From disruptions and bottlenecks affecting global supply chains to the significant drop in transit ridership, our transportation networks have been substantially impacted by the pandemic. But not only that, in 2021, B.C. and Canada experienced a new threat – major weather events that significantly affected our rail and road networks.
Vancouver is the densest city in Canada and home to the country’s largest port. Rebuilding critical infrastructure will be integral to the region’s future success. As we rebuild these supply chains, how can we plan and build more resilient infrastructure? As we rebuild ridership and the region continues to grow, we must ensure we are forward-thinking in our planning, investment, and technological adoption.
The 2022 Transportation Forum, hosted by Deloitte, featured leaders from both government and industry who discussed these important issues through keynotes and informative panel discussions on the future of transportation and mobility in our region.
One of the experts included as a panelist in this Forum was movmi’s Founder and CEO, Sandra Phillips who took part in Session Two: Urban Mobility: Innovation and technology for a better quality of life. Keep reading for a short summary of this discussion.
Urban Future with a Purpose
Jean Barroca | Deloitte | Keynote
Cities are shaped by crises. The car, for example, was a solution for a public health problem, horse manure. We witnessed an enormous amount of work done by cities during the Pandemic and instead of public servants, we saw public heroes instead. However, despite better public transportation infrastructure, during the pandemic it was cities that were hit the worst. Public ridership levels fell and commuter patterns changed, those who could worked from home and many still do. We even saw a rise of those people who could work remotely, leaving big cities and moving to smaller towns or cities.
“Ridership has recovered in B.C. much more strongly than most jurisdictions. I think the target is 85% ridership recovery by next Fall. So we are going to need a multi-year strategy. I think part of it is attracting new riders, which is why we made riding free for kids under 12.”The Honourable Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, British Columbia
Nevertheless, cities continue to grow globally and will be responsible for 80% of the global GDP by 2030 and 75% of the global energy demand by then as well, but they still remain the most sustainable place for people to live.
After extensively interviewed cities and experts across the world, Deloitte has found the 12 major trends that will shape the future of our cities, four of which are very relevant to Vancouver:
The 15-Minute City: A 15-minute city in one is which you can find all the necessary amenities within 15 minutes of walking or taking a bike. This concept aims to enhance environmental sustainability and is also connected to a sense of belonging and identity within communities and aims to improve the sustainability and resilience within these neighbourhoods.
Mobility-as-a-Service and Sustainable Mobility: Nowadays mobility is one of the key aspects of urban development and can be critical to solving the housing problem that we have. Safer, sustainable and more intelligent mobility and as-a-service mobility are things that we are seeing more globally and a shift in paradigm away from the personal car is something we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic.
Inclusive services and planning: This means putting people at the centre of everything we design and implement. We need to have a holistic approach to make sure our systems are affordable and accessible to everyone. The commuting habits of people are changing, they way in which people are living are changing so we need to change how we design in an intelligent, data-driven way.
Digital Innovation Ecosystems: Cities tend to attract talent, enable creativity and encourage disruptive thinking, developing themselves through an innovation model approach and a combination of physical and digital elements. These digital innovation ecosystems are critical for the development of our urban environment.
In order to shape the future of urban life, we need to create a more robust and resilient approach to our urban planning and it will not be successful unless we think about it from a human perspective.
Urban Mobility: Innovation and technology for a better quality of life
Urban mobility was changing even prior to the pandemic but has been accelerated in many ways including connectivity, autonomous driving, and urban transport. Technologies like new forms of micro-mobility and increased efficiency of our public transportation networks driven by new technology can improve quality of life, reduce GHG emissions and create more agility to respond to increase hybrid work arrangements. The panel on urban mobility discussed how our region can rebalance our regulations and investments to adapt to new consumer preferences and technologies, with the goal of securing a better quality of life and a greener future.
In 2020, B.C made an important decision to continue with our long term land-use and transportation planning goals but in the wake of the pandemic they decided to go into their planning with a mindset of how to design for future disruptions and how our transportation systems can add value to the liveability of cities during these major disruptions.
“At BCAA we run the Evo Carshare service, here in Vancouver and also in New West, the North Shore and in Victoria. Enabling electrification is something that we are focused on. By the end of September we will have a fleet of about 1900 vehicles and we would love to have them electrified, but we are not there yet.”Grant Stockwell, Senior Vice President & Chief Mobility Officer, BCAA
Vancouver’s carshare operator, Evo Carshare, has a sister club in Norway which is a place were electrification is happening very fast. It is cheaper to buy an electric vehicle in Norway, through the incentives that they have so it’s an obvious choice. Currently 11% of B.C. is electrified. In September 74% of Norway was electrified. On the charging side, there are about 2500 charging stations here and in Norway there are around 16,000, in an area with the same population as B.C. so we have room to grow and there is great potential for the future of electrified vehicles.
