Morning Ed: Transportation {2018.03.26.M}

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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151 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Tr1: SF does free transportation on NYE. Mainly to cut down on drunk driving obviously. It is also the only day MUNI runs 24hours. But this is not going to fly in the US even if it should.

    Tr2: Bus hate is one of the great policy wonk and public divides of our time. Policy wonks love buses more than anything it seems and the public hates them. I haven’t seen policy wonks do much work into getting people to like buses. Here they can probably take some cues from advertising. Seemingly, they just whine.

    Rightly or wrongly, buses are seen as transit of last resort. Slow, inefficient, always late, and stereotypically filled with poor and/or mentally ill people. I don’t know if the last part is true. I’ve seen people outright piss on BART trains. I have yet to see that on a bus (knocks wood).

    But transit is a tough area because you combine advocates for the poor along with advocates for transit in stalemate. This is where my somewhat inner conservative comes out. If you want people to use public transit, it needs to be clean, reliable, and fast. This means fewer delays but also working hard to keep out the behavior that makes MUNI diaries a thing.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Re CNN: I still maintain that there is no need for a 24 hour news channel. But you are right that CNN gets picked for public TVs because it is seen as non partisan. Plus news gets picked because it is seen as the least controversial choice. Who can object to the news without seeming like a crank?

    I would prefer no TVs but this is a losing battle.Report

    • Avatar fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I would also prefer no TVs. I was taught as a child to carry a book with me (and I often carry grading, etc., to things like doctor’s appointments) and a tv blaring in the corner tends to militate against reading. (Well, so does the noise of a typical airport, but that’s beside the point.)

      Or, failing “no TVs” – what about quiet “neutral” music (like light classical) and just pretty landscapes on a slideshow?

      What I find really offensive is the wal-mart near me’s policy (I don’t know if it’s just my terrible wal-mart or all of ’em) of having “endcap” tvs (actually more like iPads) that blare ads for whatever product is on the endcap. I am already in your dang store; you do not need to advertise to me more. (I shop elsewhere as much as I can but it’s a small town and avoiding the wal-mart totally is not possible unless you can regularly drive an hour’s round trip for some things).

      I suspect though that I am in a minority for wanting quiet in public spaces; it seems many people fear being left alone with their thoughts.Report

  3. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Tr7: I am reflexively unimpressed by any article that purports to tell us what the effects of driverless cars will be. Even stipulating that driverless cars are really going to be a thing both soonish and in a general way (i.e. not confined to small areas that are obsessively mapped and remapped), the first question is what will they cost? If the price turns out to be only modestly more expensive than a current car, then I would expect that people who own cars now will tend to continue to own them. The idea that people will prefer to take pot luck on whatever vehicle shows up in the morning, whether spotless or vomit-filled, seems wildly implausible. These discussions seem to always assume a resulting model of corporate fleets for hire. Maybe, but hardly inevitable.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      The idea that people will prefer to take pot luck on whatever vehicle shows up in the morning, whether spotless or vomit-filled, seems wildly implausible.

      That’s what I always wonder about when folks get all enthused about not even owning cars anymore but just hailing rides from some publicly or privately owned pool of AVs. Who’s going to clean them? Because you know people are going to trash them, maybe not good people like you or me but that 10 or 20% that always cause most problems in society.

      I’m not quite as skeptical of the prospects for the technology as you (though not as optimistic as the proponents either) but there is definitely a tone of happy-clappy utopianism to a lot of what’s been said on the subject.Report

      • Given the amount of processing power that goes into an autonomous vehicle, it would seem a straightforward matter for the car to keep track of its condition: odor, trash, spilled beverages, etc. Then take itself out of service for a run through a cleaning station. And tack a cleaning charge onto the bill for whoever left the mess.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Sure, but this isn’t just a tech problem. How confident are you that this transportation company will aggressively take a vehicle out of service for cleaning, thereby converting it from a revenue producer to a revenue consumer? Beyond that, there are endless possibilities for cutting corners. When we read about the wonders of these cars, the descriptions are of vehicles that are obsessively fussed over by highly trained professional developers. How will this translate to the real world?Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            See also: the growing admission that there are situations the car can’t figure out, and so will need to be directed remotely. Really? A call center? Even if we stipulate that there are no communications dead zones, and that these situations will only occur when the car is stopped, we are then asked to believe that these call centers will always be staffed with highly competent professionals in sufficient numbers that you won’t be sitting in the middle of the road for a half hour waiting to get to the head of the queue. ‘Cause that is totally how real-world corporations run their operations.

            Edit: And once we admit that the damn thing isn’t really driverless, insisting that it can only be driven by remote control is simply perverse.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

              This is why I think traditional rail and bus based transit is a superior way to get people out of their cars. Transit can move millions around without the down sides of cars and we have the cleaning and safety issues mainly worked out.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Not as worked out as you’d like to imagine. Someone pukes on a buss, that bus is going out of service and back to the terminal/depot for a cleaning (after it pulls over and waits for a replacement bus to arrive and take all the passengers; which often means people at the next stop are left wondering where the bus is, because the passenger off & on load can mean the bus blows the schedule).

                A car, on the other hand, if a passenger pukes, can have internal cameras/sensors which detect the offending liquids and pull the car out of service immediately, sending it back to the depot while a fresh car is dispatched. And while internal cameras probably won’t be allowed to record passengers as a matter of course, they could switch on when the car is empty to check the interior state, or when a sensor detects a potential mess.Report

          • Poor people will share cars that have a greater chance of turning up filthy, because reduced cleaning frequency can translate into lower prices. Rich people who want to share cars will share cars that are immaculate (think the shared private jet model). Individuals in-between will demonstrate different preferences.

            Given that it’s all just algorithms, an individual company can clearly provide varying levels of service at varying price points. Right up veronica-d’s alley.Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Michael Cain says:

              I’m actually more concerned about maintenance that is not superficially obvious. Would a corporation risk the lives of its customers in order to reduce costs? Of course it would!Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                No different than any kind of taxi or rental car, I’d expect.

