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Transition Towards Fixed-Line Autonomous Bus Transportation Systems

Time: Mon 2020-05-25 10.00

Location:, Du som saknar dator/datorvana kan kontakta för information"., (English)

Subject area: Transport Science

Doctoral student: Jonas Hatzenbühler , Transportplanering

Opponent: Associate Professor Clas Rydergren, Linköpings universitet

Supervisor: Docent Erik Jenelius, Centrum för transportstudier, CTS; PhD Oded Cats, Centrum för trafikforskning, CTR, Centrum för transportstudier, CTS

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In the last years the steady development of autonomous driving technology has enabled the deployment of more mature autonomous vehicles. These vehicles have been applied in several pilot projects worldwide, most commonly in the form of small buses. At the same time, the amount of people traveling in especially urban areas is continuously growing, resulting in more trips in the transportation system. An efficient transportation system is therefore required to serve the growing passenger demand. Autonomous buses (AB) are assumed to have lower operational costs and with that public transport (PT) systems can potentially be designed more efficiently to facilitate the increased demand better. In this study, an AB specific simulation-based optimization framework is proposed which allows analyzing the impacts AB have on line-based PT systems. The thesis focuses on the transition from existing PT systems towards line-based PT systems operated partially or exclusively by AB.

Existing work on PT service design is extended so that realistic AB systems can be investigated. This is achieved by (i) using AB specific operator cost formulations, (ii) integrating infrastructure costs required for AB operations, (iii) utilizing a dynamic, stochastic and schedule-based passenger assignment model for the simulation of PT networks and by (iv) formulating a multi-objective optimization problem allowing to investigate the stakeholder-specific impacts of AB.

In Paper I the effects of AB, concerning service frequency and vehicle capacity, on fixed-line PT networks are investigated. Among other metrics, the changes are evaluated based on differences in level of service and passenger flow. Additionally, the sequential introduction of AB in existing PT systems is studied. The framework addresses a case study in Kista, Sweden. The study confirmed the initial hypothesis that the deployment of AB leads to an increase in service frequency and a marginal reduction in vehicle capacity. Furthermore, it could be seen that the deployment of AB increases the passenger load on AB lines and that passengers can shift from other PT modes towards the AB services.

Paper II incorporates a multi-objective heuristic optimization algorithm in the simulation framework. The study investigates changes in transport network design based on the deployment of AB. The differences in user-focused and operator-focused network design are analyzed and the impact of AB on these is quantified. This study is applied to a case study in Barkarby, Sweden where a full-sized, line-based PT network is designed to exclusively operate AB. Among other findings, we show that the autonomous technology reduces the number of served bus stops and reduces the total PT network size. Additionally, average passenger waiting time can be reduced when deploying AB on user-focused PT networks, which in turn leads to a further reduction of user cost.