Mobility options are fundamental to providing a robust platform for economic activity and human interaction within the urban environment. Today, rapid technological advances including employing smart technologies and sensors, coupled with shifts in demographics and public preferences are dramatically altering the nature of transportation in many cities. Technology’s ever-growing impact will have profound and far-reaching implications for the future of urban mobility as advances continue regarding logistics, mass transit, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, and ride sharing capabilities. At the same time, existing inequities in accessibility and mobility that already limit people’s social and economic capacities may be exacerbated by new technologies. Current patterns of mobility also strain resource use in terms of land and fossil fuels and threaten long-term sustainability of those patterns in the process. Inadequate infrastructure for transit and deteriorating infrastructure (roads, airports, ports, bridges, etc.) present economic as well as public safety challenges.
Generally public investment is required to expand the off-road rail system –but some pressure can be alleviated through enhancement of low-carbon modes of transportation such as biking and small lightweight electric vehicles. On the urban neighborhood scale, developing “complete streets” can be closely aligned with improving environmental sustainability as it allows room for all, particularly non-motorized mobility options. In addition, the pace of mobility solution change in the area of shared economy can be destabilizing to cities. Cities must make room for the new mobility solutions which offer faster and more convenient door-to-door solutions for people than conventional means of transportation. However, ride-sharing has a negative impact on transit by attracting transit users, which has stressed funds for public transportation and created mayhem in the streets. Yet policy makers are struggling to develop new measures, regulations, rules, and incentives to keep up with the pace of mobility solution change.
Urban mobility of the future, with its electric, connected, autonomous, and shared nature, will impact the way people get around and goods are transported. Mobility-as-a-service has emerged as a novel and increasingly popular concept, and is expected to eliminate much of private car ownership in the coming decades. Under private car ownership, vehicles have only 5 percent of time for purposeful use, with the remaining 95 percent of time sitting idle. Private car ownership is projected to peak by 2025. Afterwards, travel using mobility-as-a-service fleets will be the dominant form of personal transportation. With mobility-as-a-service, opportunities to address inequities in access to transportation can be more easily integrated with transportation infrastructure and operational planning, through the emerging diversity of and technological advancements in mobility approaches and new economic and business opportunities to provide needed services. First-and last-mile private service providers partnering with current transit systems are current examples of opportunities to improve transit access while respecting existing infrastructural and land use challenges.
The interdependence of transportation with the electricity grid in urban areas will require stronger collaboration among stakeholders, including energy producers, consumers and energy generators for a smarter, distributed, and connected grid aligned with a smarter, connected and diverse transportation system. Much like energy, urban mobility and transportation rely on the integration of existing and emerging technologies and systems that will significantly improve access to people, places and services, such as healthcare, jobs and education, allow for new business models to emerge, and create opportunities for innovative collaboration between public and private sectors to advance transportation in and around urban centers. Cities play a critical role in defining how transportation will evolve with the rapidly advancing and changing technologies in the transportation and mobility space, and how evolving mobility can best serve cities.