Friday , 19 July 2019

Shared Mobility for Liveable Cities

Can you imagine a city with only 3% of the cars but in which you can still get to where you need to be when you want? It may sound utopian, but recent studies of the International Transport Forum (ITF) show that this is potentially possible

Using real data about how people move in a mid-sized European city, ITF researchers developed a sophisticated computer model of urban mobility. They then replaced all trips in private cars with travel in shared six-seater taxis and taxi-buses with either eight or 16 seats. They also set the parameters with strict limits on the waiting time and on the detour time to pick-up and alight other passengers. In effect, citizens get a service at a level of quality very similar to what they currently get with their private cars.

The result stunned even the experts: Such a system could guarantee the same level of mobility for car owners – and an even better mobility for those without – with a fraction of the number of cars: In the most dramatic simulation result, a mere 3%.

The benefits of this would be no less astounding: only 5% of current parking space would be needed, freeing up the other 95% to be made available for other uses. Congestion would disappear – as the total vehicles miles travelled is reduced between 23% and 37%, depending on the time of day. CO2 emissions from traffic would also fall hugely by more than a third (34%), even without any new technologies in cars, just based on today’s vehicles with today’s engines.

There would be further benefits: With more space and less traffic, conditions for walking and cycling improve dramatically, making it easier and more fun to move about on foot or by bicycle. This could lead to an increase in the shares of these modes, resulting in further reductions yet of vehicle miles travelled. Such more active lifestyles would additionally bring overall health benefits to society.

Private cars only operate 50 minutes in a 24-hour day on average. Shared vehicles could be used much more intensively (about 10 hours per day). They therefore need to be replaced more quickly, allowing faster introduction of new technologies that would further reduce CO2 emissions.

The ITF simulation shows how significantly shared transport solutions can improve urban mobility and livability in the city. What’s even better is that these solutions could cut the costs of urban mobility by 50% or more, and without any subsidies.

There is one other aspect that should make shared mobility solutions like the ones simulated by ITF very attractive: It opens up the possibilities of highly flexible motorised transport to those who do not have cars, enabling them to go to schools, hospitals, workplaces places that were not easily accessible before. Through this effect, shared mobility could contribute towards building more accessible, and ultimately equitable, cities.

To gauge impact on social inclusion, the ITF modelling team looked at the number of jobs, hospitals/health centres and secondary schools (or higher) accessible within 30 minutes of a given location using only public transport in the current system and the ITF simulated system. For each system, the ratio of opportunities (jobs, etc.) between the 10% best served element of the population and the 10% worst-served was calculated. This ratio indicates to what extent access is more equitable (low values) or less equitable (high values).

The results showed the following:

  • Jobs: The ratio of 17.3 for access to potential workplaces using the current public transport system indicates great inequality. For the on-demand shared mobility configuration, however, the ratio was only almost ten times smaller (1.8), indicating much more equitable access and hence better opportunities to access jobs.

  • Health services: Shared mobility services improve access to hospitals and health centres from a highly inequitable ratio of 39.0 under the existing system to a quite equitable 2.5 under an on-demand shared mobility system. The majority of the 200-by-200- metre grid cells into which the city is divided move from the lowest level of access to the highest (see map), indicating a strong improvement in accessibility and hence inclusiveness.

  • Education services: While public transport in its current form provides only limited access to secondary and higher schools in the model city (access ratio of 29.2), the shared mobility system tested in the study resulted in an dramatically improved access ratio of 2.0.

To provide better data and scenarios for policymakers, the ITF is now testing the analysis model with data from other cities with different characteristics. This will help to better understand how local conditions influence the results and how shared mobility solutions could be adapted to ensure maximum benefits everywhere. The cities that are now being tested include Dublin (Ireland), Auckland (New Zealand) and Helsinki (Finland).

More globally, it is noticeable that shared mobility initiatives are taking different forms. Some cities have found themselves reacting to shared mobility providers arriving on their market, while others have been more proactive and are working with service providers to foster innovation and develop pilot schemes. Many cities and countries have already started to negotiate with private shared mobility operators to look at how these services can complement current transportation services for their citizens.

To date, ITF has only looked at ”what if” scenarios. The initial study was done under the Corporate Partnership Board program of the ITF and looked at the city of Lisbon in Portugal and the potential impact of replacing all car and bus trips in a city with fleets of shared vehicles. The report ”Shared Mobility for Liveable Cities” published in 2016 examined different configurations of how a fleet of shared vehicles can deliver on demand, transfer-free, door-to-door mobility.

ITF is now moving to an assessment of how the transition could happen. How could such services actually be deployed and scaled up, possibly also including automated vehicles? What are realistic adoption scenarios? What are the roadmaps and policy recommendations that should guide the development of shared mobility services?

The intention is to provide decision-makers with answers that allow them to maximise benefits while minimising costs during different transition pathways. An important part of this will be to find appropriate performance metrics to monitor progress. If all goes to plan, the results of this work by the Corporate Partnership Board will be presented to ministers, media and the public at the International Transport Forum’s Annual Summit in Leipzig, Germany, on 31st May- 2nd June 2017.

About the International Transport Forum

The International Transport Forum at the OECD is an intergovernmental organisation with 57 member countries. It acts as a think tank for transport policy and organises the Annual Summit of transport ministers. ITF is the only global body that covers all transport modes. The ITF is administratively integrated with the OECD, yet politically autonomous.

About our Corporate Partnership Board

We believe that the corporate sector can also give valuable insights to policy makers with regard to what technological advances are around the corner, as well as which are the emerging business models that could change the transport of today into the mobility of tomorrow.

We work closely with the companies on our Corporate Partnership Board on such topics in order to be able to bring these to the attention of ministers and other decision makers to ensure that they are well informed before they make important policy and regulatory decisions.

The aforementioned studies were undertaken in the context of our work with the Corporate Partnership Board. Companies involved in the project were: Ford Google, HERE, Inrix, Michelin, PTV Group, Volvo and Uber. Sharon Masterson, Manager, Corporate Partnership Boards, International Transport Forum