November 17, 2021

Why sustainable transportation is now more crucial than ever

Mobility is essential for social and economic activity, an engine for countries’ growth. But the way we shaped mobility in the past comes at great cost — it’s time to reshape it — by 2030 a massive change needs to take place.

The panel why sustainable transportation is now more crucial than ever was one of the most insightful panels of the WMS 2021. Our guests included: Silvia Fischer, Vice President Smart Mobility at FREE NOW; Doctor Maya Ben Dror, Project Lead Future of Mobility Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum; And Anders Wall, COO & Deputy CEO at Green mobility. To watch the full panel scroll down and press play. Or read the article for an overview.

Why it’s the right time for sustainable transportation

Besides the urgency of an emissions free world, now is the right time to transition to sustainable transportation. There was never as much awareness regarding the topic of sustainability and as much resources available to change the mobility industry.

It is a very good moment to shift paradigms

The pandemic showed us that everything is possible and gave us a sneak-peek into how our lives can look like. One of the takeaways is how we can repurpose public space in a way that is more welcoming for the community.

We have all kinds of technologies in our favor

Electric, connected, autonomous. If we put them together, we are probably able to reverse the prediction of 2.5 billion cars by 2050 and 4700 Mt of carbon in the atmosphere, from the mobility sector alone.

We’ve got more mobility options

In the past, it was obvious to have a car. Now people have efficient mobility options to choose from and are more conscious of which one they will pick and why. People are more aware. Although old habits still die hard.

Sustainable transportation is more convenient

Apps like FREE NOW allow the customer to use one single app to book different kinds of services. But there’s still a lot to be done, like integrating public transport options in mobility apps. Public transport makes up for 70% of the mobility behavior.

How can we support and motivate change

Our speakers discussed how the transition into sustainable transportation can be facilitated. From transforming habits to transforming cities, here are a few things that can motivate change and help the rise of sustainable mobility.

​​Giving subsidies to electric vehicles

We’ve seen many examples of EV subsidies all over the world. Although this led to a steep increase in EV production, it still is a way to support sustainable mobility and has motivated people to change their habits.

Giving subsidies to shared mobility

Picking up a total stranger on the way to work might seem out of the question to some. But with an incentive motivating people to share their private vehicles it might become more attractive.

I should be able to see what is the benefit for me to pick you up going to work. I can still buy my private vehicle but maybe I get 4 to 5 thousand euros if I use it for sharing.” Anders Wall, COO & Deputy CEO at Green mobility

Creating customer centric apps

Mobility apps are trying their best to have more customer centric features. By using smart data, apps can be more efficient and convenient for customers. Traffic and congestion data, for example, makes a huge impact on mobility choices.

“What you find in the app right now is already customer centric, you have all kinds of possibilities. We’re also currently working with external data on a weather forecast pilot.” Silvia Fischer, Vice President Smart Mobility at FREE NOW

Making life harder for gas car owners

We can make it more difficult to choose your gasoline car. Countries like Germany, Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, France, and Portugal, have done this by introducing zero emission zones.

“It’s an access issue. If you’re using a single person car, you’ll have less opportunity to reach your final destination with one mode of transport. People’s habits will change gradually if there is a specific street that has a certain regulation.” Anders Wall, COO & Deputy CEO at Green mobility

Providing data to customers

People may be more keen to choose sustainable mobility if they have more information about the impact of their choice. Such as, knowing how much CO2 each option emits. Especially if all options are as convenient and reasonably priced.

Providing data to cities

Cities can not regulate well without a feedback loop about what is the effect of their regulations. We have to encourage cooperation between the private and public sector by providing cities with more data — and asking them for data too.

“The world economic forum is trying to bring the public and private sector together to provide common grounds for sensible, consensus based actions. We have partners that will feed us with the right type of information so that we can actually make progress towards that end.” Doctor Maya Ben Dror, Project Lead Future of Mobility Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum

Not romanticizing private cars

We need to change mindsets. The dialogue around sustainability is more advanced in European countries, but in other places the private-owned car is still a symbol of freedom, while public transport is a symbol of unsuccessfulness.

Rethinking priorities

We need to see the most sustainable options on the top of every mobility app. We should not prioritize the fastest or the most cost efficient mobility option, but the most sustainable one.

Pricing in a way that reflects impact

In the near future, it might be possible to change the cost of mobility to reflect the actual environmental impact of each mobility option. It can be a good way to change people’s habits.

“Will take a lot of bravery, a lot of political will. It’s not very much aligned with how political decisions are made today. But when it happens it’s very important that we don’t reject it, as end users.” Doctor Maya Ben Dror, Project Lead Future of Mobility Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum

Working at the same pace

Different organs such as the private sector, the public sector and academia have different timings. It is important that we all work together at a faster pace, with the urgency that the sustainability topic demands.

Improving urban infrastructure

Every country needs to constantly improve their infrastructure with: good public transport, charging bases for EVs, parking regulations that benefit shared vehicles, repurposed public spaces, etc.

“In some places you have advantages and others you are almost frowned upon, they don’t like your service. It is something we do city by city trying to bring experiences, results and data of what we actually can provide to those cities.” Anders Wall, COO & Deputy CEO at Green mobility

Collaborating rather than competing

Mobility providers need to unite forces and collaborate with each other. There is too much competition among the private sector and the public sector that could be substituted with finding solutions together.

“We should stop this competitive mindset. Let’s have more openness, more calibration and provide more access to facilitate that transition.” Silvia Fischer, Vice President Smart Mobility at FREE NOW

Our panelists’ last appeal:

“I’m gonna ask each one of you and me myself as well - use these offers, go sustainably, go green, whenever you have the choice, take the right one.” - Silvia Fischer, Vice President Smart Mobility at FREE NOW

“I look at every transportation opportunity that I have walking out of my house as a journey, as a surprise. So I’m not going to go into a car, I don’t own a car. I’m just going to choose whatever I choose and exciting things will happen, I’ll meet new people… I welcome you to look at it that way too. Maybe that makes the choice easier.” Doctor Maya Ben Dror, Project Lead Future of Mobility Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum

“We can all agree that the goal is to create more sustainability. So it’s about doing it, acting on it, overcoming the roadblocks, the complications. We all are biased towards shared and sustainable mobility and we all have an obligation of spreading that word and sharing the experiences that we have.” Anders Wall, COO & Deputy CEO at Green mobility

Watch the full panel discussion:

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