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311The New Mobility Environment - summary and example

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  • eric.britton@ecoplan.org
    Jun 28, 2004
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      Monday, June 28, 2004, Paris, France, Europe

      I have been contacted by phone this morning by several members of our group who have asked me to provide a bit more detail on what I have called the New Mobility Environment.  Kind thanks of the opportunity.  In the hope that it will help me make my point, let me offer these remarks in the context of what is going on in London today with their congestion charging program and other parts of their package.  In that context, it represents a sort of “what next” strategy (of which I am sure they have just about al the pieces well in hand).

      1.       Step 1 is to cut down on the presence of private cars through a three part strategy:

      a.       Continuous reductions in the amount of road space they can access (turning the rest that is thus liberated over to more efficient users… all such more efficient carriers and not just traditional buses and the usual);

      b.       Making drivers pay for the use of scarce public resources: road pricing and …

      c.       Strategic parking policy (still one of the most powerful car control tools we have and which we are still in most places greatly under-utilizing);

      2.       All three of these (and the rest by the way) are dynamic continuing processes with public understanding an approval (backed and sold through strong and imaginative leadership).  We are creating a New Moblity Environment deliberately, in stages and over time. In doing this there are two messages that we need to get through to all concerned, and then make happen.  The first is that this announced process gives citizens, industry and the rest time to adapt.  The second is the unremitting assurance that this pattern of change is going to be sustained over the longer term

      3.       Lovely.  This gives us a London with fewer cars, and more room for public transit to make their way through the streets on time.  But is that enough for a world city? (or for that matter for your city?)

      4.       No. We also need new forms of mobility to serve the city and its people and businesses at the needed high level of efficiency.  And as luck would have it we know a few things about them in advance.  Let me start with first handful:

      a.       First, they are going to be very different from just about everything that we presently know and use – which indeed is why we need them since the older approaches will be far from enough to supply the quality of transit that is needed in a city that works.

      b.       Then, they are gong to be many in number – in a city of the of London, maybe we should be thinking in terms of more than one hundred thousand, perhaps several hundred thousand such vehicles plying the streets at all times.  (I hope that number scares you or makes you laugh. Since that indeed is the scale that we need to be looking to.)

      c.       Moreover, they are not all going to be of a standard cut of cloth.  There will be many types and levels of service (and cost) offered.

      d.       And since they are decidedly different, there are inevitably going to be a very large number of barriers which will combine to keep them from coming into being – unless city government is able to find ways to target and override these obstacles to improvement.  (Of which we have seen some pretty interesting demonstrations in the case of resistance to the Congestion Charging project.)

      e.       These new services are going to be highly flexible, highly entrepreneurial and provide the means for offering high quality service but with flexible groups of people (and goods) on board and being services at all time.

      f.         And in this we can know that their logistics and communications content and level of sophistication is going to hold one of the key to their needed high performance.

      g.       Finally (for now), we are aware that this will be achievable only with the support of high levels of technical competence and active participation by those responsible for managing and planning the public infrastructure on which all these vehicles and service are going to move over.

      Of course all this is hardly new and certainly not anything that I can lay claim to.  But since I was asked to see if I could put some of the main pieces of the puzzle together this morning in a page or so, I have done that and hope that this will possibly be useful and inspire better ideas and comments than what you see here.


      Eric Britton


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