WIT Press


WILL ELECTRIC DRIVERLESS CARS KILL BUS AND LIGHT TRAIN OPERATIONS?



Price

Free (open access)

Paper DOI

10.2495/TDI-V1-N2-137-147

Volume

Volume 1 (2017), Issue 2

Pages

10

Page Range

137 - 147

Author(s)

SERGE VAN THEMSCHE

Abstract

Private transport is associated with conventional cars. Cars pollute, run empty during peak hours, stay idle 95% of the time and are privately owned. Fifteen years from now, the first driverless cars will start hitting the road in large numbers. By then most cars will be electric. If the service-oriented business model takes on momentum, a fleet of unmanned taxis will compete directly with buses and light trains. At that point in time, differences between public and private transport will only be semantic. After all, metro, buses and cars will all be unmanned, electric and managed by a fleet operator. As a consequence, city developers will have problems, justifying subsidies to bus and light vehicle operations. Without these subsidies, buses and light trains will have problems, competing with car transport. Unmanned taxis will cut journey cost by around 60% to 80%. New taxi apps allowing for car sharing will slash cost even further, making unmanned taxi fares unbeatable. Furthermore, driverless taxis will provide better services, picking up and dropping off passengers where they want to rather than stopping at each station. So if unmanned taxis are cheaper and provide better service, what selling arguments are left for buses and light metros? Transport capacity? Not really! In fact, a fleet of unmanned taxis using platooning technology (cars following each other at one-metre distance) and car sharing apps would achieve around 15.000 PPHPD per lane, more than a bus and equal to light train operations.

Keywords

BRTs, carpooling, driverless technologies, electric cars, energy consumption, environment, hailing taxi apps, platooning, transport capacity, unmanned cars