10 October 2018
I think that the Town of Medfield will need to plan for this coming sea change in how we get around. I see:
Click here to read on-line
I’m guessing you are scoffing in disbelief at the very suggestion of this article, but bear with me.
A growing number of tech analysts are predicting that in less than 20 years we’ll all have stopped owning cars, and, what’s more, the internal combustion engine will have been consigned to the dustbin of history.
Yes, it’s a big claim and you are right to be sceptical, but the argument that a unique convergence of new technology is poised to revolutionise personal transportation is more persuasive than you might think.
The central idea is pretty simple: Self-driving electric vehicles organised into an Uber-style network will be able to offer such cheap transport that you’ll very quickly – we’re talking perhaps a decade – decide you don’t need a car any more.
And if you’re thinking this timescale is wildly optimistic, just recall how rapidly cars replaced horses.
Take a look at this picture of 5th Avenue in New York in 1900. Can you spot the car?
Now look at this picture from 1913. Yes, this time where’s the horse?
In 1908 the first Model T Ford rolled off the production line; by 1930 the equestrian age was, to all intents and purposes, over – and all thanks to the disruptive power of an earlier tech innovation – the internal combustion engine.
So how will this latest transportation revolution unfold?
First off, consider how Uber and other networked taxi companies have already changed the way we move around. In most major cities an Uber driver – or one of its rivals – is usually just a couple of minutes away, and charges less than established taxis, let’s say £10.
The company’s exponential growth is evidence of how powerful the Uber business model is.
Now take out the driver. You’ve probably cut costs by at least 50%.
So if we’re trying to work out when this revolution will begin in earnest the key date will be when self-driving vehicle technology is available and – crucially – has regulatory backing.
That could well be sooner than you think. The UK has said it hopes to authorise the first fully autonomous cars as early as 2021.
And, say enthusiasts for autonomy, it will only take one city to prove the technology is safe and useful and the rest of the world will very quickly rush to catch up.
So self-driving cars have cut our £10 journey to £5.
Now imagine the current mostly fossil fuel-powered taxi fleet is replaced with electric cars.
At the moment electric vehicles are more expensive than similar models with internal combustion engines, but offer significantly lower lifetime costs.
They are more reliable, for a start. The typical electric car has around 20 moving parts compared to the 2,000 or so in an internal combustion engine.
As a result electric vehicles also tend to last much longer. Most electric car manufacturers expect their vehicles to keep on going for at least 500,000 miles.
These factors aren’t that important for most consumers – after all, the average driver in England does less than 10,000 miles a year and our cars are parked 95% of the time. However, they are huge issues if you’re using a vehicle pretty much continuously, as would be the case with a self-driving taxi.
Add in the low cost of recharging batteries compared to refuelling and you’ve got another dramatic reduction in costs.
And it’s worth noting that the cost of electric vehicles is likely to continue to fall, and rapidly. As they become mainstream, returns to scale will drive down costs. That’s the logic behind Tesla’s $5bn (£3.8bn) battery plant, the so-called “Gigafactory”.
How does this affect our £10 journey?
It brings another dramatic reduction. Fully autonomous electric taxi networks could offer rides at as little as 10% of current rates.
At least that’s what tech prophet Tony Seba reckons. He and his team at the think-tank RethinkX have done more than anyone else to think through how this revolution might rip through the personal transportation market.
We’ve now cut our £10 fare to just £1.
Mr Seba calls the idea of a robo-taxi network “transport as a service”, and estimates it could save the average American as much as $6,000 (£4,560) a year. That’s the equivalent of a 10% pay rise.
And don’t forget, when the revolution comes you won’t be behind the wheel so now you’ll be working or relaxing as you travel – another big benefit.
You still think that car parked outside your flat is worth having?
What’s more, once this new model of getting around takes hold the benefits are likely to be reinforcing. The more vehicles in the network, the better the service offered to consumers; the more miles self-driving cars do, the more efficient and safer they’ll get; the more electric vehicles manufactured, the cheaper each one will be.
Don’t worry that rural areas will be left out. A vehicle could be parked in every village waiting for your order to come.
And range anxiety – the fear that you might run out of electricity – won’t be a problem either. Should the battery run low the network will send a fully charged car to meet you so you can continue your journey.
You’ve probably seen headlines about accidents involving self-driving cars but the truth is they will be far safer than ones driven by you and me – they won’t get regulatory approval if they are not. That means tens of thousands of lives – perhaps hundreds of thousands – will be saved as accident rates plummet.
That will generate yet another cost saving for our fleets of robo-taxis. The price of insurance will tumble, while at the same time those of us who insist on continuing to drive our own vehicles will face higher charges.
According to the tech visionaries it won’t be long before the whole market tilts irreversibly away from car ownership and the trusty old internal combustion engine.
RethinkX, for example, reckons that within 10 years of self-driving cars getting regulatory approval 95% of passenger miles will be in these electric robo-taxis.
The logical next step will be for human beings to be banned from driving cars at all because they pose such a risk to other road users.
Take a moment to think about the wide-reaching effects this revolution will have, aside from just changing how we get around. There will be downsides: millions of car industry workers and taxi drivers will be looking for new jobs, for a start.
