Autonomous cars have entered policy debates — if not car lots — with remarkable speed. And everyone agrees that making the wrong bets now would be costly.
Autonomous vehicles that will outperform buses, cost less than Uber and travel faster than cars stuck in traffic today are two years away. Or 10. Or 30.
But visions of the future they’ll bring have already crept into City Council meetings, political campaigns, state legislation and decisions about what cities should build today. That unnerves some transportation planners and transit advocates, who fear unrealistic hopes for driverless cars — and how soon they’ll get here — could lead cities to mortgage the present for something better they haven’t seen.