                Usually maintenance is a lot cheaper than repair though (not even accounting for lawsuit risks) so scrimping on repairs is the sort of false economy a company’s accountants ought to kibosh pretty quickly.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to dragonfrog says:

                There are a couple of differences. Taxis are, in the broad scheme of things, a relatively minor part of the picture. The vast majority of automobiles are personally owned or leased, where the incentives are different. Also, currently the number of bits where failure would be catastrophic is pretty limited. Sure, if a wheel falls off on the freeway, that is really really bad. But how about some critical sensor on that driverless car? How much redundancy is there in these things? How much will there be once these things enter production? Are the robust, or delicate and twitchy? These are just the sorts of things that apparently never occur to tech journalists to ask, or they are afraid to ask lest they not be let in on the next press release.

                And the idea that a corporate accounting department can stop a corporate from making a false economy for short term gain is just adorable.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                The thing is, in order for self driving cars to get onto the road and successfully usurp the masses of manual driving cars they will need to be very safe and redundant. They also will generate electronic records of their activity and why they fail. That makes for a machine where cutting corners and costs on maintenance would be hard to hide after the accidents happen. Then regulatory, private and corporate interests (the state, the customers and the insurance companies) would descend on the offending auto car company like thunderbolts from Adam Smith’s heaven.

                A car that lacked the above described safety/accountability/redundancy features simply wouldn’t have the characteristics necessary for it to squirm its way past squeamish regulatory bodies let alone conquer the mass driver market.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Then the lawsuits and regulatory fines would bomb that corporation into a smoking hole in the ground and potentially land its executives in jail.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to North says:

                That’s kind of sweet, in light of the long history of appalling corporate behavior that resulted in no such thing.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Appalling corporate behavior is most assuredly a thing but the kind of specific behavior you’re describing is something that doesn’t fit the profile of the kind of appalling corporate behavior that can successfully wriggle around lawsuits and regulation. Insufficiently maintained and unsafe automobiles? That’s something that’s hard to hide, easy to spot and very easy to investigate and punish. You also have to insure them, so corporate power and creativity also is deployed to agitate against that kind of unsafe corner cutting.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North says:

                In part it depends on whether we will view Automated Cars as a consumer good and that regulatory scheme; or whether we will see them more akin to Airline or Rail services that have the different regulatory scheme of the common carrier.

                Taxi’s/Buses seem to fall in-between. It probably makes more sense to treat the machines more like Airplanes/Trains that are corporately licensed and even (perhaps) individually licensed.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I think I agree but I would quibble slightly in that even in the consumer goods field automobiles are safe, have been getting relentlessly safer year after year. The corporations that manufacture cars don’t dare try and buck that trend to make a few extra dollars due to the fear of regulatory punishment, litigation and lost market share. I don’t see why even a consumer goods model of auto-cars would escape that paradigm.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Because the added technology makes the cars unaffordable for mass consumption, corporate ownership for shared use seems like the only path forward.

                I agree w/ North though. The way product liability tends to work is that a product (or part) is defective if an alternative design might have mitigated the risk. To avoid being liable for any injury, there will have to be all sensors, and sensors of sensors, including some that might censor bad sensors.

                And then someday google will wonder why all of its algorithms are being adjudicated by juries in one of the poorest counties in Mississippi.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to PD Shaw says:

                I’m wondering if enough people like driving so much that they would rather keep on driving so they can own or lease their own cars rather than use a self-driving car when they need one. Knowing how most people drive, insurance companies and the government are going to really push people into self-driving cars.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I think one of the paradoxes will be that people who really don’t like to drive will generally have made lifestyle decisions to reduce miles driven, at least to the extent they can afford to do so. So the people most interested might not see enough value in paying 10 times as much for something they don’t use much or appreciate much.

                Also, not sure why insurance would push driverless autos since they would presumably end the need for auto insurance. What I see is companies like Google and Uber successfully lobbying the government to make their business model work. That would mean requiring road improvements; changes to rules of the road; and some sort of statutory liability system that would eliminate the products liability lawsuits and the need for driver’s insurance in exchange for a simplified system of compensation with damage caps.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to PD Shaw says:

                I’m very dubious that driverless cars won’t require insurance. I can imagine some kind of insurance scheme where the car manufacturer is required to insure the car instead but I think it’s much less likely to come about economically or politically vs the much easier route of simply requiring the car owner to insure and insurance companies fighting each other tooth and nail to offer consumers low cost individual auto-car insurance.
                Frankly, assuming that a self driving car is developed that’s reliable enough to get onto the road in large numbers I suspect that insurance costs will drive most drivers into auto cars before government even starts thinking about requiring it by legal fiat.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to PD Shaw says:

                Accidents are still going to occur even if self-driving cars made them rarer and insurance is going to be needed to pay for them. This will be especially true if we have a system where people own rather than rent their self-driving cars, which is something that I think is likely and maybe even inevitable. Insurance is going to like anything that reduces the chance of them having to pay out but keep their need.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Speaking only for myself, but I will never willingly give up the ability to self drive. I love driving so much that I even went and bought a manual transmission this time, just for the sheer joy of driving.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Aaron David says:

                The big question would be how much extra would you be willing to pay for insurance on your self driving car? The way insurance pools work if an auto-car gets onto the roads in numbers you’ll be looking at a potential death spiral for manual car individual insurance policies.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to North says:

                Oh, I would pay a premium. Much like I pay a premium to insure an historic house right now. To me, it is simply worth it.

                But I am always going to choose freedom over safety.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Fair enough, so would a lot of people, but as the premium climb and more people exit the pools and the premiums climb more eventually I expect that manual cars will become a pricey luxury activity.
                But on the up side for ya, there doesn’t appear to be any danger of it happening any time soon. Decades, maybe generations away.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to North says:

                Have you ever been to Amish country? Seen the horses and buggies? The auto has been dominant for, well, as you put it, decades. But they are still out there, forcing the past upon us. I see human-directed driving to be with us always.

                And I don’t think the premiums would climb that much, as actuarial factors would keep most of that down.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Sure but the Amish use them due to religious principles, not because they necessarily prefer horses and buggies. What actuarial factors are you thinking of? In that world:
                -Self driven cars will be “at fault” an overwhelming amount of times when there are accidents.
                -The automatic cars will have highly comprehensive data logs of the accidents to prove it.
                -The pool of self drivers will be small and shrinking so there’ll be fewer people to spread the costs across.
                -As self driving insurance premiums increase cost conscious people will continually exit the pool in favor of automatic cars further shrinking the pool and increasing the cost.

