Automated vehicles threaten Ontario buses and taxis, warns report

A report exploring the likely impact of automated vehicles in Ontario suggests that they will begin to eat into the province’s taxi and bus services in the early 2020s, before starting to disrupt car ownership in the late 2020s.

Today, less than 10 per cent of travel in North America takes place in non-personally owned vehicles, according to Goldman Sachs research.

But as automation makes ‘robotaxis’ and ride-sharing more reliable and cheaper than today’s taxi and bus services, that percentage may rise to at least 25 per cent by 2030, said report author Bern Grush.

“We saw what happened with the Town Council in Innisfil, which contracted with Uber rather than investing in a traditional bus system,” said Grush. “This type of disruption will spread to other municipalities. Once these commercial providers begin to automate their fleets, their role in public transit and goods movement will accelerate.”

In the report – Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation: How Skilled Governance Can Influence its Outcome – Grush encourages governments to prepare for a future of increased vehicle automation by determining how to influence the role that autonomous vehicles – especially fleets of shared autonomous vehicles – will have in cities and towns.

Andy Manahan, executive director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, which commissioned the report, said: “Vehicle automation will greatly impact Ontario society, and governments have an important role to play in determining how these new technologies fit with our infrastructure and mobility planning.”