2. Regulate without hampering innovation
Modern urban mobility systems involve many different operators, public and private. To make the most of the options available, cities need a governance and regulatory framework that allows them to develop and pilot new business models and promising modes of transport. All while protecting public safety. The early years of ride-sharing have also taught them the need to develop regulation proactively, not reactively. This means providing regulatory “sandboxes”: flexible rules that evolve over time to help new ventures develop.
An example of how regulation might work is the Greater Washington DC Partnership in the US, where business leaders have developed a performance-based regulatory framework. This encourages participants to manage data and integrate best practices and common standards for mobility. It may not be the whole answer, but it’s a step towards sensible regulation that still allows innovation to flourish.
3. Partner with the private sector to develop the next generation of mobility systems
From connected buses to autonomous vehicles, new mobility options are emerging all the time. And no single entity, whether it’s government, a business or a transport provider, will be able to deliver them all alone.
Cities need to work closely with the private sector to explore and develop these options. In the UK, Transport for London has partnered with Bosch to run an 18-month mobility pilot. This combines data and technical expertise to help small businesses and start-ups to develop innovative transport solutions for the region.
Ultimately, the city’s role will shift from the traditional “command and control” model, where responsibility ranged from planning, funding, and operations. Instead, it will become an operations manager, focused on competition, technology, regulation and standards-setting. In response to this change, cities such as Los Angeles, Munich and Stockholm are using mobility labs to experiment with new ways of developing and managing urban mobility.
4. Integrate mobility into broader urban policies
The recent protests in Paris proved that mobility doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The government had a laudable goal – encouraging people to move away from cars by increasing taxes on diesel and carbon. But it didn’t think through the impact its policy would have on people.
To avoid this kind of scenario, cities need to coordinate mobility with other policy approaches, including inclusive growth, sustainability, work and housing. And they need to make sure those policies are socially grounded and inclusive.
That means determining how the funding for reforms will work and what impact they may have. It also means setting and measuring outcomes. For example, Bogota, Johannesburg and dozens of other cities have released sustainability plans that align reducing emissions from transport with other city priorities.
A smart choice for the future
Cities need strong mobility initiatives to overcome the challenges they face. But they also need them to avoid making a difficult situation worse. For example, failing to tackle transport “dead zones” as a city grows will add to levels of inequality.
On the other hand, cities that follow the advice above will be more likely to meet their mobility demands in a scalable, sustainable manner. Which will mean they can grow in a way that includes everyone – while becoming more attractive to people, investors and business.
Fortunately, there are many new technologies that can help. To unlock their power, cities need to experiment with the new while managing the old. And they need to move from planning and providing services to creating an environment in which smart, inclusive mobility can thrive.
Cities that keep evolving this role will keep their growing populations moving – and meet one of greatest urban challenges of the 21st century.