The new mobility tries to break through the collapse of cities

The new mobility tries to break through the collapse of cities


Move. For any urbanite it is a daily ritual as inevitable as it is stressful. People rush down the sidewalks, from the subway to the bus, cars and motorcycles collapse the streets while bicycles and scooters meander to scratch centimeters-and minutes-in this particular jungle. But this typical beginning of a working day is about to collapse. If you have not already done so. The congestion of large cities is eaten in time, wasted fuel and lost opportunities to do business: 1% of GDP each year (in some cities that same cost could rise between 2 and 4% of the national GDP), according to the consultancy McKinsey. In addition, air pollution is causing serious environmental problems – irreversible if these patterns are maintained in the coming years – and the health of citizens, since three million premature deaths, according to the World Health Organization, are due to air quality. Or, rather, to the lack of it, urban traffic being directly responsible for much of this pollution.

And so, almost without realizing it, something as simple and primary as mobility has become what is probably the biggest urban challenge in the coming years. The certain thing is that the demographic growth does not leave alternative to the change. According to UN, in 2050 we will have passed the more than 7,000 million of inhabitants that we are currently to overcome 10,000. And more than 70% of the population will live in cities. In Europe this figure will climb to 80%. In addition, with China growing without rest, the middle class that aspires to buy a car has exploded and the 70 million vehicles that were sold per year in 2010 will become 125 in 2025.

35% of Spaniards use every day some of the new mobility options that have emerged in recent years

«Mobility is one of the greatest needs of today's society. And also a basic right: mobility is one of the keys to economic growth and social equality, both in advanced societies and in those that are developing. Under this assumption, the modes we use to move have not evolved to be less intrusive, environmentally sustainable and energetically more efficient. The main challenge of the coming decades will be that people and goods move under more efficient, sustainable and equal parameters, "says Pedro Puig-Pey, director of Deloitte Financial Advisory.

Thus, in search of a new path, the fourth industrial revolution, the technological one, has brought a new range of digital urban mobility services that compete to make a space in our lives. Not without controversy, the Rental cars with driver (VTCs), digital hiring platforms, car sharing, bicycle rental, scooters … have become part of the daily life of our transport and, according to the ISDI business school, they are already used by the 35% of the population.

A car from a car rental company with driver (VTC) in Madrid
A car from a car rental company with driver (VTC) in Madrid – EFE

Five big changes

"In my opinion, there are five major trends that can not be ignored to understand what is currently happening in the world of mobility. New technologies based on more sustainable fuels from the environmental and energy perspective, such as electricity, the hydrogen fuel cell and other fossil fuels; the autonomous vehicle, which will allow a more efficient use of the infrastructure, will increase security and facilitate its widespread use by the user; the connectivity between users, which will allow constant interaction eliminating service infrastructure, road safety or information; the organization of urban and interurban travel in vertical packages that allow the use of several modes; for example, car sharing-public transport-bicycle, as a single package totally integrated and with a single rate and finally the great information and powerful databases, which will radically change the user's knowledge, being able to integrate mobility into other services », says Puig-Pey.

Behind this change is also the new empowerment that technology itself has given to consumers and how they have accepted it, starting to walk a new path of no return. "Consumers are opting for a very fast speed for mobility alternatives other than the owned car. According to our studies highlights the growth of the VTC, which are chosen by two factors: on the one hand, your comfort and, on the other, for environmental responsibility», Says Nacho de Pinedo, CEO of ESDI.

125 million vehicles will be coming every year in 2025 worldwide due to the rise of the middle class

The higher cost of living and, especially of housing, is also a determining factor. "Cities with high population densities, such as London, Singapore and Berlin They have an efficient public transport system. However, public transport in cities with larger geographic areas, such as New York or Chicago, works better within urban limits than on the periphery, "explains a report by Deloitte on the future of mobility. "In recent years, as cities grow and housing prices rise, many young families begin to move to the outskirts, despite working in the city," says the document.

Deloitte recipes go through favoring active transport (the one that demands of physical effort like walking, bicycle, scooter …) and improving public transport, measures that "will allow cities to reduce factors such as congestion, pollution and accidents". "In addition, the Mobility as a Service solutions, for which the users of a vehicle pay for the time of their use instead of their property, is another form of mobility that improves the quality of mobility in cities." , they say.

