Scenarios

OKI Vision 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan

The nature of travel and transportation is facing change disruption so large, it will rival the introduction of the airplane and the internal combustion engine. This change will alter our concept of mobility … even our concept of time. For the first time ever, we have the opportunity for all of society’s members to be mobile.

We are about to enter a New Age of Transportation.

In the next 30 years, vast changes are coming, and transportation’s evolution will be at the forefront of this movement. The extent of the changes depends on a variety of factors. Suffice it to say, technology will be the constant stimulus to how we move about the world. Impact of these technological transformations will be partially determined by the rate of adoption of fully autonomous (driverless) vehicles; the level of connectivity between travelers of all modes; vehicle availability; shared mobility rates; travel and trip characteristics; cost; and human choice and behavior.

Scenario Descriptions

This 2050 Plan responds to both 1) the need to deliver a metropolitan transportation plan (MTP) that meets the federal requirements of fiscal and air quality conformity (“The Plan”) and 2) explores the impacts of the many changes on the horizon in our transportation world (2050 Vision).

The OKI Vision 2050 Approach

The technological revolution sweeping through all transportation modes requires OKI to imagine how those changes may affect our region. While the above approach serves as the official OKI 2050 MTP Plan, this Vision 2050 goes outside the bounds of tradition and tests the impacts of rapid change in automation, mobility across society, and shared mobility as a service. In this chapter, we explore what is possible. We put forward the extent of connected and autonomous vehicles, the number of shared-use trips, as well as turn the vehicle ownership model upside down.

This is a time of rapid change in transportation planning. Methods for estimating future travel demand is a changing paradigm. The traditional approach was to develop models and calibrate them using observed data, validate existing conditions, then apply growth to produce a single future. Transportation options have not changed much for an exceedingly long time — so this approach was reasonable, and data was available. We stand on the edge of historic changes that will greatly alter transportation and its impact on society. It is difficult to estimate these changes in the next five to ten years. Beyond 2030 is, at best, a reasonable span for enlightened conjecture.

Because there is no data on travel characteristics with Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs), or shared autonomous vehicles as part of the mix, OKI has developed experimental models to better understand what a transportation future may look like. The base year was modeled using a validated, state-of-the-practice, activity-based model. Future scenarios in Vision 2050 are tested with non-calibrated assumptions of vehicle ownership; the number of connected and autonomous (self-driving) vehicles; vehicle occupancy rate (ridesharing); and trip making (trip generation rates).

Benchmark years 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050 were explored. Using the OKI Travel Demand Model, the impacts on congestion, travel time reliability, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) and crash rates were estimated. This was done by first estimating the saturation of Level 5 fully autonomous (driverless) vehicles.

The percentage of CAV saturation for a range of possibilities is shown in the figure below. The solid pink curve represents Vision 2050, which is derived from staff estimates.

The (Fiscally Constrained) Plan

Several scenarios for benchmark years 2026, 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2050 are analyzed. These years correspond to air quality conformity analysis years that OKI is required to evaluate. Using the validated OKI Travel Demand Model (OKI TDM), the impacts on congestion, travel time reliability, vehicle miles of travel (VMT), crash rates and mobile source emissions were estimated.

This approach delivers a fiscally and air quality constrained plan that meets all federal requirements for metropolitan transportation plans. This plan represents an effective and vibrant blend of programs and projects for the region. Also, this plan fulfills OKI’s metropolitan planning process, which serves more than two million residents, who work at about one million jobs.

OKI TDM is used with projects expected to be in place for each analysis year. These can be found in the Recommended Projects list with its expected year of construction and cost inflated to represent the year of expenditure (YOE).

After estimating the percentage of CAV penetration, staff estimated the impacts in a rising VMT scenario and a declining VMT scenario. Adjustments were also made within each scenario to the levels of crash rates, vehicle occupancy and person trip rates.

After careful evaluation, one scenario for each benchmark year was selected to represent the vision for that year.

