Urban population and density is growing. Current transportation infrastructure cannot support an increase in vehicles on the road, hence the importance of improving public transit options and the efficiency of current vehicles in circulation.

Mobility as-a-Service

The car of the future is connected, with direct access to the internet and interactions with other connected objects beyond the car (other vehicles, traffic lights, the home), which is bringing about new business models. One major change is the shifting attitudes toward car ownership and the rise of mobility as-a-service.

The emergence of on-demand mobility services and data driven services, will create an additional revenue pool of $1.5 trillion by 2030 and one out of ten cars sold could potentially be used a vehicle for shared ride services.

According to recent research by the UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center(TSRC), as of October 2014, there were 1.4 million passengers and 24,000 registered vehicles in the car sharing space in the U.S.

 The SFMTA recently conducted a study of on-demand and car sharing services in San Francisco and found that:

SFMTA study

  • More than 50% of trips in San Francisco are without a personal vehicle
  • TNCs (Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft) account for less than 1% of all modes of transportation
  • 25% of San Franciscans use TNCs at least once a month
  • 6% of San Franciscans use car share (Zipcar, Gearoung) at least once a month (Getaround, Zipcar, Turo)

Traditional car manufacturers are noticing this shift and disruption occurring in their industry. For this reason, OEMs are starting to take part in this movement, with General Motors for example recently investing $500 million into Lyft,the largest investment to date by an automaker in the ride sharing industry. After just completing a round of financing of $1 billion, Lyft has increased its valuation to $5.5 billion, a fraction compared to Uber’s $62.5 billion value. The ultimate goal of these various companies is to develop a flee of autonomous vehicles.

The future of urban mobility

 Solving urban mobility challenges will require a coordinated effort among the public and private sector and seeing the city as a system, rather than siloed departments and initiatives.

An emerging movement is that of multimodal services—those that facilitate journeys combining walking, cars, buses, bikes, and trains—as well as shared transportation services and TOD (Transit-Oriented Development). TOD is a type of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office, retail and/or other amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood and located within a half-mile of quality public transportation.

For this to work successfully, urban mobility options need to become seamlessly connected and interoperable with one another. One company providing such a service is Swyftly, a San Francisco-based startup with a mobile app that allows city residents to compare public transportation, ridesharing, car sharing, bike sharing, walking transport and other transport options and choose the most effective route

.Swyftly screen shots

There is clearly a paradigm shift around personal vehicles and how individuals move within a city. We are moving away from the paradigm of ownership and mass consumption inherited from WW2. Until now, people owned a car “just in case” they needed it, now the approach is more user-centric, delivering mobility only when and where it is needed “just in time” (read RMI blog post).

If you would like to discuss these issues further or connect with startups or large corporations in the urban mobility and transportation space, please contact Emilie Jessula.