European countries differ significantly from each other culturally and geographically, and the differences within the countries are considerable as well. The specific climate for change, the commitment from various stakeholders and the already existing infrastructure in each country mean that the transition pathways towards the multimodal, sustainable, smart and electrified mobility will be different, and also the timeframe for the change will vary from one region to another. Therefore, the actions required in each country and region are different and should be considered domestically. Nevertheless, the following ten recommendations hold to the majority of the countries:
- Better evaluation and awareness of the potential of on-demand services
- Developing and implementing new last mile solutions for commuters
- Deliveries and logistics: the last mile of goods
- Platforms and APIs for Mobility-as-a-Service
- Electrifying transport
- Shared vehicles
- Mobility hubs for efficient multimodality
- Better user-centric planning of services
- Activating employers and employees
- Changing the current mobility paradigm
None of the suggestions requires significant investments in infrastructures. The development and solutions are mostly based on acting and commuting smarter as the consequence of exploiting the potential of digitalisation and new mobility services. Technology is neither limiting the development. Instead, the bottleneck is the lack of experience of the users from different mobility alternatives, and how they can be combined together. In addition, the lack of cooperation and some organisational competition between and with large and monopolistic national service providers is another hindrance of development.
Therefore, the main message is to increase the knowledge transfer and advance a culture that supports cooperation between different parties. We have to learn from the best practices: the culture of on-going piloting, courage to try and to develop new services and concepts, and to openly share the experiences with others.
Better evaluation and awareness of the potential of on-demand services
There are several new types of on-demand services available and different new concepts developed concurrently in different countries. However, there is a lack of in-depth analyses of these alternatives and their overall impacts on the local transport systems. The analysis should take into account the cost-benefit analysis of the services.
When the analysis is done, the findings should be shared between countries. Also, as the new concepts develop further based on the customer feedback and lessons learnt from other cases, this analysis should be an ongoing activity.
While markets will gradually solve the development of new mobility service concepts, governments and cities should give financial support. This support and guidance also enhance the possibility to link the on-demand services to the sustainable and multimodal public transport system and MaaS framework, whereas purely market-based solutions might not take the sustainability considerations and city infrastructure use into account in their operations.
Last mile solutions
There is still a need for new concepts and services to enhance the last mile services. The situation with the last mile solutions is similar to the on-demand solutions: there is a significant need for an analysis of different alternatives and their costs and benefits. A detailed study of different implementations and lessons learnt is needed. Also, the on-demand services mentioned in the previous paragraphs might be one significant alternative.
Cities are encouraged to implement several alternative solutions in parallel, e.g., different bike sharing systems and kick scooters. The electrification of these last mile solutions is a viable alternative. Furthermore, there is room for improving the light traffic lanes and systems. Different EU cities should compare their alternatives and share the best practices on this topic.
Most solutions, so far, have been implemented by municipal authorities. However, other organisations with their commuters should also get involved: large companies, business parks, apartments, and campuses have many potential daily users who would benefit if there would be better last mile solutions.
Deliveries and logistics: the last mile of goods
One significant driver for future mobility is logistics and the last mile of goods and groceries. If people would get their groceries and other items delivered directly to their home door or close-by at specific times of day, they might not use a private car for commuting. Therefore, it is essential to support the last mile of goods.
Similarly to the MaaS API and framework development, we suggest supporting the development of shared logistics boxes for sending and receiving parcels independent from any operator. This increases the competition and reduces the risks of global or national postal services to exploit their monopoly power on logistics. The basic guidelines in this development should be similar to those MaaS API and platform: networked, open, interoperable, scalable, extendable and distributed. At the same time, these boxes can act as exchange points in sharing economy for any kinds of goods.
We suggest that legislation, construction regulations, and architects take into account this development. Floor plans for the first floor in new apartments should be planned in a way that leaves room for parcel logistics, and other possible alternative uses of that space.
Platform and APIs for Mobility-as-a-Service
Currently, the multimodality is not a viable choice in most of the EU countries. It is still almost impossible to buy a single (mobile) ticket for a whole travel chain between two cities. To ease passengers’ mobility, governments should foster the development of e-tickets and MaaS APIs.
Also, governments should provide certain national databases and services to support this development. Customer identification, anonymisation and user data management and standardised APIs for these are examples of such strategic parts that should be managed on a country level.