                I can noodle one countervailing factor:
                -The remaining pool of self drivers might be more invested in driving and thus will potentially be less accident prone… if they can get used to navigating a roadway dominated by auto-cars.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to North says:

                @north I would foresee steep differences in cost between “city driver” insurance and “rural driver” insurance – does this already happen? I don’t think it does, but I can imagine a scenario where it’s totally ONE issue to want to self-drive your zippy sports car through the crowded major streets of, say, just for instance, Minneapolis / St. Paul, and another thing if you live in the relative wilds outside of Ely and want to drive around your pickup truck on those mostly empty roads.

                I mean, in rural PEI when I was growing up, we had people driving tractors and riding horses (and for that matter cross-country skiing in the winter) on our roads on a near-daily basis, and it wasn’t a problem. Even in tiny-ish Charlottetown, those same behaviors caused a lot more challenges. (Not saying they NEVER happened but they were a super pain.)Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Maribou says:

                I can see the point there Maribou but those would be difficult policies to separate/enforce (how do you make sure your policy holder only drives where your policy says they can?) and the characteristics we’re talking about would be simple enough to aggregate out into a pool of insured individuals.

                With self driving vs manual cars enforcement/separation would be easy as pie and the differences between the two types of insured’s would be like night and day. I struggle to imagine a scenario where insurance for autodriving cars* wouldn’t be shockingly lower than manual vehicles which in turn would tend to drive manual vehicles insurance rates higher.

                *if these supposed vehicles were good enough to both get regulatory approval and have mass consumer appeal they’d be enormously appealing to insurers. A mechanical vehicle that keeps detailed records of every moment up to the accident, follows driving laws scrupulously and is prone to none of the foibles of human driving?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                A mechanical vehicle that keeps detailed records of every moment up to the accident

                Newer cars already do this.

                I suspect the manual car/motorcycle will be with us for a long time, and the insurance will be reasonable, but the licensing requirements (or at the very least, the requirements for reasonable rates) will increase considerably. Think BMW Driving School, background/credit checks, vehicle maintenance logs/behavior logging, etc.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to North says:

                My point about the Amish is that they, quite successfully, have a form of transportation that is integrated with a more modern form of transit without causing undue harm. And, if you go into ruralia in other parts of the country, you will see horse transportation integrated in the same way. (Used to see them quite a bit when my father lived in the California countryside.) This has nothing to do with religious freedom, but vehicular law instead, basically the same law that allows bicycles on the road.

                As for actuarialism, the insurance would be based on the amount of damages that are caused, generally by a certain class of driver, in this instance. If they don’t cause much in the way of monetary damages, then the insurance would be low, no mater how much you would find them a nuisance. If they aren’t causing damage in greater numbers than now , then there is no reason to raise the rates. With the exception that the insurance pool would be getting smaller. But, as you put in your noodling comment, that pool would be getting better drivers, mitigating that.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Aaron David says:

                Aaron David: My point about the Amish is that they, quite successfully, have a form of transportation that is integrated with a more modern form of transit without causing undue harm.

                http://www.mapministry.org/news-and-stories/amish-buggy-accidents-2017-page-1
                https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/02/03/horse-and-buggy-crashes-have-killed-23-pennsylvania/303771002/

                Horses and buggies, used as a means of transportation by members of plain religious sects like the Amish, have been involved in hundreds of crashes that have killed nearly two dozen people in Pennsylvania over the past ten years, according to state data.

                Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Oh yes, I get where you’re going and I definitely don’t think that there will necessarily be any laws kicking around that’ll force manual cars off the road unless the manual driver pool somehow turns out to be glaringly bad at driving in an automated car dominated landscape or by some curse of fate somehow still has a lot of drunk drivers or the like. Mine was strictly a guess based on economics.

                Yeah so where I’m thinking it goes if you end up with a small pool of drivers who’re nearly or almost 100% of the time at fault when they have an accident and the auto car in the accident (and its neighbors) has the data recorded at the moment of impact to prove it. As to the damages? Well if they’re busting up automated cars and/or causing injury those damages will be nasty and remember we’re talking about a comparatively small pool of premium payers to spread that out on and the insurer of the manual car will be picking up 100% of the tab. That’s in contrast to our current environment where most of the time the insurers of the parties to an accident split it. So, worst case scenario, manual drivers could be looking at their premiums skyrocketing- doubling or tripling vs the current baseline whereas the auto cars policies would likely be significantly lower.

                But yeah, if it turns out that the manual driving pool of drivers ended up having few to no text-and-drivers, drunk drivers, distracted drivers and generally had better drivers who got into fewer accidents then that’d be a countervailing factor. I, being the cynic I am about drivers in general, am dubious that this countervailing factor would balance out the structural changes a mainly auto-car populated road would have on the insurance environment but what the hell do I know? I’m just guessing so your guess is as good as mine there.

                Oscar: Yes, modern cars do keep some of this info but in an auto-car environment we’d be talking not just data about what control inputs were going on in the subject car but also likely real time data about where every car and other principal object in the proximity of the accident was right up to and including during the accident. That’s the kind of stuff a self-driving car would have to have as a matter of course and I think that’s way more than cars have now. That data would most assuredly be of great interest to insurance adjustors dealing with claims. Very great interest indeed.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to North says:

                My point in all of this, and I do have one, isn’t “my way or the highway” its that there are currently 260+ million cars in the US. The cost of replacement for those vehicles will be, what, 30k for an average car now? And the first gen of auto-cars will be how much more? That is a lot of money.

                The average age of a car currently is 11 years, so unless the cost of that new car is provided by someone else, the turn over rate will keep manual driven cars on the road, mixing with the newer auto driven cars for years.

                And why do we assume that the accident will always break for the auto car? As it stands, right now if there is a car/person accident, pretty much no matter what it is the cars fault. That is a legal desicion and who is to say a law couldn’t be passed breaking in the favor of the driven car, simply assuming that the fault is always in the hands of an auto car. We have seen countless recalls of automobiles in general, we have seen countless computer bugs and viruses. It is obvious that that would be a huge problem going forward, changing the insurablility of the auto driven car, changing who is at fault possibly.

