Public transport: at the heart of the new mobility world

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With space increasingly at a premium in today’s cities, high quality public transport combined with a broader mix of mobility services is the answer to cutting car dependency according to the latest Policy Brief position from UITP. 

The new Policy Brief entitled, ‘Public transport at the heart of the integrated mobility solution,’ confirms that the key to cutting urban car dependency is an integrated combination of sustainable mobility services. Cities with strong public transport, complemented with services such as car- and bike-sharing, shared taxi services and ride-sharing offer citizens convenient and flexible travel options.

Urban space is one of the most precious resources in a city: private cars are parked 95% of their lifetime and during the 5% of the time they are driven, are much less space-efficient compared to public transport, walking and cycling. With the increasing urbanisation of the planet, mobility demand will continue to rise: public transport, particularly on major corridors and in peak hours, will remain the only viable solution for cities.  

Though new mobility services such as ride selling apps (Uber, Lyft), free-floating car-sharing (car2go) or ridesharing apps (Blablacar) play a valuable role in helping to reduce car ownership, alone they do not have the capacity or capability to meet every journey need or solve congestion issues.

These services thus depend on efficient public transport in order to function well. In Paris, 65% of Uber trips start or end within 200m of a metro station. In Berlin, free-floating car-sharing is well-developed but still represents just 0.1% of total trips. This is precisely the point, though: car usage decreases because car-sharing users walk, cycle and use public transport for the majority of their trips and use a car only when necessary.

Changing mobility landscape: what role for authorities?
In the context of the evolving urban mobility landscape, UITP’s Combined Mobility Platform with the support of the Organising Authorities Committee organised a workshop last week in Barcelona looking at the benefits of combined mobility and at what public authorities can do to encourage an integrated offer of urban mobility services, whether public or private. 

The event also included an in-depth discussion about the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on urban mobility, with the feeling being that shared autonomous vehicles could have a dramatic effect in freeing up valuable urban space by reducing the need for parking and road infrastructure while cutting congestion.


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