GoCity: Personal Transportation of the 21st Century

Timothy Loh, University of Western Ontario
Krzysztof Osowski, University of Western Ontario
Vivian Chung, University of Western Ontario


The transportation sector is the largest single contributor to energy demand in Canada. In 2007 it accounted for 21% of total energy use in the country and increased 5.1% over its value in 2006. There exists a need to address the travel demands of a growing population through an environmentally sustainable mode of transportation in order to ensure that our need for mobility, in order to sustain an acceptable standard of living, remains financially feasible in addition to addressing the global call for environmental responsibility.

The proposed design is for a new form of public transportation network, called GoCity. A mode of public transportation was chosen, instead of personal, because of the ability to address the travel demands of the population with a reduced number of vehicles.

GoCity aims to combine the convenience of conventional taxi services with the economies of scale of mass transit in order to provide a service that can be considered a suitable alternative to personal vehicle ownership to a portion of the population. GoCity is heavily reliant on an automated dispatch system. Dispatch can pair customers together, given their current location and their travel destination, in order to share a vehicle through a service called Ride-Share. This would promote car-pooling and make inner city travel less expensive as increased vehicle occupancy would reduce travel fares. Analysis of the proposed Ride-Share system has shown a reduction in total distance traveled by a GoCity vehicle by approximately 25%. The occupancy of these vehicles would also be increased by approximately 11% over comparable taxi services.

In addition to Ride-Share, the GoCity network uses signal pre-emption to reduce the frequency of a vehicle idling at a stoplight, thereby reducing total travel times. Analysis has shown that the use of signal pre-emption could be used to reduce the average travel duration by 10% over regular unaided travel through a city.

The combination of both Ride-Share and signal pre-emption would provide the tangible benefits needed to promote the use of the service amongst the urban population. Ideally, this would result in a reduction of vehicles on city streets by people who own vehicles but operate them relatively infrequently would find GoCity as a suitable alternative to satisfy their travel needs.

Combining the efficiency of travel of GoCity vehicles with the presumed reduction in vehicles on city streets, the goal of minimizing the environmental footprint of the transportation sector could begin to be addressed.