Page 1

Cities on the Move Article series on the future of urban mobility March 2014


Foreword Urban mobility is evolving rapidly. Change is driven by a variety of factors: new technological possibilities, increased constraints on energy use, deep change in the structure of urban economies, shifting lifestyles, and new ideas about urban design, among others. At a time when the boundaries of urban mobility models are being pushed by technology, explorations of the multifaceted nature of mobility and its consequences on our cities must be far-reaching. Together with our partners at Google, we at the New Cities Foundation aim to contribute constructively to the debate with Cities on the Move, a one-day event in Mountain View, California, and a series of short papers by leading thinkers in a range of disciplines from economics to sociology. Is congestion a necessary outcome of urban growth? How should citizens adapt when, where and how they travel? What is the difference between transportation and mobility, and how does this distinction affect the way cities facilitate the movement of people and goods? How can public sector planners and private sector innovators coordinate their efforts to enhance mobility? New technologies make travel more efficient for individuals, but do they address the core challenge of enabling a more sustainable mobility model? These are some of the questions explored by the authors in this short volume. Sociologist Bruno Marzloff discusses the notion of smart mobility, which, he argues, is not simply about apps and gadgets, but about radically reconfiguring people’s need to move. Sustainable transport experts Susan Shaheen and Matthew Christensen explore multi-modal travel and the technological factors required to better integrate shared-use vehicles into a unified transportation system. Urban planner Anthony Townsend asserts that transportation planners’ must look beyond transport infrastructure and factor in the behavioral changes that technology can enable to achieve sustainability, livability and accessibility. Economist Clifford Winston examines further institutional barriers to adopting new technologies (such as autonomous vehicles), which impedes improved policy-making and a more efficient use of current road infrastructure. Finally, urbanist Greg Lindsay describes the real-world implementation of an urban experiment to provide an entirely privatized shared transportation system.


From each of these vantage points, the mobility system must be realigned; cities should think of mobility as a service rather than a transport system whose objective is to increase throughput. Achieving this goal will require much more coordination, cooperation and experimentation between the public and private sectors. And only through an ongoing multidisciplinary exchange that goes beyond the mundane and towards the bold and visionary, can we create a common vision of a possible and desirable mobility future. Mobility is a critically important topic that is close to the New Cities Foundation’s mission to incubate, promote and scale urban innovation. Our goal with Cities on the Move is to broaden the conversation on urban mobility to include thinkers and doers from a wide range of disciplines and with different perspectives. We are grateful to our friends at Google for their support toward the project. We invite you to contribute to the debate through our website and social media platforms and at the event itself. Mathieu Lefevre Executive Director New Cities Foundation


Contents Beyond flying cars, drones, and congestion...................................................................................................................6 Bruno Marzloff

Is The Future Of Urban Mobility Multi-Modal & Digitized Transportation Access?...............................................9 Susan A. Shaheen, Matthew Christensen

Re-Programming Mobility: How the Tech Industry Is Driving Us Towards A Crisis in Transportation Planning.....12 Anthony Townsend

Improving Urban Mobility Through Technological Advance of Motor Vehicles..............................................16 Clifford Winston

Eight Things Project 100 Tells Us About Mobility-as-a-Service...................................................................21 Greg Lindsay



Beyond flying cars, drones, and congestion Bruno Marzloff Director, Groupe Chronos Bruno Marzloff, a sociologist and futurist, is director of the think tank, Chronos. For the past 15 years, he has coordinated Groupe Chronos, a laboratory of innovative mobilities bringing together transportation stakeholders, thought leaders, the media, and a wide variety of urban actors. He has been working since 2010 on the expansion of municipal services, in partnership with Le hub agence, as part of the DatAct program. He also studies issues relating to time management in the work place and the evolution of work culture over time.

Abstract: People do not want to live in cities where the existing mobility models have reached their limits. We are yet to find smart mobility solutions, however, that truly tackle the underlying issue of urban growth versus congestion. True smart mobility goes far beyond apps that present traffic flow. We need to find solutions that reduce the number of trips travelled, reverse urban sprawl, and tackle problems relating to environmental pollution. What is smart mobility? Does the traffic app Waze, purchased by Google for more than a billion dollars, fall within this scope? Yes, to some extent. The social GPS helps people improve their commute thanks to real-time traffic data and road information shared by its active community of users (Waze claims to have more than 50 million users worldwide). When obstacles (e.g. road closures, accidents, police traps, etc.) are reported, Waze redirects drivers to their destination. However, the navigation app only falls within the scope of a rather “orthodox smart mobility”. Waze deals with symptoms – congestion appears as a “permanent state” with which we have been putting up for decades – rather than underlying causes. The volume of traffic continues to grow, especially during peak periods of the day, where billions of urban dwellers around the world, choose to commute. Waze does not solve this problem. It can help drivers navigate traffic congestion, but it does not reduce the number of trips travelled, neither does it tackle environmental pollution problems, urban sprawl, etc. In other words, Waze users settle for

marginal benefits. This raises the question: how can the core problems be tackled rather than merely trying to cope with traffic flows, which has so far proven impossible? Let’s not fight the wrong battles. We cannot fight obesity by loosening one’s belt! Smart mobility’s ambition cannot come down to simply healing the wounds of the current situation. If mobility aims at being “smart” it has first to differentiate between desired and undesired mobility, and find alternatives to the latter because they both harm people’s everyday lives and stifle cities. Let’s forget about flying and even automatic cars, capsules and drones. Those sci-fi visions have indeed proven technically feasible. Yet, their relevance against excess mobility has yet to be demonstrated. The insatiable quest for productivity cannot be a long-term solution. Solutions to more desirable and more sustainable mobility will not be found solely within the field of transport. We must address the social, urban, economic and organisational causes of today’s mobility patterns. Smart mobility will only be smart if it manages to adopt a comprehensive

