Autonomous Taxi Use May Increase Urban Traffic Congestion

June 27, 2019, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Landscape Photography of Cars We’ve heard much talk about the advance of autonomous vehicles and the possibility that they have the capacity to reduce traffic congestion. A new simulation conducted on the traffic patterns of a major European city, Zurich, has shown that driverless taxis would not displace personal transport as long as people have access to their own cars. It appears that the previous studies done to date haven’t taken into account that as long as people own their own cars they will continue to use them as the autonomous taxi model costs money, has a wait time, and aren’t as flexible as owned vehicles.

A professor at ETH Zurich Institute for Transport Planning and Systems, Kay Axhausen, determined that offering a ridesharing service in the city would not decrease the number of private cars on the road, and depending on implementation and uptake they may even increase the traffic and kilometres driven in the city.

Using well known traffic simulation programmes a number of scenarios were run. Conclusions included the following:

  1. If the autonomous fleet is too small, then the service won’t be attractive to users.
  2. If the service is too large it will be too expensive and similarly unattractive to users.
  3. The ideal number of taxis results in a pricing model that is roughly equivalent with what it costs to run a privately-owned vehicle and thus uptake of the fleet cars won’t be an attractive option for those who already own cars.
  4. If the number of privately-owned cars per household decreases then the number of kilometres driven by autonomous cabs to serve the same family unit will increase, thereby putting more cars on the roads.
  5. The introduction of autonomous taxis will disrupt current public transport models and may lure people away from transit.

You can read all about Dr. Axhausen and his study study here.



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