Matt McFarland writes in the Washington Post about the future of transportation.  Yup, like Yogi Berra, he knows it’s hard to get it right.
His article shares some thoughts about the probable emergence of autonomous motor vehicles — self-driving cars.  His thinking is informed by this report from KPMG.
Mr. McFarland does not treat the countervailing forces of increasing urban density, walkability, bikeability and transit that may offset significant amounts of motor vehicle traffic. This is the case here in dear old Soggyville, where motor vehicle traffic entering the downtown core is decreasing, even as jobs and population there are increasing.
The KPMG report, from their automotive practice, makes similar assumptions — namely that the future will be the same as today (all cars all the time) except with lots more fancy automation.
As Yogi Berra said:  “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. It’s probably the case here, too.
Many thanks to Chris Bruntlett at Modacity for the link.


  1. Eventually in America everything gets priced and pricing changes behavior. It’s the American way. Take San Francisco: parking is expensive so people start taking the bus; the bus is slow (time pricing) so people start taking Uber; Uber is expensive so people start taking Uber pool. Uber pool is just one step away from public transit: you ride with strangers but the strangers are known and approved by Uber through the app. Lyft is even more like transit, now becoming integrated into public transit systems as a “last mile” option. In those few short hops, people have gone from driving cars to riding with strangers.
    And so it will be with autonomous vehicles. If more people become mobile because they don’t have to drive, there will be more cars on the road, creating more traffic and more delays leading to some kind of pricing, whether it’s a congestion tax or a time price or a vehicle occupancy tax and behavior will change. My guess: traffic will get slow enough to make the rich and powerful frustrated enough with the time cost of travel and they will lobby for congestion taxes like London has in order to get the poor into transit so the rich can sail through in their cars. Just a guess.

  2. Road pricing is indeed the right approach, even with more automated cars. With every $ increase more people will shift behavior: some go to work earlier, some later, some not on certain days, some will car pool, and some will bike, walk or take public transit.
    In addition, Lions Gate, Second Narrows, Pattulo or soon Massey bridges for example, could experiment with the $10, $20 or $30 express lane toll, and many people would use it. Why do we offer three to four classes of service on a plane, but not on a road ? Riding a car is a choice, not a free right, and as such it has to be priced, and with price comes behavior shift. These new auto-autos could then ask the user if she/he is willing to pay $20 extra for the bridge express lane, and the user clicks yes or no.
    With more money we could then build rapid transit that is usable even by the wealthy or merely middle-class, i.e. not just slow wobbly buses, but RAPID transit below, on or above ground !

  3. Check out this predication from wiki autonomous cars:
    “PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts a reduction of traffic accidents by a factor of 10 and it concludes that the fleet of vehicles in the United States may collapse from 245 million to just 2.4 million.[121]”

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