This article is part of a series about the future of urban mobility prepared for Cities on the Move, a one-day event organized by the New Cities Foundation and hosted by Google on March 6th, 2014 in Mountain View, California. 6

approach to current mobility challenges. Radical innovations are necessary, not least in terms of work organisation and urban and regional planning. Those transformations call for a paradigm shift towards downscaling mobility. In this regard, both the Walkscore app and coworking spaces, which contribute to addressing issues of walkability, density of services and relocation of work appear somehow closer to reaching the ambitions of a true smart mobility. That is to say, a smart mobility that encapsulates the idea of “mobility as a service”. In this context, transport operators and transport authorities could focus on managing a “desired mobility” and ensure everybody’s access to cities’ resources. State of the art A. Pointing contradictions Even if cars still account for 80% of the distance travelled in France, some signs are worth noticing. Over the last decade, experts have pointed to a shift in driving patterns. Beyond peak oil, they highlight - at least in Western countries - a peak drive (a decrease of car use) and a peak car (a decrease in the number cars purchased). In the United States, some experts even mention a peak road (a decrease of paved roads mileage). One could also bring to light a peak property, to describe the trend towards car sharing, as opposed to car ownership (in France, individual buyers now account for less than half of the number of cars purchased each year). Yet, travel demand by car continues to grow and collective transportation - whether in Europe or in the United States - cannot absorb this excess volume. Meeting rising demands for motorised mobility within limited physical infrastructure capacity is a structural problem everywhere. B. The users’ point of view: smart solutions are just palliatives During the last two decades, individuals have quickly adopted multimodality as a means to

face the challenges of everyday mobility and find alternatives to car use. Smart mobility solutions facilitate efficiency of multimodality. Technologies can indeed collect and analyse network data, which can be disseminated in order to facilitate seamless journeys for individuals, thus reducing cognitive load. However, just like Waze or car sharing services, those are only palliatives. E-solutions, whether related to work or shopping activities, are the only solutions people have if they want to reduce undesired trips. Demand for those solutions is very high. When it comes to telecommuting, there is a correlation between the level of demand and the distance that separates individuals from their work places. C. Smart solutions are insufficient Smart solutions will keep and meet those limitations as long as they keep on thinking in terms of infrastructures. Existing proponents of an orthodox smart mobility seem to accept the inevitability of contemporary mobility challenges (congestion, transportation disruptions, accidentology, etc.). The French national rail operator SNCF thus states that the average passenger occupancy in the Greater Paris network reaches 40%. However, it reaches 200% during peak hours. In those conditions, the permanent expansion of the network’s physical capacities seems unsustainable. Up until now, no actor has been able to prove the capacity of smart solutions to reduce the demand for mobility. Those technologies can only optimise the capacity of the system. For want of anything better, public authorities spend billions of dollars on gigantic infrastructure programmes, which bring us back to the mega projects of the 20th century. The same thing is happening in China at a much larger scale. In Brazil, after the wave of social unrest that swept São Paulo in summer 2013 in protest of dreadful transportation conditions, the government has decided to invest $30 billion in urban mass transit. The same reaction can be observed in the Greater Paris, where a similar amount of money will be spent in the quest to ease congestion. 7

The necessity of radical innovations Radical innovations are to be found out of the field of transport. They fall within the scope of three categories:

the issue of undesired versus desired mobility. In other words, distance solutions offer alternatives to undesired journeys while not restricting desired mobility. They raise, however, organisational challenges which still have to be met.

A. Targeting causes of mobility

C. Downscaling mobility

Public authorities and transport operators must envision radical transformations in the planning of cities and territories as well as in the organisation of daily activities. Within the urban field, there have been interesting initiatives that seek to re-densify neighbourhoods through developing many amenities in close proximity. In this regard, Jeff Speck develops the concept of the walkable city. This urban model is an alternative to urban sprawl and its tremendous environmental, economic and social costs. A city like Portland, Oregon, has decided to give priority to pedestrians, and thereby also increases its attractiveness.

Envisioning a reduction of undesired journeys automatically leads to thinking about downscaling mobility. This reasoning, however, goes against the concept of growth, which lies at the basis of modern and contemporary society. When Marc Andreessen mentions the possibility of reducing the total car fleet by up to 90% without reducing the use of cars, he suggests a path towards de-growth. It is nowadays becoming possible to replace ownership by a pool of services as well as shared and collaborative solutions. We may never reach the values mentioned by Marc Andreessen and his associate, Ben Horowitz. Yet, the fact that the founders of the $2.5 billion venture capital firm consider this path as economically viable, if not profitable, indicates that it is worth exploring.

Another lead to follow is to consider pauses within journeys as part of the mobility chain. In this regard, the development of so-called third places is a growing trend. Those multipurpose places, often started at the initiative of users themselves, accommodate mobile workers, but are open to a wide range of activities within the proximity of residential areas. Thus, they reduce the need for transport. This raises broader questions about the organisation of work. Amsterdam is showing the way. As part of a measure to tackle traffic congestion, the city has developed a network of more than a hundred telework centres in peripheral districts. B. Offering alternatives to motorised mobility

Concluding words: the service city The radical transformations mentioned in this paper are first and foremost social and sociological. Individuals’ desire to reduce the negative side effects of mobility must be taken into account. People do not wish to live in cities and societies whose models have reached their limits. They start developing personal strategies, relying largely on mobile technologies and data, which have the power to radically transform mobility in the future. Further development of mobility services, integrating distance solutions, is the key to sustainable and desirable mobility.

What applies to work applies also to a wide range of activities such as retail, training and education, the health industry, etc. The development of e-solutions, or what we would rather call “distance solutions�, does not prevent individuals from moving, but it does reduce the number and the distance of trips travelled. In doing so, it has the potential to directly address 8

Is the future of urban mobility multi-modal and digitized transportation access? Susan A. Shaheen Co-Director, Transportation Sustainability Research Center, University of California, Berkeley Susan Shaheen is an adjunct professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and an associate research engineer at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center. She has a Ph.D. in ecology, focusing on technology management and the environmental aspects of transportation, from the University of California, Davis (1999) and a Masters degree in public policy analysis from the University of Rochester (1990).

