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SANDAG Details Preparations for New Transportation Technologies

April 13, 2021 -- Regional Leaders Hear from Tech and Transportation Experts at Ford, Qualcomm, and ASPIRE as SANDAG Develops 2021 Regional Plan

On Friday, April 9, the SANDAG Board of Directors met with private and public sector experts to discuss disruptive technologies that are transforming the transportation industry, and how these innovations are shaping the 2021 Regional Plan. The plan, which acts as the blueprint for land use and transportation planning in the San Diego region through 2050, aims to enhance quality of life by creating a comprehensive transportation system that is faster, fairer, and cleaner than ever before.

SANDAG staff leadership emphasized that these changes are already occurring, making it important that the agency prepares now to ensure new technologies complement the region’s transportation goals. For example, while electric and autonomous vehicles can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they can contribute to traffic congestion and increase social inequities if they are not affordable.

“Technology brings tremendous opportunity, but there is also tremendous risk if we don’t plan ahead to harness new innovations,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “We can’t sit back and expect these technological disruptions to organize themselves into a unified transportation system. For the first time we are working to incorporate this fundamental technology shift into our Regional Plan, so we have the tools not only to keep up but to plan ahead.'

The Board met with experts from Ford, Qualcomm, and ASPIRE to discuss the rapid pace of technological adoption moving at a speed not seen before. It took more than seven decades for inventions such as the telephone to reach market penetration, but modern technologies are being adopted at a much quicker rate. In 2019, 96% of Americans owned a cell phone, and the share who own a smartphone increased 81% in less than 10 years.

At the SANDAG Board meeting, three categories of new technologies upending conventional wisdom were discussed:

“Mobility as a Service” is an emerging transportation trend that enables a transition from the current paradigm, where vehicle ownership is practically a necessity, to a new system where people can easily access cars or other vehicles when they need them through a subscription service or a one-time rental. Examples include ride hailing and car share services like Lyft and Uber, micro-mobility options like bikes and scooters, or micro-transit like sharing trips through a door-to-door shuttle service.

New vehicle technologies include electric vehicles that produce no greenhouse gas emissions and can help improve air quality; connected vehicles that are equipped with wireless technology that enables communication with other vehicles or anything with a smart sensor; and autonomous vehicles that do not require a human to safely perform some or all operations.

Smart cities and transportation systems are made up of intelligent infrastructure embedded with sensors that communicate with each other, providing real-time conditions in the area. Streetlights, roadways, and even buildings can be connected to the Internet to connect with our devices and the transportation system as a whole.

This was the fourth presentation in 2021 to the Board focused on the Regional Plan. Last August, SANDAG detailed a vision for a faster, fairer, and cleaner transportation system, brought to life through the 5 Big Moves. In February, following extensive modeling and analysis, SANDAG released key planning assumptions and initial modeling results that showed the agency will meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction target and vastly increase the number of people who have access to fast and frequent transit. In March, SANDAG released to the public data being used to develop the Regional Plan, discussed financing strategies, and detailed investments that will be incorporated into the plan, including doubling investments in transit projects to create a greener and faster network.

Updated every four years, the Regional Plan aims to develop a transportation system that works for everyone in San Diego County. In the coming months, the SANDAG Board of Directors will discuss the development of the plan further with presentations focused social equity and alignment with state, regional, and local planning. A draft of the plan will be presented later this spring, with a vote by the Board expected this fall.

Project Manager(s)

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or pio@sandag.org.