Summary: 3 Revolutions in Urban Transportation

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What is going to happen to the future of the planet if we continue on with our urban mobility as we currently are? Perhaps the better question is: what will improve if we rapidly accept new forms of urban transportation and the most advanced technologies available?

We recently read an article by ITDP that did a fantastic job at breaking down three scenarios of urban transportation of the future, and quantifying the effects of each. We’ve summarized this article for you here.

urban transportation

Three Revolutions in Urban Transportation

Three revolutions in urban transportation were outlined in this article, given on the level at which new technologies – such as autonomous vehicles – are accepted into the mainstream, everyday lives of citizens. These three revolutions are defined as:

  • Business-as-usual Scenario: In this scenario, the population continues using personally owned vehicles with internal combustion engines at an increased rate, using transit and shared mobility at the same rate, with the natural population growth over time.
  • 2 Revolutions Scenario:  In this slightly more advanced scenario, the citizens of the world accept electrification and automation into their everyday lives, with electric vehicles becoming commonplace by 2030 and automated electric vehicles becoming popular 2040. We continue on in our embrace of single occupancy vehicles.
  • 3 Revolutions Scenario: In this superior scenario, all urban transportation revolutions are accepted by citizens, including electrification, automation, and sharing. This scenario involves the same embrace of new technology as in the previous scenario, paired with a total acceptance and maximization of sharing our vehicle trips. In addition to popular ride sharing and increased transit efficiency, there will also be advanced infrastructure for walking and cycling for maximum energy efficiency. This is also the revolution we support, and one which our Founder, Sandra Phillips, discussed at her Next Visionaries talk which led to her TED NYC talk this November. It’s simple: mobility has to be shared otherwise we’re not solving any transportation problems.

The Results of Each Revolution by 2050

  • Business-as-usual Scenario: By 2050, there are 2.1 billion vehicles on the road and 4,600 megatonnes of CO2 emissions in the air.
  • 2 Revolutions Scenario: By 2050, there are the same number of vehicles on the road as in the last scenario (2.1 billion), but about half of the CO2 emissions (1,700 megatonnes).
  • 3 Revolutions Scenario: By 2050, there are just 0.5 billion cars on the road and a much reduced 700 megatonnes of CO2 emissions.

The Bottom Line: Technology Isn’t Enough if It’s Not Shared

The main finding of this article is that, while technology in electrified and autonomous vehicles is will improve the CO2 emissions, it will only do so minimally if it isn’t shared amongst passengers and citizens. Advancing technology will also not improve the number of vehicles on the roads, and therefore will not improve energy efficiency or the urban landscape to favour the pedestrian or cyclist.

“The idea that every city resident needs his or her own car for every trip is a disaster for cities,” said Jacob Mason, Transport Research and Evaluation Manager at ITDP. “If passenger vehicles do not become predominantly shared with other people making similar trips by 2050, our cities will be choked by congestion and defined by sprawling land development and the massive emissions this system generates. But, with policies encouraging trip sharing, public transportation, cycling, and walking, the future can be cleaner and less expensive.”

Interested to find out how your carshare operation can better serve the way of the 3R urban transportation revolution? Contact us here.


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