Autonomous vehicles (AVs) will reduce the number of cars and overall travel times in cities but potentially worsen conditions in downtown areas, says the World Economic Forum. The findings come from a study conducted alongside the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
Called Reshaping Urban Mobility with Autonomous Vehicles: Lessons from the City of Boston, the partnership recommends city and state governments encourage higher sharing of AVs – and avoid significantly moving away from mass transit systems.
A traffic simulation model of the city found neighbourhoods outside of the downtown core would see an improvement in traffic and travel times. In addition, a shift to autonomous mobility would reduce the number of parking spaces required in Boston by 48%.
Meanwhile, an analysis predicts a move to mobility-on-demand in AVs (such as robo-shuttles) and current taxi and ride-sharing services – which currently make up 30% of all trips in the greater Boston area.
Nikolaus Lang, senior partner at BCG and co-author of the study, says travellers are likely to choose low-capacity autonomous taxis and shuttles for trips lower than four miles, rather than taking buses or trains.
“This, in turn, would increase the number of cars on the road and average travel time by 5.5% in Boston’s downtown neighbourhood,” Lang adds.
Travel time could be improved by 15% through the introduction of occupancy-based pricing schemes to discourage riding alone, says the research.
Additionally, converting on-street parking to dedicated pick-up and drop-off areas, surface mass transit or driving lanes could decrease travel time by 10%. Similarly, designation of dedicated lanes for shared AVs has the potential to reduce travel time by 8%.
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