                Do I think auto driven cars are coming? Absolutely. But even more absolutely in my mind is that they are not going to be the be all, end all of transportation, not as long as humans are involved somewhere.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Aaron David says:

                I agree that auto-cars are coming and I agree that it’s probably (alas) going to take a long time for them to become prevalent. Even if an excellent design was approved today the raw manufacturing output required to replace the existing fleets would take years to actually make the cars.

                My pessimism regarding accident fault is simple if slightly circular: In order to get into the mass market auto-cars will need to be much safer to operate than manual cars, otherwise neither the market nor the regulators will accept them. Therefore if we find ourselves in a world with a lot of auto-cars we’re either in some kind of dystopia (the regulators don’t care that auto-cars suck and/or the market can’t choose not to buy these unsafe cars) or auto-cars are significantly superior drivers in terms of safety. Considering that auto-cars would theoretically have unwavering attention span, strict adherence to traffic law and the ability to communicate/coordinate real time with all the proximate auto-cars they’re sharing the road with this is not be difficult to envision. What would cause accidents? In a minority of the time it’d be black swan events (a tree falls over on the car or a tire explodes or what have you) but most of the time it’ll probably be because a manually driven car isn’t able to get with the driving program on that given street, is impatient with it, cuts corners on some traffic requirement or otherwise behaves in an unpredictable manner. When that happens and a bust up happens the manual car will generally be at fault and all the neighboring auto-cars will have the on board telemetry data to prove it.
                If the auto-cars aren’t better drivers in terms of safety, then absent a dystopia you simply won’t see em on the road and the manual car status quos would persist.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                This morning, as I pulled into the gas station to fill up, I got a wonderful glimpse into who will be the early adopters of autocars. I watched a lady, who was done pumping gas, start her car by blowing into an ignition interlock. She then began to drive away, with the pump nozzle still in her car (those break away connectors work real good, BTW).

                Once autocars are a thing, especially if they are on demand (so folks aren’t being required to pay a mortgage to get one), I suspect judges and insurance companies will very quickly be unwilling to continue permitting bad drivers the ability to legally drive. It won’t be three strikes on a DUI, it’ll be one. Regular road testing past age 65 will be a thing, and people won’t be so hesitant to fail a bad driver. Insurance companies will be happy to painfully jack up the rates of even moderately bad drivers. Heck, we might actually finally be able to get higher car maintenance standards, so rolling shitboxes that operate on the edge of street legal will be forced off the road until brought up to snuff.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Prediction: the state imposing self-driving cars on individuals will create a form of conservative backlash seen only in dystopian science fiction movies.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                But, but, those people broke the law!Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Solution: We can tell everyone that there’s an epidemic of illegal immigrants and/or dope fiends driving unsafe cars.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to North says:

                My pessimism starts with cost and I really don’t see how insurance overcomes that. Right now about 1 in 7 drivers doesn’t have auto insurance. Probably an equal number have minimal coverage levels that barely comply with their state mandates. That’s why uninsured/underinsured coverage is a recommended component of an auto policy. The insured pays for the risk of other drivers being liable and unable to pay full freight.

                In a nation where most of its people cannot afford an unexpected expense, I don’t see them changing the laws much.

                My pessimism is solely as to automated vehicles as a mass consumer item in my lifetime.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to PD Shaw says:

                I think you and Oscar Gordon both have extremely solid points but I don’t want to be that pessimistic. I have friends and a husband who love manual driving (indeed I have friends who decry and mourn the demise of manual transmission) so a certain amount of sympathy for the anti-auto-car faction is built in for me.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                I should be clear, I love driving, especially motorcycles. Put me on a nearly empty curving road and I’ll have the time of my life.

                Traffic, on the other hand, annoys me to no end, because people do incredibly stupid shit in close quarters and at high speeds.

                If autocars become a thing, my household would rapidly become a one car household, or maybe a car and a motorcycle.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Meanwhile my household would be a battle-zone because I’d want an autocar something fierce but my hubby would want a manual and we’re too cheap to own two. I mean most likely we’d have one that could be turned on and off but we’d probably have to insure it as a manual car and that’d annoy me to no end.Report

              • My point about the Amish is that they, quite successfully, have a form of transportation that is integrated with a more modern form of transit without causing undue harm.

                They have, in practice, accepted heavy restrictions on their use of that form. The geographic areas are limited; some roads are entirely off limits; and their vehicles are required to be clearly marked (SMV triangles and flashing lights after dark in many places).

                In the long run — long enough that I almost certainly won’t live to see it — similar restrictions might be imposed on human-operated vehicles. Limited areas, largely lightly traveled, and vehicles that provide clear warning to the autonomous vehicles. The reasoning would probably be different. Eg, cars that can’t implement appropriate behavior using data from mesh networks on crowded roadways might be banned from those situations.

                But such likely would happen only if and when autonomous vehicles are a large majority.Report

      • I think people will want to own cars, and those that can easily afford them will. But I also think a lot of people will look at the ledger and say “I can afford a car or I can afford my own place” or “I can afford a car or I can afford to go out on weekends and eat at restaurants” and will opt not to get a car because autotaxis-on-demand are an acceptable substitute in a way that buses aren’t.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Will Truman says:

          Some anecdata-
          I have noticed that the young people i know seem to have a different posture towards cars than we did at their age.

          When I was 16, our view of cars was what the Beach Boys sang about- your car was your life, your self-image, the gateway to fun, adventure, girls and the whole wide world.
          That seems different now, that for these kids, a car is less sexy, more utiliarian and they seem almost indifferent to it.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            @chip-daniels @will-truman

            Maybe the ultimate lesson should be “It is really hard to extrapolate trends and/or generational shifts in a large and diverse country with 320 million people!”

