We have ended up into a transport culture nobody wants. Nobody wants to spend time in traffic jams. There is also little desire to turn cities into parking lots. People want to make cities more livable. This means making them less vehicle-centric. Fewer cars are better for me, the society and the planet.
Mobility revolution starts from changing values. In welfare societies people take surviving for granted. Nothing material is intrinsically valuable for them because they have used to have food, shelter, education opportunities and health care. Thus people are increasingly looking for deeper meaning in their lives rather than aiming at owning more goods. They are moving from ownership to usership.
The change from ownership to usership – in the context of mobility – is demonstrated by the fact that in Stockholm, Sweden only one in ten 18-year-olds gets a driving license. In the USA nearly one in five young adults do not have a driver’s license. In Germany multi-modality increases and the ownership of private cars declines. This trend is also identified in Helsinki, Finland.
Vehicles are more often replaced by trouble-free access and good availability of mobility.
In practical terms multi-modality means that there is seamless multi-modal transport system which can reduce car-dependency and its adverse consequences by supporting a shift from private cars to car-sharing and collective transport. Collective transport can be run by government or private companies.
Mobility revolution is already underway. People already prefer walking because it helps taking care of health. This trend will be supported by the fact that autonomous vehicles – supposed to be launched in 2018-2022 – are sensitive. They do not take risks. This gives more power to pedestrians and cyclists.
In future, railway transport will still take care of the most significant form of mobility for large masses in urban contexts. Bus services will adapt much more flexibly to citizens’ actual needs. Shared, self-driving vehicles and city bikes fulfill the more individual needs of mobility. It is notable that carsharing is projected to exceed 23 million members globally by 2024.
Many people have already recognised that a bicycle is one of the most efficient urban transportation ever invented: versatile, agile, fast, and clean. City bikes as part of the multi-modal transport service have been tested with promising results in several cities.
The next step is that self-driving buses will be added to the system. This will be tested in Finland soon. Autonomous vehicles without drivers do not inspire full confidence.
Even if 90 percent accidents are due to human errors would you allow a self-driving car to take your child to school?
In order to increase passengers´ sense of security the driver can be replaced for example by a pop-up shopkeeper selling products of the local bakery. By such integration of additional services, the concept of multimodal mobility could be enlarged.
Local versions of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) have been piloted in Helsinki, Paris, Eindhoven, Gothenburg, Montpellier, Vienna, Hanover, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Singapore, and Barcelona. MaaS integrates public transportation to other mobility services that also include private-sector operators. Journey planning mobile applications help us identify and compare different modal options for trips.
Mobility revolution can be strongly supported by governmental policies. A governmental policy is an effective way to enhance comprehensive social change. For example, the governmental decision-making related to smoking has been effective in Finland since the 1970s. If smoking decreases in the current rate, it will be a rare habit in the 2040s, and in 2040 Finland will practically be a smoke-free country.
Thus smooth co-operation between mobility management players, public and private transportation providers, and local authorities responsible for transportation is a core thing for developing a seamless multi-modal transport system. A deep shift towards multi-modal mobility services in society is possible when people recognise that their own, personal benefits can be combined with the altruistic ecological and social benefits.
Photo: Anders Jildén, unsplash.com