McKinsey on Urban mobility at a tipping point

uk-traffic light tree-smallThis article by a team from McKinsey & Company has puts together the pieces of the urban mobility revolution in some original ways, to present a challenging view of the future of urban mobility worldwide.

We publish selected brief extracts here to get you going and if you then wish to turn to the full text and illustrations which you will find – – – > here.

The speed and extent of the mobility transformation will differ. In this report, we lay out a framework that describes the evolution of urban mobility. We also highlight a set of urban archetypes, defined by population density and the maturity of public transit; each archetype can be expected to take a different path to mobility. Our analysis suggests that a mobility revolution is on the way for much of the world. As a result, we anticipate big improvements in the quality of life for city residents.

Urban mobility at a tipping point

– A McKinsey & Company article | September 2015 |

– by Shannon Bouton, Stefan M. Knupfer, Ivan Mihov, and Steven Swartz

As more of the world’s cities become congested and polluted, new business models and technologies are emerging to solve the mobility challenge.

Cities move.

People hurry from corner to corner; cars and trucks roll along the roads, while bicycles and scooters jostle for space.

But sometimes that movement falters, and with it the dynamism that is the hallmark of great cities. Unhealthy smog levels and traffic jams, with their chorus of horns and shouts, are routine irritations of urban lives, and things could get much worse. The world’s cities are facing an urgent set of challenges when it comes to ensuring that fundamental rite of urban living: getting around.

By 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, up from about 50 percent today.1 Over the same period, more than two billion people are likely to enter the middle class, with the majority of them living in cities in emerging markets, particularly China. The number of megacities with more than ten million people will continue to grow.

Many people entering the global middle class will want to buy cars: automobile sales are expected to increase from about 70 million a year in 2010 to 125 million by 2025, with more than half forecasted to be bought in cities. Some automotive analysts have gone as far as predicting that on the existing trajectory, today’s 1.2 billion strong global car fleet could double by 2030.
The existing urban infrastructure cannot support such an increase in vehicles on the road. Congestion is already close to unbearable in many cities and can cost as much as 2 to 4 percent of national GDP, by measures such as lost time, wasted fuel, and increased cost of doing business. Transport creates emissions of greenhouse gases; smog presents serious public-health concerns. The World Health Organization estimated in 2014 that seven million premature deaths are attributable to air pollution, and a significant share is the result of urban transit.

However, the future does not have to be this way. 

Solving the mobility challenge will require bold, coordinated actions from the private and public sectors. Technological advances and commercialization, funding, intelligent policies, and business-model innovation will be needed to realize productivity improvements while creating more sustainable environments in our cities. We are optimistic that this will help the world avoid a future of global gridlock. Already, there is discernible movement toward new “multimodal” services—those that facilitate journeys combining walking, cars, buses, bikes, and trains—as well as shared transportation services.

While many of the technologies and business models we highlight are being introduced in more affluent countries, these trends are also relevant for emerging economies. Cities such as Beijing, Jakarta, and Moscow are already suffering from overwhelming congestion; they could leapfrog the transit paradigms established in the 19th and 20th centuries by adopting new technology, urban planning, and business models.

The speed and extent of the mobility transformation will differ. In this report, we lay out a framework that describes the evolution of urban mobility. We also highlight a set of urban archetypes, defined by population density and the maturity of public transit; each archetype can be expected to take a different path to mobility. Our analysis suggests that a mobility revolution is on the way for much of the world. As a result, we anticipate big improvements in the quality of life for city residents.

Welcome to the urban-mobility revolution.

. . .  Article continues here, to this final conclusion:

The road ahead

One thing is certain: given rising incomes and aspirations, there will be more demand for mobility. That will stress the world’s infrastructure, as well as its nerves.

Today, transportation in many cities (and almost all suburban and rural areas) requires owning a car; other options are either insufficient or simply not available. But new technologies are reshaping the game—everything from apps that make it easy for car owners to rent their vehicle to e-hailing and ride-sharing services (see sidebar “Start-ups that are reimagining personal mobility”). The availability and integration of increasing types and amounts of data will substantially increase the share of trips that are multimodal.

So, what will the future of urban transit be? Our view is that it will be more on-demand, with more sharing, and will provide a broader spectrum of services. Autonomous vehicles may be feasible, in both technical and regulatory terms, and faster than commonly expected for certain trip types. Urban mobility will likely be lower cost, faster, and safer, and the lines between private and public transport will be increasingly blurred.

Regulators in many parts of the world are actively working on policies that support the massive wave of change sweeping the mobility landscape. The United States, for example, is working on a framework to govern autonomous cars. Our analysis shows that the cost of the components required for fully autonomous driving—meaning drivers don’t need to touch the wheel—are both lower than many people believe and declining rapidly. Innovation in connectivity, autonomy, lightweight materials, EVs, and AVs will continue to accelerate, and the attitudes of citizens and cities around the world are evolving. Put it all together, and we can’t help but be excited about the bright future ahead for urban mobility.

– – – > For full text of article with graphics  http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/sustainability/urban_mobility_at_a_tipping_point

And here to encourage you further are two of the more original graphics which the team has developed to get their points across in a memorable way:

McKinsey graphic - Framework for understanding urban mobility

McKinsey graphic - Mobiity services finding capital

# # #

About the authors

Shannon Bouton is the global manager of the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment and is based in McKinsey’s Detroit office. Stefan Knupfer is a director in the Stamford office, Ivan Mihov is an alumnus of the Johannesburg and San Francisco offices, and Steven Swartz is a principal in the Southern California office.

The authors wish to thank Stefan Heck, Hans-Werner Kaas, Detlev Mohr, Vadim Pokotilo, Yakov Sergienko, Martin Stuchtey, and Jonathan Woetzel for their contributions to this article.

# # #

About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Britton is an American political scientist and sustainability activist who has lived and worked in Paris since 1969. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest book, "BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City" focuses on the subject of environment, equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions. A pre-publication edition of Better Choices is currently undergoing an international peer review during Sept.- Oct. 2017, with the goal of publication in English and Chinese editions by end-year. If you wish to participate drop a line to BetterChoices@ecoplan.org .

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