Matthew Christensen Researcher, Transportation Sustainability Research Center, University of California, Berkeley Matthew Christensen joined the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) of the University of California, Berkeley in 2014. He is the former Managing Editor of and specializes in bicycle and bikesharing research and planning. He is an expert in bikesharing metrics, station siting, contracts, program management, data analysis, and public and private funding mechanisms. Matt received a master’s degree in Planning from the University of Southern California and holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara.

Abstract: Our cities are undergoing a dramatic shift in urban mobility. Changing demographics, economies, technologies, and environmental pressures have altered traditional travel demand to more sustainable transportation modes. This article examines the present and future of urban mobility, specifically in regard to public transit and shared-use mobility services (e.g., carsharing, bikesharing, and ridesharing), as well as multi-modal transportation. Multi-modal means having access to multiple modes in making a trip. We examine organizations and governments that are currently pursuing multi-modal transportation options and explore a more idealized transportation platform that draws on multi-modalism, technology, demand, and other trends. We argue that the US is at the forefront of what we call “digitized” transportation access. In the last fifteen years, notable developments have occurred within urban mobility and sustainable transportation in the United States and abroad. Owning an SUV is no longer a key element in achieving the American Dream. Paradoxically, being car-free or car-light is becoming more commonplace. Today, every major automobile manufacturer is producing compact electric vehicles (EVs). Even Ford’s CEO, Alan Mulally, stated at the Detroit Auto Show in early 2014 that the future of our cities will depend on personal mobility and

adding more cars is “not going to work”1. Meanwhile, the bicycle has undergone a rebirth as a viable means of urban transportation, and governments on all levels are using transportation funding to support public transit infrastructure. Mulally, like many others working in transportation, has recognized that socio-economic and population pressures are changing the way people think about how they move within cities. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 50% of the world lived in urban

This article is part of a series about the future of urban mobility prepared for Cities on the Move, a one-day event organized by the New Cities Foundation and hosted by Google on March 6th, 2014 in Mountain View, California. 1. Schmitt, Angie (January 22, 2014). “Ford CEO: More Cars in Cities ‘Not Going to Work’”. Streetsblog. -ford-ceo-more-cars-in-cities-not-going-to-work/.


environments in 2010, and that number is expected to increase to 70% by 20502. With road and highway networks already struggling to meet transportation demand, more people are turning to alternative transportation modes. A report recently published by the American Public Transportation Association shows that “millennials”, the biggest and most diverse generation to date, tend to choose between different modes for a given trip rather than defaulting to the private automobile like many of their predecessors3. One reason for this is the emergence of the sharing economy and shareduse mobility (i.e., carsharing, scooter sharing, ridesharing {carpooling and vanpooling}, bikesharing, private shuttles, and on-demand ride services). Millennials now have “access” to many modes without having to sustain the burdens of “ownership,” a concept originally posited in 2009 by the founding executive editor of Wired, Kevin Kelly 4. As more and more individuals are using public transit and shared-use modes to get around, transportation systems are becoming cheaper and more efficient. According to a 2013 survey for Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., members save approximately US $800 annually on transportation costs5. Martin and Shaheen’s (2011) research on carsharing in North America demonstrated that 50% of carsharing members either sold or postponed a car purchase, and for every carsharing vehicle in a fleet, 9 to 13 personal vehicles are taken off the road. Furthermore, of those autos shed, carsharing vehicles average about 10 miles per gallon better on fuel efficiency 6. Shared-use mobility services can also complement public transit by addressing the first/last mile

problem and, thereby, enable households to reduce their automobile dependence. According to a recent study published by the Mineta Transportation Institute, bicycle-friendly transit policies greatly increase the catchment area of transit stops 7. Public bikesharing, in cities like Washington, D.C., functions in the same way to encourage individuals to use shared bicycles to access transit. The 2013 Capital Bikeshare Member Survey Report found that 54% of Capital Bikeshare members use it in tandem with public transit for multi-modal trips. Similarly, Penn Station in New York is host to one of the most used Citi Bike stations during morning commutes as commuters exit the station and use bikesharing to complete their work trips8. Multi-modal tripmaking has created a new demand for enhanced integration among transportation options. At present, the vast majority of transportation systems require that travelers use transit smartcards, bikesharing key fobs, and carsharing mobile apps and/or smartcards to access modes independently. This can create a disarray of memberships and hardware. Instead, users are in need of an integrated platform that enables them to seamlessly compare (cost, route, time spent, etc.) and access and pay for different transportation services. The smartphone is one tool likely to have an increasing role in multi-modal transportation. Mobile apps like RideScout and Nimbler, which aggregate public transit and shared-use mobility services into one map, allow users to find the various modes available nearby and even book and pay for some. Similarly, Red Ride aggregates ridesharing, on-demand ride services, and carsharing services and enables users to find the closest vehicles

2. World Health Organization. “Global Health Observatory.” text/en/. 3. American Public Transportation Assocation (October 2013). Millennials and Mobility: Understanding the M¬illennial Mindset. http://www.apta. com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/APTA-Millennials-and-Mobility.pdf. 4. Kelly, Kevin (January 2009). “Better than Owning”. 5. 2013 Capital Bikeshare Member Survey Report (May 2013). 6. Shaheen, Susan and Elliot Martin (2011). The Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Ownership. ACCESS. cess/38/access38_carsharing_ownership.pdf. 7. Flamm, Bradley and Charles Rivasplata (January 2014). Perceptions of Bicycle-Friendly Policy Impacts on Accessibility to Transit Services: The First and Last Mile Bridge. Mineta Transportation Institute. 8. Goldmark, Alex (July 2013). “At Penn Station, the Early Bird catches the Citi Bike.” WNYC. 10

