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Mass Transit Future and AI Autonomous Cars

By Lance Eliot, the AI Tendencies Insider

Hop on, hop off, hop on, hop off, and repeat till you reach your destination.

Here in Southern California, a key native transit entity known as MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) and supplies mass transit options for commuters from all through Los Angeles county. You’ve acquired mild rail, heavy rail, buses, and the like.

Of the almost 100 MTA stations used by commuters to get entry into the transit system, it seems that just a few of these stations immediately intersect with a second line. Because of this you want to hop onto one practice, hop off at one other station, watch for the subsequent right practice, hop on, and perhaps then arrive on the remaining station you have been intending to succeed in. It seems probably you’ll have to make no less than two or three such stops and switches, in reality, because of the lack of stations being interconnected with a number of strains.

You may say that it’s no huge deal and shrug it off as simply part of the mass transit system structure.

Sadly, it’s a massive deal in that it tends to turn-off riders or potential riders from using the mass transit system. Many people understand that it is too complicated to need to make so many switches. They perceive that it uses up too much time, having to make the switches and sit around for the wanted ready occasions for the subsequent right practice. All in all, the inconvenience posits them over into avoiding utilizing the mass transit choice for travel.

The less riders on the mass transit system, the less priceless it is having the mass transit system.

It also signifies that the shortage of ridership implies there’s less individuals taken out of the traditional automotive visitors pool.

And, thus, the mass transit doesn’t achieve some key said objectives of decreasing typical automotive visitors, which tends to also scale back pollution, and the mass transit is supposed to supply a decrease value various per mile per individual traveled.

Wanting At The Yr 2047 For A Answer

One matter being mentioned and debated here in Southern California is the proposed improvement of a brand new north-south backbone that might run all through central L.A. and create extra intersecting points with the prevailing stations. In response to Metro, the brand new line would probably serve 90,000 trips a day and turn into the busiest light-rail line in america.

If all goes properly when it comes to continuing to construct the new line, it might open in the yr 2047.

That’s right, the official ribbon slicing for the primary ridership can be about 30 years from now.


For most of us, it’s arduous to imagine waiting thirty years for something. In case you have young children, they’ll be middle aged by the time the new line is operating. In case you are center aged now, you’ll doubtless be nearing retirement. In case you are already retired now, I can solely hope you’ll be around to return and see the grand unveiling of the new line.

When it comes to development value, it’s estimated that it might be round $150 million per mile (totaling a price of about $3 billion), if constructed at road degree.

Some say that it shouldn’t be at road degree, and as an alternative be placed both above ground by way of an aerial line, or perhaps place it all underground. These proposed options are costlier, together with for instance that the underground strategy would probably be around $700 million per mile (complete venture value of $4.7 billion). These are projected costs, of which there are some critics that say it’s means under-estimated and the true price ticket can be much larger.

There’s a group pushing to get the undertaking executed sooner and needs to have the new line underway by the point the 2028 Summer time Olympics come to Los Angeles.

Hey, mark that yr in your calendar to return visit L.A. within the yr 2028. Be here, or be square.

Anyway, aiming to shave about 20 years off the 2047 forecasted date would definitely be a pleasant wish to have happen. But, whether you possibly can accelerate a undertaking of this magnitude, given all the regulatory hurdles, the political points, and the remaining, together with what it’d because of pushing up the fee, properly, let’s simply say it’s nonetheless a dream for the second.

Give attention to the yr 2047.

Assume critically about it.

Place your thoughts into the longer term.

The Future Ought to Embrace AI Autonomous Cars

What does this need to do with AI self-driving driverless autonomous automobiles?

Depending upon whom you consider, we’re presumably going to have fairly quite a lot of AI self-driving automobiles on our roadways by the time that the yr 2047 rolls around. One notable prediction mentioned in a Fortune magazine article has predicted that by the yr 2040 that about 95% of latest automobiles bought in the USA can be AI self-driving automobiles (see:

If that’s the case, it will are likely to recommend that by the yr 2047 there shall be a plentiful number of AI autonomous automobiles cruising around our highways and byways.

Some clarifications are wanted.

Proper now, there are an estimated 200+ million typical automobiles in the USA.