But think of the hundreds of billions of dollars consumers will save, and which can now be spent elsewhere in the economy.
Meanwhile, the numbers of cars will plummet. RethinkX estimates that the number of vehicles on US roads will fall from nearly 250 million to just 45 million over a 10-year period. That will free up huge amounts of space in our towns and cities.
And, please take note: I haven’t mentioned the enormous environmental benefits of converting the world’s cars to electricity.
That’s because the logic of this upheaval isn’t driven by new rules on pollution or worries about global warming but by the most powerful incentive in any economy – cold hard cash.
That said, there’s no question that a wholesale switch away from fossil fuels will slow climate change and massively reduce air pollution.
In short, let the revolution begin!
But seriously, I’ve deliberately put these arguments forcefully to prompt debate and we want to hear what you think.
You can comment below, or tweet me @BBCJustinR.
This is the first time that I have heard of this particular state revenue sharing. The state is sending the Town of Medfield our $0.20 per rides with Transportation Network Companies that originated in town. Below is an email from Mike Sullivan and the forwarded email from the state DPU. I see that Boston is getting about $3.5m.
Just received this. Medfield’s distribution amount is $734.70. this might just cover the overhead administrative costs to comply with the reporting requirements. If any left over, maybe we can use it to put 109 underground through the center. Mike
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: O’Connor, Angie (DPU) <Angie.Oconnor@massmail.state.ma.us>
Date: Fri, May 25, 2018 at 10:56 AM
Subject: Municipal Disbursement
To: “O’Connor, Angie (DPU)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: “Lubitz, Katherine (DPU)” <email@example.com>, “Hawkins, Ryan M (DPU)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Municipal Official:
I write in regards to trips conducted by Transportation Network Companies (“TNCs”) in Massachusetts for the 2017 calendar year and the requirement of a $0.20 per‑ride assessment. St. 2016, c. 187, § 8. The Transportation Network Company Division (“Division”) of the Department of Public Utilities (“Department”), as the oversight authority for TNCs, has recently collected assessments from all TNCs and will be proportionately distributing the funds to municipalities. A spreadsheet of municipal disbursements is attached to this email. In addition, the Division has recently collected and analyzed TNC trip data across Massachusetts, and has made this information publically available. The purpose of my writing to you is to provide information regarding municipal use of funds received from the assessment, as well as the published information on TNC trip data.
Chapter 187 of the Acts of 2016 established a Commonwealth Transportation Infrastructure Fund (“Fund”). St. 2016, c. 187, § 8(a). As required, each TNC has submitted to the Division the number of rides from the previous calendar year that originated within each city or town and a per‑ride assessment of $0.20, which has been credited to the Fund. St. 2016, c. 187, § 8(a). One‑half (½) of the amount received from the Fund will be distributed proportionately to each city and town based on the number of rides that originated in that city or town. St. 2016, c. 187, § 8(c)(i). In addition, one fourth (¼) will be distributed to the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, established in G.L. c. 23G, § 2, in order to provide financial assistance to small businesses operating in the taxicab, livery, or hackney industries and to encourage the adoption of new technologies and advanced service, safety, and operational capabilities and to support workforce development; and one fourth (¼) to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, established in G.L. c. 29, § 2ZZZ. St. 2016, c. 187, §§ 8(c)(ii) and (iii).
We expect to disburse these funds within the coming weeks.
The distributed funds are special revenue without further appropriation. The funds must be used “to address the impact of transportation network services on municipal roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure or any other public purpose substantially related to the operation of transportation network services in the city or town including, but not limited to, the complete streets program established in [G.L. c. 90I, § 1] and other programs that support alternative modes of transportation.” St. 2016, c. 187, § 8(c)(i). Each city or town receiving distribution from the Fund must submit a report to the Division not later than December 31, 2018, detailing the projects and the amount used or planned to be used for transportation-related projects, as described above. St. 2016, c. 187, § 8(d). The Division is required to compile the reports and post the projects and amounts of money used on its website, located at https://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-public-utilities-transportation-network-company-division. St. 2016, c. 187, § 8(d).
In addition, as required by regulation, the Division has recently collected data regarding TNC trips throughout Massachusetts, such as data on ride origination and destination, and average time and distance of trips. 220 CMR 274.12(2)(a). The Division has published this information, along with preliminary analyses, which can be located at https://tnc.sites.digital.mass.gov/. Lastly, the Department intends to continue working with TNCs to obtain and publish further information regarding their contribution to the Commonwealth’s transportation landscape.
I hope that you find this information beneficial.
Angela M. O’Connor
Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
One South Station
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
From the Town of Medfield website –
Philips Street Bridge Update:
April 11 2018 UPDATE
The fabricator/manufacturer has completed the top bridge deck and will be coordinating with the installation contractor for delivery. Final contracts for the installation contractor are scheduled to be signed on April 12th. Once the manufacturer and contractor have agreed upon a delivery date, a schedule can be determined for the work. We will update the website with the new schedule as soon as it becomes available.
From Sarah Raposa –
The Economic Development Committee (EDC) and their consultants from Nelson\Nygaard are requesting public input in formulating strategies for a parking management plan for downtown Medfield.