available. These apps are on the forefront of “digitized” transportation access and will play a growing role in urban mobility in the future. The smartphone, however, has its limitations. First, “points of access” can present a problem for public transit providers. Bus and rail transit services are typically equipped to provide access via an RFID card or ticket. Retrofitting public transit stations with the ability to accept payments from smartphones would take significant investment. Second, the smartphone has cost barriers for many. Of individuals making less than US $30,000 per year, less than half own a smartphone. Conversely, over 78% of people earning US $75,000 or more own a smartphone9. Educational attainment and age also show a similar correlation, with older and less educated individuals less likely to own a smartphone than younger, more educated individuals. While the percentage of smartphone owners will increase in the years ahead within all socio-demographic cohorts, equity will remain a prominent issue without subsidies. Apart from the smartphone, RFID technology may also play an increasing role in multi-modal transportation in the future. Unlike the smartphone, most public transit services, many carsharing, and several bikesharing providers currently enable user access through an RFID card, and some partnerships have already been formed. For instance, in 2009 the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and I-Go Carsharing began offering a joint carsharing and public transit pass. In New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, bikesharing systems are equipped with RFID card readers in anticipation of a multi-use RFID card. Similarly, B-cycle bikesharing equipment, which can be found in over 15 cities across the United States, features RFID card readers. And in London, the Oyster card has set the precedent for RFID admission as cardholders are able to access local and regional forms of the transportation network with a single card, including the subway, light rail, regional rail, trolleys, and buses.

While multi-modal RFID cards are already helping users access multiple transportation modes, they too have their limitations. Most apparent: RFID cards are unable to show expected trip times or give users an understanding of where the closest available bikesharing bicycle or carsharing vehicle is located. Recognizing this gap, the company TransitScreen developed a kiosk for public transit destinations that enables users to find which transportation options are available nearby. Hypothetically, a cardholder would be able to find their mode(s) of choice on TransitScreen − or a similar kiosk − and use a single RFID card to access them, regardless of the mode. This, however, presents another hurdle for an integrated multi-modal platform that is either RFID or smartphone based: revenue sharing among service providers. Different fee structures and membership options among existing services can make the sharing of revenue exceedingly difficult. In other cases, some service providers may not find it in their best interest to list pricing options due to the ability to directly compare costs across modes and providers (i.e., competition). Not surprisingly, institutional barriers also exist in integrating services across organizations (e.g., data privacy concerns, Application Programming Interfaces {or APIs}, etc.). Despite these hurdles, steps are already being taken to create a single platform for multimodal transportation. Such a platform would exponentially increase the value of sustainable transportation modes through ease of use, accountability, and by creating virtual and physical connection points. As shared-use mobility continues to grow, so will the demand for seamless multi-modal transportation access. Ultimately, a fully integrated transportation system would create a more efficient, environmentally friendly, and economical solution for users in cities across the globe in the future.

9. Smith, Aaron (June 2013). Smartphone Ownership 2013. Pew Research Center. phone-ownership-2013/


Re-Programming Mobility: How the Tech Industry Is Driving Us Towards A Crisis in Transportation Planning Anthony M. Townsend Senior Research Scientist, New York University, Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management Dr. Anthony Townsend is an urban planner and forecaster whose writing, public speaking, activism and consulting focus on urbanization, ubiquitous computing and technology-led innovation and economic development. He holds posts as Senior Research Scientist at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation and Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Future, an independent research organization based in California’s Silicon Valley. Anthony was co-founder of NYCwireless, a pioneer in the community broadband movement, and was named one of Planetizen’s “Leading Thinkers in Urban Planning & Technology” and “Top 100 Thinkers” tracking the Internet of things by Postscapes. His first book, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia is published by W.W. Norton & Co.

Abstract: New digital technologies are transforming why, where, when, and how people travel to their destinations. In recent years, these technologies have turned transportation from a physical infrastructure business into an information and informatics-based activity. Despite solving issues in some regards, this shift is introducing a number of new challenges for transportation planners, who need a comprehensive understanding on how they can accommodate the potential of these services while mitigating their unintended consequences. An Epiphany In late 2012, I spent a week in Israel on business. Over lunch one day, one of my clients - an experienced engineer in the tech industry - recounted a shocking story. The previous summer, he told me (I later surmised it was around August 7 or 8, 2011), there had been a thunderstorm in Northern Virginia. Wind blew a tree down, a tree fell on a wire, and one of Amazon’s massive data centers went offline. The incident occurred around the morning rush hour in Israel. Now, at the time, something like 20 percent of Israeli drivers were daily users of Waze, a crowd-sourced traffic reporting and way-finding service. But the fast-growing company, founded just two years earlier, relied on Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) shared cloudcomputing infrastructure to run its software. When Amazon went down, so did Waze, and

Israel’s drivers were blacked-out. Without the app’s turn-by-turn directions and jam-avoiding route planners, gridlock quickly set in across the tiny nation. While AWS certainly did fail that day, and Waze reported service disruptions on its blog, no one at Waze will confirm or deny any aspect of the story. And both English and Hebrew language media coverage are non-existent. So despite rather vigorous attempts to do so, I’ve never been able to verify the scope of what actually happened and if my colleague’s story of mass national gridlock really took place. But the veracity of this anecdote is beside the point…because it is totally plausible. And that plausibility speaks volumes about how Israel’s entire surface transportation system had literally been re-programmed by a startup that had introduced a single critical point of failure

This article is part of a series about the future of urban mobility prepared for Cities on the Move, a one-day event organized by the New Cities Foundation and hosted by Google on March 6th, 2014 in Mountain View, California. 12

thousands of miles away in another country, with apparently zero awareness on the part of the Israeli government’s transportation planners or defense strategists. (And no doubt, if the traffic was as bad as reported, this was certainly a national defense concern.) Technological Disruption Across the Value Chain Waze is just one of thousands of new digital technologies and services that have come to market in recent years that are turning transportation from a brick-and-mortar business into an information-based and informaticsbased activity. Disruption is happening throughout the value chain. Some examples include: • infrastructure networks: adaptive traffic signaling, dynamic electronic road pricing • vehicles: autonomous motor vehicles, autonomous aircraft, programmable vehicle performance characteristics • business Models: car sharing, peer-to-peer taxi services • interfaces: electronic taxi hailing, crowdsourced traffic reporting, integrated multi-modal services (route planning, booking, and payment) The result of all this investment and innovation is that city dwellers are increasingly dependent upon a growing array of digital services and technologies to make and manage their travel choices, and often to actually take the trip. These services are having real impacts on travel behavior - changing why, when, where and how people take journeys to work, home and other locations and activities. They are changing both the supply and the demand side of the mobility equation.

