The Future of Public Transport In and Between Cities

Dec 12, 2018

In cities, public transportation plays a significant role in how people move around and get to the spaces they need to. This was also a topic of discussion at the NMW 18, where our Knowledge Partner McKinsey hosted a session on urban logistics and transport services.

In and Between Cities

The topic is a melting pot of new ideas and old establishment, which showed in the speaker’s diverse backgrounds and visions of what the future of mobility will hold.

So how does one make logistics data work for consumers and businesses through open transport platforms? What role does the digitalisation of the freight forwarding business play? And how does one integrate on-demand into mass-transit solutions? 

Route 2030 – The fast Track to the Future of the Commercial Vehicle Industry

Bernd Heid (Senior Partner, Promotional Vehicle) at McKinsey & Company stated that full autonomy for vehicles is still more than a decade away. There are various control points in the AD tech stack: vehicle integration, system integration, motion planning, vehicle control, lidar, driver policy, and decision algorithms. 

More than 1000 players are active in the autonomous tech stack, with multiple stakeholders ranging from established companies to new players. These include autonomous driving, connectivity, smart mobility and electrification. But with more than $40B having been made in external investments into autonomous driving since 2010, it is interesting that less than 10% of these investments actually hail from the automotive sector.

With regards to autonomous busses, China is leading the race by far. Over 90% of cities that are buying new buses are investing in electric powertrains. For example, Shenzhen has electrified its complete bus fleet in the past five years, a feat of over 16000 buses.

Bernd Heid of McKinsey & Company at the NMW 18.

The seven success factors that Heid posits are necessary for the commercial vehicle industry can also be applied to ordinary cars. Commoditisation, where the operational efficiency goes beyond the core product; alternative powertrains tailored to specific use cases; autonomous driving through collaborative efforts in the tech stack; disruptive competitors from Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and China; shaping new ecosystems; solutions catering to the customer; and lastly, urban mobility that considers “people, planet, profit” will change the future of mobility on multiple levels. 

Key areas to remember in the development of the future of mobility are moving goods and moving people, the progress of CO2 reduction targets, improvements on the last mile, new competitors, new business models, emission-free cities, fully electrified public transport, and new collaborations in autonomous driving.

Safety Today and Requirements for Autonomous and Networked Shuttles of Tomorrow

Research by Bitkom revealed that 52% of the population in cities will expect to use car sharing and shuttles, 48% no longer consider the car as a status symbol, and 51% will no longer own their own car in 10 years. Although these changes might seem like a positive development towards better accessibility and fewer emissions, Dr Joachim Bühler of the VdTÜV spoke on the importance of safety first when it comes to changes in mobility solutions. 

The layperson is looking to tech for a sense of security and fewer accidents. And bus systems in Germany are proving them right:  The public bus transport handles over five billion travellers each year and has registered no loss of life (with four security checks per year). New trends that have an impact on approval methods are: AVS, e-mobility, data, software, simulation and Car2X interactions. 

Dr Joachim Bühler of the VdTÜV at the NMW 18.

Almost 90% of Germans believe in new tech and want it in their lives as they see it as an opportunity for problem-solving, but there is a gap between wanting new tech and the safety and trust needed for autonomous driving. The challenge for the TÜV thus becomes changing their evaluation of road safety from rust & oil to bits & bytes. What is needed are software updates, connectivity, cybersecurity, regulatory changes, new standards and continuous improvement.

Ropeways – An Alternative Way of Transport in the Urban Environment

Germans might put their faith in new tech, but old tech ain’t all bad either: Leitner Ropeways was founded 1888, with the family business being in the hands of the fourth generation of Leitners now. Their portfolio has expanded from transporting winter sports enthusiasts up into the mountains to solving traffic problems in large cities and make leisure facilities even more attractive by providing easy access by gondola lift. 

With ropeways it is standard to transport 5000-6000 people per hour, their accident rate is at 0.058 per 1 million passenger kilometres, and they have one of the lowest CO2 emission rates in the transportation industry. If this was not enough to convince you, ropeways also do not interfere with existing traffic, provide barrier-free entrance and exits, can be linked to public transportation, are relatively cheap as you don’t need much space, leave a small ecological footprint, are built quickly and are often architectually stunning. 

Photo by Mike Ackerman on Unsplash