Photo: Sam Kittner / Capital Bikeshare
Recently, I was invited to join a panel on the sharing economy moderated by Prof. Susan Shaheen at UC Berkeley, focusing more specifically on shared mobility.
The panel acknowledged that shared mobility is already transforming the mobility landscape globally, but could go a lot further in increasing the sustainability of urban mobility systems. The panel identified a number of key research gaps that we need to pay close attention to if we want to create a policy environment that is conducive to mobility innovations. Three that I want to highlight are:
- Supporting open data and open-source ecosystems is critical considering the tremendous potential of open-source software and data-sharing for improving transport planning, facilitating management and providing a better experience for transport users (for more detail, please see my previous blog on how the transport sector in Mexico is being transformed by open data)
- Looking into shared-economy solutions for those at the bottom of the pyramid – solutions that don’t require credit cards and smartphones as prerequisites (see this blog on the bike-share system in Buenos Aires for a good example)
- The world of driverless cars is coming – which, depending on how policy responds to it, could spell really good or really bad news for the environment: if such technology is used primarily in shared mobility scenarios, it could greatly reduce the environmental cost of motorized transport; on the other hand, the possibility of “empty trips” with zero-occupancy cars could exacerbate the worst elements of automobility (see Robin Chase’s blog in The Atlantic Cities for a great discussion on this). That is why it is critical to create a policy environment that appropriately prices the ‘bads’ of congestion, accidents and emissions while steering the world of driverless cars towards sharing and resource conservation.
Construction of the Quito Metro
Leaders in the transport, development, and for the first time, business sectors will convene for Transforming Transportation this week in Washington, DC.
Cities are the world’s engines of economic growth. Yet many have a long way to go when it comes to ensuring safe and affordable access to jobs, education, and healthcare for its citizens—in part because their transport systems are inadequate and unsustainable. This weakness is visible in packed slums and painful commutes in cities that fail to provide affordable transport options.
Inadequate transport comes with other costs related to air quality and safety. Beijing, China, battles dangerous levels of air pollution due in large part to motor vehicle emissions. Major Indian metropolises like Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai are growing out instead of up, contributing to increased travel distances and an estimated 550 deaths every day from traffic accidents. And across the globe, cities are the locus of up to 70 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions driving climate change.
Poor transport systems not only hinder the public health and economic growth of cities, they can spur civil unrest. More than 100,000 protestors, for example, gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on one night in June 2013 to express a wide range of grievances, including transportation fare hikes, poor public services despite a high tax burden, and other urban issues.
But in these challenges lie significant opportunities – particularly for the business and transport sectors at the city level.
Mr. Julio Lopes, Secretary of Transport of the State of Rio de Janeiro, recently visited the World Bank to present what the city is doing to improve the quality of public transport. It is a fascinating example of how cities can improve urban transport, with a clear target of benefiting the poor and reducing a city’s carbon footprint.
Transport projects typically do not include the reduction of crime and violence as an objective, but it could be a collateral benefit from investments in certain equipment and services also meant to improve the operational efficiency of a transport system. One example of this is the case of CPTM, the State suburban rail system for the São Paulo Metropolitan Region which carries almost 2 million passengers per day. CPTM was created
Mega-events such as the Olympics and the World Cup can be catalysts not only for huge investments in infrastructure, but also policy changes that may induce positive behavioral changes. Transport operations and mobility are particularly important for mega-events as they involve much planning and long-lasting infrastructure. The question, however, is how to keep the long-term development vision and legacy in mind while meeting the shorter-term mo
I just returned from São Paulo, perhaps the third biggest metropolitan area in the world with a population of 18 million and an endless vista of apartment towers and commercial buildings in almost any direction from the center. The traffic problems are large and reported in the daily newspapers as the peak number of kilometers of the main road network in congested conditions (equivalent to LOS F). This indicator tends to range between 100 and 200 km for any