With self-driving cars, Uber and more, traditional transportation planning ‘just falls apart’

With such new developments as self-driving cars, high-tech vehicles designed to avoid crashes by reacting more quickly than drivers, and even Uber and Lyft ride-hailing services, transportation planners are realizing something. The way they traditionally prepare for the future “just falls apart,” Jeff Harris, planning director for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), told fellow planners and officials Wednesday at a Wasatch Choice 2050 Consortium workshop. He said planners normally would simply look at such things as population and job projections to determine where new or expanded roads and transit are needed. That is how the just-completed statewide transportation plan through 2040 was developed.But Harris said rapidly changing technology now creates too much uncertainty for that process to work well in the future, and planners are struggling to adapt and incorporate more flexibility.