Role 1. City Planner

City planners, according to the American Planning Association, are supposed to “maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of all people” in a community.¹ The role of city planners can include being part of the decision-making process that determines the locations of parks, streets, and residential and commercial areas. They develop these plans based on a variety of factors that include looking at demographics, considering economic and environmental impacts, and incorporating community input.

Many reports indicate that autonomous vehicles will be a vital cog in the design of the future city (e.g., World Economic Forum 2018).² As a planner working for the city planning department, you must assess what the deployment of self-driving buses would entail for your city, including its downtown area. Your role is to facilitate a group discussion about how self-driving buses might shape the city’s infrastructure and in the end, to deliver a set of recommendations that will aid city officials in deciding whether or not to participate as a testbed for the self-driving bus fleet.

As a city planner, your main points of prioritization include:

  • Maximizing the safety of the public
  • Creating a livable built environment
  • Describing the impact of self-driving buses on transit-dependent populations
  • Encouraging the design of “complete streets” that allow for all types of users, including pedestrians, bikers, and transit riders
  • Upholding the tenets of green design and sustainability, which could include encouraging shared rides
  • Prompting a resilient economy by improving transportation access to employment centers, particularly for populations that may not have personal vehicles
  • Upholding equity principles by expanding access and mobility for all ages, abilities, and incomes
  • Addressing concerns related to street congestion
  • In addition, during the stakeholder committee phase, you are responsible for ensuring that all of the stakeholders in your group have a meaningful opportunity to voice their point of view. This could involve having each stakeholder provide a brief opening statement. You could also brainstorm a set of potential recommendations as a group, and then allow each stakeholder to weigh in on a proposed recommendation.



  1. What Is Planning? (n.d.). American Planning Association. Retrieved from
  2. Reshaping Urban Mobility with Autonomous Vehicles: Lessons from the City of Boston. (2018, June). World Economic Forum. Retrieved from

Supplemental Readings