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I think this is one of those examples of how unless regulated there will be 10x more cars on the road if/when self driving cars are ubiquitous.

Lots of people envisioned less cars because the with self driven cars the current use of cars can be covered by less cars but self driven cars enable more uses. Send your kids to their friends. Grandma goes shopping. Need to borrow a drill pop it in car. Want to run a local cake store. Deliver the cakes in the cars. Right now in my city there are billboard trucks that drive around. I can imagine 10x more of them. And of course with no driver and lots of competition prices will come down. Why take public transport when I can be delivered door to door for less.

I enjoy public transport here in Tokyo and I'm happy for the excersize I get walking to and from the station but, for example my office is a 20 minute walk from my apartment. I usually walk it but if it's raining or too hot I've used the Taxi app to have a taxi pick me up and drive me that short distance. The cheaper, easier, and faster (time to pickup) things get the more likely I'll take advantage of that more often.




It will be only a matter of time until we have autonomous vehicle spam: cars with billboards driving around (unless stuck in traffic) simply to be seen.

It could be a huge problem because of competing goals. The spammers won't care about traffic flow as their only goal will be to have cars on the road and visible, whilst people in cars will want to get places in a reasonable time.


I hate to tell you.....this is already a thing with drivers. Las Vegas is infamous for this, and I have seen them in other large cities too. And the issue you describe happens as well. The Car with billboards want to drive as slow as they can for that reason, and it directly competes with folks who are trying to get from point A to Point B


Fortunately the regulatory way out is easy. Forbid ads on vehicles.


Like all politics, it's not so simple. What qualifies as an ad? Should Walmart and Amazon discontinue their corporate logo (and sometimes produce) on their semi-trucks? Many large companies put a lot of thought into the branding on their vehicles: a law forbidding that will not get passed without a fight.

Here's some real-world examples:

https://news.walmart.com/_download?id=00000141-101d-d62e-a3c...

https://amp.businessinsider.com/images/58fe073f0ba0b8ce018b5...

http://newsroom.meijer.com/Media/Default/images/broll%201.JP...


Respectfully, I think that would cause a lot more trouble than the problem. Would that mean the license plate ads are illegal? Or the Dealers stickers? Or would branding for cars be ads? And many commercial trucks have ads for their trucks. While I despise seeing those Ad trucks, I think making them illegal would cause more problems than it solves.


Just Dutch auction off the limited quantity: road space. Modern technology allows ubiquitous tracking and recognition of vehicles. No reason to subsidize at that point. We can just charge everyone


We already have a system to turn road usage into government revenue. Collection is easy efficient, and wastes zero time for the people paying. It does a good job correlating not only to road use but also pollution produced. In fact it's so easy to pay that many consumers rarely even think about it when they're paying it, yet even anonymous cash payers can't find a way to skirt around it.

It's called the gas tax, and it does a good enough job charging people for their negative externalities that everyone seems to hate it.


This would be true if fuel usage was linearly related to wear and tear on the roads, or road usage.

Fuel taxes almost never tax heavy usage vehicles enough, compared to the amount of damage they do to the road.

A fuel tax also doesn't solve the problem grandparent post is trying to solve, excess usage of 'high value' roads.

If road usage, and road wear and tear, was evenly distributed then a fuel tax would work, but the reality is that is simply a convenient and fairly effective proxy solution. As technology improves a solution similar to grandparent, some form of usage tolling, will become feasible and provide a more effective outcome.


I don't think it's wise to encourage even more tracking of people/objects moving around in the real world.

it probably wouldn't be that bad if government could track autonomous semis making deliveries to large shopping centers, but I wouldn't want it to have fine-grained data on who goes where and who delivers to their house.


That's easy enough to solve, simply ban advertising on vehicles. We ban billboards or regulate signage in many communities, so there's certainly precident.


Very few communities in the United States put quality of life ahead of the needs of businesses.


I think the "Rebound effect" may help you in your argument. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebound_effect_(conservation)


> The cheaper, easier, and faster (time to pickup) things get the more likely I'll take advantage of that more often.

