An important problem for surface transport is road traffic congestion, which is ubiquitous and difficult to mitigate. Accordingly, a question for policymakers is the possible impact on congestion of autonomous vehicles. It seems likely that the main impact of vehicle automation will not be seen until driverless vehicles are sufficiently safe for use amid general traffic on urban streets. Shared use driverless vehicles could reduce the cost of taxis and a wider range of public transport vehicles could be economic. Individually owned autonomous vehicles would have the ability to travel unoccupied and may need to be regulated where this might add to congestion. It is possible that autonomous vehicles could provide mobility services at lower cost and wider scope, such that private car use in urban areas could decline and congestion reduce. City authorities should be alert to these possibilities in developing transport policy.
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