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).
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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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