Congestion effects of autonomous taxi fleets
Fleets of shared Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) could replace private cars by providing a taxi-like service but at a cost similar to driving a private car. On the one hand, large Autonomous Taxi (AT) fleets may result in increased road capacity and lower demand for parking spaces. On the other hand, an increase in vehicle trips is very likely, as travelling becomes more convenient and affordable, and additionally, ATs need to drive unoccupied between requests. This study evaluates the impact of a city-wide introduction of ATs on traffic congestion. The analysis is based on a multi-agent transport simulation (MATSim) of Berlin (Germany) and the neighbouring Brandenburg area. The central focus is on precise simulation of both real-time AT operation and mixed autonomous/conventional vehicle traffic flow. Different ratios of replacing private car trips with AT trips are used to estimate the possible effects at different stages of introducing such services. The obtained results suggest that large fleets operating in cities may have a positive effect on traffic if road capacity increases according to current predictions. ATs will practically eliminate traffic congestion, even in the city centre, despite the increase in traffic volume. However, given no flow capacity improvement, such services cannot be introduced on a large scale, since the induced additional traffic volume will intensify today’s congestion.
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