On Wednesday, I am going to be giving a presentation to the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Regional Transportation Advisory Council (RTAC) alongside Shannon Greenwell from the MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning. This is an open meeting, and all are welcomed and encouraged to join. The agenda for the meeting is here, and details of the presentation are:
Title: “An Autonomous World: Planning the Future of Transit”
Date: Wednesday, August 10th
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Location: State Transportation Building Second Floor, Conference Room 4, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA
This presentation builds off of the original version we did at the 2015 Southern New England American Planning Association Conference. In it, we discuss the long-term implications of vehicle automation (AKA self-driving cars) on the transportation system, with a particular emphasis on how it could impact public transportation.
Some questions posed in the presentation:
- Will we need more parking with automated vehicles, or less?
- If trucks and buses become automated, what will happen to professional drivers?
- Will there be a quick adoption of automated vehicles (think smartphones), or very slow (think hybrid-electric vehicles)?
- What will it mean if high-income transit users start using Uber-type automated vehicles, while everyone else still uses the bus?
As a reminder as to what an MPO is, I wrote a blog post about them and why they’re pretty important to transportation wonks; the RTAC is an advisory body to the MPO. According to the Boston MPO website:
The Regional Transportation Advisory Council (Advisory Council) is an independent body that brings public viewpoints and advice on transportation planning to the Boston Region MPO. Its membership (pdf) (html) includes municipalities, professional organizations, transportation advocacy groups, neighboring MPOs, and state agencies.
I’m glad to be presenting this to the MPO Advisory Council; this is an important topic, and one that isn’t going away. It’s almost certain to be a transformative development, one that will probably only happen once in a generation. I know that my employer, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, is keenly aware of the technology developments going on – every transportation professional is well-served to do the same.