Each time AI self-driving automobiles start to turn into available, it’ll take a while to show over the inventory of typical automobiles to grow to be AI self-driving automobiles. I’ve mentioned many occasions that I’m uncertain there can be a lot in the best way of kits to retrofit typical automobiles, and that as an alternative you’ll need to purchase a brand new automotive that’s outfitted as an AI self-driving automotive. And, since most people can’t simply outright ditch their present automotive and purchase a brand new one, the chances are that it’ll take many years for AI self-driving automobiles to turn out to be extensively populated on our roads.

See my article about kits for AI self-driving automobiles:

See my article about induced demand as a consequence of AI self-driving automobiles:

If we go together with the notion that it gained’t be until about 2040 that the predominant new automotive purchase will include AI self-driving automobiles, it suggests that through the 2020’s and the 2030’s we’ll have a mix of typical automobiles and AI self-driving automobiles, but that typical automobiles will nonetheless be the dominant mode of automotive visitors on our roads.

I’ve emphasized this facet many occasions too because there are some AI self-driving automotive pundits that hold mentioning a nirvana world of all and solely AI self-driving automobiles on our streets, but this simply isn’t going to occur for a really very long time.

It’s essential to understand that there are various ranges of AI self-driving automobiles. The topmost degree is Degree 5, which is the purpose at which an AI self-driving automotive can drive the automotive with none human intervention needed. Certainly, there’s often no provision within the automotive for any human driving, resembling there’s the elimination of the pedals and the steering wheel. No matter a human might do when it comes to driving the automotive, it’s anticipated that the AI will do as an alternative for a Degree 5 AI self-driving automotive.

Through the 2020’s and the 2030’s, we’ll undoubtedly see a number of automobiles which might be on the ranges 2 and three, and maybe some at the degree four, however presumably very few at the true Degree 5. There might be some intense and acrimonious debate about whether or not a self-driving automotive has truly achieved a Degree 5, and which is a side not so easily determined.

See my article about ranges of AI self-driving automobiles:

See my article a few Turing check for AI self-driving automobiles:

See my framework about AI self-driving automobiles:

Returning to the matter at-hand, I began by mentioning that the Los Angeles mass transit system is proposing to add a new line at a price of maybe $three billion to $5 billion dollars, and that it gained’t be ready till 2047 (until there’s a miracle and Santa Claus deliver it earlier, resembling by the yr 2028).

Arduous-To-Digest Questions About Future Mass Transit

Right here’s the million dollar (or billion dollar) question: Do we’d like more mass transit by the point we reach the mid-2040’s and past?

If we’re going to have widespread AI self-driving automobiles by that very same time-frame, maybe we’re pouring cash into adding mass transit that may finally have been for not.

In other phrases, sure let’s hold the prevailing mass transit system going, since we presumably need it in the course of the next 30 years or so for functions of shoring up the shortage of widespread AI self-driving automobiles, however perhaps we ought to be doing a “gut check” as to starting to construct something that gained’t come obtainable until a future by which it perhaps gained’t be wanted.

It’s perhaps a bridge to nowhere, as they say.

By the best way, as an fascinating apart, we already have a bridge to nowhere right here in California, based mostly in our San Gabriel mountains.

Again in 1936, there was an effort to build an arch bridge that was going to connect with a street that may lead to San Gabriel Valley. The bridge acquired built. The street obtained washed out in 1938. The choice was made that it was not value the fee to proceed. The bridge now just sits there. Once in a while, individuals come to take a look at it and some try to parachute off it. It’s officially generally known as the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

In any case, any mass transit venture that’s going to get started now or in the close to future, and for which it’d take 30 years or extra to get built, we in all probability should look within the mirror and say can we like what we see?

Does it make sense to pump money into such tasks?

Although I’ve introduced up the query in the context of the Los Angeles mass transit, it seems prudent to ask the identical question about any mass transit proposed anyplace in the USA.

Look around in your geographical space and ask yourself whether or not adding mass transit is worth it if indeed there will probably be prevalent autonomous automobiles.

One argument in favor of continuing on the mass transit undertaking can be that we don’t really know when the arrival shall be of AI self-driving automobiles when it comes to a timeline, and thus it’s an inexpensive hedge guess to assume that mass transit will nonetheless be needed by 2047. It’s conceivable that we gained’t have many AI self-driving automobiles by then, and as an alternative perhaps it is going to be another twenty or thirty years later, reminiscent of perhaps 2060 or 2070. In that case, full-steam ahead with more mass transit till we attain those later dates.

