Emerging Trends in the Mobility Ecosystem

The COVID-19 global pandemic has fundamentally impacted every aspect of our day-to-day life and one of the sectors most severely affected has been mobility. These last few months have seen far reaching changes in how we move people and goods from one point to another in a safe, secure and yet cost effective manner. These shifts in mobility coupled with the economic crisis are already seeing the emergence of early trends in the mobility ecosystem. Based on a review of implementations of policy, use cases and practices, here are the four emerging post COVID-19 trends in the larger scale transit-mobility ecosystem, accompanied with the use cases across cities, transit agencies and private entities –

Trend 1 – Increased development of bike lanes, walking paths and ‘slow’ shared lanes

  1. Italy: Turin and Rome plan to retain temporary bike lanes post the lockdown in order to cut car congestion and help people maintain social distance. Milan has plans to implement plans that includes low-cost temporary cycle lanes, new and widened pavements, 30kph (20mph) speed limits, and pedestrian and cyclist priority streets.
  2. Canada: Toronto is implementing an ActiveTO program developed by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services to provide more space for people walking and cycling as well as transit riders to allow for better physical distancing as part of the city’s restart and recovery.
  3. NY: Syracuse Department Of Public Works is enabling No-Touch Pedestrian Crossing Buttons to prevent the spread of virus.
  4. VT: Burlington launched a “Shared Streets for Social Distancing” initiative. This initiative designates some streets for local traffic only, certain streets as “shared streets,” and enforces temporary parking restrictions in select locations to widen key walking and biking corridors.
  5. Germany: Berlin used tape and mobile signs to temporarily widen bike lanes to accommodate more active transportation users.
  6. New Zealand: New Zealand funds pop-up bike lanes to encourage social distancing
  7. France: Paris To Create 650 Kilometers Of Post-Lockdown Cycle ways
  8. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA): SFMTA is implementing Slow Streets”, to limit through traffic on certain residential streets and allow them to be used more as a shared space for foot and bicycle traffic
  9. Canada: Montreal will add 327 kilometers of bicycle paths and pedestrian lanes, while some thoroughfares will be closed to motorized traffic this summer as part of an effort to open up the city — and its businesses — to residents after months of COVID-19 lockdown.
  10. Greece: Athens announced a four-mile “grand walkway” uniting archeological sites in its historic center.

Trend 2: Responsive and quick changes in service routes and service types 

  1. New Zealand: Auckland now shows its transit app user real time information on whether the recommended physical distance between other passengers of 2 meters will be achievable before they get on board. Riders can now see “live occupancy statuses”: Likely empty, Likely space available, likely near the limit of safe distancing, and Likely not accepting passengers.
  2. Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA): COTA evaluated its fixed-route ridership and revamped their service to address lower ridership along certain routes.
  3. Nevada: To help the community, particularly senior citizens, during the COVID-19 crisis, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) expanded service on its Silver STAR routes throughout the valley and partnered with community food bank Three Square to deliver groceries to homebound individuals.

Trend 3: Increase in Public Private Partnerships 

  1. Via and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), have partnered, to transform the BerlKönig, Berlin’s on-demand shared ride service, into a dynamic public transit service for Berlin’s essential healthcare workers during the coronavirus public health crisis.
  2. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is now partnering with Transit app and is pivoting to using an existing app that already works well
  3. The City of Miami has partnered with shipping company DHL Express and mobility logistics hub Reef Technology to pilot four low-powered electric-assist e-cargo bikes that will be used for deliveries across the city.
  4. Miami-Dade Transit, which operates the city’s public bus line Metrobus, has partnered with the ride-hailing companies to provide late-night transit service on nine routes from midnight to 5 a.m.
  5. Ford Mobility subsidiaries TransLoc, Ride Systems and DoubleMap are providing transit agencies free transit consulting and demand response software in an effort to help them quickly deploy a responsive service that can both support evolving rider demand, and adhere to quickly-changing health guidelines.

Trend 4: The rise of Micro Mobility 

  1. Britain is to trial electric scooters as a possible solution to getting more people back to work without overburdening trains and buses as it eases its coronavirus lockdown.
  2. France is encouraging people to cycle to keep pollution levels low once lockdown restrictions end. The country also plans to invest €20 million to develop and subsidize two-wheel travel.

While at the present time it is too early and fluid to definitely state whether these early trends are here to stay or not – however my hope is that starting to review the use cases already in place, will provide a framework for us to map out strategic choices in the near and long term.

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