            I have a more utilitarian attitude towards driving and always have. This perplexed my parents who saw driving as “Freeeedom!!!” But I know plenty of people in my cohort who are into cars and see expensive ones as a status symbol. Even I’m not immune to the allure of a good looking car.*

            *Though in my case I think owning a vintage Rolls Royce would be neat rather than the typical sports cars but I will check out a sports car when I see one.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            I suspect Chip is broadly right here but even if 35-45 percent of the nation remains into cars, that is still a lot of people.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            My parents found it odd that I never got the car bug as a teenager.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

              My hubby has it but I just view cars as machines that move me from point A to point B. I find it very strange that some people enjoy the process of the movement itself. The husband actually likes to just.. drive.. around sometimes which seems like utter lunacy to me.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                What I don’t understand is how so many people got the car bug so early in America to utterly screw up the transportation network. Car accidents can be horrific and driving well requires a lot of attention. Most people don’t drive well. The learn to drive carefully for the test but quickly gain bad habits like drunk driving, texting while driving, getting lost in the music on the radio, etc. Yet, our transportation system is based on a dangerous activity that most people don’t do well.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

                There was a lot of space to begin with, the majority of the people were rural and cars were better but less safe* than horses.

                *And the world was a whole lot less safe and life a whole lot more disposable. We talk about viewing the past in terms of todays morals but we mustn’t forget that the past also had an entirely different way of viewing risk and the value of life.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                The United States was majority urban by the 1920s, the decade when the car became a real big thing. I think that the car just fit into the American psyche in a particular way and Americans were affluent enough to afford them. We then made one of our characteristic bad choices for decades.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The car is, simply, superior to any transportation method yet developed. End of story.

                People can go on about mass trans, or cycling (I happen to love that also) but they are not as useful as the car, even with the hassles of parking or commute times. Why? The car is available to do what I want now Do I have two kids and need to go grocery shopping for a week? The car is the best solution. Am I running late for for work and need to carry lunch, purse and a brief case? Car. Do I want to go camping for a few days, up outside the city? Car. Also, the problem with public transportation is other people, there space and even more importantly, their schedules. How do you solve this? The Car.

                It lets the most people do what they want, when they want. And as we see in Europe, when people can afford the car, they buy the car. The car solves the grocery problem, in that I don’t have to go shopping every other day, as I can now carry home the amount needed to fill the fridge and larder. Thus giving me more free time. Net boon. Do I have to live in cramped apartments? No, now I have the option to live outside the city in a home of my choosing, with the space I want.

                I know that dedicated Urbanists loath this, but many people don’t live in the city simply because they love cities, they live there because of what it offers them. And a car gives them additional offerings.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to North says:

                Research the statistics for deaths due to horses, or in horse-drawn vehicles, in Chicago circa 1900. Worse than contemporary cars, although skewed by inferior medical care. Anyone who has been present when a horse panics, rears, and starts waving its shod front feet around has thought at least once, “Perhaps giving them steel weapons wasn’t such a good idea.” Around the same time, collecting and removing the daily output of horse manure was becoming an impossible sanitary task.

                Gasoline was cheap compared to many fuels — for a long time it was a waste product from refining crude oil for its then more-valuable components such as kerosene. We make fun of the Cuyahoga River catching fire in the 1960s; gasoline slicks capable of catching fire were a relatively common occurrence downstream of the early refineries. Internal combustion engines got attached to pretty much anything (the Maytag Multi-Motor, a half-horsepower two-stroke gasoline engine, was an industry all by itself). My 90-year-old mother remembers her tiny Iowa hometown before electricity arrived — they had a washing machine driven by a gasoline engine.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Cain says:

                A brilliant collection of points. We collectively forget that we’ve already passed through at least one singularity already.Report

      • The other thing with riding buses: as we continue to slouch towards Sodom and Gomorrah, there are some of us who might not want to risk the groping or otherwise that may happen on a public bus.

        I once had a situation on a train of some freaky creep who kept talking to me about my long hair and tried to press his address on me so I could send him my ponytail if I ever got it cut off. I guess I should be glad he didn’t try to touch me, but I figured that was coming next (I was able to move to a different car, eventually, but yeah, no)

        Not just no, but hell no. If I’m forced to interact with people like that on a regular basis, I become a hermit.

        To answer Will’s question below: I’d rather have a car and never eat another restaurant meal again in my life, if it came to that.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Road Scholar says:

        I’m not quite as skeptical of the prospects for the technology as you (though not as optimistic as the proponents either) but there is definitely a tone of happy-clappy utopianism to a lot of what’s been said on the subject.

        To be clear, I have not ever claimed that driverless cars won’t happen. It is the time frame and the breadth of utility I question. A few years ago we were promised them in five years. That is what initially made me roll my eyes. Might they operate under certain carefully prescribed hothouse conditions? Sure. How about freeway driving? Absolutely! That is the low-hanging fruit. But in the general case, where I can jump in the driverless car, confident that it can take me any place I currently can drive myself? Within five years of whenever it was that claim was made? Hardly.

        Beyond that, my critique is of the tech press. Marketers are going to market. That’s what they are there to do, and there is no point in complaining about it. But journalists ostensibly are there to do more than transcribe the marketing department’s press releases. But you wouldn’t know it from the vast bulk of breathless enthusiasm spewing forth.Report

        • It is the time frame and the breadth of utility I question.

          The standard rule of thumb in technology forecasting — something I used to do professionally — is that the optimists overestimate the speed of initial adoption, and the pessimists underestimate the eventual degree of adoption. It will be longer than the advocates think until we reach the tipping point where the common perception of driverless cars shifts from thinking of them as curiosities to thinking of them as perfectly normal. The change almost always seems abrupt. Once it happens, though, autonomous vehicles will be on the way to ubiquity.Report

  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Tr7: Article fails to account for the highly conservative nature of HOAs.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      It also seems to believe that existing suburbs will be massively rebuilt, or in the alternative pretends that they don’t exist.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        Hence my comment about the HOAs. I’d love to see how the HOAs respond to package delivery drone landing sites. Does that meet the look and feel of the neighborhood and conform to the CCRs?Report

        • Of course, they may not be allowed to retain that much authority. The FCC rule that HOAs couldn’t restrict placement of satellite TV dishes comes to mind…Report

          • Yeah. If there’s enough money on the other side of the equation, the government will probably get involved. Satellite is a good example! They’ve worked it so that not only can HOA’s block them, but in some places at least even housing-leasing landlords can’t stop them.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Before we get to the HoA question, there is simply the cost. We don’t need parking, so we can make narrower streets! Yipee! Does this mean that they are going to go through my neighborhood tearing up asphalt and converting it into green space?Report

          • We don’t need parking, so we can make narrower streets! Yipee! Does this mean that they are going to go through my neighborhood tearing up asphalt and converting it into green space?

