According to an article originally published on Drive, people being able to drive their own vehicles between Seattle and Vancouver may soon come to an end if a plan proposed by Medrona Group, a Seattle-based technology firm, cones to pass. The plan was recently announced during the Cascadia Conference during which Governor Jay Inslee and British Columbia Prime Minister Christy Clark pledged to work together more closely in development of the region.
The plan proposed by the Medrona Group would allow autonomous cars into the HOV structure of I-5 immediately. Then, the company suggests that new lanes for self-driving cars be constructed using some of the $2 billion of venture capital pouring into Vancouver. After the lanes are constructed, then non-autonomous cars and trucks would be banned from driving on the I-5 except overnight and on the weekends.
The plan further states that the speed of development for self-driving cars should be accelerated by combining the forces at the University of Washington’s new Mobility Innovation Center with students at the University of British Columbia.
There is no doubt that the 140 mile stretch of interstate between Seattle and Vancouver can become a nightmare. Medrona Company, however, does not want to see anyone lose their jobs or have to move when their plan goes into effect. Therefore, they recommend that a voucher system be developed where low-income people could receive a self-driving car for free.
Eventually, Medrona Company wants to see the plan extended to include other areas of the Pacific Northwest where traffic is a problem. Their next goal would be to include Portland, Oregon, into the mix.
While this plan may not be perfect, it does have the support of Bill Gates behind it. Microsoft recently moved to Seattle following a move earlier by Amazon. The future in the area seems bright for technology companies. Therefore, if any area of the country is ready to accept self-driven cars it seems like this would be the perfect place.
The Seattle city council and mayor have once again passed worker’s rights laws designed to give hourly employees more dependability when it comes to their schedules. The council hopes this move will benefit those workers making them feel more empowered. You may remember that last year, Seattle became the second city in the United States to mandate a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Under the new law, according to the AP,workers who are employed by food industry and retail establishments that have 500 employees globally and to full-service restaurants with 500 employees and 40 establishments. Under the new law, employees would have to be given their schedules a minimum of 14 days in advance, be given more than 10 hours off between shifts and be paid extra if they come in at short notice. Additionally, companies cannot hire new employees until all their current employees have a full schedule. Additionally, employees who show up for work and are not needed or employees who are called and told not to come to work will have to be compensated. Employees would also receive an estimate of their total hours needed from their employer.
Starting in July, Walmart already had taken steps to allow employees more control over their schedules. These employees can enter a computer system and tell Walmart when they want to work and for how long.
A person has to wonder about this new law. Many franchisers are actually small businessmen who own very few establishments so this law would not apply to them. Additionally, it does not cover other industries that may require employees to work long hours such as those in health care. Many business owners say this new law will force them to leave Seattle. While one has to applaud the city council for trying to look out for employees, driving these employers out of Seattle does not seem like a good business principle. For the most part, these are jobs taken by the city’s youngest workers or its poorest so residents need to prepare for an impact in the social service sector as these people may no longer be able to find jobs.