Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Urban Mobility System Upgrade

How shared self-driving cars could change city traffic
Urban Mobility System Upgrade cover image

What if all trips in a city were carried out by a fleet of self-driving cars shared by users? This study explores the potential outcomes of such a radical upgrade in an urban mobility system. It concludes that up to 9 out of 10 conventional cars could become redundant under certain circumstances. Vast amounts of public space would be freed for other uses in such a scenario. However, the total volume of travel increases in most scenarios and the net benefit of such an urban mobility system upgrade decisively depends on the choice of vehicle type, the level of penetration and the availability of high-capacity public transport to complement the shared self-driving car fleet.  

The work for this report was carried out in the context of a project initiated and funded by the International Transport Forum’s Corporate Partnership Board (CPB). CPB projects are designed to enrich policy discussion with a business perspective. Led by the ITF, work is carried out in a collaborative fashion in working groups consisting of CPB member companies, external experts and ITF researchers. 

Policy Insights

  • Self-driving vehicles could change public transport as we currently know it.
  • The potential impact of self-driving shared fleets on urban mobility is significant. It will be shaped by policy choices and deployment options.
  • Active management is needed to lock in the benefits of freed space.
  • Improvements in road safety are almost certain. Environmental benefits will depend on vehicle technology.
  • New vehicle types and business models will be required.
  • Public transport, taxi operations and urban transport governance will have to adapt.
  • Mixing fleets of shared self-driving vehicles and privately-owned cars will not deliver the same benefits as a full TaxiBot/AutoVot fleet - but it still remains attractive.

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