Autonomous Vehicles Could Worsen Urban Congestion, New Study Finds

Overcrowded downtowns could see an increase in traffic thanks to autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, according to a new report released by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group with the city of Boston. Using surveys and traffic simulations, the study found that AVs would draw travelers away from mass transit options and encourage automobile use for short trips in city centers.

PVMI member and study co-author John Moavenzadeh advises cities to take a proactive approach to dealing with these findings. “Cities need to actively explore policies and incentives, such as dynamic pricing, dedicated lanes, and redesign of the curb, to ensure that autonomous vehicles will achieve the full value for society that they promise. If such choices are not made, cities risk losing more than they will gain from autonomous vehicles.”

The study also found that AVs would substantially reduce the need for parking, offering opportunities to rethink how that space could be better used to relieve congestion.

Read the full report here (PDF).

Further Reading

Press Release: Autonomous Vehicles Will Further Clog City Centers Unless Lawmakers Step Up
Boston Consulting Group

Boston Braces for Robotaxis to Make Downtown Traffic Even Worse
Automotive News

Driverless Cars Might Make Boston Traffic Worse
Boston Globe