Self-driving vehicles (SDVs) - Impact analysis Amsterdam

Thursday, 21 September 2017

by: Sacha Oerlemans

An extract from the Dutch BCG report;

The city of Amsterdam has asked the Boston Consulting Group to determine:

  • the impact of self-driving vehicles on the city's amenities
  • which interventions would be useful to maximise benefits and minimise disadvantages.

Self-driving vehicles (SDVs) will become common place on our streets, but when:

  • The technology is expected to be ready around 2025 for not too complex traffic situations, such as motorways and arterial roads.
  • No significant barriers are expected economically. Currently, some 25% of Dutch consumers say they are willing to pay EUR 5,000 extra for SDV features. Se we can expect enough early-adopters to launch SDV technology.
  • Legislation is not expected to be a bottleneck for introducing SDVs.

The SDV offering will include:

  • private cars
  • self-driving taxis
  • self-driving mini busses.

With these models and propositions, the dividing line between public and private transport will gradually disappear.

BCG SDV Amsterdam costs comparison

Costs comparions

Costs per passenger kilometre

  • The cost for travel in a self-driving car (SDC) and self-driving taxi (SDT) will be comparable to the vehicles currently in use.
  • The cost of travel in a self-driving bus (SDB) will be lower than current public transport.

From the BCG impact analysis you may conclude that SDVs will have a major impact on the city of Amsterdam, but not in the short term. What's more, not all impacts will be favourable.

The current infrastructure and the public transport network is complex and the number of traffic movements will only increase. Without SDVs, traffic density is already a major concern for the city.

As traffic situations in Amsterdam are complex, three location scenarios and one extra journey/vehicle sharing scenario were studied:

  • SDVs on motorways only
  • SDVs also on arterial roads
  • SDVs everywhere in the city
  • SDVs journey/vehicle sharing everywhere in the city

In order to work out the scenarios, a baseline case study was needed. In the baseline case study (from 2015 to 2050) car kilometres will grow by about 50%, from 12 million to 19 million. This growth will be organic (due to population growth, for example). For the sake of the study, it is assumed that the capacity problems identified will be resolved.

BCG SDV Amsterdam travellers kilometres

Base case car kilometres growth from 2015 to 2050

The research indicates that the modality mix on the road will change drastically in scenarios 2 and 3. The total number of kilometres travelled may even double – from 30% on the road to 60-70% of the total kilometres on the road.

  • People will switch from regular car and train to SDV.
  • Bus, tram and metro travellers will also switch to SDV.
  • 30% of cyclists will switch to SDV.

In scenario 1 the number of kilometres travelled by road will also increase, from 30% to 36%, as many people will switch from regular a car to a SDV (which will still need to be driven manually in the city) and 30% of train travellers will switch to a SDV.

BCG SDV Amsterdam modality mix scenarios

Drastic modality change in scenarios 2 and 3 - more road km in the city

To enable SDVs, major interventions will be necessary to resolve complexity and capacity issues.

  • Complexity: traffic will grind to a halt with large quantities of pedestrians, cyclists and SDVs. Additionally, some pedestrians and cyclists will take advantage of knowing that SDVs will stop.
  • Capacity: the switch to SDVs causes extra traffic. The capacity of the access roads in particular will not be sufficient.
  • Interventions:
    • Simplify complex traffic situations by separating modalities
    • Penalise jaywalkers
    • Encourage use of SDBs
    • Open public transport lanes toSDVs
    • Transform parking spaces along access roads to extra taffic lanes
    • Encourage journey sharing

Main conclusions:

  • SDVs are coming, they will be used on local roads, not just on motorways.
  • It is advisable to develop a vision to give direction to possible interventions:
    • How to facilitate the growing demand of vehicles on the road?
    • How to nudge travellers towards journey/vehicle sharing (scenario 3b)?
    • Will SDVs be facilitated on arterial roads only, or everywhere?
    • Will city councils proceed pro-actively or gradually?