The challenge

The need for change across the urban environment is undeniable. By 2040, there will be an extra two billion people living in cities globally and assuming current transport models are scaled, this will mean another 500 million private vehicles on the roads. Already, vehicle emissions are responsible for 11% of global warming and local air pollution is now a bigger source of ill health and deaths than tobacco use - with nine out of 10 people breathing highly polluted air globally, which causes one-third of all heart attacks, stroke, lung cancer and asthma cases.

Making all new cars zero-emission electric or hydrogen vehicles would improve air quality, reduce global warming and climate change impacts, but does nothing to ease traffic congestion. In the U.S. alone, 5,000km2 of land would be needed by 2040 just to park approximately 300 million cars for the 95% of the time they are unused – creating an immense pressure on land that cannot be sustained. What’s more, the cost of electric vehicles means private ownership for low to middle-income families is out of reach.

Additionally, COVID-19 has placed additional pressure to create sustainable mobility on three challenging areas; Insufficient funding for public transport; Prioritization of private over public offering; and Individuals choosing cars over public transport.

So how can we create a more sustainable U.S. mobility system? City agencies have a key role to play through funding and regulation, but find it difficult to navigate an increasingly uncertain, dynamic and constantly evolving system. Alongside this, companies new to transport can find it difficult to work effectively with public authorities in what is a unique regulatory environment.

That’s why the Transit Center and Forum for the Future worked in partnership to improve public transit in ways that make U.S. cities more just, environmentally sustainable, and economically vibrant.

While the COVID crisis impacted this work, affected by uncertainties in the mobility systems and its actors, plans had to be withdrawn. However, we are fortunate that early stages of work have provided research insights and assets for the Forum team to build from as we continue to adapt our work.

Our Solution

Together, the public and private sector will shape the future of urban mobility and the MOVING US project aims to enable key stakeholders across the system to identify their role in a changing landscape.

MOVING US will provide an understanding of how the system is changing, key roles and goals within that system, and how various stakeholders can best work both alone and alongside each other to create a more sustainable future.

We hosted two workshops in New York and Los Angeles as part of the research stage with the private and public sector, followed by a systemic analysis of how COVID-19 impacted mobility in cities - we examined how major cities around the world are tackling COVID through the lens of governance, technology and funding- as a result of these we identified three intervention areas:

Unusual Partnerships and Long-term Agility
How can we innovate and reduce complex procurement to develop adaptability and resiliency
Example: a sector-wide city partnership to test Universal Basic Mobility. 
Where is this being tried? Los Angeles, where the city is making sure that no matter where you live or how much money you make, you have access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation.

Regenerative regulation and New Governance 
How might we provide new structures for mobility to operate differently, to anticipate and guide innovation for the public good? 
Example: the opportunity lies with policy developers and city planners working together with communities to create regenerative cities and improve mobility. 
Where is this being tested? Pittsburgh is taking a bottom-up approach and engaging communities in new street solutions that offer to redesign the street favouring human traffic

Living in Motion
How might we move from car-centric city design to streets for all people? 
Example: the 15-minute city. The opportunity is to meet our needs shopping, work, recreational and cultural needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. 
Where is this being tested? Paris. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has doubled down on car-free transit and pedestrian infrastructure in the French Capital.

If you want to learn more about this work, please contact Rodrigo Bautista.

Contact Rodrigo

Who was involved