Please take our survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/MedfieldParking
The survey closes Monday, March 26, 2018 at 8 am. Thank you!
Sarah Raposa, AICP
459 Main Street
Medfield, MA 02052
Tweet from Medfield Police Department this afternoon –
From the town website alerts I signed up to get –
|This complimentary message is being sent to opt-in subscribers who might be interested in its content. If you do not wish to continue receiving these messages, please accept our apologies, and unsubscribe by following the instructions at the bottom of this message.
* * * * * * *
|March 13, 2018 10:00 AM|
|Due to the storm the Town Hall is closed today 3/13/2018. All Board and Committee meetings have been canceled for today. Read on|
Downtown Medfield Parking Strategy Public Meeting
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Public Safety Building (First Floor Training Room)
The Economic Development Committee (EDC) and their consultants from Nelson\Nygaard will discuss and request in formulating strategies for a parking management plan for downtown Medfield. This process is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative Technical Assistance (MDI) Program. The guiding principle of the MDI is to address economic and community development needs holistically and provide a framework of interrelated activities that promote positive change in a downtown to keep it healthy and prosperous. The EDC would like to hear from property owners, business owners, residents, and users of the downtown about locations and availability of spaces, walkability, safety, and signage.
Please take our survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/MedfieldParking
All are welcome to share concerns as well as ideas on how to improve parking management!
Sarah Raposa, AICP
459 Main Street
Medfield, MA 02052
We need to plan for the changes autonomous vehicles will make in town, and to new developments, such as at the former MSH site. I think this will be a boon to older residents who are no longer driving themselves, and also as a way to network various parts of town to the downtown and to one another, and, also, to link us to regional transportation hubs. This article is from Efficient Government –
They are not the future, in some cities, driverless taxis are taking riders now. Auto manufacturers are also ramping up orders and requesting Federal approvals for autonomous level four vehicle production.
Driverless taxis are already on the road in Pittsburgh, and GeekWire is covering all the details of what’s happening at the facility where 200 Volvos, equipped with LIDAR cameras, drive themselves in and out. According to Uber’s website, the test drives are collecting data with real passengers excited to take their self-driving selfiies:
We’re piloting a program now where you can get matched up with a self-driving Uber when you request uberX. When you do, you get a glimpse of the future AND access to the selfie machine. Mind. Blown.
But it’s not just Uber, and it’s not just Pittsburgh. Driverless taxis are operating in Phoenix, Arizona, and coming to Greenville County, South Carolina, and at least to the seven states that have already authorized autonomous vehicle operation.
According to the Greenville News, the Federal Highway Administration awarded the county $4 million to develop a public automated taxi system that would be the first of its kind in the nation.
These funds will help Greenville County lead the nation into a future with more driverless vehicles, which will improve mobility for some and reduce traffic congestion for all,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson said.
According to ArsTechnica, Waymo, the company conducting the first U.S. public trial of self-driving cars in Phoenix, just placed an order for an overwhelming number of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The Google-spawned company suggested it is moving beyond self-driving tests in Phoenix, Michigan and Atlanta and scaling up for wider autonomous vehicle operations.
With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development, to operations and deployment,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo.
According to NBC News, General Motors (GM) plans is asking to sweep seven states with driverless taxis by 2019.
GM asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for waivers covering 16 regulations, said Kyle Vogt, the CEO of Cruise Automation, an autonomous technology company owned by GM. With Federal and state approvals, the company said it would produce 2,500 driverless Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles per year.
In addition to driverless taxis, cities like Las Vegas are testing driverless shuttles.
First, a Castle Avenue resident told me that there is a telephone pole that was in the middle of the cul-de-sac that broke off and needs replacement, and he is hoping it can be replaced 15-16′ to the West, out of the asphalt. It is a pole that hosts a guy wire to another pole, now leaning. Also, he abuts the rear of 93-95 North Street and he said that property floods after heavy rains and it takes 3-4 days to dry out at times.
Second, I had discussions with a resident about the town buying their land, how a price might get determined, timing, and their capital gain tax issues.
Third a resident wants to create a dog park in town where dogs can run off leash. I encouraged her to get in touch with the Animal Control Study Committee, and I put her in touch with them. She also had concerns over trucks parked on North Street in front of Nosh N Grog to make deliveries. She also suggested parking meters – I told her how happy I was that we had a parking problem, because it means things are going on, and I mentioned that a parking study is coming soon, so we will have data from which to make decisions. I also recounted how Wellesley was always tight on parking when I would commute home at night, until Blue Ginger closed, and now they have plenty of parking. We now have a similar restaurant effect at night downtown.
Lastly, I discussed senior housing with another resident who hopes for sale price point of $350-500K (with deeded owner profit limitations), preferences for Medfield residents, and town staff assistance in writing a warrant article for the annual town meeting.
I can imagine that autominous vehicles will be in our town’s future, and will eventually be the buses we do not have now. It could be a great way to solve linkage issues and transportation for seniors, maybe to link the remote Medfield State Hospital site to the downtown, and maybe the school buses of our future.