|The Future of Urban Mobility.|
By Tiffany Fishman
Monday, 25th February 2013
Incredible innovations within the transportation sector are being driven by the growing recognition that cars, once synonymous with freedom and ease of mobility, have become a victim of their own success.
In cities around the world, congestion is undermining mobility, imposing huge costs not just on commuters or people out to run a simple errand but on society as a whole.
According to the Texas Transportation Institute, the average American commuter spent 34 hours delayed in traffic in 2010, up from 14 hours in 1982. If things don’t change, commuters can expect to spend more than 40 hours annually sitting in traffic by 2020.1 All told, the annual cost of congestion in America alone now exceeds $100 billion.2
The average commuter spends hours stuck in traffic every year, creating considerable personal and societal costs; Here’s how technological change and innovation, coupled with new transportation capacity, can help reduce global gridlock.
The problem that confronts transportation planners is that adding new infrastructure capacity to relieve congestion is notoriously slow and costly. Given the environmental issues to be explored, land to be acquired, permits obtained, people moved, and construction undertaken, it can take years, if not decades, to go from conception to delivery. Yet there are innovative new ways of making more efficient use of existing infrastructure already coming onto the scene.
With this in mind, Deloitte convened a distinguished array of transportation visionaries, thinkers and doers to consider the various permutations of what lies ahead. The wide-ranging and thought-provoking discussion produced intriguing points of agreement about the features and qualities that the coming transportation system might contain—or, at least, might contain if we take full advantage of the technological and organizational breakthroughs that are already apparent.
The arrival of the “information everywhere” world has opened up new opportunities to make the existing transportation network far more efficient and user friendly.
The arrival of the “information everywhere” world has opened up new opportunities to make the existing transportation network far more efficient and user friendly. Coupled with new transportation capacity, the changes spurred by technological change and the innovations it inspires will help preserve freedom of mobility in the 21st century.
Services like real-time ridesharing and car sharing, for instance, are helping urbanites get around without owning a car—and are making the private vehicle a de facto extension of the public transportation system. New apps are allowing commuters to compare the time, cost, convenience, carbon footprint and health benefits across all modes of public and private transport, broadening their range of choices and allowing for on-the-fly decision making that takes into account real-time conditions.
For their part, automakers are focused on next-generation “connected vehicles” that can access, consume, create and share information with other vehicles and surrounding infrastructure in real time—improving traffic flow and safety. And dynamic pricing mechanisms for roads, parking spaces and shared-use assets are helping balance supply and demand, much the same way the airline and hotel industries have been pricing seats and rooms for years.
The result of these innovations—and of the ecosystem of creative players that have been drawn to transportation, from information technology companies to ridesharing pioneers to app makers—is that the mobility field will look very different going forward. It will be:
To take advantage of these innovations, policymakers must start laying the groundwork for a digital-age transportation system (see figure 1).
- Massively networked, with ubiquitous connectivity throughout the system
- Dynamically priced, so as to balance supply and demand
- User centered, taking into account users’ needs, priorities, data flows, and dynamic responses to conditions
- Integrated, so that users can move easily from point A to point B, regardless of mode, service provider, or time of day
- Reliant on new models of private-public collaboration, which take advantage of the increasingly diverse ecosystem of public, private, and nonprofit entities that are working to meet the mobility challenges of the 21st century