Can autonomous vehicles enable sustainable mobility in future cities? Insights and policy challenges from user preferences over different urban transport options

Creating sustainable urban futures partly requires reducing car-use and transport induced stresses on the environment and society. New transport technologies such as autonomous vehicles are increasingly assuming prominence in debates about the transition toward sustainable urban futures. Yet, enormous uncertainties currently exist on how autonomous vehicles might shape urban mobility. To address this gap, this paper examines the latent behavioural and socio-demographic factors that will drive the adoption of and preferences for different use options of autonomous vehicles, utilizing survey data from Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Based on this, it explores how autonomous vehicles might shape travel behaviors through mode choice and the potential sustainability implications. The findings show that regarding preferences for a specific alternative (i.e. sharing, ownership and public transport), attitudes toward these use options matter the most, rather than overall perceived benefits of autonomous vehicles. Moreover, for single mode options, shared-autonomous vehicles remain the least popular, while preference for ownership of autonomous vehicles, either as a single option or in combination with sharing and public transport, is high. Across the different autonomous vehicles options, there is high preference for clean engine fuel sources (i.e. electric and hybrid). Given the embeddedness of preferences for autonomous vehicles in attitudes and choices regarding existing forms of motorized transport, it is possible that the current modal split and the large share of private car-based transport, might not change in the era of autonomous mobility. However, urban transport policy can leverage the overall positive attitudes toward the environment, sharing and public transit to nudge choices toward achieving the normative goals of sustainable urban transport.


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  • Accession Number: 01767479
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 11 2021 3:48PM