8 May 2018

Urban transport solutions 'within reach' ... but cities must act

'Multiple' changes coming down the line in the transportation sector are 'very important' for policy-makers in governments, according to Sharon Masterson of the OECD's International Transport Forum, writes Brian Byrne.

Speaking at the Electronomous Car Tech Summit 2018 in Killarney organised by Cartell.ie, she referenced in particular the concept of shared mobility against the background of a 'very strong' growth in urbanisation.

"This growth will be mainly in emerging economies, which have not yet reached the peak of their transport mobilisation," she said.

Underlining the 'extreme' inefficiency of the private car, which on average is used for less than an hour a day, she said this does show appreciation for the convenience of a car, but suggested such convenience could be leveraged for shared mobility.

This leveraging could include partnerships which are already emerging between transport companies and carmakers, assisted by the interest being shown by a younger generation used to accessing transportation by means of their smartphone apps.

Ms Masterson outlined a 'What If' scenario which her organisation had carried out, using the real urban transport details of Lisbon, using computer modelling to see what would happen if 'optimum sharing' was achieved.

"We employed real trip data, and real routes as used by people in the city, and we modelled the system so that, using shared mobility solutions, it offered the same door to door convenience and timeframes, without the need to worry about parking."

Among the solutions used in the model were 'shared taxi' ideas, and the 'taxibus' concept of flexible routing to pick up passengers who had booked 40 minutes in advance.

The project involved surveying those who commute into Lisbon and who use the various personal and public transport systems currently available. A similar survey will be carried out in Dublin, Ms Masterson noted.

When the model was completed, the project managers found that by using shared taxis and taxibuses, it could be possible to provide the same trips with just 3pc of the cars currently being operated in Lisbon.

Other elements of the study found that taking the opportunity to eliminate on-street parking would add 20pc more street space, which could be 'converted from parking to parks'.

"The system would also mean more intense use of cars, which would shorten their life in time terms and result in renewals of fleets and technology that could cut emissions by 34pc."

Ms Masterson said that solutions for the key challenges in urban transportation 'are within reach of today's technology'. "But few cities are actually anticipating transport disruption … we need to be looking around the corner, and even around the next corner," she concluded.