Congestion and unreliable public transport are the hallmarks of many large cities and this can cause damage to health, wellbeing, productivity and the climate. Business, residents and cities all suffer, with the economic costs estimated to be as much as 2-4% of a city’s GDP in the form of lost time, wasted fuel and higher costs of doing business.
In the Ramboll Liveable Cities survey, people living in Danish cities also feel there is room for improvement when it comes to mobility – getting around by public transport, the option to switch between different forms of transport and the ease – or difficulty – of getting to and from the city centre.
As forecasts show that more and more people will be living and working in cities in the future, these problems are likely to increase. But as cities and their infrastructure become more connected, the ability to make transport systems more responsive to demand and adaptive to supply is increasing. Combining intelligent transport systems, which involve utilising sensing technologies like cameras, radar and traffic counters, with the use of data from the internet and smartphones, is leading to smarter mobility.
Smart choices drive smart cities
Smart mobility is more than just technology though. Ramboll takes a holistic view of transport, from maximising the use of precious public space to more sustainable infrastructure such as bike paths, smart parking, car sharing and better traffic information.
A successful example is MaaS, or Mobility as a Service, which aims to optimise existing transport networks. Already launched in Helsinki and several other cities in Finland, it is a user-friendly platform that integrates different modes of transport, both public and private. Jukka-Pekka Pitkänen, Director for Smart Mobility at Ramboll explains that “users can access an app that seamlessly combines transport and payment options – a simple but effective idea that combines the use of technology with existing transport and infrastructure so it’s easy for cities and, more importantly, the people who live there, to adapt.”
Ramboll prepared the business plan for MaaS, which is playing a key role in Finland’s transport policy, and has investigated the possibility of integrating MaaS into the Danish capital too.
SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION IN CITIES
It should be easier and more attractive to choose between sustainable transportation options in cities. Here you can see the amount of CO2 emitted by each method of transportation.
Long-term thinking needed
A similar effort to combine the means of transport is underway in the Norwegian capital Oslo. A new walking strategy is aiming to encourage people to walk the shorter stretches instead of taking a city bus a few stops when the city’s public transport system becomes overloaded during rush hour. This could prevent more people from taking their car from door-to-door.
However, in most major cities it is also necessary to keep upgrading and building new infrastructure. Light rail is becoming greener and has the potential to be a mobility and climate solution driver in many cities. In some cities such as Copenhagen, the congestion challenges seem difficult to solve without building tunnels to lead traffic out of the city centre. This would also help solve part of the air pollution problems too.
Repairing a road or a railway usually means shutting it down – fully or partially – causing even more congestion for months or even years. This is why rail and road authorities the world over are increasingly demanding that daily traffic must continue to flow while existing infrastructure is upgraded. Two cases from Europe’s most congested city, London, show that such operations are possible:
When Langdon Park Station on the Docklands Light Railway needed to be upgraded as a central part of a regeneration plan, Ramboll had precast and prefabricated elements constructed to fit around the existing train line and thus keep the station operating throughout the project. A similar example was the refurbishment of the Hammersmith Flyover, a vital link in West London, carrying over 70,000 vehicles per day.