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By Patrick Nangle, CEO, Modo 
Decongested! That’s my vision for the future of transportation in our region: great public transit complemented by the availability of tens of thousands of shared vehicles that are electric and autonomous. It’s the path to affordable, convenient, inclusive and sustainable transportation.
We live in one of the best places in the world. So attractive in fact that we expect to welcome up to a million new residents over the next two decades. That could add more than 600,000 cars to the 1.6 million already in the region. Metro Vancouver could be overwhelmed by that surge in the vehicle population. If we think traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution is already bad, we haven’t seen anything yet.
Happily, we can act today to avoid that outcome. Over 3,000 shared cars in our region today, comprised of round-trip vehicles (e.g. Modo) and to a lesser degree one-way, have replaced up to 30,000 privately owned vehicles. A good start but it only scratches the surface. We will need to replace a very large number of privately owned vehicles with shared ones. Tens of thousand of shared vehicles replacing hundreds of thousands of privately-owned cars. Imagine life with even 25 per cent fewer cars on the roads. That would be a great start. Daunting but doable!
Autonomous and electric vehicle (EV) technologies will play an important role in defining the car of tomorrow. We must realize though that replacing internal combustion engine vehicles with EVs, while key to reducing emissions, if done on a 1:1 replacement basis does nothing to alleviate congestion and unlock land use opportunities, which are currently burdened by parking. Even worse, replacing the current vehicle population 1:1 with autonomous vehicles could amplify the growing congestion problem. While electric and autonomous vehicle bring unique and important benefits, their true potential will only be realized with car sharing.
Complementing great public transit with a transition away from privately owned vehicles will ensure a brighter and less congested future. That’s why round-trip carsharing is embraced and supported by transit agencies and municipalities worldwide.
As CEO of Modo, I ride the bus to work every day and use a shared car when I need one. And while not everybody can, we can all challenge ourselves to make different transportation choices. With that, maybe a 25 per cent reduction in the number of cars on the road is closer than we think.
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