Today brings Wake County voters like me one more reason to vote against a rise in the sales tax on the November ballot.
And it gives everyone in North Carolina’s cities another reason to say “Stop!” to the establishment’s incessant calls for more buses, more trains, more, more, more mass transit. For the rapid advances in self-driving cars may doom the era of buses and trains.
The November ballot in Wake includes a question on raising the sales tax a half-cent to fund a $2.3 billion mass transit. But today, in Pittsburgh, Pa., the ride-sharing company Uber debuted an experiment in self-driving cars.
People will be able to hail Volvos that will automatically drive themselves around that city. It’s still an experiment: two Uber employees will be in the front of the cars to take over if needed.
But the technology is in high gear. Ford, General Motors, Tesla and others are working hard to bring their own autonomous cars into use. Ford is claiming it will have a fleet of robo-taxis in use in five years.
Of course, it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen. But it’s entirely possible that before Wake County is done spending billions on mass transit, there will be a host of robocars humming along the streets of our cities. There will be no need to rush to a bus stop or train station at a precise time, ride along while the vehicle stops and starts, then trudge from your final top to your true destination. Dial up a self-driving car, and it will take you to your destination.
If there is a genuine need to help poor people get to their jobs or doctor appointments, it will be far cheaper and effective to subsidize their robo-taxi rides than spend billions on buses and on rail lines.
Wake County is of course just the most pressing instance. The same will hold true all over the state.
The era of mass transit ended today. The era of personalized transit is beginning. Every NC taxpayer should remember that when the establishment presses them to spend more, more, more on outmoded forms of transportation.