Reports / Reports

Catalyzing the New Mobility in Cities

Urban transportation is undergoing massive change and expansion, especially in the developing world. The rapid growth of cities is driving demand for better urban transportation and many cities are set to invest heavily in infrastructure. Unfortunately, the needs of low-income households are often overlooked in the selection, design, and service decisions related to these investments. According to the World Bank, urban public transportation systems disproportionately disadvantage the urban poor and vulnerable, especially in cities in the developing world.

Meanwhile, innovative business and service models are emerging that are disrupting the established transportation systems in cities by taking advantage of open data, the Internet and mobile telephony. Services such as bike share, ZipCar®, Waze®, Hopstop®, and Uber® are reducing consumption and reconfiguring the relationship between modes, users, and providers of transportation. These new approaches improve urban transportation by making it more efficient, dependable, and sustainable.

As Susan Zielinski of the University of Michigan’s SMART Initiative puts it, “Transportation is at a crossroads. In response to rapid urbanization, shifting demographics, and other pressing social, economic, and environmental factors, cities and regions are shifting investment dollars from single mode infrastructure to multi-mode, multi-service, IT-enabled door-to-door systems… innovations and opportunities (are going) beyond the bounds of the traditional transportation industry.”

Collectively referred to as the emerging New Mobility sector, this innovative industry sector provides a key opportunity to build more inclusive cities and more resilient communities.

Catalyzing the New Mobility in Cities is an exploratory effort focused on identifying innovative business and service models that are beneficial to the urban poor, both as users and providers of urban transportation.The primer briefly summarizes and showcases some of the hallmark innovations that are challenging the status quo in rapidly growing cities in the developing world.