by Robert Deans, Vice President, Technology, Transurban
One concern that has been highlighted around the impending transportation revolution, which will be driven by the introduction and widespread adoption of connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs), is that it will have a negative impact on the tolling industry. In reality, that could not be farther from the truth. Given the long adoption timeline for CAVs and the associated degree of uncertainty in how society will be impacted, it is very possible that CAVs could prove to be an advantage to the tolling industry. We have examined three reasons in particular that explain why the future could be quite bright for the industry.
Increase in vehicles miles travelled (VMT) will more than offset the reduction in vehicles on the road. While most of the focus to date has been on the headline statistic that the number of vehicles on the road could be reduced by between 30-90%, what is much less publicized, or quite frankly understood, is the impact that CAVs will have on VMT (for purposes of this scenario, we will assume there is some degree of ownership sharing/ride sharing in the future). While there is no consensus on how much VMT will increase as the adoption of CAVs become more widespread, it is not inconceivable that it could be as much as 10 times what it is today. The most widely discussed reason for this increase is that an individual CAV will be much more utilized than its manually-driven equivalent today—regardless of the future ownership model—and in an ownership-sharing model, the VMT would also need to account for when the vehicle travels empty.