I was debating with a friend of mine earlier this week about the future of mass transit and public infrastructure. Naturally, the conversation moved toward autonomous cars and Uber/Lyft. The basic argument, which you can read in stories like Spencer Woodman's tale from Altamonte Springs, is that Uber and self-driving cars are just going to outright replace public transit.
I think that is completely wrong for several reasons.
First, few large cities can transfer everyone to private vehicles and still maintain any flow of traffic. New York City, for example, has some of the slowest car transit in the nation, at just 8.51 MPH in Manhattan. It's hard to believe that everyone who takes a subway today (1.76 billion rides in 2015