For Americans, cars are a way of life. They not only take people from one place to another; they also serve as entertainment systems, storage lockers, and status symbols. But thanks to ride-hailing services, personal cars are becoming less important, and the development of autonomous vehicles may accelerate that trend. Cutting out the driver could make ride-hailing so cheap, convenient, and safe that many Americans may go carless.
Will Americans really give up their cars? The transportation consultants Bern Grush and John Niles think they will. In The End of Driving: Transportation Systems and Public Policy Planning for Autonomous Vehicles, they reckon that, 50 years from now, only hobbyists will drive cars. Between then and now, however, officials will have to do the complicated work of promoting a “transit leap” by deploying “fully automated shuttle vehicles”—that is, buses that don’t require any human input—along limited routes and nudging people toward giving up their own cars. The task is the same for former New York City Traffic Commissioner Samuel I. Schwartz in No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future, who sees a future in which autonomous vehicles drastically change the physical look and feel of U.S. cities, widening sidewalks, narrowing roads, and eliminating parking.
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