Merge consortium says a third of London car journeys could be replaced by AVs by 2025


According to a consortium investigating ways to integrate new technology into London’s public transport network, autonomous ride-sharing services could account for a third of all trips by private drivers in the city by 2025.

The Merge consortium’s experts predict that 34% of private drivers’ journeys could be replaced, while up to 30% of taxi and private hire journeys could also be served by autonomous vehicle (AV) ridesharing.

The figures, which are extrapolated from studies carried out in Los Angeles, California, and Boston, Massachusetts, together with the London Travel Demand Survey, are contained in initial research from the Merge Greenwich consortium, a group of six partners undertaking a year-long project to study how AV ridesharing can work and connect with London’s transport network.

The consortium is backed by funding from the government-sponsored Innovate UK agency, and is led by private hire company Addison Lee Group, and involves Ford, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), DG Cities, and Immense Simulations.

The research found that overall, an AV ridesharing service could serve up to one in seven of all trips within London within eight years, equivalent to 2.5 million trips per day, and take up to 25% of the total transport market by value, worth around £3.5bn (US$4.6bn) at today’s rates. The Merge Greenwich project will now focus on:

• A plan on how AVs and ridesharing will integrate into public transport systems, focused on Greenwich;

• Advanced simulation and analysis to demonstrate how this integrated solution can benefit consumers, society and the environment;

• Ideas on how to improve the efficiency of the way people travel around cities and how to reduce total vehicle journeys and reduce emissions;

• Key requirements for a vehicle that will be optimal for an AV ridesharing service;

• A review of customer barriers to adoption and design considerations to overcome them;

• A detailed commercial and business model to show how this service and AV technology can be brought to market;

• Develop a future business and operating model to integrate AVs, ride-sharing and existing transport into truly multi-modal transport system.

The next stage could be conducting real-world testing to see how AV ridesharing services could contribute to and enhance a new mobility vision for London.

Paul McCabe, Addison Lee’s director of mobility, said, “The Merge Greenwich partnership will pave the way for autonomous vehicles on the streets of London at scale, to provide significantly improved transport, putting it at the forefront of mobility development, globally.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).