            Maybe, eventually. More likely that we’ll just live with too-wide streets for a long time. When my friends in older parts of Denver have a party, their guests have to struggle with the assumptions that went into how streets were laid out 70 or 90 years ago: one vehicle per house, parked in the back, transit, no one traveling a great distance to get there, and so on. Today those mean the guests have to allow time to hunt for parking, often at significant remove, and in some areas dealing with the one-way streets, because with cars parked on both sides there’s not enough space remaining for two cars to meet and pass.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Weirdly, that article fails to notice that suburbs let people solve one problem of autonomous cars: Who will operate and clean them?

      What if the answer is ‘The HOA’?

      Now, the obvious question is ‘How many would they need? Wouldn’t they almost a need a car per house?’, but that’s the wrong direction, as autonomous cars will almost certainly be used to replace _second_ cars first.

      I can see suburbs using this in their advertising. ‘You need an extra car at any time? Well, we have ten shiny new minivans and two large pickup trucks that you can push a button for and they will drive up to your front door.’

      Addition: BTW, autonomous pickup trucks are going to be a big market. The amount of pickup-truck borrowing within families and groups of friends is pretty big, people already want a pickup truck 1/100th of the time. I’m surprised there aren’t more truck rental places, but renting vehicles is annoying. But if you could push a button and have one show up for thirty minutes to move a sofa somewhere, the market would love it.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

        Especially if there is a hub and spoke model of transit. The HOA cars get you to the transit station, and your company owned cars pick you up and take you to work.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          That’s an interesting system.

          So, each subdivision would be ‘car pooling’, although it’s really more shuttle buses where you just catch the next one, to the ‘car terminal’.

          Once you’re there, you wait for the next company car looping back and forth between it and your company…or even a few nearby companies share a car system. Like an entire office park shares a set of cars.

          It’s all the advantages of car pooling, but very little of the disadvantages. You don’t have to keep a tight schedule, and because it’s split in two you’re much more likely to find someone near you, and the system doesn’t restrict you from leaving early or late.

          And if these car terminals were also local train terminals, it would work even better….some of the people going there would be about to wait for a ride, some of them would be getting on a train to go somewhere else. Likewise, if you hop in a car there to go to work, some people got there via car, some by train, but it doesn’t matter.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

            I imagine it would be like an airport terminal, but smaller (a park & ride, but without the massive garage of stationary cars, instead a smaller garage of cars waiting for the next train to arrive). People arrive at the airport, board a MPM*, head to the destination transit station, exit the MPM and catch a car (whose identifying information has been sent to their phone). Who supplies the cars is not transit’s problem (or transit has a small fleet, but other fleets work in conjunction).

            Honestly, just like an airport, except all the cars drive themselves.

            ETA Auto-taxis could also have a nominal range from the transit center, so if you aren’t going somewhere nearby, you’d need to order up a long range taxi.

            *Mass-people-moverReport

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Tr9 – um, is mapping out the location *on an open platform* where women are sheltering to prevent violence against them a good idea?Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Kolohe says:

      @kolohe — I did IT work for a women’s shelter a number of years back. Their main admin building is well advertised and easy to find. The actual living quarters for abused women was as well-kept secret. For example, I never found out where it was.Report

      • Avatar fillyjonk in reply to veronica d says:

        This seems to be common; this is how the women’s shelter in my town works. (One woman I go to church with has long served on the shelter board and SHE knows where the shelter is, but doesn’t tell anyone. I know she knows because she has delivered donations directly to the shelter)Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Joel Kotkin is a constant champion of suburbs for some reason, so autonomous cars are the nail to his hammer.
    One thing that autonomous cars don’t change is freeway congestion- a million people in solo vehicles isn’t changed by the fact that the vehicles are self-driving.

    Suburbs (as we have known them) require a few preconditions- One is cheap land on which to build, another is easy access to the city core, another is sufficient income growth for young families to purchase homes and sufficient wealth creation to finance the long term maintenance of the infrastructure that serves the low density areas, and mostly suburbs need young growing families themselves.

    All those preconditions are threatened by the evolution of both our economy and society.

    The idea that we will see 1950s style suburban growth with 2020s style families and economy seems ludicrous.

    I don’t know what form housing will take in coming decades, because I don’t know what families will look like, or how much wealth they will have.Report

    • In the long run, driverless cars probably will ease congestion (per-car at any rate) a great deal through better load balancing and more efficient driving. A lot of congestion is due to inefficient driving. There are obviously chokepoints that will exist through sheer mathematics, but there is a lot of improvement to be made in that area. It’ll take a while to get there, though.

      The second point is that if we’re not driving, it’s possible that we become more tolerant of congestion and longer wait times. I personally think there are limits to this, but a lot of people fear driverless cars will be bad for the environment because they will encourage longer and commutes.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Will Truman says:

        Ideally, auto-taxis will enable a hub and spoke urban model in order to deal with the last mile problem that constantly plagues urban transit. You take your dialed up auto-taxi to a transit station and board the train/bus/hyperloop/whatever. When you get on the mass-people-mover, you order up a taxi to meet you at your end point station, then take that to your final destination. You pay more for a private taxi, or you can opt to ride-share and the taxi optimizes the incoming requests and finds people to ride with you who are heading in the same direction.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      @chip-daniels

      I go back and forth on this but maybe because trends seem to be happening in both directions. On the one hand, we have dorms for adults in San Francisco and possibly other cities because of high housing costs and childless adults not wanting a house or the responsibilities that come with one.

      On the other hand (and this is more anecdotal and also because I know a lot of high earners), I see a lot of people I know decamping for the suburbs as soon as their kids hit a certain age unless they have no money or a lot of money. Sometimes people don’t even wait until their kids are school age. Pregnancy seems to also cause people to bite the bullet for a house in the burbs.

      But there does seem to be more growth and walkability concerns for suburbs. Less single-family homes with yards and more townhome style development. Still a lot of square feet but also close together.Report

      • But there does seem to be more growth and walkability concerns for suburbs. Less single-family homes with yards and more townhome style development. Still a lot of square feet but also close together.