The Coming Crisis in Transportation Planning The technological transformation of travel behavior is a rather new thing for transportation planners to grasp intuitively. Until now, transportation systems have largely been planned, designed and managed as purely physical infrastructure systems. Both supply and demand were treated as largely static, and demand forecasts were pretty crude and episodic. You basically designed the system, built it, and let it run, making infrequent adjustments. Beginning in the 1980s and accelerating in the 1990s, transportation planning organizations began integrating digital technology into operations, developing a growing body of research, education and training, and prototypes they call “Intelligent Transportation Systems” (ITS for short). In the U.S., investment in ITS is almost exclusively focused on roads and motor vehicles, and the development of large-scale improvements to existing publicly-owned transportation systems such as automated toll collection, signal controls, dynamic road pricing schemes, and anti-collision technologies. From a broader perspective, ITS misses the forest for the trees. As an operations technology, it isn’t focused on anything other than increasing throughput and improving safety, in the process neglecting broader transportation planning goals such as sustainability, livability, and accessibility. Often, a successful ITS deployment actually exacerbates the problems planners seek to address. Ironically, where ITS has failed to address the complex transportation-land use nexus, recent private-sector innovation in transportation technologies and services are actually starting to address key concerns of transportation planning. For instance, carpooling services like Zimride, launched at the University of California 13

Berkeley, but later deployed for two large music festivals (Coachella and Bonaroo), highlight potential business models for new mobility technologies. By providing tools to incentivize carpooling, services like Zimride could allow large amounts of parking to be freed up for development - potentially creating a virtuous circle of densification that could support transit. Similarly, the first autonomous features widely deployed in private vehicles may simply be for remote parking, or high-density garages with less area wasted on circulation. To an urban planner’s eye, it seems then that the true killer app for such technologies is unlocking hidden land value. Is Google really in the real estate business?!

mobility and transportation. When we talk about mobility, we are talking about the potential to move. When we talk about transportation, we are talking about the system - and the use of that system - to actually move. Very little of the innovation we have seen in recent years is in transportation; most of it is in mobility via tools that allow us to navigate the options and opportunities in the transportation system. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that highlights where planning is falling short: it mostly focuses on the transportation, not the mobility. Startups are building services, not infrastructure, so they focus on the mobility piece.

Transportation planning is only slowly waking up to these developments. Internal debates in the field remain focused on infrastructure and urban form rather than the direct behavioral impacts of these new technologies. As a result, these high-value, high-impact innovations in transportation are coming from the private sector with little coordination or planning. And their collective impact and potential unintended consequences are not being adequately explored.

All of this raises some very serious existential questions for transportation management and planning. Why invest in formal transit when informal systems can achieve a similar impact? How can capital investment plans be made as revenue sources and forecasts change day-today due to disruptive innovations? How can exhaust data from private-sector operations be used to inform long-term planning?

Equipping the Field for Disruption

Take, for instance, the conflicts between Uber and local regulators. It is clear that the conflicts between innovators and regulators that we are seeing now are just an early indicator of much larger challenges to come. Modern urban transportation systems are being quite literally re-programmed by a new wave of information and communications systems developed and deployed by new technology firms directly to consumers. These are just the initial skirmishes in much bigger conflicts that will arise over how transportation systems work in 21st century cities, and the roles and relationships between public and private sector providers.

Challenges to the status quo in transportation are emerging faster than we can even formulate these questions. Existing priorities are sure to shift, yet scholars and practitioners lack the capacity to assess and incorporate the implications of rapid advances in informatics. The transportation planning field’s focus on ITS has been myopic at best. To expect that fiscallystrapped public sector organizations burdened by long planning cycles will lead is an act of hubris. The re-programming of mobility isn’t something that is being engineered by planners; it will be something they respond to on a constant crisis basis. For years, transportation planners have resisted this change, but this is no longer a tenable position.

Why are planners not paying attention? It’s important to distinguish between the terms

Yet as much as these new technological bandaids are filling gaps in older physical networks,


making up for 50 years of transportation planning failures, they are inadequate for the future. Transportation planning is just as important, if not more so, but the kinds of plans and their areas of inquiry must adapt to this new reality. There have been promising advances, such as using mobile phone location records to improve demand modeling, and using GPS trace data to map informal jitney networks in the global south. But transportation planning remains largely siloed within specific modes such as road or rail, while the greatest potential positive impacts of re-programmed mobility systems may be in the power to shift people between modes and make multi-modalism more feasible. This threatens planning organizations and planners embedded within that institutional structure.

for mobility, public financing schemes, and the overall structure and function of the U.S. transportation system at a metropolitan level, •

the organizational changes that transportation regulators, funding agencies, and public planning institutions need to begin preparing for now, and


the skills and practices that will be required of transportation planners in the future.

Our goal is to spark a national debate about the potential impacts of these new technologies and services, and how government can accommodate their vast potential to improve transportation and anticipate and mitigate their unintended consequences.

Finally, in the U.S., transportation policy continues to revolve around investments in different modes and infrastructures and continues to treat ITS as just another type of infrastructure investment. There is no scope for dealing with the transformational aspects of new technologies, leaving efforts to deal with the public consequences of largely private actors in the arena to ad-hoc state and local efforts such as the lawsuits against operators of electronic hailing systems or bans on texting while driving. Ongoing Research At the Rudin Center, through a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, we are collecting a database of several hundred new technologies and services, expert forecasts and speculation about their impact on transportation and land use, and emerging conflicts with regulatory and planning agencies. Over the coming summer, we will be clustering and synthesizing this information into a set of scenarios for the metropolitan U.S. in 2030 that illustrate: •

likely or possible shifts in the market 15

Improving Urban Mobility Through Technological Advance of Motor Vehicles Clifford Winston Searle Freedom Trust Senior Fellow Brookings Institution* Clifford Winston has been with Brookings since 1984. He is an applied microeconomist who specializes in the analysis of industrial organization, regulation, and transportation. Winston has also been co-editor of the annual microeconomics edition of Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Prior to his fellowship at Brookings, he was an Associate Professor in the Transportation Systems Division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Civil Engineering. *This paper synthesizes material in Winston (2013) and Winston and Mannering (2014).

