The Secretary General of the International Transport Forum (ITF) will tell a conference in Detroit that smart methods for sharing vehicles hold the key to solving cities’ mobility issues, from congestion and air quality to better access to jobs or education.
José Viegas will make the comments at the World Mobility Leadership Forum this week where he’ll say most negative impacts of current urban mobility patterns stem from what he calls “the extraordinarily inefficient” use of the private car. While a car is one of the most capital-intensive investments households make, on average it is used 50 minutes out of 24 hours and carries 1.2 to 1.6 passengers.
But he’ll add that traditional public transport is not attracting enough passengers to contain the growth of car traffic in cities because few people accept two or more transfers given an alternative. Crowded buses or trams are another issue for potential users.
Car sharing is no panacea either, he’ll add, saying it does little to reduce the total vehicle mileage and may even increase solo driving if prices are low enough.
He says that, based on real mobility data from Lisbon, Portugal, ITF modellers replaced all scheduled buses and private cars in that city with shared taxis and on-demand 8- and 16-seater minibuses. The shared taxis offer door-to-door service and the minibuses a streetcorner-to-streetcorner service (max. 400m walk, no transfer needed, seating guaranteed). They are complemented by the existing high-capacity metro/subway.
The simulation shows a dramatic improvement in urban mobility, but also the liveability of a city because 0nly 3% of today’s number of vehicles needed to provide the same trips, 95% of current parking space parking would no longer required and available for different uses, congestion disappears, with 23% to 37% fewer vehicle miles travelled and traffic CO2 emissions fall by 34%, without any new technology.
He says there would also be knock-on effects with a reduction of vehicle miles travelled should be expected as walking and cycling conditions improve dramatically, further reductions of CO2 emissions as clean technologies are more quickly adopted due to quicker replacement of intensively used vehicles and much better and more equal access to jobs, health services and educational institutions.
“Smart sharing is a key component for the future of urban mobility”, Viegas says in a statement. “The challenge will be to manage the transition. One way could be to limit the access of private cars to a city centre to two days per week. This would already lead to a palpable improvement, with 15% less congestion and CO2 emissions.”
To further test the model, the ITF is preparing similar simulations for more cities, including Dublin.