Smart Transport

What lockdown tells us about ‘old’ and ‘new’ mobility

Iwan Parry

With its London-based Smart Mobility Living Lab the UK is well placed to lead on the introduction of new mobility platforms, says TRL’s Iwan Parry (pictured)

As I write, most of us are in isolation, working from home looking at empty streets, buses and trains.

It's an opportunity for us in the transport industry to pause for thought and consider the implications of our situation on the future of mobility and the societal benefits they deliver.

Humans are social creatures and we are quickly learning that our need for interaction goes far beyond that which our electronics and communications systems can provide.

With our freedom to move and interact with wider society so limited, we cannot fail to see that a healthy human society is a mobile one. 

With the lockdown imposing isolation, frustration, and an inability to easily access amenities, we are collectively experiencing the daily realities of those without easy access to mobility.

For many, an end to lockdown will only go a small way to alleviating the practical and wellbeing challenges that the isolation of our inflexible and unadaptable transport systems impose. 

Moving beyond the current crisis, therefore, we must recognise that ending lockdown and reopening transport networks is not the full picture.

We should learn from our experience and ensure that old and new mobility systems adapt, enabled by a new sense of purpose to physically connect, support and build our communities. 

The Covid-19 crisis is undoubtedly going to change attitudes to public transport – especially when it comes to commuting.

With many of us isolating at home, there has been a significant overall reduction in public transport use.

For transport providers, this has meant learning how to provide an essential service with a reduced workforce and lower demand.

Many of our key workers wouldn’t be able to access their places of work and carry out their vital roles without public transport.

With each journey they must deal with the uncertainty of risk, safety and service levels. 

The plight of our key workers got us thinking about the links between coronavirus and connected mobility.

Seeing how key workers have had to navigate mobility issues during this difficult time made us wonder how future generations will have to respond to fluctuations in demand for travel.

Transport is a derived demand, but it’s so crucial for a healthy society.

So, while we have a moment to pause, we should be investing considered thought into what we want from future mobility solutions.

Read Iwan Parry's full article on mobility platforms from Smart Transport Journal


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