        Eg, the Stapleton redevelopment in Denver. Except that the houses are bigger, same kind of treatment as the older parts of the city: very close spacing, tiny front yards but large front porches, alleys for parking and trash, etc. Parks within walking distance. What they didn’t do was neighborhood shopping. Not surprising — scale makes a big difference and (for example) a small grocer is not going to match the prices and choices available at the supermarket.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Yards (front and back) are probably going the way of the dodo. They take too much time and/or money to maintain in my view and I am not much of a gardener. Not even a constant one.Report

          • I could see that happening in places where land is particularly tight. Otherwise, people like the space yards provide. Even in Nevada, where they often don’t have grass, they still have yards.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Will Truman says:

              Yards provide a psychological buffer between the public space and the private.
              One of the design challenges for single family home developers is how to shrink them to the minimum while still satisfying this requirement.

              What will be a huge change, is when houses no longer need garages. A garage is the single largest portion of a modern house, and without it, the shape and design of the house changes radically.

              What interests me is the possibility of a different sort of community design, where single family houses become cohousing blocks, where you have multiple small groups of individuals like single parent households, singles, and small families grouped together with shared amenities like a common yard or communal kitchen.

              Combined with a shared Wework sort of business area and shared recreational area with pool, spa, and gym, this could adapt itself to the trends we see in both family household formation and economic changes.Report

              • …communal kitchen…

                I can barely stand to share my cooktop, oven, pans and utensils with my wife.Report

              • And you KNOW there are going to be about three people in the whole complex who ever wash the utensils. And they will get stuck with doing it ALL THE TIME.

                Honestly, I’d be more down with the whole communal thing if my communal experiences (outside of family) weren’t so awful, but between people trashing the bathrooms in the dorm, and loud noisy neighbors, and people in the apartment complex who regularly burned microwave popcorn or smoked dope in the hallways….I have a very low tolerance for other people most of the time and I’d probably be that neighbor who was constantly leaving passive-aggressive notes about noise and the odor of cooking fish…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Vegans living with bacon aficionados.

                People trying to keep kosher/halal living with bacon aficionados.

                Third group of people who have pork taboos living with bacon aficionados.Report

              • Avatar fillyjonk in reply to Jaybird says:

                Food allergies. Unless you ban peanut butter, shellfish, and some of the other big-bads, you’re going to have problems.

                (I have a few minor but weird food allergies – I get hives if I eat cucumber, for example. I can be in the same room as one, but I cannot eat it. But I know people who can’t be exposed to even traces of shellfish)Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I can see sharing a common yard and maybe even a common laundry room* but I do not like the idea of sharing a communal kitchen. Maybe I am weird but I still enjoy my private space and time. I need something more than just a bedroom to call my own.

                *Though common laundry is a horrible tragedy of the commons because people are very both very passionate about others not touching their clothing while being indifferent to the fact that they left their clothing in the washer or dryer for five hours.Report

              • Avatar fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Finding a used bandaid (not mine) in with my freshly-laundered undergarments was an experience I hope I will never repeat in my life.

                And my last apartment complex had six functional washers but only three functional dryers. I took to just hanging things in my apartment to dry. Jeans take a long time to dry, as do towels.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Some of this is a function of age where we become less flexible about social space and boundaries as we grow older.

                In the newer apartments here in downtown, the studios are very small, about 500 s.f., and don’t even feature a dishwasher, and have only a 2 burner stove and undercounter clotheswasher/ dryer.
                On the other hand, the amenity spaces like the commumal pool/ lounge/ gym have these massive tvs and bluetooth enabled sound systems and business centers with professional grade printers and teleconference.

                The thinking is that the young people on their starter apartment eat out more than they cook, and have much of their social lives experienced in a group environment.

                Its the same with Wework, where small gig economy businesses can pool their resources and project a much larger footprint and image than they could afford to do solo.

                Not for everyone of course, but for young people without much disposable income, the tradeoff of less privacy in exchange for higher amenities than they could afford individually seems popular.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                FWIW, I never had an apartment with a dishwasher in any apartment I’ve lived in. The laundry thing is usually not an issue but sometimes it is a very big issue.Report

              • Avatar fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I’d much, much rather live without a dishwasher (I did, for much of my life) than live without laundry facilities. Lugging laundry is one issue. The biggest one for me now would be finding TIME to go to a washeteria and sit there while my clothes washed – with my washer and dryer at home, I can bung a load in and then cook dinner while it washes or something. That’s harder if the laundromat is crosstown and has people who might dump your clothes out if you’re not there.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                My backyard is a paver patio, and my front yard is a public green space the HOA maintains. I just have to keep the mulch fresh on the area around my house, and keep the weeds under control. I don’t even own a mower, just a cordless weed whacker and a leaf blower/vac.

                Having a 20,000 sq. ft. yard for Bug to play in that I don’t have to mow is awesome.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:

          There is a development down the road from my parents with a series of townhomes. Three to four bedrooms plus parking and a community space/gym. Obviously aimed at young families. Not really walking distance to anything but you can get a four bedroom home for just north of a million. This is a deal in the immediate Bay Area.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

          @michael-cain

          Sounds like my neighborhoodReport

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Cities and suburbs both will continue to exist, because for every person like @aaron-david who wants quiet and space, there is someone like me who moved to the dense urban core precisely for that feeling of being in a busy active place where I can walk to the library or museum.

        What happened after WWII was a massive rapid shift due to all the things listed above, which likely won’t be replicated soon.

        Kotkin’s article references Valencia, CA.
        I grew up adjacent to Valencia and watched it develop, grow and change from what used to be onion fields. It is pretty much built out now, but has grown increasingly dense, with 4 story apartment buildings office parks, and a regional mall. It is increasingly becoming an edge city, rather than a bedroom suburb.

        So in conclusion, my vehement position (which I will defend doggedly) is, I don’t know what the future holds, other than it will be different than the past.Report

    • Joel Kotkin is a constant champion of suburbs for some reason…

      Kotkin starts from a position that suburbs reflect voter and buyer preferences, rather than the traditional urbanist position that the ‘burbs are some sort of conspiracy by elected officials and builders to spend taxes on undesired infrastructure and force buyers into housing they dislike.

