Q: What kind of transportation system do you see for Seattle?
A: Agnew: [Our vision is that] 25,000 ACES van pools should be operating within five years. If you reduce the cost of transportation for employers, employees, you make commuting easier and decongest the freeways. You get people to work on time. It's a comfortable ride. They're relaxed. That's a powerful employment tool to get people to move here.
We're all beginning to realize that if we work together to sell this vision, it's going to make it easier for our people to get to work.
What progress have you made?
Agnew: We're working collectively, from our governor, who is very open to this with his executive order, to Steve visiting Phoenix and San Francisco, and us going to Congress in D.C., meeting with Waymo and courting General Motors and talking to Ford. We're trying to bring them here to deploy autonomous vehicle technology and pilot programs.
But it's also a matter of putting together an ecosystem for them — with EV charging, state regulations, local support from elected officials, an open technology-oriented, connected system that they can operate on, and essentially [adding onto] what has been a growing industry in our area.
Agnew: I can't think of any place that has the natural advantages. All of a sudden, this is the hottest economy in the country. You've got this incredible, rich tapestry of tech companies, good political leadership from the governor and a willingness to say we're open for business.
Is it difficult to sell this idea to the government?
Agnew: Government people want to understand it. And when you explain that you can save lives, reduce carbon, they're on board. But there's a tech world and there's a government world, and they really don't blend well.
It's really a matter of showcasing the technology. And we need to constantly say that we need to think about moving people differently, because we've got some real problems here.
What are the challenges?
Agnew: We need 5G, and we're fighting a good battle in terms of convincing individual cities to fast-track 5G permanently. We've got to really take the issue out of the bureaucracy to fast-track it. We have a good start with Bellevue, and we're branching out into Renton and Seattle and other places, educating the public or the elected officials about why this is important to solve congestion, reduce carbon, save lives and also provide mobility for lower income folks. It's a nice, compact, simply elegant package that you explain in four pages.
What's your top priority moving forward?
Marshall: The real need now is to demonstrate the safety of these [ADAS and autonomous vehicle] systems in a way that the public can understand. We think pilot and demonstration projects will be the best way of doing that.