Urban mobility

June 3, 2014 |

Urban networks under pressure

Consultant Arthur D Little and the International Public Transport Association's (UITP) Future of Urban Mobility 2.0 study outlines recommendations for how global cities can improve their public transport offerings amidst the pressures of increasing urbanisation and restricted budgets.

MOST of the world's cities are still badly equipped to cope with the challenges posed by increasing urbanisation and demand for transport. This is the overarching conclusion of the second Future of Urban Mobility study by global consultant Arthur D Little, which was developed in conjunction with the International Public Transport Association (UITP).

The study released in December 2013 builds on the inaugural edition which was issued in 2011 and highlighted the mobility maturity and challenges faced by 66 cities from around the world and introduced the Arthur D Little Urban Mobility Index.

This was expanded to 84 cities in the 2013 version with each given a score out of 100 based on their performance across 19 separate criteria. 11 of these were based on maturity, including the share of public transport modal split and public transport frequency, and performance, which included emissions performance and average journey times. In addition, Arthur D Little reviewed policy initiatives undertaken by cities to improve the performance of their transport networks.

The desire to develop such an understanding and strategy is based on the fact that the world's population is increasingly city-based; 53% of people currently live in urban areas and by 2050 this is expected to reach 67%. Today 64% of all journeys by kilometres travelled are made within urban environments. The total amount of urban kilometres travelled is expected to triple by 2050. As a result delivering urban mobility is critical to the future success and prosperity of the world's urban centres which are now under pressure to invest significantly in their public transport networks.

In addition to the increasing demand, urban mobility needs are evolving. Changing travel habits, demand for improved convenience, speed and predictability of services, as well as expectations toward individualism and sustainability will require expansions in mobility service portfolios as well as changes to business models. Specialist players from other sectors are also assessing opportunities to play a role in the extended urban mobility network.

Moreover, in order to achieve the UITP's objective of doubling public transport's worldwide market share by 2025 compared with 2005, public transport operators are working hard to improve the attractiveness, capacity and efficiency of their mobility systems all while enduring restricted public financing, which demonstrates the need for innovation.

The overall results from the survey show that most cities are still poorly equipped to cope with the challenges ahead. The global average score is 43.9 points, meaning that, on average, the 84 cities are achieving less than half of their potential.

Only 11 cities score above 52 points, the top 20% of the score range. Hong Kong achieved the highest score of 58.2 points closely followed by Stockholm with 57.4 points and Amsterdam with 57.2 points.

Big differences

The study identifies big differences between the top and low end performers in various regions:

Europe achieves the highest average score of the six world regions surveyed, with an average of 49.8 (51.5 for western Europe and 45.2 for southern and eastern Europe) and nine out of the 25 European cities analysed scored above 52 points. Copenhagen with 56.4 is third behind Stockholm and Amsterdam, while Athens (40.0), Rome (40.9) and Lisbon (41.3) are the worst performing European cities.

Latin American and Asian Pacific cities show slightly below average performance. The area's average scores of 43.9 and 42.8 points respectively are well below Western Europe but outperform other regions in public transport related criterion such as the financial attractiveness, share of modal split, and use of smart cards. Most cities in Latin America show average performance of between 39 and 47 points while Asian Pacific cities show the broadest range in performance - from Hong Kong and Singapore (55.6) to Hanoi with 30.9 points.

North America shows average performance with 39.5 points. Given the orientation toward cars, North American cities rank bottom worldwide in terms of maturity. In terms of performance, they score above average overall, but achieve poor results with regard to number of cars per capita and CO2 emissions. New York leads the way with 45.6 points, closely followed by Montreal with 45.4.

Africa and the Middle East are the lowest performing regions with respective average point totals of 37.1 and 34.1. While urban mobility systems in these regions perform well on several criteria due to the lower number of cars, they are still at an evolvstockholm-no-1ing stage and haven't reached sufficient maturity yet.

What is holding back change in these cities and regions? A comprehensive review of technologies and urban mobility business models reveals insufficient availability of solutions to address the mobility challenges.

In the 2011 study, Arthur D Little identified three long term business models archetypes for mobility suppliers, the "Amazon," "Apple" and "Dell" of urban mobility. Those business models still hold true today and each have interesting development potential. However, these solutions and archetypes are currently not being applied comprehensively.

"There is a clear trend toward shared mobility," says Mr Oleksii Korniichuk, head of the mobility competence centre at Arthur D Little. "More cars and bikes are being shared in cities, both via peer-to-peer and business-to-consumer models, but many of those concepts haven't yet managed to take off as providers are still testing different business models."

So why hasn't the innovation potential been unleashed? The study cites one key reason: the management of urban mobility operates globally in an environment which is hostile to innovation. As a result current urban management systems do not allow market players to compete and to establish business models that bring demand and supply into a natural balance.