Abstract: Traffic fatalities in the U.S. claim over 30,000 lives annually and congestion continues to cost the nation U.S. $100 billion a year. There is a growing urgency for solutions to be implemented, but effective options such as improved highway pricing are often impeded by political and institutional factors. Technologies such as the driverless car, which may be common sight by 2025, could also go a long way in relieving pressure on the nation’s highways.

Introduction The nation’s road system is vital to U.S. urban areas. Roughly 75 percent of goods, based on value, are transported on roads by truck, 93 percent of workers’ commutes are on roads by private automobiles and public buses, and by far the largest share of nonwork and pleasure trips are taken by road.

state highway agencies’ expenditures cannot seem to outpace the rate of road-infrastructure deterioration. Finally, although highway safety has improved during the past few decades, because of greater enforcement of drunken driving laws, improvements in vehicle safety, and other factors, traffic fatalities are still one of the leading causes of non-disease deaths in the United States, exceeding more than 30,000 lives annually.

Unfortunately, the arteries are clogged: the benefits that commuters, families, truckers, and shippers receive from the road system have been increasingly compromised by growing congestion, vehicle damage, and accident costs. The Texas Transportation Institute’s latest Urban Mobility Report puts the annual cost of congestion to the nation, including both travel delays and expenditures on fuel, at more than $100 billion. Despite frustratingly frequent lane closures for road repairs, federal and

Economists have repeatedly pointed out that policymakers could address highway inefficiencies by implementing efficient road pricing for cars and trucks and by making efficient investments based on cost-benefit analyses. Highway authorities could also implement recent technological innovations to improve highway performance. However, efficient reforms are impeded by institutional and political factors and by policymakers’ unsustainable but nonetheless preferred strategy to increase spending to build

This article is part of a series about the future of urban mobility prepared for Cities on the Move, a one-day event organized by the New Cities Foundation and hosted by Google on March 6th, 2014 in Mountain View, California. 16

their way out of congestion and to improve the condition of highways and motorists’ safety. Fortunately, the private sector is introducing new technological innovations in motor vehicles, especially the driverless car, which will greatly improve the speed, reliability, and safety of highway travel for all motorists. A Brief Overview of Highway Inefficiencies Substantial economic inefficiencies have developed under public ownership and management of highway infrastructure because public policies have not been guided by basic economic principles: prices do not reflect social marginal costs, especially cars’ and trucks’ contributions to congestion and delays and trucks’ contribution to pavement damage; road investments are not based on cost-benefit analysis and have failed to maximize net benefits; and production costs are inflated by regulations. In addition, Congress broadly apportions federal highway funds to states, instead of allocating those funds efficiently to specific locales to alleviate the country’s most congested highways. Certain stakeholders pressure members of Congress and regulatory officials to oppose efficient reforms. For example, the American Automobile Association and the American Trucking Association oppose efficient congestion tolls and pavement charges because they may cause some of their members to pay more for using the road system, while labor unions oppose removing Davis-Bacon regulations because thousands of construction workers would see their wages fall1. Policymakers could improve highway pricing, investment, operations, and safety by expeditiously implementing technologies

developed by the private sector. New general purpose technologies include global positioning system (GPS) satellite navigation services that, among other things, collect information about motorists, such as their location, speed, and alternative routings for their journeys; Bluetooth signals that can be detected to monitor the speed of cars and trucks through the road system in real time in order to assist drivers’ route choice decisions and to adjust traffic signal timing; and mobile software applications (apps) and websites that provide motorists with real-time information on traffic speeds and volumes, conditions on alternate routes, and available parking spaces. Motorists are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of GPS services and the share of cars on the road that are equipped with those services is expected to climb from 10 percent as of 2013 to 50 percent by 2015. Specific highway and vehicle technologies include Weigh-in-Motion capabilities, which provide real-time information about truck weight and axle configurations that can be used by highway officials to set efficient pavement-wear charges and efficient enforcement for safety; adjustable lane technologies, which allow variations in the number and width of lanes in response to real-time traffic flows; improved road construction and design technologies to increase pavement life and to strengthen roads and bridges; and photo-enforcement technologies to monitor vehicles’ speeds to improve traffic flow, capacity, and safety. Because the Federal Highway Administration is biased toward the status quo in managing and operating the nation’s highway transportation system, it has failed to implement those technologies in a timely manner. FHWA may also lack the expertise to ensure that technologies to improve the highway system are implemented effectively

1. Davis-Bacon regulations stipulate that “prevailing wages”—interpreted in practice as “union wages”—be paid on any construction project receiving federal funds. The cost to taxpayers has been substantial. 17

and efficiently. Indeed, its budget allocates only a small amount of funds for research and development to improve highways. Like other agencies, FHWA may be risk-averse and want to avoid the mistakes and well-publicized delays in implementing technology that, for example, have tarnished the Federal Aviation Administration’s reputation to manage air traffic control effectively. Finally, FHWA may not stand to gain much from technology that reduces the cost of building and maintaining highways if those savings lead to reductions in its budget. The absence of evidence that extensive and costly government failure in highway policy is likely to be corrected by efficient reforms in the near future motivates serious consideration of privatization. However, given that no general consensus about the social desirability of highway privatization has developed, it would be useful for policymakers, in collaboration with scholars, practitioners, and users, to carefully design and execute experiments to obtain evidence on its effects before considering nationwide adoption. Private Sector Innovations in Motor Vehicles Regardless of the state of their infrastructure, motor vehicles’ safety and performance has improved. Automakers have continued to improve vehicle engines, designs, and structural strength, and have installed seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, air bags, and the like. Recent safety innovations include electronic stability control, warning and emergency braking systems, speed alerts, and mirrors with blind spot warnings, which will also increase road capacity by enabling vehicles to drive closer together without compromising speed. The recent revelation of “autonomous vehicles” raises the possibility of an entirely new era of highway transportation. Autonomous or driverless cars and trucks do a human driver’s normal job and much more. Driverless cars are operated by computers that obtain

