KPMG analysis shows that while new vehicle technologies such as autonomous and zero emission vehicles could unlock capacity of existing transport infrastructure, they could also make congestion worse. Smarter transport models can help predict their impact and guide policies and infrastructure investment decisions to maintain the economic prosperity and liveability of our cities.
According to KPMG analysis1, investing in roads and public transport is no longer enough to meet Melbourne’s growing travel needs.
KPMG undertook a detailed analysis of the impact of autonomous and zero emission vehicles on Greater Melbourne’s transport network. While the analysis focused on Greater Melbourne, key insights and policy implications could be equally relevant to other cities and regions.
New vehicle technologies such as autonomous and zero emission vehicles present opportunities to better utilise existing transport infrastructure and enhance our economic, social, environmental outcomes. However, as with all new technologies, their benefits are not guaranteed and without the right evidence base to inform the policies and infrastructure decisions, there could be unintended consequences.
Traditional approaches to transport modelling don’t allow us to properly assess the impact of new technologies on the wider transport network. With our cities growing at historic levels we urgently need new approaches that can model the impacts of changing citizen preferences as new technologies are adopted. Once we have better data on the impacts we can develop smarter policies to maximise their benefits and minimise their downsides.
As a first step to unlocking the benefits of new transport technologies, KPMG and Infrastructure Victoria worked together to develop modelling and analysis for the introduction of three key new vehicle technologies in Melbourne:
KPMG used the KPMG Melbourne Activity and Agent Based Model (MABM), along with financial and energy market impact analysis to shed light on the impacts of new vehicle technologies.
|The MABM is a cutting edge strategic transport model that uses ‘big data’ and machine learning to simulate how people in Melbourne might move between their day-to-day activities under a range of scenarios. View the KPMG Melbourne Activity and Agent Based Model to learn more.|
Without new transport technologies, there is only so much we can do in order to accommodate population growth on our transport system.
“If we limit our solutions to building more roads and railways, Greater Melbourne in 30 years could include significant congestion, crowded public transport and much longer peak travel times. While the benefits of rapid growth to our state is significant, not planning for this growth in an appropriate manner and managing our current infrastructure efficiently may put our liveability at risk.”
Figure 1 shows some projected results about Melbourne’s transport system if we don’t introduce any new vehicle technologies.
1. Zero emission vehicles (electric or hydrogen cell vehicles) help the environment but worsen congestion.
Zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) are cars that use electricity or hydrogen instead of petrol. Electric vehicles in particular are cheaper to run and both electric and hydrogen cell vehicles are much friendlier to the environment than traditional cars.
For the purpose of this analysis, we’ll be focusing on electric cars.
Not only are electric cars easier on the environment, they could also be easier on the wallet. Even with today’s technology, the running cost of electric vehicles is around 5 cents per km compared to about 18 cents per km for petrol vehicles, and new technologies could bring the cost down even further in future. The reduction in the cost of driving could lead to a modest shift from public transport to road transport, and an associated increase in congestion.
2. Private automated vehicles (AVs) travel closer together and take up less space on roads, but their convenience and ability to drive empty can clog up key roads.
Automated vehicles (AVs) are cars that can drive on roads without a human driver (or even a passenger). AVs can also 'platoon' on the road, meaning they can drive closer together and coordinate their starts and stops to use road space more efficiently.
Travel in a private AV is cheaper than a traditional car (if it’s electric), more convenient (because it’s driverless) and more universally accessible (because anyone can use one).
3. On-demand AVs dramatically reduce congestion, as well as the number of cars needed in Melbourne to service the same level of demand. But fares discourage people from using the on-demand AVs, which lowers accessibility.
On-demand AVs are AVs that are used as taxis, rather than private vehicles. Without a driver, taxi services are significantly cheaper and may become attractive as a replacement for privately owned vehicles. On-demand AVs could save Melburnians money, by sharing the costs of vehicle ownership (purchase cost, vehicle insurance, maintenance etc.) across a larger group of people.
The replacement of private AVs with on-demand AVs almost eliminates road congestion across the network. Average network delays across the day are reduced by 90 percent, while morning peak delays are reduced by 93 percent compared to Dead end. On average, peak time speeds increase by 74 percent across the network.
Figure 2 summarises some key transport outcomes in 2046, when traditional cars are replaced with electric vehicles, private AVs or on-demand AVs. Some of the key effects of introducing these technologies are summarised below:
It should be noted that this analysis is based on a scenario where all cars across Greater Melbourne are replaced with each of these technologies by 2046, and that the vehicle types do not co-exist.
Our analysis so far has involved replacing traditional cars with a fleet of one particular new technology, but in reality it’s more likely that our future involves a mix of traditional cars, human-driven electric cars, private AVs and on-demand AVs.
A few of our recommended solutions to maximise the upsides and minimise the downsides of new vehicle technologies are summarised below.
"Our detailed analysis of these new technologies suggests that by facilitating their uptake, supported by appropriate policy and regulatory mechanisms, we can better utilise the infrastructure we already have, and take steps towards enhancing our productivity and liveability."
Transport technology is critical for protecting Melbourne’s liveability. But the impacts of autonomous and zero emission vehicles summarised above are not unique to Melbourne. Any city in Australia and beyond can use key insights from KPMG’s analysis to help inform their transport plans and policies.
©2021 KPMG, an Australian partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved. The KPMG name and logo are trademarks used under license by the independent member firms of the KPMG global organisation.
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
For more detail about the structure of the KPMG global organisation please visit https://home.kpmg/governance.