Stories by Gordon Bauer

Expert Voices

Early stage AVs could make car-sharing companies more efficient

Illustration of car on top of a road map
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today's AVs aren't ready to drive themselves in all situations, but they could be enlisted to make traditional car-sharing services more efficient.

Why it matters: Companies like Zipcar and Car2Go could lower their operating costs and edge into the autonomous driving world by using early-stage AVs to navigate between rental customers. And every mile driven by a person would still be a mile the AV learns, helping to map roadways.

Expert Voices

As housing costs rise, AVs could raise commute times, CO2 emissions

Cars drive northbound on the Golden Gate Bridge May, 8, 2008 in Sausalito, California.
California's Golden Gate Bridge, which connects San Francisco and Sausalito. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

As housing prices in the Bay Area have skyrocketed, more people have moved to peripheral cities and seen their commutes lengthen as a result. Between 2005 and 2016, the number of people in the region who commute more than 90 minutes per day increased 113%.

The big picture: Once autonomous vehicles come to market, this issue will only get worse. As spending time in a car becomes less onerous, the tradeoff of moving a few hours away to save money on rent will look increasingly favorable. Aside from its environmental impact, this shift could also lead to increased income inequality: Recent studies have uncovered an inverse relationship between time spent commuting and economic mobility.

Expert Voices

Ride-hailing caps don't address the root causes of urban congestion

A Lyft ride hailing vehicle moves through traffic in Manhattan on July 30, 2018 in New York City.
A Lyft ride-hailing car moves through traffic in Manhattan on July 30, 2018, in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Last week, New York City passed the nation’s first cap on new licenses for ride-hailing vehicles, like those driving for Uber and Lyft, citing in part concerns over worsening congestion and declining transit ridership. The decision represents the culmination of alarm over app-based ride-hailing companies and could serve as a blueprint for cities across the U.S.

Yes, but: Privately owned vehicles driven for personal use still dominate our transportation system, in large part because using one is cheap, fast and comfortable after the initial investment. Any regulatory solution to congestion must focus on personal vehicles first. Short of that, placing limits on Uber or Lyft will be a mere drop in the gas tank.