2020

2020 is the base year with virtually no automation or connectivity to affect the system. In the OKI Region for this base year, most trips are made via single occupancy vehicles (SOV) with internal combustion engines (ICE); electric vehicle usage is miniscule. Transit represents about 2% of all weekday trips. Scooters and e-bikes are widely available in the most urbanized parts of the region, fulfilling short trips for some travelers. Late model vehicles are equipped with more safety features, such as automated emergency braking, lane departure and blind spot warning technology. A few communities have or are planning to install adaptive traffic control systems. Transit signal preemption is not in common use.

2030

The MLTO scenario in 2030 shows human transportation behavior hasn’t changed much. The number of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has grown significantly (about 25% of new vehicle sales), but still considerably less than internal combustion engines (ICE). This has contributed to improved mobile source emissions. Adoption of fully autonomous vehicles (level 5) is low at about 2%, as travelers are reluctant to cede control of their cars. Safety has improved steadily, as automated emergency braking and lane departure technology is prevalent on about a quarter of all vehicles.

 

Crash rates are down 10% from 2020 numbers because of safety improvements to traditional vehicles and from a growing share of CAVs in the traffic stream. Vehicle cost, quality and reliability has slowed the fleet turnover. VMT (per person) remains near 2020 levels, vehicle occupancy rises 5% and trip generation rates decline slightly by 5% below 2020 levels. This is because single occupancy vehicles dominate the traveler’s mobility choice, but with small changes in behavior. Automation in the OKI region is available in very limited locations within controlled environments, such as CVG and university campuses across the region, in the form of autonomous shuttles. Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) recommendations for the 2050 Plan have been implemented in some key interstate corridors. The most effective option is the use of freeway shoulders during peak periods, increasing the effective capacity.

Beyond 2030

Predicting the future is impossible and doing so 20 to 30 years out may appear to be folly. However, if projections strive to incorporate salient data in them, there is a real purpose to projections. And such projections need to be made by OKI because it is the region’s surface transportation planner. OKI believes it important to make these projections, if for no other reason than to stimulate comments from the public and professional experts, drive and incorporate new data sets and continuously monitor them against reality.

These estimates have two protections embedded in them. First, these projections do not affect any of the current projects listed in the 2050 Plan and certainly not any projects for the near term. The plan’s mandated planning role is intact. Second, these projections will be updated every four years and will be altered by the reality that new and evolving data will bring.

It is a daunting task to not only determine the advance of transportation technology, but also its adoption rate by the region. Modern technology will have different values depending on society’s wide or narrow agreement to use the technology. In this regard, there is no doubt that transportation technology will progress at a rapid pace. However, the public must adopt it to a or the technology will have only modest impacts on transportation.

Even if the public embraces new transportation technologies, the impact on all measures of mobility will be subject mostly to a grand governor. A governor that is based on human behavior and not algorithms. This arbiter will determine the impact on VMT, congestion, air quality, fuel consumption, density, residential and commercial development and more.

But questions must be answered to understand the future, including: How willing will the public be to share a ride with a stranger? If all the technological advancement adopted by the public is concentrated on the current network, dominated by single occupancy vehicles, its positive impacts on the transportation system and the environment will be significantly muted. *

It may be difficult to envision such foremost importance solely to widespread ridesharing. However, if travelers use modern technologies simply to take more trips alone, the results are obvious, and its positive potential benefits are greatly limited.

*Staff believes the substitution of PEVs for ICEs will affect air quality on its own.

As staff make post-2030 projections, we believe the fusion of technology and the public’s changed view of mobility will yield positive impacts on the region. We, therefore, adopt an optimistic outlook for our region’s transportation future.