Think about The Trade-offs Concerned

One other argument in favor of continuing with large multi-decades long mass transit tasks can be that even when AI self-driving automobiles are in style by 2047, perhaps we’ll nonetheless want mass transit.

Let’s contemplate that facet, analyzing the positions each in-favor and opposing to it.

Some consider that with the prevalence of AI self-driving automobiles, we’re going to have a ridesharing-as-an-economy way of living.

Because of this ridesharing would be the dominant mode of journey and that we’ll be utilizing AI self-driving automobiles to do so.

People who buy AI self-driving automobiles will understand that they don’t need to make use of it 24×7, although it can be used 24×7 usually as a result of it has an digital chauffeur all the time at the ready. So, individuals will flip their AI self-driving automotive into a ridesharing service. Some will buy an AI self-driving automotive purposely to be a ridesharing service and use it virtually totally and just for being profitable as a ridesharing mechanism.

Some assert that autonomous automobiles can be primarily fleet owned, similar to by a large automaker, or a big tech agency, or a large ridesharing agency, or really any sizable firm that thinks they will generate income through the use of self-driving driverless automobiles for ridesharing functions. Although I am emphasizing giant sized corporations doing this, it might very properly be that a lot of mini-fleets sprout too, by medium sized companies and smaller companies.

People may additionally purchase a number of driverless automobiles and create their own micro-sized fleet, creating a type of cottage business.

For my article about continuous AI self-driving automobiles:

For my article concerning the affordability of autonomous automobiles, see:

On the subject of Gen-Z and the emergence of driverless automobiles, see my article:

If that occurs, would anyone need to use mass transit?

Commuters can use the convenience of an autonomous automotive that provides their very own personal bubble, as it have been, and will take them directly to the place they need to go, they don’t want to wait to use it, and presumably the fee can be comparatively low since there will such an plentiful provide of these AI self-driving automobiles roaming and roving around.

Moreover, the AI self-driving automotive can cowl the final mile for them.

The vaunted and prized “last mile” is a reference to the problem that the majority mass transit choices can’t get you to your actual desired vacation spot.

You may want to get from a practice station to that grocery retailer or your own home, and so the mass transit isn’t complete. Meanwhile, the AI self-driving automotive might take you on the brief hauls and even the longer hauls, in principle.

You may argue that each one these AI self-driving automobiles will probably be polluting and fuel guzzlers, which is the rationale why mass transit is best, ecologically. But, the chances are that the majority if not all AI self-driving automobiles are going to be electrical automobiles. Subsequently, no fuel guzzling, and little or no pollution. The mass transit ecological argument is valid at the moment because we’ve so many typical automobiles and they are pretty much fuel fueled. It seems unlikely that’s the best way that AI self-driving automobiles shall be.

Plus, some consider that there might be probably a Personal Speedy Transit (PRT) system consisting of a way to have an autonomous automotive experience on a sled or comparable conveyance platform, whisking the driverless in a train-like system to a vacation spot point, and then the autonomous automotive will disembark and drive the rest of the best way to the specified vacation spot.

For my article about Private Speedy Transit and driverless automobiles, see:

For my article about autonomous automobiles being EV’s, see:

The aforementioned features appear to recommend that we gained’t want mass transit. Which may seem harsh.

Suppose as an alternative we say that we’ll need less mass transit, however not get rid of it completely. There’ll still be circumstances perhaps of not wanting to use an AI self-driving automotive and as an alternative journey on a practice or a bus.

We also need to think about that presumably if the AI is sweet enough to drive a automotive, it will seem to be ok to probably drive a bus, and drive a practice. In that case, we’ve taken the labor prices out of the bus driving and the practice driving.

This perhaps makes mass transit much more reasonably priced, no less than on an ongoing foundation (it nonetheless wouldn’t appear to dampen the initial development value).

How Huge Is Massive

In america, there’s about $65 billion spent yearly towards the continued maintenance of our nations mass transit techniques.

The typical journey size is around 5.5 miles.

There are an estimated 433,000 individuals employed by mass transit in America, of which 97% of them are in the operational features of mass transit.

These are numbers offered by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

If AI self-driving automobiles have been to emerge and if it meant that mass transit would steadily disappear or dramatically scale-down, presumably this is able to mean that the $65 billion yearly being spent right now might go to different uses.

