So much of what we read is focused on what will happen when driverless vehicles are here… and that usually is referring to fully automated vehicles (SAE Level 5 automation), but most people agree that we are decades away from true proliferation. So what will the transition look like? And what can government agencies be doing now? I think the answer lies in new mobility services.
New Mobility Services refers to transportation alternatives, often leveraging new technology, which are provided by the private sector. Today – we’re seeing new mobility services in the form of transportation network companies (e.g., Uber, Lyft), carpooling apps (e.g., Scoop, Waze), car sharing (e.g., Zipcar, City CarShare), and even shared electric scooters (e.g., Scoot). These private companies are all adding new mobility options to our cities and, at the same time, disrupting our traditional mobility options (i.e., the private car and public transit).
Government agencies (especially in cities) are experiencing this disruption every day. We’re seeing an increase in pick-ups and drop-offs in places not intended for traffic to stop. We’re seeing lawsuits related to discrimination and insurance claims with unclear guilty parties. We’re also seeing confusion for the customers about how to make transfers, handle multiple fare payments, and maintain a LOT of apps!
I believe that this is only the beginning of mobility disruption! And government has the opportunity now to navigate this disruption, form partnerships, and establish appropriate regulations, policies, and relationships to be able to reap the positives from new mobility services (including driverless vehicles), but also protect against their negatives. New mobility services may be used to fill in gaps in public transit services, provide existing services more cost-effectively, introduce new data to support city planning, and provide more seamless integration with other forms of transportation. While I agree this isn’t the only thing that can be done now, I think it’s an important step forward. Do you agree?