The way in which we move people, freight and goods in our towns and cities, is rapidly changing, – with expectations for a safe, healthy, inclusive mobility that protects the living environment becoming the ‘new norm’ – but meeting these expectations requires us to ‘rethink’ and ‘reimagine’ new possibilities for transport and mobility.
Changing demographics, such as a growing global population and urbanisation, climate change and sustainability challenges, in addition to a background of rapid technological developments, are driving increasing demands on transport in many towns and cities – both on their physical and digital infrastructure.
The need for towns and cities to provide safe, secure, cleaner, efficient and less congested physical transport that meets the changing needs of digitally-savvy users; who rightly demand “joined up”, affordable and reliable services, has never been more important.
The emergence of new technologies associated with areas such as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will directly impact on our travel consumption, including our travel frequency and the transport modes we use.
Other trends, such as the rapidly increasing number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the world's roads and rapid advances in EV and alternative fuel technology, will result in a significant shift in the balance and type of vehicles on our roads. And of course, in the same way our mobile phones have, these technologies will continue to evolve and improve over time. With wide-ranging alternative energy types such as hydrogen and bio-fuels coming to the market, alongside new refuelling solutions and stations, rapid change is afoot.
Preparing our infrastructure for a world of low emission transport, housing and energy will need careful consideration, planning and foresight.
In order to join the dots, it’s important to start by taking an ‘umbrella view’ and to think about the whole system and how it is working and evolving.” Wolfgang explains. “Do we truly understand who uses our transport system, and how their transport, workplace and home needs are changing and, most importantly, what the effects are on our towns, cities and infrastructure?
For example, what are the implications for current and future office demand and design?
The evolving way we work, including flexible and decentralised ways of working, will have a direct influence not only on the workplace itself, but also on how we consume transport.”
By considering and understanding these changes on workplaces and transport, our employers, planners and designers from both sectors can work together to ensure offices and their supporting transport links continue to meet society’s needs.
This ‘joined up’ thinking and collaboration to deliver is vital, ensuring towns and cities remain attractive and sustainable places to live and work. Such seamless co-evolution between sectors will bring wider socio-economic impacts including city-wide and environmental benefits for the long term and help to attract inward investment.
Our future approach to mobility needs to be much more integrated with other sectors, such as the healthcare sector, and across a wide range of partners, such as charities, government and academia, to name but a few. In doing so, we can ensure that transport, and its impacts between sectors, is considered from the very start - ensuring it is designed to generate the desired socio-economic outcomes.
Together, we can continue to shape the future of transport and respond to the increasing demand for sustainable and affordable transport and mobility, turning ideas into reality for the benefit of users in every town and city, while joining the dots.
Dr Wolfgang Schuster is technical director for intelligent mobility (iM) for SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business. iM combines Atkins’ engineering expertise, deep industry knowledge and digital capability to optimise our transport ecosystem and drive essential progress and change in transport and mobility. For more information go to www.atkinsglobal.com/im
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