As is by now well known to our regular readers, as part of our 2015/15 program to make progress in the development of a general theory of transport in cities, we are giving attention to the possibility and usefulness of improving understanding of how different cities around the world stack up with each other when it comes to the performance in terms of sustainability of their urban mobility arrangements. You can see more on that background by clicking to two recent entries at “Weekend fishing expedition: You have heard of about PISA course. But what about PISTA?” at http://wp.me/psKUY-3EU and International Sustainable Transport/Cities Award Programs at http://wp.me/psKUY-3F5.
Against this background you can well imagine we were particularly appreciative when friends in Helsinki brought to our attention a recent benchmarking report carried out by Arthur D Little in collaboration with the UITP under the title “”the Future of Urban Mobility 2.0”, which is freely available at http://goo.gl/Jb6fX1. We leave you to consult and consider the full report (which incidentally makes for very thoughtful reading), but today we would like to look at several findings and methods of the team when it came to benchmarking the performance of such very different cities.
The following figures taken directly from the report, in which they are amply explained and commented, have been extracted here so that you can develop a first appreciation of what the report is all about. Hopefully this will lead you to download and profit from the full report.
Strategies for Sustainable Urban Mobility Policies
From the report:
Using 19 criteria Arthur D. Little assessed the mobility maturity and performance of 84 cities worldwide. The mobility score per city ranges from 0 to 100 index points; the maximum of 100 points is defined by the best performance of any city in the sample for each criteria. In addition, Arthur D. Little has reviewed policy initiatives undertaken by cities to improve the performance of urban mobility systems.
Where are we now?
The overall results find most cities are still badly equipped to cope with the challenges ahead. The global average score is 43.9 points, meaning that, on average, the 84 cities achieve less than half of the potential that could be reached today if applying best practices across all operations.
And their excellent commentary on what is holding back changes?
Given the scale of the looming crisis in urban mobility and the fact that the solutions to it are already available, it is reasonable to ask: why has the potential for innovation not been unleashed?
The answer is that the management of urban mobility operates in an environment that is too fragmented and hostile to innovation. Our urban management systems do not allow market players to compete and establish business models that bring demand and supply into a natural balance. Current mobility systems adapt poorly to changing demands, are weak in combining single steps of the travel chain into an integrated offering, find it difficult to learn from other systems, and shun an open, competitive environment. Collaboration on solutions is rare. Rewards for investors are rather meagre.
Moreover, a lot of mature cities do not yet have a clear vision and strategy on how their mobility systems should look in the future. In all too many cases, urban mobility plans look like “Christmas wish lists” with no clear reflection of the synergies or incompatibilities between the initiatives, too limited integration between the different modes of transportation and no convincing explanation of how desired results should be achieved by allotting responsibilities, setting deadlines, and instituting monitoring procedures. This lack of synergies between isolated initiatives leads to a sub-optimal outcome in terms of mobility performance, which calls for a more holistic approach.
There is also often a poor interlinking of urban mobility strategy and other urban strategies. For example, if a city is committed in its environmental strategy to reduce CO2 emissions, it should ask what contribution transport should make to achieve this goal.
Finally, decisions are often mainly based on “public sector actions” and do not sufficiently address interfaces with the private sector and what contribution it could make to the achievement of urban mobility goals. The private sector needs to be involved in the goal-setting process.
At a different level, integration between regional mobility systems still remains very low in comparison to other parts of the economy as transport infrastructures were historically designed to serve regional rather than supra-regional goals. In that context, there is a need for stronger alignment between regional mobility strategies while respecting each-others accountabilities and ensuring solutions are adapted to local contexts.
Urban mobility is one of the toughest system-level challenges facing actors of the mobility ecosystems. In the future, innovative mobility services will be driven less by improvements in single transport modes than by integration. What is needed is system-level collaboration between all stakeholders of the mobility ecosystem to come up with innovative and integrated business models.
Let us leave our visit with the Arthur D Little report there for now, other than to thank them for their creative work and thoughtfulness — and then to get back to the work of constructing our own benchmarking system. In the meantime I am confident that you are going to spend some time with their report, and if you have comments we would like to invite them here.
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. 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, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton