Shared mobility for liveable cities

Cape Town - The share of urban traffic in total carbon and pollutant emissions is high and the long lifespan of cars limits emission reductions via new technology, according to a report by the International Transport Forum (ITF).

In a briefing on the new report José Viegas, secretary general of the ITF, said heavy congestion in urban areas cannot be addressed by building more infrastructure.

"New roads only lead to new traffic," he explained.

The usual focus of transport planning has been on saving time and being able to move faster, yet, the real objective should be good and equitable access to jobs, public services and social interaction for all citizens, he added.

Based on data from Lisbon, the ITF simulated a city in which there are no private cars; no conventional buses with fixed routes and timetables; a metro system provides high-capacity transport; and shared, on-demand taxis and taxi buses provide end-to-end mobility.

The simulation found that tariffs required would be about a third of current prices for taxis and public transport - without a subsidy. The break-even distance of shared taxi compared to a private car would be 50km/day for a small car and 98km/day for a mid-sized car.

There will also be much faster fleet renewal, given the great distances covered by each vehicle. The average was found to be 264km/day for shared taxis.

There would also be a further reduction of car use likely with the improvement of walking and cycling conditions in the city.

The report found that what would be needed would be a central dispatch centre, optimised assignments and routings. The dominant mode across the whole day must be the shared taxi, with a market share of 40% to 50% - similar to a private car today.

Some taxi bus trips - about 25% - must be upgraded to shared taxis when this is found to be more efficient for the supply. There must be no private cars or buses used, just the metro, shared taxis and taxi buses.

During a transition period, car access in the city centre should be limited to two days per week.

The ITF planns to test its model with data from five additional cities.

The report concludes that one can have the same mobility with less than 3% of today’s cars. Traffic emissions can be reduced by a third without having to use new technology.

Congestion disappears and there is no more public space needed for car parking. Access to jobs, health services, education improves dramatically and better technology is implemented sooner as cars are used more and replaced sooner.

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