Local Climate Action Planning as a Tool to Harness Greenhouse Gas Emissions Mitigation and the Equity Potential of Autonomous Vehicles and On-Demand Mobility

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Transportation Research Record







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This paper focuses on how cities can use climate action plans (CAPs) to ensure that on-demand mobility and autonomous vehicles (AVs) help reduce, rather than increase, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and inequitable impacts from the transportation system. We employed a three-pronged research strategy involving: (1) an analysis of the current literature on on-demand mobility and AVs; (2) a systematic content analysis of 23 CAPs and general plans (GPs) developed by municipalities in California; and (3) a comparison of findings from the literature and content analysis of plans to identify opportunities for GHG emissions reduction and mobility equity. Findings indicate that policy and planning discussions should consider the synergies between AVs and on-demand mobility as two closely related emerging mobility trends, as well as the key factors (e.g., vehicle electrification, fuel efficiency, use and ownership, access, and distribution, etc.) that determine whether the deployment of AVs would help reduce GHG emissions from transportation. Additionally, AVs and on-demand mobility have the potential to contribute to a more equitable transportation system by improving independence and quality of life for individuals with disabilities and the elderly, enhancing access to transit, and helping alleviate the geographic gap in public transportation services. Although many municipal CAPs and GPs in California have adopted several strategies and programs relevant to AVs and on-demand mobility, several untapped opportunities exist to harness the GHG emissions reduction and social benefits potential of AVs and on-demand mobility.


Air quality and greenhouse gas mitigation, Autonomous, Emerging technology law, Greenhouse gas mitigation, Legal resources, Policy and organization, Sustainability and resilience, Transportation and sustainability


Urban and Regional Planning