Driverless Future: 6 Priorities for City Leaders
March 23, 2017

Marwan Abboud

To prepare for the driverless future, a new report, Driverless Future: A Policy Roadmap for City Leaders, identifies six priorities for city leaders to protect against risks, maximize potential benefits and ensure the next transportation revolution will improve quality of life in our cities.

Start with How Cities Can Prevent Driverless Chaos

1. Leverage technology to enhance mobility

Cities and private partners should embrace smartcards, open data, and universal apps. This would allow riders to compare, book, and pay for trips that combine buses, trains, bikes and ridesharing. Pilot programs are already in place in cities ranging from Los Angeles to Helsinki.

2. Prioritize and modernize public transit

Cities and transit agencies should focus on high-ridership, high-frequency light rail and bus rapid transit systems while driverless shuttles provide first- and last-mile connections for riders. Similar shuttles are already being tested in London and Singapore.

3. Implement dynamic pricing

To reduce congestion and create a level playing field between public and private transportation, cities should consider dynamic road pricing plans that vary by origin and destination, number of passengers, congestion, and/or household income. This can be implemented through proven tools such as congestion pricing, zone pricing, vehicle-miles traveled fee, etc.

4. Plan for mixed-use, car-light neighborhoods

AV can unlock demand for living and working in mixed-use neighborhoods – whether they are urban or suburban. To shape this demand, cities need to plan for and incentivize mixed-use development, overhaul parking requirements, and reevaluate new transit projects.

5. Encourage adaptable parking

Fewer personal cars means fewer parking spaces, especially in city centers where much of the land use is taken by parking garages or lots. Parking garages need to be built with housing or office conversion in mind and include level floors, higher ceiling heights and centralized ramps. These future-proof garages are already being contemplated in Boston and Nashville.

6. Promote equitable access to new jobs and services

To support disadvantaged populations, cities must encourage public and private operators to provide alternative payment methods, access via dial-a-ride and equitable service coverage. Cities and private partners must also create new employment and training opportunities for drivers and others in legacy occupations.

With these strategies in place, cities can coexist and benefit from AV technology, creating an even stronger mobile future.

Marwan Abboud is SVP of Traffic, Planning and Intelligent Transportation Systems at Arcadis.