Using shared autonomous vehicles for a demand-responsive transit service could decrease travel time by over 60 percent.

The analysis, which examined both door-to-door service and flexible routing services, found that the individualized service was faster for travelers at the cost of increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

Date Posted

Impact assessment of autonomous DRT systems

Summary Information

Shared Autonomous Vehicles (SAVs) have the potential to transform the way public transportation is provided. For many small- and medium-sized cities, it may be possible to strongly supplement or entirely replace public transit with such vehicles.

A team of researchers from the Technical University of Berlin created a traffic simulation of Cottbus, Germany, which has 100,000 inhabitants. The model examined the impact of a Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) system, in which SAVs would be deployed to meet travelers' needs. The system could either be stop-based, in which travelers would have to walk to some nearby pickup point, or door-to-door, in which travelers would be able to call the service to a precise location. As a baseline, the current fixed-route transit services were compared.

The findings showed that travel times for DRT services were notably shorter than current public transportation travel times.

  • Using a stop-based DRT system instead of a door-to-door DRT system would halve the number of required vehicles, from 550 to 250.
  • Using a stop-based system would also almost double the average travel time compared to the door-to-door system, from 16.5 minutes to 27 minutes. However, both cases represent a substantial decrease in travel time from the current base case, which averages 40 minutes.
  • Using the door-to-door system would make the service more attractive to riders, and was estimated to result in almost 70 percent more rides--27,000 compared to 16,000. This increase in business would result in more than double the total daily VMT.
  • Using the door-to-door system was estimated to cost 47,000 Euros per day, compared to 27,000 Euros per day for the stop-based system. Current transportation systems cost approximately 42,000 Euros per day. This indicates that the stop-based system could be competitive on a price basis.
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