information from an array of sensors on the surrounding road conditions, including the location, speed, and trajectories of other cars. The on-board computers gather and process information many times faster than the human mind can process it. By gathering and reacting immediately to real-time information, and by eliminating concerns about risky human behavior, such as distracted and impaired driving, the technology has the potential to prevent collisions and greatly reduce highway fatalities, injuries, vehicle damage, and costly insurance. And it can significantly reduce delays and improve travel-time reliability by creating a smoother traffic flow and by routing and, when necessary, rerouting drivers who have programmed their destinations. Driverless trucks are also in the developmental stage. For example, dozens of such trucks are being used to haul materials in an iron-ore mine in Australia and at other locations away from public thoroughfares. In addition to contributing to improved traffic flows and motorists’ safety, driverless trucks could benefit industry and ultimately consumers by substantially reducing labor costs, insurance, and operating costs. Thus far, seven U.S. states—including California, Florida, and Nevada—have legalized the testing of driverless cars, and several other states are considering doing the same. Competition among automakers and other firms to develop the best technology is already underway. Google has logged nearly 500,000 miles testing its version of a driverless car; General Motors is working on a model with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University; Audi, BMW, Toyota, and Volvo have demonstrated their driverless models; and Nissan has claimed that it will offer a full line of driverless cars in the next decade. In short, some, admittedly optimistic, forecasts indicate that driverless cars could be a common sight on U.S. roads by 2025.


Empirical estimates of their benefits are sparse but one study shows that they are highly dependent on the speed of adoption and extent of market penetration. Accounting for the reduction in fatalities and injuries, less vehicle damage, and savings in travel time, fuel, and parking costs, even a modest 10% penetration of driverless cars would generate annual benefits of $40 billion. Annual benefits amount to an eye-popping $200 billion if market penetration reaches 50%. Final Comments Driverless vehicles are inevitable and will generate significant improvements in road travel that certainly compensate for policymakers’ failure to reform their policies to provide such improvements. The major obstacle to motorists and firms from adopting driverless vehicles as soon as possible is whether the government will take prudent and expeditious approaches to help resolve important questions about assigning liability in the event of an accident, the availability of insurance, and safety regulation. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is responsible for regulating automobile safety, has issued cautious recommendations about driverless cars. That may be appropriate at this stage of the vehicle’s development, but NHTSA should also be cautious about sharing FHWA’s legacy of not promoting timely innovation in highway travel that could greatly benefit the public.


References Winston, Clifford. 2013. “On the Performance of the U.S. Transportation System: Caution Ahead,” Journal of Economic Literature, volume 51(3), pp. 773-824. Winston, Clifford and Fred Mannering. 2014. “Implementing Technology to Improve Public Highway Performance: A Leapfrog Technology from the Private Sector is Going to be Necessary,” Economics of Transportation, forthcoming.


Eight Things Project 100 Tells Us About Mobility-as-a-Service Greg Lindsay Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute Greg Lindsay is a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute, where he is co-director of the Emergent Cities Project. He is also a contributing writer for Fast Company, co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and a research affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and Fortune, among many other publications.

Abstract: This spring, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh will launch a mobility-as-a-service code-named “Project 100” as part of his plans to transform downtown Las Vegas into a creative class enclave. What lessons can we learn from this startup, which will combine car-sharing, ride-sharing, and bicycle-sharing for a monthly fee? Tony Hsieh is the Zelig of downtown Las Vegas. Although he ostensibly still runs Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer he sold to Amazon in 2009 for nearly a billion dollars, visitors invariably stumble across him hanging out in the courtyard of Zappos’ new headquarters or at one of the many downtown bars he frequents. It’s easy for Hsieh to do both because he lives barely a block away. But it is not so easy for the rest of Las Vegas – nearly two million metropolitan residents at last count – to reach the urban oasis he’s building as part of the Downtown Project. Almost three years ago, Hsieh announced his plan to invest his $350 million Amazon payout into building a creative class company town1 complete with restaurants, bars, a health clinic, a school, coworking spaces, and dozens of startups lured by Hsieh’s money. Zappos’ new headquarters in the former City Hall would provide the centerpiece, and its employees

the critical mass for local businesses. But apparently they haven’t been critical enough. Hsieh, who often speaks about the “three Cs” — “collisions, co-learning, and community” — has combined the urban economics of Ed Glaeser2 with the social physics of Geoffrey West and Luis Bettancourt3 to produce a theory that density, or at least a density of encounters, promotes the exchange of ideas, a strong community and local culture, and ultimately produces the rising productivity and other beneficial effects noted in dense cities. Or, as Hsieh likes to say, “living downtown will make you smarter.” As part of this strategy, last April Hsieh announced he had ordered 100 Tesla S electric sedans as the backbone of what was promptly codenamed Project 100 — a private, intermodal transportation service combining car-sharing, ride-sharing, bicycle-sharing, and

This article is part of a series about the future of urban mobility prepared for Cities on the Move, a one-day event organized by the New Cities Foundation and hosted by Google on March 6th, 2014 in Mountain View, California. 1. 2. 3.


