I got heated this morning during a conversation about how the bus company should focus on providing high-quality, fixed-route transit and not get distracted by whatever shiny new thing. In this specific case, I was ranting about autonomous vehicles, but it could be on-demand this or Uber/Lyft that, too.
I have noticed a trend in tech media in the last few years: people assert that new technology is about to make public transportation and the walkable urbanism that underlies it obsolete, and therefore it’s a waste of time to invest in the latter. The top examples of this are ride-hailing apps and autonomous cars, but electric cars are also a common excuse not to build urban rail. In addition, there are knock-on effects, causing transit agencies to neglect core functions like good service in favor of tech gimmicks, like Andrew Cuomo’s genius challenge.