The vision of driverless vehicles shaping the future of our transport networks is becoming more and more crystallised, but we are not yet at a point where traditional vehicles are going to be mass replaced just yet.
As apps such as Faxi, UberPool and Lyft are making carpooling more common, the fact is that in our future society, drivers won’t be needed. Across cities in particular, self-driving cars will lower the cost of existing carpooling services, speed up car traffic, and most importantly, eliminate premium pricing for housing developments located near transport stops.
What’s more, costly car parking developments will cease to materialise and a significant volume of car park property may become redundant and therefore free up development or expansion space for organisations in space-limited urban areas.
Traditional car-pooling is just one-eighth the size of driver-alone commuting, according to a US Census Bureau report – and it’s currently a more popular concept in the Unites States than it is in UK and Europe. However, carpooling is only gaining traction as people recognise the value it holds not only in changing today’s commuting behaviours, but the commuting behaviours of tomorrow.
Self-driving cars will lower the cost of carpooling services, therefore increasing the number of trips demanded by consumers. Increased use of journey sharing services will further increase the convenience, reinforcing the demand for shared rides. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, representing a growth spiral which is inevitable.
Today’s carpooling requires two or more people leaving from the same place at the same time, with the same destination in mind. Because the users are dependent on a particular car, they must return at the same time which, while it has its benefits, can be impractical for some people. With tomorrow’s journey sharing, however, your driverless vehicle can leave 20 minutes later one day, make a necessary stop on the way home, and not have to negotiate the trip with your regular co-riders.
As a result, rush-hour car trips will drop, reducing traffic volume. As traffic speeds up, the incentive to leave the rail networks will increase. Residential property located close to rail stops will lose its premium value, making central urban housing more affordable.
This is an important recognition of the role which carpooling plays not only in starting to change our commuting behaviours, but in shaping the transport system of tomorrow.