shuttle bus service within the 1.5 square mile downtown area, all accessible through a smartphone app at prices potentially ranging from $50 to $500 per month, depending on the level of service. Today, Project 100 is comprised of thirteen employees, led by Hsieh’s 32-year-old lieutenant, Zach Ware, and is expected to launch this summer in beta. In January, I paid a visit to the startup as part of my research for “Re-programming Mobility” at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management (with generous backing from the Rockefeller Foundation). Below are eight points to ponder from a year’s worth of thinking and planning at one of America’s first mobility-as-a-service startups. 1. Multi-modality from scratch. Susan A. Shaheen and Matthew Christensen previously discussed the incremental progress toward integrated multi-modal transportation, ranging from smart phone apps such as RideScout and Nimbler to various cities laying the groundwork for multimodal transit using RFID readers. Project100, which will be rebranded at launch, aims to sidestep legacy issues by creating a completely self-contained service — from the interface to the customer experience (drivers will be staff, for example, unlike Uber) to operations. “A lot of cities are stuck with what’s come before,” says Ware. Instead of trying to knit together what already exists, Project 100 prefers a tabula rasa. 2. Private instead of public. Multimodal transit is nothing new. The city of Bremen’s mobil.punkt, for example, was first piloted more than a decade ago, and today its 48 car-sharing locations offer around 180 cars for 7,600 clients, with each location using public parking and doubling as a bus stop and bike-sharing station. But whereas mobil.punkt and its descendants are public goods, Project 100 is a private service in the mold of Uber: a members-only subscription service that is privately-financed, uses private land for stations and operations, and is ultimately for-profit

(in addition to Hsieh’s desire to enhance the connectivity of downtown). It is also scalable; the plan is to eventually expand to other cities with similar urban profiles, that is, small, dense cores surrounded by low-density suburbs. 3. Who is Project 100 for? Hsieh describes the Downtown Project in terms of “the city as a startup,” applying the startup logic of cultural fit to attract likeminded residents from the suburban fringes of Las Vegas and beyond. But downtown has another population as well, a third of whom live below the poverty line and whose median household income of $25,839 is barely half of the state’s overall. They, too, could stand to benefit from unlimited mobility at $500 per month (the prospective price point of its allyou-can-move option), which is two-thirds the monthly cost of car ownership, gasoline, and maintenance, according to AAA. But given its smart phone interface – less than half of Americans earning less than $30,000 per year own one, according to the Pew Research Center – it remains to be seen just how inclusive Project 100 will be. 4. Don’t be Uber. Las Vegas is one of a handful of cities in which Uber’s usual tactics of kicking down regulatory doors and whipping up popular support via social media failed to disrupt incumbent taxi and limousine operators, who have banded together under the banner of the Livery Operators Association of Las Vegas (LOA). Ware takes pains to differentiate Project 100 from Uber, starting with the fact that the service will launch without chauffeured cars. The Tesla S fleet will be offered along the lines of Zipcar instead, a short-term leasing membership which raises no red flags under current regulations. That will change eventually when Project 100 hires drivers of its own, as employees rather than subcontractors. “‘Where do we push and how much do we push it?’ is a question I ask myself every day,” says J.J. Todd, Project 100’s in-house counsel.


5. The perfect city car doesn’t exist. Project 100’s vehicle lineup —Tesla S sedans, SoBi bicycles, and a trolley bus — also includes a two-seat electric vehicle, Renault’s Twizy. Designed to address the challenge of traveling within downtown at distances of less than a mile, the Twizy isn’t the perfect solution, but the least bad one. The Project 100 team considered Polaris GEMs, the BMW i3, and even Segways as their intermediate mobility option before concluding that the car they wanted is the one that doesn’t yet exist: the stackable electric CityCar. Developed by the late William Mitchell at the MIT Media Lab, it has yet to go into production despite an agreement with Hiriko Driving Mobility in Spain and interest from Chinese suppliers and manufacturers. “If Chinese production launches, we’ll come back to it,” swears Ware. 6. Driving a giant sensor. Project 100 generated plenty of buzz around its choice of the Tesla S as the workhorse of its fleet. Not only will its depreciation and replacement schedules make the project the largest single owner of the vehicle, but also singlehandedly create a secondary market as well. One detail that raised eyebrows was the project’s inability to score a discount for volume. It will pay close to the sticker price of $62,400 per vehicle, or as much as $6.2 million. Instead of a discount, Project 100 is working with Tesla to install onboard telemetry that transmits the car’s current speed as well as location. A large part of the Tesla’s appeal — as well as the SoBi bicycle, which also has a GPS transceiver — is its unprecedented ability to generate data. 7. Playing SimCity for real. That data will determine the project’s success or failure. As a monthly subscription service, its revenues are capped, while usage is theoretically unlimited. This places a premium on the ability to manage assets and shape demand. To do that, Project 100 intends to build an “agent-based model,” essentially a

stylized, highly accurate version of SimCity populated by algorithms standing in for users that can simulate mobility patterns and help guide the project in choosing how to scale and where to locate new stations. To develop this model, along with accompanying algorithms, the company held talks with both McLaren Applied Technologies (an offshoot of the McLaren Group’s famed Formula One team) and BoldIQ (whose software was developed for the complex logistics of an air taxi service) before deciding to go it alone. 8. Just-in-time mobility. While many hurdles remain in getting the service up and running, Ware and his team are already pondering ways to integrate it with the Downtown Project. At one point, he muses about linking one’s Google Calendar to the Project 100 app. If you’ve forgotten about your meeting across downtown five minutes from now, an alert would automatically trigger a request and suggested routing. Although the idea of “transmobility”4 isn’t new, through its implementation, Project 100 is inching nearer to a pioneering integration of existing services. Conclusion: The imminent launch of Project 100 (or whatever it comes to be called) primarily suggests two things: that the multi-modal sharing model pioneered in Europe has a future in the United States, although it will not be led by transit agencies or other public sector actors. Instead, it will follow the Uber model of a private service scaling horizontally across multiple cities (although Project 100 has not yet identified a second target), with the added twist of creating an end-to-end experience rather than offloading the customer service and regulatory issues on to drivers. Will it be profitable, is one question, but more intriguing is: who in downtown Las Vegas will benefit — and who won’t?




Cities on the Move  

Article series on the future of urban mobility

Cities on the Move  

Article series on the future of urban mobility