British Columbia

Driverless cars could lead to more traffic

Experts warn that unless driverless vehicles are shared they will lead to more traffic.

Transportation expert warns that unless the vehicles are shared they could lead to more congestion

Google's new self-driving prototype car was presented in 2015 during a a demonstration at the Google campus in Mountain View, California. (Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

Some transportation experts warn that driverless vehicles may lead to more traffic.

"​We could end up with a lot of cars on the road," said AnnaLisa Meyboom, director of the Transportation Infrastructure and Public Space Lab (TIPSlab) research group at UBC. 

Meyboom spoke with guest host Stephen Quinn on CBC's The Early Edition on Monday.

"You've all sorts of potential extra people on the road that don't currently drive, including kids, dogs and people who are blind," she said. 

Lines of cars are pictured during a rush hour traffic jam on Guomao Bridge in Beijing July 11, 2013. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Re-imagine public transportation

Meyboom wants the government to re-imagine public transportation to include driverless cars. 

She suggests looking into autonomous shuttles that could carry about 10 people on either a fixed route or on demand. 

Or, she suggests a driverless taxi service, where you request a vehicle via your mobile phone, then a car picks you up and takes you to your destination. 

Meyboom admits though that such services will only work if they are available to everyone regardless of income or location.

Legislation needed

Meyboom said legislation would have to be brought into place for driverless transit services to work.

"Otherwise they may decide that area is profitable, that area isn't. Which means you will end up with no transportation services to certain areas in some cases, or you will end up with a very poorly monetized transportation system," she said. 

With files from the CBC's The Early Edition and Jake Costello.

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