The current management of transportation in American cities is, to put it mildly, balkanized. Powers to regulate, tax, and allocate budgets for modes like transit, automobiles, and taxis are divided across numerous transit authorities, state agencies, and city departments. The predictable result: organizational friction and confusion about who is ultimately responsible for achieving policy goals such as equity, safety, and the reduction of pollution and congestion.
This situation is not sustainable, especially in an era when new mobility services like ride-hail and scooters have made the pursuit of regional mobility goals more challenging—and more important—than ever before. It’s time to consider a dramatic step: consolidation of all mobility oversight into a single regional authority.
From the Mall to Lincoln, Neb., planners across the United States are pushing slow-rolling roboshuttles as a way to dip their toes into greater automation.
The stubby, bread-box-looking vehicles go about 10 mph, and boosters say they’re a relatively easy and potentially transformative tool for moving people, even as autonomous cars, trucks and minivans continue their development and rollout. Others counsel caution, raising concerns about safety, oversight and economic viability, and fears about adding congestion to roadways and eliminating jobs.
The flying car — the stuff of sci-fi dreams for decades — could become a reality next year and spark the biggest disruption to urban life since the postwar baby boom and interstate highway system.
From “The Jetsons” to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Blade Runner” and “Back to the Future,” the flying car has been pop culture’s ultimate symbol of the future. Now, aerospace giants like Boeing (BA) and Airbus(EADSY), Silicon Valley startups like Uber, and auto giants like Toyota (TM), Volkswagen (VWAGY) and Daimler (DDAIF) are racing to make short-range air travel part of daily life.
“It’s coming because it has to,” said Robin Lineberger, the leader of Deloitte’s Aerospace & Defense industry practice. “We have no more room on the ground to move cars around.”
Mary T. Barra, the chief executive of General Motors, said the company is “on track” to roll out a ride-sharing service in 2019 that would rely on autonomous vehicles, a development that would advance the already-heated race to bring a self-driving car to market.
“We’re on track, with our rate of learning, to be able to do that next year,” Ms. Barra said at DealBook’s Playing for the Long Term conference. She added that the company had a strategy to show how its vehicles are safer than human drivers. The vehicles can currently run safely at speeds of up to about 30 miles per hour, and the service will be limited to a small geographical area, Ms. Barra said.
The District is designating curbside space for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft at locations across the city — an effort to reduce the number of vehicles that stop to pick up and drop off passengers in bike lanes, crosswalks and travel lanes.
The District Department of Transportation is adding the pickup and drop-off zones at five entertainment hot spots where visitors are dependent on the services to get around. Those sites are the nightlife hub of 14th and U streets, the National Zoo and Georgetown in Northwest, the Wharf waterfront development in Southwest and Union Market in Northeast.
The 24-hour-a-day zones will also be used for commercial loading, officials said. They are expected to go live later this year, following a public comment period and the installation of signs.