This report focuses on how cities can use climate action plans (CAPs) to ensure that on-demand mobility and autonomous vehicles (AVs) help reduce, rather than increase, green-house gas (GHG) emissions and inequitable impacts from the transportation system. We employed a three-pronged research strategy involving: (1) an analysis of the current literature on on-demand mobility and AVs; (2) a systematic content analysis of 23 CAPs and general plans developed by municipalities in California; and (3) a comparison of findings from the literature and content analysis of plans to identify opportunities for GHG emissions reduction and mobility equity.
Findings indicate that maximizing the environmental and social benefits of AVs and on-demand mobility requires proactive and progressive planning; yet, most cities are lagging behind in this area. Although municipal CAPs and general plans in California have adopted a few strategies and programs relevant to AVs and on-demand mobility, many untapped opportunities exist to harness the GHG emissions reduction and social benefits potential of AVs and on-demand mobility. Policy and planning discussions should consider the synergies between AVs and on-demand mobility as two emerging mobility trends, as well as the key factors (e.g., vehicle electrification, fuel efficiency, use and ownership, access and distribution, etc.) that determine whether deployment of AVs would help reduce GHG emissions from transportation. Additionally, AVs and on-demand mobility can potentially contribute to a more equitable transportation system by improving independence and quality of life for individuals with disabilities and the elderly, enhancing access to transit, and helping alleviate the geographic gap in public transportation services.
Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San Jose, CA 95112
U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – $25,836