A new report examining the world’s expanding urban population and the ensuing pressure on transport systems, points to shared mobility as part of the answer.
By 2050, says the report by the Oliver Wyman consultancy group, six billion people (that will be 70% of people around the world) will live in cities, accounting for 85% of the world’s economic productivity. But, the authors note, productivity, prosperity, social cohesion and environmental protection are all dependent on convenient access to transport – something currently enjoyed by 75% of Europeans and the USA but only 33% of sub-Saharan Africans.
Despite global urbanization, only half of the world’s population currently has convenient access to public #transport. Shared #mobility is projected to continue its rapid growth, more than doubling its share of the urban transport mix by 2030 > https://t.co/ZMRXEbmoxx— Oliver Wyman (@OliverWyman) November 19, 2023
“Explosion of urbanites”
With an “explosion of urbanites” comes “an explosion of congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions” notes the report, threatening the sustainable development goals set out by the UN and the 2015 Paris Agreement. The development of mass transit is the “obvious answer”, it suggests, but that takes “years of investment and infrastructure construction”.
It’s no surprise then that more and more people are turning to shared mobility solutions, which the report describes as “everything from ride-hailing and car-sharing to e-bike and e-scooter sharing”. Taking a 3% of the urban transport market at the moment, shared mobility is predicted to increase to 7% by 2030, reaching a market size of $400 billion (€365 billion).
“The mobility sector has changed dramatically in recent years and in addition to cars there is now a range of different modes of transport available to people,” Oliver Wyman’s mobility forum head, Andreas Nienhaus, told Europe’s largest tech conference, Lisbon’s Web Summit.
The consultancy used data from Estonian start-up Bolt, the micromobility, ride-hailing and delivery firm which launched in Talinn in 2013 and now has over 10 million users and operates in 80 cities and 20 countries worldwide.
With Bolt providing the data, the report’s positivity about shared mobility and its potential is perhaps no surprise either. But its findings are tempered by remarks that shared mobility solutions need careful planning and implementation too, if they are to increase access to efficient and flexible transport, and help keep down emissions, instead of adding to congestion and pollution and creating safety concerns.
Scooters here to stay?
The rapid growth of e-scooters especially, and a sense that they were introduced into urban environments without proper risk assessments and forward-thinking, have led to a huge rate of increase in accidents, as well as criticism that they do not really solve “first and last mile” problems and actually make life more difficult and unpleasant in urban spaces. Cities such as Paris and Brussels are reducing licences and even banning their use altogether.
But, with more than nine million people worldwide earning a living via shared mobility services in 2023, a figure set to grow to 16 million by 2030, it looks unlikely that shared mobility solutions will disappear. Rather, more appropriate regulation and shifts in consumer behaviour will see them better integrate with the overall urban transport menu in expanding cities around the world.