A future with no privately owned cars?

Technion Professor Emeritus Avi Ceder has found that in 94% of the cases, public transportation brings passengers to their destinations in less time than a privately owned car

Professor Avi Ceder

Professor Avi Ceder

While the damages of private transportation are no secret, a new article published in Scientific Reports presents a more disturbing picture, yet suggests sustainable solutions. The articles was authored by Professor Emeritus Avishai (Avi) Ceder of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technion, an international transportation expert, who served as the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Transportation.

His paper, which demonstrates the magnitude of traffic and transportation damages, provides a comparison of private and public vehicle travel times, as well as a model for autonomous transportation. Ceder has developed measures for representing transportation problems globally, with data from 19 countries across five continents, including developing countries.

According to Ceder, the damages of private transportation include:

  • Direct fatalities – traffic accidents account for 35.6% of all deaths from accidents of any kind.
  • Indirect fatalities – transportation contributes the most to global warming and mortality from pollution.
  • Wasting time – 22.5% of the time we spend traveling, during peak times, is spent in traffic jams.
  • Wasting space – the average vehicle is only in motion 5.3% of the time every day; 94.7% of the time, it stands idle, taking up precious space, without serving its intended purpose.

Prof. Ceder has also found that, contrary to common belief, in 94% of the cases, public transport brings passengers to their destinations in less time than a privately owned car. A comparison of traveling from the suburbs to city centers reveals that using autonomous buses over autonomous privately owned vehicles, will reduce the number of vehicles on the roads by 66%. 

Finally, the transition from a private car to any kind of public vehicle must be based on the individual’s decision to prefer public transport vehicles. Prof. Ceder stresses that the changes will only emerge if proactive government actions are taken in two major directions: developing autonomous vehicles exclusively for public transport and setting standards for automatic connections of different vehicles. He believes that many patterns in our lifestyles that changed due to Covid-19 are likely to provide leverage for change in the world of transportation.

“Driving habits have to change,” he says. “The addiction to driving is similar to the addiction to smoking, and here too, real withdrawal is required.” Prof. Ceder believes that “the jolting experience of the pandemic offers new ways of thinking. We can’t afford to lose the momentum.”

Click here for the full paper in Scientific Reports (Springer Nature Publishing Group)