(Jeffrey Tumlin, Director of Transportation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency)
The advancement of urban mobility is opening the doors for smarter, more connected cities but it doesn’t come without challenges.
TransLink Tomorrow hosted an event called The Promise and Perils of Automated Transportation featuring keynote speaker Jeffrey Tumlin, Director of Transportation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
In this forum, industry experts gathered to share the current state of automated vehicle technologies and the policies that drive their adoption through optimizing benefits and reducing risk. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the discussion.
(Panel on addressing questions and concerns regarding new mobility)
Rideshare companies such as Uber and Modo are making a commitment to share information and ideas to cultivate a better environment for new mobility. Being in communication creates a more streamlined process to address problems while pushing innovation.
When a company incurs the financial risk of running a pilot program, sharing the results with the broader community will increase the speed of which the kinks are worked out. Other companies can learn from those pilot programs and build upon them, rather than everyone investing into their own initiatives, failing, and trying again.
Autonomous Vehicle Infrastructure
(Diagram on AV technologies and the infrastructure)
TransLink is looking at how to use our current infrastructure, which was built at a time when it needed to transition us from horseback to gas-powered automobiles, to create seamless integration for autonomous vehicles.
With automation, vertical real estate is becoming a hot topic. Every street pole has a potential to harness sensors and cameras in order to communicate with autonomous vehicles. Retrofitting our street poles would be the best use of public space but it’s very cost intensive. Currently, Vancouver has roughly 53,000 street light poles. Each individual pole requires a substantial investment to install sensors, plus additional funding to upgrade and maintain poles as new technology enters the market.
All of this doesn’t even take into account the tremendous bandwidth required to manage all of the real time communication between vehicles. That’s why investment into a 5G network will also be a critical factor in the success of AV.
(Photo of a mobility hub in Germany)
The City of Vancouver is expected to be home to 1.1 million more people by 2041. Addressing road congestion now is a move to support the future population growth. Some believe that just expanding highways into more lanes is a quick fix answer but there’s a paradox within that. Expanding highway lanes only encourages those who avoided that route before to start taking it. This creates a situation where there’s now more people using the highway than ever before which doesn’t solve the congestion problem–it just leads to more lanes!
For a potential solution, they looked towards Germany in how they redeveloped their downtown real estate to create a mobility hub. This is a centralized hub for ride share companies to enter and charge their vehicles and simply leave without creating excess congestion on the roads.
In these mobility hubs, there are different methods of transportation available whether it’s ride hailing, public transportation, or bike sharing, which gives commuters more freedom to choose how they reach their destinations.
There are challenges ahead for Vancouver to be ready for the rise of new mobility but the hunger for collaboration shows that we’re ready for what’s next. This new decade will define our transition from carbon-intensive ways of the past towards automated, smart, and green technologies that will serve future generations and the environment.