Micromobility and Electric Transport: The Future of City Transit

Urban transportation is undergoing a revolution driven by emerging micromobility options and electric vehicles. As cities face increasing congestion, pollution, and space constraints, smaller shared mobility modes like e-scooters, e-bikes, and electric mopeds promise efficient and sustainable urban transit. Combined with electric cars, buses, and potentially even flying taxis, cities are reimagining mobility around compact electric transport.

The Rise of Shared Micro Mobility

Shared micromobility refers to small, lightweight vehicles designed for short point-to-point urban trips accessed through shared services. This includes:

E-Scooters and E-Bikes

Electric kick scooters and bicycles offer quick, affordable first and last-mile transportation. Users can locate and unlock vehicles via apps and pay per minute of use. Many major cities have adopted scooter and bike share programs from companies like Bird, Lime, Uber, and Lyft.

Electric Mopeds and Motorcycles

Heavier and faster electric mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles are also entering urban share programs. These bridge the gap between micromobility and traditional transit for intermediate-length trips of a few miles.

Opportunities and Challenges

Shared micromobility provides convenient access without ownership. However policies are still adapting to manage factors like sidewalk clutter, parking, and ridership data sharing. Regulations combined with business model evolution could enable smoother adoption.

Electrifying Public and Private Transportation

City governments, transit agencies, and vehicle manufacturers are also racing to electrify public transportation and passenger vehicles.

Buses and Trains

Transit authorities are actively replacing diesel buses and trains with electric models to save costs and meet sustainability goals by 2030 or earlier. Electric buses now serve many major cities in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Electric Cars

Bloomberg forecasts over 500 models of electric cars by 2022 as batteries improve and costs drop. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have pledged to transition to all-electric fleets in American cities in the coming decade. This promises cleaner air and reduced noise pollution.

Taxis and Delivery Vehicles

Taxis and delivery vans are going electric to reduce fuel expenses for drivers. New York City, London, and Shanghai aim to electrify their vast taxi systems by 2030. Electric vans and trucks are also beginning to displace diesel last-mile delivery vehicles.

The Role of Self-Driving Vehicles

As autonomous vehicle technology matures over the next decade, self-driving electric pod cars, shuttles and trucks could fundamentally alter transportation.

Potential Benefits

With smart routing and applied AI, self-driving electric vehicles could drastically reduce congestion and energy use across cities. Some startups are even designing small electric-powered aircraft for local deliveries and commuting.

Challenges to Adoption

Despite promising prototypes, fully autonomous passenger vehicles still face perception, infrastructure, policy and safety barriers to mainstream adoption in dense variable urban settings. Smart cities may first employ autonomous electric shuttles and drone deliveries in simple controlled environments like office parks or university campuses.

The Future of Sustainable City Infrastructure

Electrification, autonomy and mobility as a service are redefining urban mobility. Yet infrastructure and policies must also adapt to realize a greener, less congested future.

Curbside Management

With the growth of passengers, delivery traffic, and new micromobility vehicles, cities like Los Angeles and Seattle are redesigning curbs for flexible pick-up and drop-off zones. Smart pricing, permissions and compatible infrastructure are critical to optimize precious curb space.

EV Charging Networks

Convenient electric charging facilities enable and encourage EV adoption. Charging stations are expanding rapidly around cities via government initiatives like the EU’s Green City Accord and private networks from Volkswagen, Tesla and others aiming to blanket urban and suburban areas.

Open Data Ecosystems

Experts urge cities to manage mobility data access to promote innovation. Optimized traffic flow, accurate arrival times, and integrated trip planning rely on sharing reliable mobility data across private vendors and city platforms. With sound data governance, mobility ecosystems can flourish.

Micromobility, electrification, autonomy and data-sharing will profoundly reshape urban centers. Sustainable mobility modes can make the world’s metro areas cleaner and more livable. But technology and business innovations must drive in tandem with infrastructure upgrades and supportive mobility policies to fully deliver on the promise.