2040

The 2040 scenario shows a dramatic increase in plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), as they outnumber internal combustion engines (ICE) on the road. This is due to advancements in battery technology, its associated increase in trip range and a wide range of affordable electric vehicle options. This leads to significantly improved mobile source emissions. Adoption of Level 5 autonomous vehicles is up to about 12% for all vehicles on the road. An aging population has found vehicle autonomy to be essential to their desire for mobility. Retirement of non-autonomous vehicles has accelerated and subscription to a Mobility as a Service solution (MaaS) is increasing. Safety has improved considerably, as automated emergency braking and lane departure correction features are prevalent on most vehicles. In addition, vehicle autonomy and connectivity has significantly improved crash avoidance. Crash rates are down 25% from 2020 levels because of safety improvements to traditional vehicles and from an ever-larger share of CAVs in the traffic stream. Even with only about one-tenth of the vehicle fleet being autonomous, capacity and flow rates on freeways improve.

The 2040 estimates are dominated by a decline in VMT. Although an ardent desire continues for travel, more ridesharing is occurring that is reducing the cost per trip, as well as an increased social conscience to reduce energy use and environmental harm. More employees are working from home and virtual business meetings are increasingly more common. In addition, in a MaaS environment, the actual cost per trip is “pay as you go” (compared to 2020, where much of the cost is in sunk costs) so people forgo some non-essential trips. Software improvements have reduced “dead head” miles traveled by AV’s. More trips are satisfied by MaaS products. Urbanization continues to increase, and the market responds by increasing density and quality of mobility options in highly populated areas. Home delivery has continued to grow but an increasing share of small packages are delivered by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Transit operations recede to only high-volume, high-quality trunk line service.

2050

The 2050 scenario shows an accelerating decline in VMT. Most vehicles on the road (and in the air) are electric or other non-ICE. Vertical take-off shuttles are beginning to take a foothold in large urban areas but are rare in the OKI region. Mobile source emissions are no longer a concern beyond recreation or sport vehicles. Adoption of Level 5 (full) autonomous vehicles is up to over 30%, and safety has improved considerably due to the prevalence of these vehicles. Safety is also enhanced because ICEs have far more advanced safety features. Vehicle autonomy and connectivity has significantly improved crash avoidance. Crash rates are down 50% from 2020 levels. With nearly one third of the vehicle fleet being autonomous, capacity and flow rates on all roadways improve substantially

Although there is a continued strong desire for travel, more ridesharing is occurring to reduce the cost per trip, as well as an increased social conscience to reduce energy use and environmental impacts. Remote working and virtual business meetings have become routine in the global economy. In addition, in a MAAS environment, the actual cost per trip is “pay as you go” (compared to 2020 where much of the expense is in sunk costs) so people forgo some non-essential trips (decline in trip generation of about 20%). Software improvements have reduced “dead head” miles traveled by AV’s. More trips are satisfied by MaaS products. Urbanization continues to increase, and the market responds by increasing density and quality of mobility options in highly populated areas. Home delivery has continued to grow but an increasing share of small packages are delivered by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Transit operations recede to only high-volume, high-quality trunk line service.

The development of the 2050 Plan included consideration of multiple plausible futures. As described above, a single scenario for each benchmark year represents the OKI 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. In addition, OKI presents a vision for 2050 where we explore what’s possible when the extent of connected and autonomous vehicles, the number of shared-use trips and the vehicle ownership model is turned upside down. To see the effectiveness of the Plan, key transportation metrics are presented in the Impacts section.

Resources To Better Understand, Prepare for the New Mobility Age

The driverless car is no longer the exclusive realm of futurists and sci-fi authors. It has gone beyond the blueprints and pilot programs to the city streets and the nation’s highways.

OKI is optimistic about the future of transportation. And you should be, too.

Every day, OKI prepares for the future of transportation technology. And we are relentlessly invested in driving a smart region that works for everyone. Our vision is a better tomorrow, one transformed by intelligent mobility and intelligent infrastructure.

In that spirit, we encourage you to explore the resources below to better understand autonomous technology, and how it will alter our world — in many ways, for the better, and far sooner than later:

 

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