Far beyond the idea of mobility associated with transportation, we have to put together aspects such as urban planning, sustainability, technology, safety, and health when discussing urban mobility. All these are factors that interfere with habits and consumption trends and are intrinsically linked to the way we commute, especially nowadays. After all, the pandemic caused a deep social impact, which will not take us back to where we were before it started.
The urban mobility agenda is so urgent and relevant not only because everyone commutes, but also because of the huge impact on the global economy, which depends on transporting goods and people to keep pace. According to data from the Oliver Wyman Forum, by 2030, the global mobility market will grow by 75% from $14.9 trillion in 2017 to $26.6 trillion in 2030.
On the highways, we observe the demand for new solutions that positively impact the vehicle’s flow. The automatic toll voucher, for example, was a bold change and has been transforming the sector, as people save time with a fast and contactless payment method. Also gaining importance is the free flow toll system, in which the toll is charged proportionally to the travel distance, eliminating toll collection plazas. By allowing vehicles to circulate without stops, the modality brings operational and safety benefits. At the same time, it can change the financial balance of new road concessions by increasing revenues, reducing costs, and avoiding evasion.
There are challenges, for sure. In Brazil, payments in automatic tickets account for 53%, while toll payments in manual booths account for 47% of the total, but this data does not reflect the reality of the country, being influenced by São Paulo, where the proportion is 70% automatic payments and 30% manual. There are discussions about what technology may be adopted for the model to work in its fullness, whether by optical character recognition (OCR), tags, or mobile solution by geolocation. It is known, however, that the tag technology, besides proving to be more precise, already has a growing installed base in the country. In the state of São Paulo, there are three free flow projects being tested: in the cities of Campinas, Jundiaí, and Mogi Mirim, and some new road concessions should already start operations with the new model.
In the cities, technology has driven the development of all kinds of mobility solutions, from smart parking spaces to automatic payment for drive-thru, among others. We have increasingly user-friendly apps, with facilities that range from supporting truck drivers in solving work-related bureaucracies to geolocation technologies that trace bus routes and help citizens make route decisions.
The solutions don’t necessarily need to be made possible by means of super-complex technologies or extravagant products. We have shared mobility initiatives that, although affected by the pandemic, have a huge potential, as many successful cases in Brazil of bike and car-sharing startups.
Another emerging trend is pay-per-use services, in line with the MaaS proposal, in which the emphasis is on usage rather than ownership. The benefits are many: price, convenience, time, and ease, besides taking the responsibility for the bureaucratic part away from the consumer. A great example is vehicle subscriptions: the entire process, from maintenance to resale, is the responsibility of the company. There are also several opportunities for partnerships to add value and functionality to the final product, such as subscription services that already bring cars with toll tags, such as the partnership between Ford and Veloe.
We also have electric cars on the rise. Several car brands already sell electric vehicles and expect to see this volume grow, especially in China, considered the most promising market, which is investing heavily in subsidies and manufacturing capacity. In Brazil we are still crawling: electric vehicles account for 0.04% of total sales. According to the Energy Research Company, the forecast is that 10% to 15% of the Brazilian fleet will be electric in 2050 – while the target for the world is 60% in the same year.
Micro-mobility is also important, and until recently it was unthinkable that bicycles and scooters, for example, could coexist with motorized vehicles. Only in China, about 700 million trips per day were made on e-bikes and e-scooters in 2020, according to consulting firm WSGN. Here in Brazil, if in 2020 the bicycle market experienced a great moment, the first half of 2021 shows that the segment is still booming: the country reported an average 34.17% increase in bike sales compared to the same period last year, according to data from Aliança Bike (Brazilian Association of the Bicycle Sector).
The data and the facts show that the consumer is increasingly looking for more fluid mobility and wants to be able to choose how to commute. We need to stimulate discussion on how cities must be prepared for a new cycle of mobility to improve the lives of their citizens, who want to move around with agility, safety, economy, and as much comfort as possible.
(Translated by Carolina Pompeo)