Visible changes

The truth is that this particular revolution is already a visible reality in cities like Madrid. In the Spanish capital you can find several operators of carsharing, electric bikes, segways … and up scooters. An avalanche of new forms of mobility begins to be limited.

The city council of the capital approved scarcely an ordinance that, among other measures such as reducing the maximum speed to 30 kilometers per hour in 80% of the streets of the capital, establishes that electric scooters can travel through almost the entire city except for cycle lanes and sidewalks. It was a norm not without controversy, since PP and Ciudadanos considered that the regulation will turn "Madrid into an ideological bunker" where "Madrilenians are treated as guinea pigs". While the City Council of Manuela Carmena he has been especially critical with VTC operatorsYes, he has extended his hand to other forms of mobility such as car sharing. While there are heavy restrictions on the use of private vehicles, numerous carsharing operators they land in the city because of their lax regulation. An impulse that begins to arouse suspicion among taxi associations.

119 hours are lost per year in Barcelona due to traffic. and 105 in Madrid. It is the equivalent of 14 working days

Not only Madrid has been favorable to embrace this type of mobility. David Bartolomé, director of business development at Car2go, recognizes that in Barcelona there "sensitivity", but there are still "time limits" to the parking of these vehicles that complicate the landing of the company in Barcelona. The expansion to other cities is also studied, but in the medium term. "It is a relatively new service that requires a large mass of users to function properly. In addition, each city requires a different approach, "says Bartolomé, who acknowledges that" there are inertias within urban transport that will cost change decades. "

Javier Mateos, CEO of Zity, is more optimistic about the evolution of the sector. "The paradigm is changing by leaps and bounds. Three years ago there were no car operators shared in Madrid and now there is a great competition. It is an innovative business that offers a huge opportunity, "says Mateos. Interestingly, these first contacts with new forms of mobility are being driven by traditional manufacturers. Car2go is a subsidiary of Daimler. Zity it was a service that they developed jointly Ferrovial and Renault. And like them there are others like Free2Move, owned by PSA. The French group, in fact, announced in June that it stopped being a manufacturer to become a global mobility provider.

«A few years ago these forms of mobility were considered a fashion. Now it is being verified that they give visible results to the manufacturers. In the case of Zity, we have reached one million reserves in Madrid without accumulating even one year in the city, "says Mateos.

A user at the time of using a scooter in Madrid
A user at the time of using a scooter in Madrid – MAYA BALANYA

Normative fragmentation

However, there is still a long way to go. Especially because at the state level there is a clear commitment to this type of services. «The support to the public sector has a double reading. On the one hand, at the city level, the rulers are doing a great job. The center of cities has been shielded from the most polluting vehicles and many transportation alternatives have been allowed and encouraged. However, the picture is very different at the national level. We see with concern how the government has washed its hands in the conflict with the VTC and has chosen to fragment the legislation and grant it to autonomous communities and municipalities, "says De Pinedo. «The model change is unstoppable, because the current pattern is incompatible with having an environmentally healthy city», concludes.

Not only in the cities has controversy been generated by these new services. Jaime Rodríguez, director of BlaBlaCar for Iberia and Germany, points out that in Spain there a great "regulatory fragmentation". In addition, it considers that, beyond cities, interurban regulations are conditioned by very "old" laws. A model that, in his opinion, caused that "misunderstanding" the business model of the platform. It must be remembered that Confebús, employer of the bus, denounced the company for unfair competition. The war of the taxi leads the same way.

840 million are the losses caused to the Spanish companies by traffic jams, according to the latest Tomtom traffic report

This week, in a Forum organized by Cinco Días, the architect, sociologist and National Prize of Urbanism, José María Ezquiaga, predicted that the predominance of the private automobile will disappear from the cities and asked for a state regulation on these new means of transport, although a rule is made in each city.

In the same meeting, María José Rallo, argued that there was an "asymmetry" in the regulation of taxi services. And while the government and mobility operators debate the model that should be implemented, new challenges appear around the corner.

"Although we are still far from seeing autonomous vehicles circulate on our streets and roads, the current means of transport are incorporating technological innovations in the form of driving aids that improve the safety margin in a very significant way. At the same time, the possible existence of these vehicles raises issues from the ethical and regulatory perspective that are not finding clear solutions to date», Point from KPMG.


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