There have been many projects to provide guidance for this, but so far none of these has resulted into a solution that would become commonly accepted and adopted by the markets. However, examples from different industries suggest that such a complex system should be both modular and flexible, and support NOISED approach (Networked, Open, Interoperable, Scalable, Expandable and Distributed/decentralised). This ensures that none of the transport modes or actors will have a dominating role in development. Gradually the best alternatives will be developed and merged into de facto standards. It is not a problem, if national systems between the countries are slightly different. If the NOISED principles are followed, the systems will become very similar and allow all service providers to connect their services to the platform. Once the platform and APIs are mature enough, the government should provide support for regional transport authorities to make their systems compatible with the common system.
The electrification of transport reduces local emissions and global C02 emissions and provides more silent transport. Quite much has already been written about electrifying transport, but we would like to emphasise the following aspects:
First, more effort should be put on the electrification of buses and public transport. While ordinary private cars are standing most of the time, electrified or not, buses operate throughout the day. Therefore, higher investment costs are offset by lower operating costs. Also, local emissions are reduced more when old diesel buses are replaced with new electric ones.
Secondly, when supporting electrifying the transport, private cars should not be considered and used similarly as in the era of the internal combustion engine. The focus should be on supporting multimodality. This can be partly achieved by the optimal location of charging stations and smart park’n’ride charging.
The third suggestion is to provide housing cooperatives small financial aids to install charging stations. Also, new buildings and apartments should already have EV chargers and also readiness (cabling) to extend later the charging opportunities.
Shared vehicles are becoming more popular. This reduces the need for parking places and reduces people’s needs to invest their money in something that they need only occasionally. Shared vehicles are also one viable solution to the quite common last mile problem.
Cities could support car sharing by providing dedicated parking lots for them. Similarly, city planning could enforce new office buildings and housing apartments to reserve some of their parking lots for shared vehicles. Cities and municipalities should also consider sharing some of their own vehicle fleet during weekends and off-hours to citizens.
Another car-sharing scheme is the peer-to-peer sharing. In the near future, all cars manufactured should have by default keyless driving and ability to be shared via a mobile app. Cities and government could start programs to support also this form of car sharing as a part of the smart mobility and sharing economy. The message to EU is to ensure that manufacturers 1) make cars openly shareable by anyone, and 2) car manufacturers do not complicate by technical or juridical means the use of their cars for sharing economy.
Mobility hubs needed for efficient multimodality
Transport hub logic is a good concept for the city and transport planning both inside and between the cities. The efficient use of public transport requires the different modes of transport to be closely interconnected. These hubs act as linkage points between last-mile solutions and fast high-capacity transport. Typically, these hubs also offer other private and municipal services to citizens when they are open.
If it is not possible to use existing hubs to the high-capacity public transport because of the geography and current infrastructure, then cities should consider new services and investments to create such hubs.
Better user-centric planning of services
City and transport planning should be based both on soft and hard facts. Currently, decisions are based on the top-down decision-making and fine-tuning of the existing solutions. However, in the future, the focus should be on the needs of different customer groups instead of making decisions based on averages. To overcome this situation, more participatory methods are needed in the city and transport planning. To get more detailed information, mobile feedback collection methods should be used for guiding service development, as the knowledge of peoples’ opinions on new mobility services and their motivations to use them is still partly unknown. One viable alternative would be to use Eurobarometer surveys to get a better knowledge of people’s opinions on new mobility services.
Activating employers and employees
When considering smart commuting, more emphasis should be put on employers and employees. While a general high-quality public transport is the cornerstone, also company specific needs should be taken into account. For example, public transport schedules do not match well with working hours of the shift work, and therefore many employees commute by a private car. We recommend that public transport planners also survey the large companies and their employees to find ways to improve the use of public transport.
The companies could also find ways to increase the sustainability of the employees’ commuting. Partly employer-sponsored PT tickets are a recommended way to reduce unnecessary driving. Our case company results also show that different smart ways to combine rides and to schedule them to connection hubs can ease getting qualified employees to commute from a long distance to a workplace.
Changing the current mobility paradigm
There is a need to design and organise mobility in a different way to promote sustainable commuting modes. Instead of providing services based on single modes, the mobility chains need to be addressed by focusing on seamless, intermodal door-to-door trips from a user’s perspective. This includes pursuing the goal of optimising the transport system in terms of resource consumption and emissions. Besides increasing the competitiveness of such an individualised, flexible public transport service, the efficiency will also be increased by tapping underused resources.