Public-private collaboration can transform urban mobility

New research by the Coalition for Urban Transitions shows how three public-private mobility services can improve the lives of urban inhabitants.

A working paper titled Connected Urban Growth: Public-Private Collaborations for Transforming Urban Mobility says that ride-hailing networks using electric, on-demand minibuses; subsidised car- and bicycle-sharing systems; and mobile trip-planning and ticketing apps can make public transport more affordable, accessible and sustainable, if integrated properly.

The popularity of these mobility services in cities where they are already available suggests that city dwellers need transport options that are more convenient and flexible than those offered by traditional private transport companies and public transit agencies.

While the results of existing new mobility applications have not been widely shared, a simulation of these three applications in London, Mexico City and San Francisco illustrates the economic and environmental benefits they could bring.

Dynamic trip-planning and ticketing systems and on-demand minibus services would each require modest up-front investments that could be paid back within two years by reductions in operating costs. Meanwhile, subsidising the use of ride-sharing services for first- and last-mile trips to and from transit hubs can boost mass-transit ridership and generate more fare revenues with no initial capital outlay. 

Greenhouse gas, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions would also be reduced, with more people using public transport and fewer fixed-route diesel buses on the road.

The report outlines several practices that can help cities make good use of new mobility applications to enhance the overall efficiency and experience of urban transportation systems. These include: establishing consistent policies on data security and sharing; compiling open datasets on their transportation systems; setting targets for the performance of transportation systems that reflect larger policy priorities; continuously assessing the economics of mass transit so as to pinpoint opportunities to boost efficiency; forecasting and preparing to manage effects on employment; and balancing short-term improvements to transportation systems with long-term infrastructure investments that are consistent with future mobility requirements. 

Collaboration between the providers of new mobility services and public transit agencies and city governments can help contribute to more integrated and efficient urban transport systems, the report says.

“Partnerships that let cities bring the advantages of new mobility services to their residents should make urban transportation services more accessible, affordable and efficient than they would be otherwise — a change that all city dwellers can look forward to.”

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