Here’s what autonomous vehicles could mean for the Washington region’s future — good and bad

The one thing that’s certain about the autonomous future heralded by executives in Detroit and Silicon Valley, a future that’s either years or decades away depending on which experts you consult: It will entail more driving.

By the year 2040, the nation’s capital could be a bustling network of autonomous vehicles, with better access to jobs on its eastern and western extremities. Traffic would glide smoothly on freeways — the cars automatically keeping a safe distance by “talking” to one another — with no empty seats in the roving fleet of vehicles…

“In our worst-case scenario, we see a decline in ridership on transit because people are switching their mode from transit to autonomous vehicles,” said Richard Ezike, mobility and equity fellow with the Union of Concerned Scientists, who led the study about autonomous vehicles’ impact on the region.