That might lead to a different kind of dystopia (also with historical antecedents): one in which fast, functional transport is available only to those who can pay.
Luckily, history also suggests a solution: mass transit.
Ride-hailing services might introduce multi-passenger vehicles and split travel costs across riders (they could call them “buses”).
Or, as Daniel Rauch and David Schleicher of Yale University argue, governments might instead co-optthe new transport ecosystem for their own purposes.
They might subsidise the travel of low-income workers, or take over such systems entirely (a common fate for mass-transit systems which begin life as private enterprises, including the NewYork subway).
Municipal networks of driverless cars might prove less efficient than private ones, particularly if cars are rationed on a first-come-first-served basis rather than by price.
But in the past city governments have felt that providing equal-opportunity access to centres of economic activity was worth the cost.
Should congestion prove ineradicablein a driverless world, people will continue to hope for technological solutions, like the long-promised flying cars.
While we wait for that—and the clotted skyways that would soon follow—governments would be wise to keep their underground systems in good working order.