Integrated Mobility & Mobility-as-a-Service
“One of the things we don’t tell people is that Vancouver has the largest carshare fleet in North America with about 2600 vehicles and we have 2000 bikes and my organization really works on how we integrate this with the big brother/sister, public transit. How do you make that more seamless and a multimodal ecosystem were people can choose?”Sandra Phillips, Shared Mobility Architect, Founder and CEO, movmi
A resilient and multimodal ecosystem allows people to move about without being locked into just one travel mode because its more convenient and accessible. Having seamless transportation options is the first step to creating major behaviour change within our cities.
Are we close to the 15-minute city?
A good transportation plan is a good land-use plan. In metro Vancouver we have had great success in higher density, urban residential neighbourhoods but what we need to do now is figure out how to take this model and apply it across all areas within our region. How do we make sure that there is a diversity of land-use in this areas and a diversity of affordable housing in these areas as well? How do we use existing infrastructure and how do we include shared mobility when we build new housing and developments?
You have to bring transportation options directly into neighbourhoods were people live and these modes have to be easily accessible and connected. We can do this in the form of mobility hubs. In Bremen, their goal is to have a mobility hub/station every 300 meters and these point/stations connect public transit with active transportation, such as bikes and shared mobility, such as car share. We also need to think about the electrification of region and how we transition over 1900 vehicles to an electric fleet. Perhaps these multimodal mobility hubs could also double as charging centers for large and smaller EVs.
“As we think about urban, the use of cars as a single occupancy vehicles, doesn’t match well with the urban concept. We need to start thinking beyond our cars, we need to start thinking how to combine different types of modes… Why is this important? We need to start changing the way people think about mobility and urban transportation so that we can free space to move the things we need to move.”Rafael Villarreal, Division Manager, Transportation, City of Surrey
How do we start to connect more rural areas with our transportation networks?
In the shared mobility space we have the technology to do just about any flavour of shared mobility possible, what we need to figure out is which options work best in a local content. Place-based transportation is finding the right mode fit for a specific last mile (and the right sized vehicle) and what is the correct tech that needs to work in combination with this mode. There is no cookie-cutter approach to transportation.
In order to scale our services, we need more public/private collaboration. One of the things we’ve learned over the last few years is that it is hard to predict the future, so we shouldn’t focus on creating an absolute perfect system, instead we should enable one that has a built-in guard rail and then expand and grow from there.
How to we increase the use of active transportation options with those travelling with young children?
The first thing we need to do is look at creating safer cycling and pedestrian infrastructure where you can feel comfortable whether you are 8 or 80 years old. However, when you decide to give cyclist a safe space to travel, it can become political and might mean you have to sacrifice road space and traffic flow in order to do this. We also need to look at new modes that are being offered in the market that are family-friendly options such as Cargo Velo in Switzerland which is a cargo bike that can be used to transport your kids as well as shopping etc.
What choices do we need to be making to create a more human-centric city of the future?
Creating a 15-minute city, were people travel less is a good place to start. However, we currently have housing economic problems, a housing crisis here in Vancouver. We need to figure out a balance for the supply. Supplying and building transportation systems in new areas is easier than retrofitting existing areas where it is more complex, because there are more variables to consider.
We also need to really consider this idea of place-based transportation. Where bikeshare systems work great in a place like Vancouver because our cycle infrastructure, it may not work as well in a rural area that does not have the same level infrastructure. For those instances, maybe we take a look at Demand Responsive Transit (DRT) were people book a seat in a van that uses carpool technology, to solve the last mile problem instead. Then once that is in place we can begin to start building and developing new systems and infrastructure in those areas.
We need to start thinking about the user and not the mode. We need to be open to consider new mobility options. Every municipality and every organization has to start thinking about how shared mobility fits in with active transportation and public transit play. Neither active nor public transit can solve every travel need but shared mobility can bridge this gap. The interplay of all three will create a more holistic transportation ecosystem that has a tool for wherever the user needs to go.
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS & PANELISTS
The Honourable Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, British Columbia
Jason Berry, Vice-President, Cargo, Air Canada
Devan Fitch, Director, Infrastructure Delivery, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Lindsay Kislock, President and CEO, WESTAC
Moderator: Jane McIvor, Executive Director, Association of Pacific Ports
Jean Barroca, Urban Futures Global Team Leader, Deloitte
Moderator: Jessie Adcock, Founder and Principal, Adcock Capital and Advisory Services
Jonathan X. Coté, Mayor, City of New Westminster | Chair, TransLink Mayors’ Council | Chair, Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Committee
Sandra Phillips, Shared Mobility Architect, Founder and CEO, movmi
Grant Stockwell, Senior Vice President & Chief Mobility Officer, BCAA
Rafael Villarreal, Division Manager, Transportation, City of Surrey
Moderator: Andrew Pau, Public Sector Transportation Leader, Deloitte