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New Mobility Services Will Transform Cities

Thursday, July 7, 2022

A new report suggests significant impact on cities from an increase in mobility services. By 2030 the global revenue from this industry is projected to increase to $660 billion from the $260 billion in 2020. 

The report, conducted by Oliver Wyman Forum and the Institute of Transportation at the University of California, Berkeley, focuses on the growth of the mobility services industry. Mobility services include a wide range of vehicles, from EVs to bikes. As more and more people shift toward these services the projection is increased revenue as well as increased sustainability in transportation. The increase in sustainability is projected to come from reduced emissions and noise levels as mobility providers adopt EVs at a faster and larger scale than private individuals. 

The study looked at a range of services in three regions: Asia, Europe, and North America. It is projected that EV adoption and a shift toward mobility as a service will develop at different speeds, and with different combinations, in these regions. Across all three regions, however, the common thread is a dramatic growth in adoption of these more sustainable forms of transportation. “Improvements in technology, governmental regulation and consumer mobility demand are expected to drive most of the growth for the entire industry across all regions.” 

Congestion, however, remains a concern, dependent on existing infrastructure and local geography but also crucially on local governments support for mass transit or mobility services. The report advises that cities should maintain a balance between the two. According to the researchers a way forward is investing in infrastructure for mass transit, while at the same time providing ecosystems for connecting with new mobility services.

Personal Comment:

I agree that infrastructure investment is essential. The projected growth, and the potential benefits it might bring, require a favourable infrastructure. Building infrastructure is a long-term, often many decades, enterprise. 2030 is only a little over 7 years away, and in terms of infrastructure investment that is short. This suggests that cities, if not already investing and planning, should do so immediately to harness the benefits of increased mobility services. 

This is no easy challenge. Take Gothenburg as an example. There is currently a wide range of mobility services. Traditional mass transit such as busses, trams, and trains exist, and currently receiving significant investment. Traditional actors such as Volvo offer car sharing services, and new actors such as Voi, Bird, and Tier are on the scene. There is a complex mix of public and private, as well as, old and new, when it comes to mobility. Moving forward infrastructure investment will affect the makeup of that mixture. How, exactly, is not easy to say. 

One further unknown is how these shifts in mobility might affect accessibility. It might be that a larger role in transportation for mobility service providers will open more of cities to more people, but then it might not be. A potential pitfall, it seems to me, is if local governments at tempted to divert responsibility for transportation to mobility providers to save money, and thereby allow mass transit to diminish. It is unlikely that these new types of mobility services can solve all transportation needs on their own.

Written by Niklas Strand,
RISE Mobility & Systems