CONNECTED & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

The Oslo Study

A FUTURE ASSUMED


The first self-driving buses to carry regular passengers have started work in the centre of Oslo, but what impact will latest technology trends like autonomous vehicles and MaaS have on future mobility? Paul Speirs presents the results of a newly released study that sets out some of the answers.


The upsurge in new mobility in the last 5 to 10 years has been a breath of fresh air for the traveller. We have more choices than before with the advent of shared bikes, on-demand transit and the invasion of micro-scooters in cities around the world. Undoubtedly, these new forms of transport will have major implications for cities around the world.

And yet, from a transport planners’ perspective, it is difficult to forecast the impact of tomorrow's mobility given the great number of uncertainties and the speed of change technology brings: For instance, will today’s car ownership be the same in the future? Will autonomous vehicles increase our desire to travel more? How quickly will society adopt autonomous vehicles? Norway’s capital Oslo wants to be prepared for this new future. Therefore, the local public transportation company Ruter commissioned a study to identify potential opportunities, risks and consequences for urban and transport planning in Oslo and Akershus that may arise from these new technological developments.


The Scandinavian consulting firm COWI and the German mobility experts PTV Group developed a PTV Visum transport model covering the counties of Oslo and Akershus to underpin future mobility scenario testing of MaaS car sharing and ride pooling. The dispatch optimisation of the shared mobility vehicle fleet to meet traveller trip requests was simulated by PTV’s MaaS Modeller software solution. To give a sense of scale, in the busiest scenarios MaaS Modeller optimised over 600,000 trip requests utilising a vehicle fleet of 56,000 vehicles.

Figure 1 illustrates a single shared mobility vehicle tour depicting the pick-up/drop-off (PUDO) locations along the tour. In this example, which is one of the 56,000 vehicle tours generated in the

PTV’s MaaS Modeller software solution is unique in its application in that it considers a range of variable parameters in combination that define the operator service provision and the Level of Service expectation of the customer. Simulating the blend of input parameters provides a wide array of results which depict alternate possible futures, allowing the modellers and stakeholders to identify, with confidence, the optimal blend of parameters required to support an operator business model, demonstrate strong customer Levels of Service whilst also measuring the impact on the transport network.

“The fact that a public transportation company has now invested in such an analysis shows the importance of this forward-looking evidential approach”

PTV’s MaaS Modeller software solution is unique in its application in that it considers a range of variable parameters in combination that define the operator service provision and the Level of Service expectation of the customer. Simulating the blend of input parameters provides a wide array of results which depict alternate possible futures, allowing the modellers and stakeholders to identify, with confidence, the optimal blend of parameters required to support an operator business model, demonstrate strong customer Levels of Service whilst also measuring the impact on the transport network.


The resultant transport model is a very complex and highly detailed simulation and analysis - the first of its kind in Scandinavia, and among the first worldwide. It was inspired by similar studies in other cities, especially the Lisbon studies by the OECD International Transport Forum. The fact that a public transportation company has now invested in such an analysis shows the importance of this forward-looking evidential approach. The Norwegian capital and Ruter are taking a leading position.

A future was assumed in which autonomous vehicles and MaaS-based systems have replaced private car ownership. The report looks at six main scenarios where today’s car drivers and public transport users switch to shared autonomous transport (car-sharing) – both with and without ridesharing. All the scenarios examined are based on the morning peak period (06:00-10:00) during a working day in Oslo and Akershus. Figure 2 sets out the scenarios with the positive/negative impact on overall traffic levels also shown for each scenario.

Here are some of the main findings of the analysis:

  • In all of the scenarios examined, the number of cars on the road can be reduced by between 84 and 93 per cent.
  • If people in Oslo and Akershus all share cars and use ridesharing, 7 per cent of the cars on the road today will be sufficient to cover all journeys in the rush hours. In other words, 93 per cent of cars will be redundant.
  • The scenario that produces the biggest reduction in traffic is where users of public transport continue to do so while car-drivers switch to ridesharing. This will give a 14 per cent reduction in traffic across the study area (Scenario 1B).
  • Conversely, the volume of traffic would increase by 97 per cent if everyone who currently drives and everyone who uses public transport switched to car-sharing, but without ridesharing (Scenario 2A).
  • If the same group uses ridesharing, the volume of traffic will still increase by 31 per cent.
  • If today’s public transport users switch to MaaS-based systems with ridesharing, their journey time will be reduced by an average of 11 minutes.
  • For private car-users, the average journey time will increase by 6 minutes without ridesharing and by 8 minutes with ridesharing.
  • In the best-case scenario, at the busiest locations, the pick/up and drop off activities could see more than 100 vehicles per hour at a single location, as illustrated in figure 3. Managing the curb will become an important topic. (Read also the ITF Report The Shared-Use City: Managing the Curb.)
“MaaS systems could make public transport more attractive to people who currently drive their own cars, particularly if they are relieved of the financial burden of car ownership and destination car parking frustrations”

Ultimately success will be measured by how well shared mobility integrates with existing public transport services. According to the study the MaaS concept could be particularly attractive for today’s public transport users. This is the user group that will have its journey time reduced the most by switching to the autonomous MaaS whilst also providing more of a door-to-door service. In the worst case, this could out-compete traditional public transport. If this were to play out and everyone who currently travels by tram and bus switches to shared cars without ridesharing, the traffic will increase significantly, to unsustainable catastrophic levels. Despite autonomous vehicles being able to use the road capacity more efficiently than human drivers, the current infrastructure would not cope with such an increase. On the other hand, MaaS systems could make public transport more attractive to people who currently drive their own cars, particularly if they are relieved of the financial burden of car ownership and destination car parking frustrations.

It is clear that car sharing, which provides a perceived high level of service to the traveller, will not be sufficient to reach the traffic reduction targets in the Oslo region and will challenge road capacity. It is therefore imperative that a good traditional public transport system combined with cycling and walking will be key elements in solving future urban mobility. Autonomous vehicles can help achieve the traffic reduction targets, when integrated into a larger mobility system, but can worsen the situation if they are used as cars are today. Attractive public transport with integrated train, metro and bus services in combination with sufficient facilities for walking and cycling will assist in relieving the road network capacity. Integrating MaaS solutions as a complementary offer into the public transport network will be a vital part of making public transport more attractive and competitive, especially in areas with low public transport coverage.


The solution of tomorrow’s mobility challenges lies within the combination of mass transit and integrated MaaS systems. Ruter is not running from the threat of MaaS disruptors coming into the market place, but is rather embracing the challenge to embed the new concepts of shared mobility as a part of much healthier holistic solution. Now that is refreshing.

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FYI


Paul Speirs is Regional Director at the PTV Group

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