Transport and mobility for the next generation

With fast changing trends in the transport world this blog explores how we’re helping our clients understand their role in embracing these trends and responding with cutting edge projects.

As exciting as it would be to be able to make Back to the Future-esque predictions on how we will travel in the future, the long term impacts of recent and ongoing transformations in transport and mobility including vehicle and fuel technology, on-demand requirements of consumers and the trend towards sharing assets are still being grappled with.  The market is certainly playing a prominent role in this debate, and policy makers and city leaders are increasingly understanding their role in the emerging mobility landscape.

The unprecedented changes in personal mobility opportunities and requirements are startling. It is intriguing that future travel choices will not be influenced by the travel options available, but by the mechanism through which travel is planned and booked – namely the smartphone, as one CityLab article from 2014 puts in perspective “The Most Important Transportation Innovation of the Decade is the Smartphone”. The technologies that have rapidly developed, such as smartphones, are now starting to revolutionise our mobility needs as well as what our transport looks like and how we access it. Some examples of this revolution are explored below.

What are the key mobility trends…

Research suggests that globally by 2050, 50% of all vehicles will be autonomous (KPMG and McKinsey). In developed countries in particular, it is easy to imagine things moving much more quickly. Many vehicles are already partially autonomous and many car manufacturers are continuing to focus on developing autonomous features, including Volvo, BMW and Nissan, with common autonomous features including lane accuracy, auto break and park assist. It is also of interest that Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai has recently (April 2016) launched Dubai’s Autonomous Vehicle Strategy, which includes a target to have 25% of vehicles autonomous by 2030.  The parking industry has also recently experienced an increased focus on autonomous smart parking technology, one of the most impressive results of this is Serva’s creation of a robot, called Ray, that autonomously parks cars and can be found in use at Dusseldorf Airport.

Across Generation Y, (children of the baby boomers born between 1980 and 2000) attitudes and mobility needs are developing in line with new lifestyle choices. This is most evidently reflected in the decrease in the number of young adults holding drivers licenses, which in the UK has been in decline since the mid 1990s (RAC Foundation). This phenomenon is in no way unique to the UK, with other industrialised countries also experiencing a similar decline. A survey undertaken by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute revealed that the top reasons why young adults don’t have a driving license include being too busy, the expense of owning and maintaining a vehicle and being able to get transportation from others. Anecdotally, it is also observed that an increasing proportion of younger people are more environmentally conscious than previous generations. We also know that the younger generation are much more interested in what’s in the palm of their hand, they want instant access to everything and are less concerned about ownership and much more interested in usership.

The shareconomy has become a well-known phrase, lending itself to the trend of people who share a single asset. This tends to be closely linked to technology that provides the required communication, booking and payment platforms. Within the transport world, the shareconomy is likely to continue to develop on a similar scale as the accommodation sector has over the past few years since the popularisation of AirBnb. Examples include car sharing and car-pooling as well as car clubs that are going global (Zipcar and Enterprise). Car manufacturers are responding to the shareconomy as well – BMW appear to be at the forefront, partnering with Sixt to provide DriveNow, which allows users to make one-way journeys with no designated parking spaces, and Mini have recently announced that they are fitting new cars with devices that allow owners to rent out their vehicles, “…like Airbnb on wheels”.

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The continuing development of the on-demand economy is hotly anticipated, and no doubt anyone with an interest in transport will be watching Helsinki, Finland to see how their Mobility as a Service offer (due to be introduced during 2016 and early 2017) will be received by the city. Mobility as a Service  will offer a combination of transport modes from various operators which can be accessed, including booking and payment functions, through a single point (generally through an app). As more examples of this emerge they are likely to feature various membership options, including monthly packages or pay as you go. On-demand services are already offered for single modes on a large scale, with Uber and Lyft proving the on-demand principle can be turned into a commercially viable reality. These services put people in control, allowing transport to react to the users lifestyle rather than the other way around. There is a potential threat with creating truly on-demand services however, and that is that they may only make automated transport convenient and may reduce those who use active and sustainable travel modes.

So, what are the implications?

While it may not be prudent, or indeed necessary, to make quantum leaps regarding the future of mobility here are a small number of possible issues for consideration in the short term:

  • Intelligent mobility policy frameworks: City leaders and policy makers establishing policy frameworks that enable the new mobility agenda to evolve in a manner that is consistent with wider social, economic and environmental goals. A framework that embraces the need for flexibility.
  • Land use planning and design: New development that is much more adaptable than ever before to take account of, for example, autonomous vehicles, changing parking requirements and the advent of ‘mobility hubs’ where on-demand vehicles can conveniently collect and deposit passengers.
  • Mobility alliances: Where local government and other public sector organisations enter into partnerships with private sector mobility providers and the technology sector to develop collaborative approaches to delivering mobility solutions that harness the opportunity associated with technological innovation to develop outcomes that are focused on agreed objectives for our cities and regions.
  • Mobility as a Service pilot schemes: To become more manageable the rate of change in personal mobility requirements and opportunities may best be navigated by the introduction of small scale pilot initiatives where public and private sector can learn and adapt. Whether it is the introduction of a fully functioning multi-modal journey planner with the option to book and pay for travel or the testing of on-demand transport services in discrete geographical areas, understanding the technological, user and governance impacts will be key,

Keep a look out for future blogs within this series, where we will be taking a closer look at the trends mentioned above, and how we are helping our Clients understand their role and how to respond through cutting edge projects.

If you wish to find out more about all or any of the above issues please our transport and mobility team.

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