- COVID-19 has paralyzed mobility systems, with a half of the world’s population in lockdown and changes to public transit services and private offerings changing rapidly.
- Mobilizing essential workers requires building real-time mobility service information flows.
- A new platform launched this week by Wunder Mobility in partnership with the World Economic Forum, Hertz Autovermietung, Allianz Automotive.
- It will integrate private, public and joint mobility services into a single search and outreach platform making it easier for essential workers to get to their jobs.
- Integrated mobility planning tools for users and operators can help systems cope with the current crisis and will be necessary for our future “new mobility normal”.
With half of the human population currently living under lockdown, COVID-19 forced a new normal upon us. To protect operators and users, public transportation systems around the world have reduced services, foregone fare collections, and in some cases, shut down entirely. Private transportation services not banned by from operation have seen a sharp drop in demand and a sharp shift to delivering food and goods.
This transformation exposed deficiencies across urban and suburban mobility systems that call for substantial changes in allocation of resources, space and costs on commute and deliveries. Perhaps more urgently, shifts in mobility supply and demand have put businesses in peril, widened socio-economic divides, and rolled back climate change mitigation policies and innovations.
Transparent real-time information on service availability can easily close some of these gaps. Such information, available to organizations that need to mobilize essential workers, can ensure our mobility systems can be resilient, safe, inclusive, responsive, and sustainable. This is why #WeAllMove, a mobility service match-making platform, was launched this week by Wunder Mobility in partnership with the World Economic Forum COVID Action Platform. The platform highlights the importance of leveraging multi-stakeholder collaboration across governments, providers, commuters and more.
Three threats to mobility systems
Coronavirus revealed and intensified three core vulnerabilities in mobility systems:
Societal: Peoples’ retail and recreation trips are down 85% in the UK, 70% in Germany, and 55% in California, according to a new Google mobility tracker. Traditional mobility systems are collapsing as utilization rates drop sharply and wipe out revenues, with many at a virtual standstill. Medical professionals, healthcare workers, and employees providing essential goods and services are just some of the commuters that need to keep moving safely and seamlessly for the sake of society.
Furthermore, one of four Americans cannot work from home. The collapse of access to safe mobility is deepening an already growing socio-economic divide. As we turn to a new decade, we must not lose sight of equity and fairness, priorities so important that they are counted among the United Nations’ 17 global sustainable development goals.
By making a variety of mobility options and needs visible to commuters (who might not own a vehicle), and mobility service providers, we may ensure that needed services are not disrupted. Connecting those groups can also reduce the number of people socio-economically affected by the outbreak and enable them to benefit from future mobility systems improvements (such as digitization, on-demand services, multimodality).
Economic: The outbreak placed many businesses which rely on the movement of goods or staff under foreclosure risks, contributing to already high rates of unemployment. Sadly, many of the businesses that revolutionized mobility aren’t guaranteed to survive this downturn. These companies helped transform the transport industry into more sustainable ecosystems with higher quality of service (leveraging information revolution applications, zero-emissions solutions, and autonomous technologies). Without demand and public support, it will take time for investors and innovators to continue to help build better, more inclusive and sustainable mobility systems.
Additionally, the coronavirus is taking a toll on regulations designed to drive technological improvement for a cleaner mobility ecosystem. This means that additional technological improvements would not be put into practice simply because of decreased margins in the immediate term.
By facilitating business engagements and creative new public-private partnerships, new mobility solutions would be able to not only survive but thrive. Efficient and effective collaboration could usher in human-centric mobility ecosystems.
Climate: The next grey rhino is one we have been studying carefully for half a century - climate change. And we know that passenger mobility is a major source of climate-inducing emissions, and cities have not yet shifted to demand-driven, cleaner, more sustainable mobility systems. The ability to move post-crisis without exacerbating mobility threats to the climate, while addressing health concerns, can only be addressed through an array of sustainable mobility alternatives.
Multimodality, seamlessly and affordably leveraging a range of options such as scooters, ridesharing and other solutions for single trips (or as part of a trip), is core to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By maintaining and linking a variety of mobility solutions, commutes and deliveries will become more efficient and emissions can be reduced three fold.
The role of collaboration and real-time information
#WeAllMove, launched this week, will consolidate information about a variety of mobility options available in any city, from mode share, to ride share and transit. The independent platform, co-hosted by mobility providers operating globally, will integrate private, public and joint mobility services into a single search and output engine, ensuring a better “new mobility normal” can be forged, regardless of the crisis ahead. By bringing public and private stakeholders together, the platform can ensure business continuity for an array of mobility providers, and help secure jobs and services that depend on mobility.
WeAllMove was initiated by a Global New Mobility Coalition member, in partnership with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, Hertz Autovermietung and Allianz Automotive. The platform is designed to spark ongoing collaboration that can expand, broaden and deepen its work towards a multimodal mobility service ecosystem. Mobility providers, private and public, as well as public and private commuters, researchers and NGOs are invited contribute ideas and solutions to the collaborative platform. Such contributions will make real-time information available from a variety of sources, helping to fight societal, economic and climate threats intensified by the outbreak.
Solutions like #WeAllMove ensure multiple groups can leverage mobility solutions to break down barriers and take collective action to aid in recovery. Only with an inclusive, iterative approach can we make sure that communities and mobility providers have the solutions they need to stay nimble and keep moving forward.