AVs, a chance for a diversified public transport system

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

by: Sacha Oerlemans

Imagine providing affordable, sustainable and convenient mobility options to all citizens including less mobile persons, the elderly, children and people living in suburban or rural areas. Imagine these mobility solutions opening the way for decarbonisation, to enable your city to regain valuable urban space to be reallocated to green zones, economic activities or affordable housing and to provide flexible, around the clock on-demand transport that is safe and cost-efficient. Autonomous vehicles can help to build that future.

  • Removing four out of every five cars would have a significant positive impact for cities and affects not only the environment, traffic efficiency, and parking but also frees up a lot of urban space.
  • In many cities, on-street parking accounts for a vast amount of land, which could be freed for other uses.
  • Fewer cars would also lower the cost of building and maintaining roads and generate less noise whilst having a smaller environmental impact.
UITP Policy brief - possible applications of AVs

Driving patterns of vehicles could be algorithmically optimised, but most importantly: self-driving vehicles would also provide much safer roads as today 1.2 million worldwide a year die in automobile-related deaths and 90% of the accidents are due to human error.

BUT this will only happen if AVs are introduced in fleets of driverless shared autonomous vehicles of different sizes reinforcing an efficient high capacity public transport network supporting walking and cycling.

Indeed, studies clearly state that these results are only obtained if autonomous vehicles are shared and they complement an efficient high-capacity public transport system. Public transport is and remains the only solution able to fulfil the lion’s share of trips by using a minimum amount of space in dense urban environments and enabling people to travel in a time-efficient manner.

The decisive factors that will determine the realisation of this vision are the shared usage of AVs in fleets and the use of fully driverless operation. If fully automated operation cannot be accomplished, AVs will not be able to form a new mode of transport and thus could not enhance existing public transport.

UITP policy brief - public transport quickest development path

Therefore cities and countries must actively shape the introduction of AVs now to prepare the authorisation of driverless operation. An integrated effort of all authorities concerned (mobility, road safety, urban planning, traffic control, etc.) must be put in place. Otherwise we will miss the chance for a fundamental change in urban mobility and end up in a scenario where vehicle automation will even further increase the amount of private car and vehicle miles travelled with all the associated negative externalities.

UITP policy brief - AVs only help if as shared fleets integrated

Source; UITP - Policy brief Autonomous Vehicles