and without having to wait for a bus or train." 

Systems where autonomous cars are shared "could have significant benefits for cities by reducing the need for parking, encouraging intermodal trips, and expanding mobility by providing lower-cost travel options."

Despite an array of potential benefits, there are also, inevitably, potential problems. In this article, Yonah Freemark reports on conversations with leading figures in the alternative transport industry, including Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase. 

Regulation and control is one outstanding issue. Freemark writes, "novel approaches to transportation have relied on tactics that avoid many of the regulations that have been in place for decades, or require them to be altered [...] Is the public sector abandoning its role in favor of crowdsourcing and crowd ratings?"

Freemark investigates related questions, including:

  • Will individual ownership of self-driving vehicles exacerbate traffic and harm the environment?
  • Can automated taxi services charge rates low enough to compete with buses and trains?
  • Are cities ready to subsidize self-driving car ownership among low-income residents?
  • Is eliminating the vast majority of transportation jobs worth it?
Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 in the transport politic
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