"Urban mobility is one of the toughest system-level challenges facing the urban environment" says Mr François-Joseph Van Audenhove, partner at Arthur D Little and head of the Future of Urban Mobility 2.0 study. "There are plenty of solutions and business models available, but very few have managed to smartly integrate them and unleash their full business potential. What is needed is mutual collaboration between all parties with a stake in urban transport that will allow innovative and integrated business models to emerge."

Moreover, many mature cities do not yet have a clear future vision and strategy for their networks. The lack of synergies between individual initiatives leads to a sub-optimal outcome in terms of mobility performance, which calls for a more holistic approach. At a different level, integration between regional mobility systems still remains very low in comparison with other parts of the economy as transport infrastructure was historically designed to serve regional rather than national goals.

"In that context, there is a need for stronger alignment between regional mobility strategies while respecting each other's accountabilities and ensuring solutions are adapted to the local context," Van Audenhove says.

To meet the urban mobility challenge, the study argues that cities, dependent on their maturity and the share of sustainable transport in their modal split, need to implement one of the following three strategies:

• Rethink the system: cities in mature countries with a high proportion of motorised individual transport need to shape political agendas to fundamentally redesign their mobility systems so that they become more public transport and sustainability oriented. 53 of the cities included in the index belong to this group.

• Network the system: for mature cities with a high share of sustainable transport modes, the next step must be to fully integrate the travel value chain to foster seamless, multimodal mobility while ensuring a "one face to the customer" approach. At the same time they must work to increase the overall attractiveness of public transport by expanding services. This group contains the majority of cities in western Europe as well as Hong Kong and Singapore.

• Establish a sustainable core: for cities in emerging countries with partly underdeveloped mobility systems, the aim must be to establish a sustainable mobility core that can satisfy short-term demand at a reasonable cost without replicating mistakes from developed countries. With access to emerging transport infrastructure and technologies, these cities have the opportunity to become the testbed and breeding ground for tomorrow's urban mobility systems.

Arthur D Little and the UITP subsequently identified four dimensions for cities to consider when defining sustainable urban mobility policies:

• Visionary strategy and ecosystem: establishing sustainable urban mobility policies requires cities to develop a political vision and to define its public transport objectives based on a mutual understanding of the desired outcomes between all public and private parties. This should inform a visionary urban mobility strategy by offering priorities and suggestions for investments that will help to achieve mobility objectives.

• Mobility supply: Responding to increasing demand for urban mobility and to consumer and business needs for seamless, multimodal urban mobility requires cities to extend their public transport offering and adapt the philosophy of "delivering transport" to "delivering solutions." This is achievable through a combination of quality improvements to existing public transport and an improvements to customer experience via service offerings. Establishing partnerships and alliances with third parties is a key element of this strategy.

• Mobility demand management: the limited capacity of current mobility systems and the level of investment required to develop transport infrastructure means mobility service expansions must also be complemented with measures to manage demand. Mobility demand management is a delicate discipline which can be easily met by strong resistance if not properly managed. However, a number of measures exist and some of these have already derived clear benefits, the relevance of which should be assessed by cities in a local context.

• Public transport financing: devising the right funding mix for public transport is critical for public transport's the financial viability, particularly given that demand for funding is increasing significantly due to growing supply, rising quality expectations and the cost of production. With fare revenues not always evolving in line with operations costs, and with a public debt crisis increasing pressure on public resources, transport authorities and operators in many cities need to identify opportunities to derive additional revenues from aggregation of third party services and from the indirect beneficiaries of public transport.

The study argues that a system-level approach across these four dimensions is critical to a city's future mobility success. It says that sustainable improvements to a city's mobility performance require simultaneous improvement in each of the four dimensions as the weakest link will influence overall mobility performance.

The study therefore identifies 25 imperatives for cities to consider when defining their sustainable urban mobility strategy. Among the suggestions is the adoption of a clear political vision and adoption of integrated planning and management processes. It also recommends recognising and avoiding the mistakes of the past, while changing the management philosophy to a solution provider which aims to identify and maximise non-traditional revenue streams.

"The time has come for public transport to step up and to drive innovation in urban mobility," says Mr Alain Flausch, UITP secretary general. "In order to benefit from those opportunities, we will need to open our minds and take a much more holistic view on public transport, and as authorities and operators, we will need to work closely with each other, and the new market players, to deliver creative and entrepreneurial mobility solutions guided by a strategic vision of how cities and regions can be planned and organised."

The study concludes by considering case studies from eight cities, ranging from Tehran which was ranked 81 out of 84, and Lagos which was 74th, to Lima which was 44th, London which was ninth, and Hong Kong.

Arthur D Little says the study is part of its Future Lab programme to support cities and countries to shape the extended mobility ecosystems of tomorrow and act as a catalyst to facilitate an open dialogue between global urban rail networks. The full study is available to view and download at www.adl.com/FUM2.0 as well as at www.uitp.org.

Sign up for the IRJ Rail Brief Newsletter