What would occur to the almost half one million individuals employed by mass transit? Seemingly, hopefully, the ramp down of mass transit would occur over a prolonged enough interval that these individuals would have the ability to shift to another space of the financial system.

Based on the mass transit business, for every $1 billion added funding in mass transit, those invested dollars supports the creation of probably 50,000 jobs. If we as soon as once more assume the state of affairs of not making those mass transit investments, at the least for investments involving mass transit that gained’t come on-line till 2047 or thereabouts, it means that those added jobs can’t be counted on to materialize.

Think about another concept. May the arrival of AI self-driving automobiles generate the identical type of jobs enlargement, in lieu of the mass transit?


With all of these AI self-driving automobiles, and going around the clock, there’s going to be lots of want for upkeep and maintenance of these automobiles. A automotive continues to be a automotive. It’s going to break down.

In all probability much more so than now, because the self-driving automobiles may be run all the time. Presumably, plenty of human specialists for doing upkeep and repairs might be wanted, at the very least till it may be automated by way of robotics or comparable know-how.

For my article concerning the repairs features of autonomous automobiles, see:

For driverless automobiles and the question of being an financial commodity, see my article:

For my article concerning the altering panorama of jobs because of the creation of driverless automobiles, see:


In the present day, there are an estimated 5% of automobiles in the USA which are being used for ridesharing.

By the yr 2040, some predictions are that 68% of automobiles might be used for ridesharing.

This opens up an incredible capacity for doing ridesharing. It looks like this shift must take away ridership from someplace else, and thus mass transit could possibly be one place that will get lowered when it comes to ridership as commuters shift over to using AI self-driving automobiles.

As a aspect word, some consider that mobility at this time is suppressed and not absolutely exercised because of the arduous and pricey elements of transportation, subsequently, the arrival of extra available and reasonably priced mobility may uncork the bottle, specifically unleashing the suppressed want, a phenomena also known as induced demand.

For my article about induced demand and autonomous automobiles, see:

Individuals immediately that don’t travel, or only journey to a point N, they’ll all now choose to journey and achieve this for some heightened quantity Z. In the event you consider in that notion, it could possibly be that with such an enormous scaling up of demand for journey, the mass transit still remains in place.

We’d need each the arrival of AI self-driving automobiles and the continued functionality of mass transit to deal with all of that gargantuan demand.

During the last 20 years or so, the expansion of mass transit passenger miles has eclipsed the number of automotive miles traveled (per the APTA stats). Mass transit although still solely is utilized by a relatively small proportion of the touring public. With the emergence and finally prevalence of AI self-driving automobiles, it might sound affordable to anticipate that the variety of automotive miles traveled won’t only eclipse the mass transit passenger miles, however achieve this by maybe a dramatic amount.

We also need to think about the opportunity prices associated with spending on future mass transit expansions.

If the Los Angeles line enlargement will get the wanted $three to $5 billion dollars in spending, of which some will come from local sources and some from federal (perhaps half from federal), might that cash have been put to another use as an alternative? If it’s a bridge to nowhere, perhaps there’s other tasks that may be a wiser investment. Then again, because the billions might be spent over the subsequent thirty years, you would at the very least say that it has had a advantage of hiring the people who did the development throughout that time period (and different aspect financial advantages).

These speculations contain all types of financial guesses and additionally technological guesses.

When will AI self-driving automobiles turn into prevalent?

Will they be as protected as mass transit?

Will they be as reliable?

Will they be kind of pricey than mass transit?

I’m positive you’ve heard the phrase “voodoo economics” having been used, typically in a condescending means, when referring to speculative economic theories which might be being espoused.

For AI self-driving automobiles, perhaps we’ve obtained a little bit of “voodoo predictions” about when AI self-driving automobiles will really be viable and turn into a mainstay in society.

Whether or not or not we should always guess on the future of mass transit based mostly on the voodoo predictions is a troublesome call. Some say play it protected and build a potential bridge to nowhere, in case it turns out to be a bridge to someplace, whereas others decry this type of logic and say don’t put good cash after dangerous.

Guess we’d like time to let this play out, and perhaps a transportation “witch doctor” to type this out.

Copyright 2019 Dr. Lance Eliot

This content is initially posted on AI Developments.