10. What key factors do you see driving these changes over the next 30 years (could be political, economic, social, technological, legal, environmental, other?)? AND Please briefly explain how you see these factors influencing future public transport service configurations.
All of those.
I think the political system is going to have to play catch up with the technological system, and legal system is also going to be playing catch up. And the example of Uber just proves this, where Uber decided what service they were going to provide, and they did it illegally, and they got away with it. Tesla turning on auto-pilot proves this also, they did this without getting regulatory approval. So I think this is going to happen, and then there will be an attempt to catch up in regulations, which basically codify technological practices, but it’s going to be completely come from behind.
From an economic perspective, at the point where it’s cheaper to provide an automated vehicle than it is to provide a manually driven vehicle, people will switch over. There will always be people who will be reluctant to give up control, but eventually they will die out. I think a 25 year timeframe is probably enough for the last manually driven car to be prohibited from driving on streets or public roads most of the time. The example I’d cite would be, just as we have a Ciclovia in some places on Sunday afternoon, there will be a Motorvia. So on Sunday afternoons oldtimers can drive their old car, but the rest of the week they will have to keep it in the garage.
The cost curves on automation are going to go way down. That a car will be less likely to be in a crash will significantly reduce insurance costs, which are pretty close to the cost of vehicle ownership for smaller cars today.
The cost curves of electrification are coming way way down, electricity is getting much cheaper, and even batteries are making some progress.
I think the social issues will explore what Tesla can do with new kinds of regulations, if the car is programmed not to hit people, a teenager will be really tempted to step in front of the car, and so how is society going to deal with that? It’s going to have to be made some sort of criminal activity in order for it to be restricted, cars will have cameras and they will take a picture of whoever’s being a jerk, and send it to the police and the police will come by and have a conversation with the guy.
There will be many unforeseen interactions between humans and AVs, and no one can know them all at this point, that’s just one of the most obvious ones. But people will try to exploit the system, if other people see that it’s socially bad they will try to reign that in, we will have to think about new ways to reign this stuff in. Most people aren’t going to be jerks with AVs, and once AVs becomes common, it will just be boring. There will be new laws in response to harassing an automated vehicle with passengers, but if it’s a robot and there’s nobody inside, and the teenager still steps in front of it intentionally to delay it, is that still a crime? I don’t know, but it might still get classified as a nuisance or something like that.
So this is mostly about what we will think of as private transportation, public transport agencies might declare that mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) as public transportation (just as some have claimed walking, biking, and carpooling are ‘public transport’) declare victory and move on.
But MaaS really isn’t public transportation in most cases. So I think this is one of those things where we are going to have to reframe it so we don’t hurt people’s feelings, but in actuality, public transportation is going to be in a far worse position than it is today, because the alternatives will be so much better.
Now, if people give up ownership of the car, they might realign their use so that public transportation serves a few backbone trips. Going into the city some people will in the future use public transportation, whereas today they might not have, because they owned a car. but I think that will be dominated by the number of trips that no longer use public transportation because they have a new MaaS option.