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Autonomous vehicles make congestion pricing even more critical | TechCrunch

Autonomous vehicles will soon be ubiquitous on city streets. Before this happens, we should ask ourselves: Will they whisk us quickly through cities or make traffic worse?

A car is a car, whether self-driving or people driven—taking up a great deal more space than busses, streetcars, or trains—so let’s make sure the cost is right. Traffic has already increased in many cities due to widespread ride-hailing. Once Uber further rolls out autonomous vehicle fleets, calling a car will be cheaper, more competitive—and a potential burden on our streets.

A new study by UC Santa Cruz Professor Adam Millard-Ball in the Journal of Transportation Policy makes a convincing case that self-driving cars will dramatically increase traffic further. Millard-Ball forecasts that the number of cars on the street could grow exponentially as more people are able to take their hands off the steering wheel and just sit back and ride.

Furthermore, when not in use, autonomous vehicles need to go somewhere. There are three options: go back home, park somewhere, or circle around. Most likely, these cars will endlessly circle the streets rather than parking and paying fees.

The rise in ride-hailing speaks to the need to think about congestion pricing — even more so in light of autonomous vehicles potentially circling the city aimlessly in the years to come — in more dynamic terms.

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Autonomous vehicles make congestion pricing even more critical | TechCrunch.

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