With a background of more than a half of the world’s population now living in urban areas, and forecast to rise to 60% by 2030, management consulting firm Arthur D. Little, in partnership with UITP (Union Internationale de Tramways), has this month published study identifying the mobility challenges facing cities around the world.
The report includes an update of Arthur D. Little’s Urban Mobility Index, assessing 84 of the the world’s cities in terms of mobility maturity and performance and together with UITP identifies strategic directions and recommendations for improvement.
London ranked at the lower end of the top division
The index finds most cities are still badly equipped to cope with the challenges ahead indicating there is still significant potential for improvement.
London scored 53.2 points out of 100, ninth out of 84 worldwide (joint with Helsinki), and seventh out of 19 in Western Europe. On the plus side, London’s smart card penetration rate is at saturation level and it boasts dynamic and efficient public transport sector operators. Despite having a far from optimum level of road density, its rate of traffic-related fatalities is below average and its level of harmful emissions is average or below average. But while it has frequent services on public transport, its mean travel time to work is below average.
London's Performance on Urban Mobility Index
2011 the number of shared cars slightly increased (from 232 to 253 per million citizens), and the number of shared bikes increased from 695 to 1,012 per million.
Transport related fatalities decreased from 39 to 27 per million citizens.
Other indicators changed insignificantly.
The main strengths of London’s mobility system were described as its Oyster card, a growing share of public transport in the modal split (34% in the last measurement compared to 31% in the last but one measurement), and the frequency of its public transport services.
At the same time, the city has significant improvement potential with regard to cycle lane network density (only 254km/ths km2 in London versus an average of 2,121 km/ths km2 in Western Europe) and travel times to work (44 minutes in London versus an average of 31 minutes in Western Europe).
The OlympIc Games were, it is claimed, a catalyst for major capital investment including a new suburban railway, London Overground, new signaling on the Jubilee line and extensions to the Docklands Light Railway.
One of the biggest challenges was to increase frequency and network capacity to accommodate the Games. This was achieved and led to a long-term legacy benefit for Londoners.
Moreover, a strong emphasis on Travel Demand Management not only led to a smoothing of the peaks on mainstream public transport and less congestion at busy transport hubs, it also led to increased walking and cycling.
Olympic and Paralympic Games legacy gains are said to include:
Funding public transport
The Central London Congestion Charge introduced in 2003 to reduce congestion in the city center continues to deliver improved traffic flows and contributes to a general improvement in mobility.
Crossrail was suggested will add 10% capacity to London’s rail network and will carry around 200 million people annually.
Finally, TfL is a good example of a strong and integrated regional authority which controls all aspects of mobility in a city: not only mainstream modes such as metro, tram and buses but also taxi regulation and licensing, the promotion of walking and cycling and responsibility for the cities principle roads to name a few.
The perfect city mobility system look like
According to the study, a hypothetical best-in-class urban mobility system would:
Be as affordable as Hong Kong, with a similar modal split and level of smart-card acceptance.
It would also have as few vehicles as Hong Kong.
Ensure air is as pure as Stockholm’s
Promote cycling like Amsterdam
Be as safe as Copenhagen
Have best-in-class bike sharing as demonstrated in Brussels and Paris
Have a public transport service as frequent as the London Tube
Have best-in-class car sharing as demonstrated in Stuttgart
Have as minor an impact on climate as in Wuhan
Ensure travel times as short as they are in Nantes
According to the study the four most important 'dimensions' for cities to consider when defining sustainable urban mobility policies are: Visionary Strategy and Ecosystem; Mobility Supply (solutions and lifestyles); Mobility Demand Management; and Public Transport Financing.
A system-level approach across the four dimensions is described as critical, with improvements of a city’s mobility performance requiring improvement on each of the four dimensions as the "weakest link will influence overall mobility performance".