      So do I. I also admit that the ‘burbs will have to change if we’re to do anything meaningful about greenhouse gases — denser, many fewer miles traveled by private vehicle, getting rid of hydrocarbons. Densification will be a long, slow slog, just as building the ‘burbs out to their current state was (I also tend to point out that the West has a head start on the rest of the country, in that their ‘burbs are already much denser*). In the meantime, how efficient can they be? How much can be electrified? How much electricity can be non-hydrocarbon?

      * Now that the Census Bureau has entered the 21st century and does measures of metro areas at a finer scale than counties, a bunch of conventional wisdom turns out to be wrong. Western suburbs are a lot denser than those in other parts of the country. California’s suburbs are the densest by a good bit.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Well, of course they are preferences that’s why they exist.

        But what Kotkin misses is that preferences are selected from the menu of available options, which themselves are the result of economics and cultural forces that shape household formation.

        I am quite sure that many, many single parent households headed by a recently graduated gig economy worker earning just above the minimum wage would “prefer” a single family home on a cul de sac. With a swimming pool. And home theater system. And a GMC Behemoth SUV.

        But in the 2018 America that we all live in, what are the menu of options available for this young household?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I think the truth is the combination of Kotkin’s position, the urbanist position, and a bit of history. The single family home was the preferred form of housing for cultural reasons in America since colonial times. People like the suburbs and enforced their preferences into law.Report

  7. Avatar Anne says:

    Tr4 my museum is about to get a donation of the first hydrogen cell locomotive (#1205) made by BNSF in 2008 and tested in 2010 ish. And no the hydrogen cells are no longer in the engine.

    http://www.greenpatentblog.com/2012/10/15/bnsf-patents-and-demos-hybrid-fuel-cell-locomotive/Report

  8. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Tr1 – Got yer Tragedy of the Commons right here.

    Tr7- Between self-driving cars and telecommuting, I cannot see any reason for the city to keep existing. Suburbs exist for a reason, that reason being people fleeing the city as they don’t like feeling like sardines and they want fresh air. Things that make that easier…Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Aaron David says:

      Meh, people have been forecasting the death of the city for generations. Cars were supposed to get rid of the cities once. Cities are bigger than ever. I expect self driving cars will make cities even larger. Decreased cost of transportation and diminished need for parking? That sounds like big boons for cities to me.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        See comment to Chip above. I think you are broadly right but there is still a strong pull for space of one’s own.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          No doubt, and self driving cars will open up more space in dense urban areas. So auto-cars will presumably intensify urbanization, at least in desirable urban areas.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to North says:

            Mayyybe. It depends whether single-occupant self-driving shared cars mostly take passengers away from privately owned single-occupant cars (same road space requirement, less parking requirement), or from public transit (much smaller road space requirement, same parking requirement).

            The single-occupant automobile is by far the least efficient way of moving people around cities, and self-driving taxis would be only a small improvement. They could take one passenger out of public transit, walking, or cycling, for every five or more they take from private cars, and probably still be break-even at best in terms of efficiency of urban space.Report

            • Even if it doesn’t take the number of single-occupancy automobiles off the road, this is where car-sharing could come in handy. You could increase density through needing fewer parking spaces. Or, at least, fewer location-specific parking spaces (close enough for people to need to walk to wherever they are going).

              I think a lot depends on how much that happens.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman says:

                I suspect to the extent they help with the efficiency of human movement, it will be mostly as you describe – by helping get people out of cars altogether – e.g. by obsoleting urban parking lots and on-street parking, to make way for homes, public facilities, and businesses, which enables more people to get around without using a car at all, self-driving or otherwise.

                Also I could see their helping to make transit run a little better, by respecting bus and tram lanes, not entering intersections they’re not going to have room to clear before the light changes, etc.Report

              • Obsoleting parking lots is exactly what I had in mind. That’s where I think density improves, even if it doesn’t take people out of cars. (And I think it will reduce the actual number of cars on the road and that the people it pulls from public transportation will be outweighed by ride-sharing and the like. I’m just not sure by how much.)Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman says:

                Gosh, I’m just picturing my downtown all the on-street parking replaced with bouqinistes and food trucks and the odd Johnny-cab drop-off spot. That would be amazing.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Aaron David says:

      Speak for yourself, I guess…

      People also like being able to visit many of their friends on foot, walk around bustling pedestrian areas, take a 15 minute tram ride to the opera, have dozens of restaurants they can choose from at lunch and still be back at the office by 1:00. Different people have different priorities.Report

  9. Avatar Damon says:

    [Tr1] I like how the article calls it “free public transportation”. I got quite a chuckle. Who’s paying for it, the Brits?

    [Tr3] This was brought up the prior train crash, and the one before that. PTC is late and has been for a good long while.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Damon says:

      Who’s paying for it

      The same people who pay for the roads today.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        Yeah, freely offered public transport is so much more cost efficient than trying to keep up with road congestion by building more roads. I’m surprised how little of it there is in the world.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        I’m not sure how Germany funds their transit. I doubt the ridership covers the entire bill. So it’s either funded like here, via the roads, or under the general revenues. Either way, it ain’t “free”.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Damon says:

          When we hear the phrase “free beer” we all understand how it works, right? Somebody has bought the beer, or the brewery has bought the ingredients and labour to make it, and is giving it away.

          The streets that are “free” to drive on, the sidewalks “free” to walk on, the parks “free” to play and picnic in, the museum with “free” admission, public schools, public libraries – nobody believes that these things are constructed, maintained, and operated outside the monetary system by crews of volunteers all the way back the the natural resource extraction for the concrete and rebar.

          Someone has always paid for “free X”. This surprises nobody. Libertarians and austerity economics fans can stop dispelling a fantasy that nobody holds.Report

  10. Avatar Jesse says:

    Having a 24 hour news station on all TV’s at an airport made sense in 1995, when a business traveler or people who actually needed to know the news had no other access at airports. In 2018, throw on I don’t know, music videos from the 80’s or something. Would probably keep people far less stressed.Report

  11. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    [Tr5] For Christ’s sake, is there anything conservatives won’t get aggrieved about?Report

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