Are we ready to ditch mass transit for driverless vehicles?

Jul 23, 2018, 6:31 AM
(AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)...
(AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)
(AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

Why would sane commuters pack themselves into trains if a system of self-driving vehicles could whisk them to their destination in less time?

RELATED: Now they don’t even need to buy Facebook ads

I was talking to a researcher who develops these driverless systems, and he says the technology now exists to build everything from self-driving long-haul trucks, all the way down to small bicycle-size commuter pods. The technology would allow vehicles to automatically sort themselves into truck lanes, sedan lanes, and bike lanes to keep everybody safe.

And that vision has some people suggesting that maybe cities should prepare to ditch mass transit.

But what this researcher also told me was that in order to replace mass transit, it’s not enough for vehicles just to drive themselves. They would have to arrange themselves into dense platoons to even approach the capacity of a train. Which means that to allow even one human-guided car into this carefully choreographed flock could cause a catastrophic accident.

In other words, ditching mass transit would mean your ordinary car would be banned from city streets. You’d be forced to have a car controlled essentially by the government, which would choose your route, and even when you have to leave.

I would like to think we Americans could tolerate that level of control, but we may want to keep a few trains running, just in case.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

Affordable homes...
MyNorthwest Staff

Economist: Lack of affordable homes in Puget Sound region is ‘lunacy’

Buying a home in the Puget Sound region has always been pricey, but recently, affordable options have all but disappeared from the market.
14 hours ago
Block the box...
Dave Ross

Ross: Seattle’s ‘block the box’ cameras could end up punishing the wrong drivers

Seattle will soon start using cameras to ticket drivers blocking intersections, but it might end up punishing law-abiding drivers for being unlucky.
14 hours ago
Mercer Island MD...
MyNorthwest Staff

Mercer Island MD explains long-term health risks of viral infection, links to nervous system disorder

A Mercer Island MD explores link between influenza infection and the long-term development of Parkinson's disease.
2 days ago
Dave Ross

Ross: The doorbells have made me paranoid

I suddenly became aware last week of the effect that this crowd-sourcing of security can have even on law-abiding citizens – by which I mean, me.
2 days ago
federal way police...
MyNorthwest Staff

Federal Way looks to ramp up police hiring in wake of rise in gun violence

After a recent spike in violence in South King County, Federal Way Mayor Jim Farrell says something has to be done. He explains his city's plan.
3 days ago
KIRO Radio staff

Mayfield: Far more than meets the eye when it comes to how we use emojis

We have words, yet sometimes they aren’t enough. That's where emojis come in, giving us a way to express ourselves to loved ones.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles


COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Are we ready to ditch mass transit for driverless vehicles?