Not only will autonomous cars see the end of out-dated transport systems like rail, but will also seriously impact things like parking. I have always said that the ideal public transport system is one that has little vehicles that pull up outside your house, take you to where you want tot go then disappear until you need them again to go somewhere else. We kind of already¬†have¬†that system, they are called taxis. But imagine if all those taxis were autonomous and cheap?
…every metropolitan area in the United States contains many, many more parking spaces than automobiles. When you’re at work, the space allocated for your vehicle at home sits there empty. When you’re at home, the space allocated for your vehicle at the office sits empty. Malls build parking to accommodate demand during peak hours, and the spaces mostly sit empty off-peak. But if the cars could drive around without a human pilot, there’d be no need for such lavish supplies of vehicle storage. In principle, a metro area could get by with fewer than one parking space per car since even at minimum-demand times a nonzero quantity of vehicles would be in use. That’s probably extreme, but right now depending on how you count we have¬†somewhere between three and eight parking spaces¬†per car. If the cars don’t need to sit idly waiting for you until you want to leave (imagine a world of cheap, ubiquitous taxis) that number is going to become totally ridiculous. After exploding for about 60 years, the torrent of parking construction is going to halt very suddenly and then start shifting into reverse.
Ironically it could make silly rail lines useful:
Commuter rail stations, for example, will no longer need to choose between park-and-ride and transit-oriented development models. Every station will be a little TOD neighborhood, and people from further away will get dropped off and picked up at the station without needing to worry about storing a car there.
It would be far more¬†logical¬†for Auckland COuncil to invest in the¬†technologies¬†and infrastructure that make autonomous cars possible than in rail.