I think this balances out naturally though in (y)our situation -- there's limited space for taxis near the station, so if a lot of people are taking taxis, the benefit of taking a taxi approaches zero unless the benefit is "sit" rather than "save time."

A good example of this is rainy days or typhoons.

So in the other cases you list, I wonder if it might not be self-balancing there as well -- as the roads get congested, the benefit of popping a drill into a car to send to a friend or whatever will approach zero as the costs rise due to congested roads.


I think you're saying the problem is as more people take taxis the lines for them get longer at the station. But I don't need to wait in that line if I'm going door to door.

As for congestion, if all the cars are AI maybe they can pack a few X more cars on the streets? Not saying I like that idea


> I think you're saying the problem is as more people take taxis the lines for them get longer at the station. But I don't need to wait in that line if I'm going door to door.

I'm saying that the immediate area around the station gets incredibly congested, so it's difficult to get close to the station in anything that approaches a timely fashion. It prevents "door to door" since it takes longer to get to the station "door" with the congestion than it would have taken to simply walk.


But I have no desire to go to the station door. I want to go to my destination. From my door to my office door. Or from my door to my friends door. I have zero interest in going to some station to use an outdated mode of transport when I can have a modern and cheap AI car take me directly to where I'm trying to go


My bad; I completely misread your initial post as wanting to replace a 20 minute walk from your house to the station with a taxi.


Yes. Roads widened -> traffic increased.

Also: when you drive, you probably schedule a bunch of errands to do on the one trip. Soon, you mightn't bother arranging to avoid this bother. Corollary: Then, why collocate businesses? This could be the beginning of the end of the mall.


> This could be the beginning of the end of the mall.

Malls started dying a long time ago. Articles like this[1] have been written for years.

[1] http://time.com/4865957/death-and-life-shopping-mall/


>Roads widened -> traffic increased.

This is only true when there is unmet demand. I have a lot of roads to show you in Western Nebraska that won’t get increased traffic no matter how big they get.


Rather, it's true when the existing roads have a lot of traffic.

The reason why widened roads increases traffic isn't just unmet demand; demand actually increases. The extra capacity means that people can shorten journey times by using the road, and they then locate their homes and businesses at either end or along the road. The road itself increases demand.


I think the OPs point is that this is not true. Roads do not ever, themselves, increase demand in any way. (See any rural area anywhere, full of roads way under max capacity).

> The extra capacity means that people can shorten journey times by using the road, and they then locate their homes and businesses at either end or along the road

Exactly. So if people are shortening their journey times using the road, then whatever previous journey they took no longer exists. The new road did not increase demand, it relocated already-existing previously-poorly-serviced demand to a new more efficient route.

This is generally a good thing, it's what a successful road project is intentionally supposed to do, and why they are worth spending money on.


Exactly. So if people are shortening their journey times using the road, then whatever previous journey they took no longer exists. The new road did not increase demand, it relocated already-existing previously-poorly-serviced demand to a new more efficient route.

This is a mendacious misphrasing of what I wrote.

People move. Businesses move. People are born. Businesses are created. There isn't a static amount of demand. People make decisions based on costs; whether they create a business, whether they have children, where they live, where they work. Roads change costs. If you have a clue about economics, you'll know that when costs change demand changes in all elastic markets.

Roads don't simply move demand around. People make more use of roads when they're cheaper to use. In other words, demand increases.

If you don't understand this, please consult an economics primer. Your argument seems to come from the same place as the ignorant people who think immigration lowers wages.


It is you who needs an economics primer, specifically in supply and demand curves.

People are willing to pay a certain amount of time to drive on a road. This is your demand curve. Everyone willing to spend any amount of time driving makes up all of your demand.

Your supply curve is the speed the road can provide. Increase the average speed by removing stop lights, decreasing congestion, etc and you capture more of the demand.

The only way a road increases demand is if people move to a location they refused to consider before the existence of the road. However, non of the analysis on induced demand for roads analyzes this (that I’ve seen on the academic side). All of it is mistaking capturing more of the demand curve for increasing demand because the effect is always immediate.


That’s not increased demand, it’s just meeting demand that was only willing to pay a lower price in the form of time spent on the road.




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