THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY AND MENA CONGRESS: ARTHUR D. LITTLE’S FRANCOIS-JOSEPH VANAUDENHOVE AND RALF BARON SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS


UITP always has something to say on the future of mobility. 

Whether that’s a published report or an official event, we are always interested in what will come next for public transport and mobility.

As we recently contributed to the Future of Mobility 3.0 Report – ‘Reinventing mobility in the era of disruption and creativity’ with Arthur D. Little, and also recently concluded our MENA Transport Congress & Exhibition (23–25 April) in Dubai, we thought this would be a great time to sit down with two of the consultancy’s partners, Francois-Joseph VanAudenhove, Head of Arthur D. Little’s Future of Mobility Lab, with whom we worked on the report, and Ralf Baron, Global Head of Transportation, who discussed mobility on the plenary session ‘Public Transport Into The Future’ during our MENA Congress.

Arthur D. Little worked with UITP on the The Future of Mobility 3.0 study, which shed light on the mobility landscape and the challenges going forward. What are, in your views, key challenges of future mobility ecosystems?

François-Joseph: Customers’ expectations for fast, reliable, convenient and individualised mobility solutions are rising as fast as the mix of transport modes and services offered to them. Major technological developments, including big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and the emergence of new, compact forms of energy, have thrown up a range of new mobility options.

Current trends and new mobility solutions may lead to very different mobility ecosystems in the future. This evolution triggers a number of opportunities, but also presents key challenges for transport authorities and mobility solution providers.

It is crucial for cities to anticipate, innovate and transform. What are strategic directions for cities to foster development of superior mobility systems?

François-Joseph: Several cities, even some of the most mature ones, do not yet have clear visions of what their mobility systems should look like in the future and coherent strategies for getting there. In addition, management of urban mobility still often operates in environments that are fragmented and hostile to innovation, and an increased level of collaboration is required between public and private mobility stakeholders.

In order to address future mobility challenges, cities and mobility solutions providers must adopt a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to manage mobility supply and move towards a more proactive approach to demand mobility management so they can better influence behaviours in space and time. The mobility systems of tomorrow should be intermodal, personalised, convenient and connected, and encourage the use of more sustainable modes of transport, while integrating new mobility solutions such as autonomous vehicles (AVs).

Ralf: The ability for authorities and operators to anticipate future trends is, indeed, critical to challenging the robustness of current business models and questioning whether future evolutions are being correctly foreseen. On this basis, innovation can happen through the definition of clear visions and identifying new business models and solutions, with a view to reinventing itself in the 'new mobility' ecosystem, while also improving the classical business and operating model.

innovation can happen through the definition of clear visions and identifying new business models

Ralf, you participated in the plenary session: ‘Public Transport into the Future’ on the final day of our MENA Congress. The session discussed, among other subjects, mobility and how Dubai may look in the next few decades. Would you give our readers insight into the Arthur D. Little view on how cities such as Dubai are currently tackling the mobility challenge?

Ralf: It was a pleasure for me to participate in this plenary session with panellists representing some of the key companies driving innovation in the sector, and I felt the exchanges were very rich.

By capturing emerging transport infrastructure and technologies, innovation-minded cities such as Singapore, Dubai and London (to name a few) have the opportunity to become test beds for some of the solutions that will shape urban mobility systems of tomorrow.

The Dubai Future Accelerators program, launched by the city in 2016 under the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, is an excellent example of how new technologies and opportunities can be embraced. It is a unique programme for cutting-edge entrepreneurs, in partnership with the government of Dubai, to use the city as a living test bed for creating solutions to the global challenges of tomorrow. The goal that was set in that context by the emirate – that, by 2030, 25 percent of all trips in Dubai would be driverless – is very ambitious, and we are delighted to support Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority in driving this strategy. You can expect that the fruits of Dubai’s autonomous mobility strategy will be visible in the near future!

The third edition of the Future of Mobility study arrived at 12 strategic imperatives for mobility solution operators to consider when defining their visions and strategies going forward. Can you tell our readers more about this?

François-Joseph: In our study we identified, together with UITP, five key dimensions for mobility solution providers to consider in order to differentiate themselves and stay relevant within extended mobility ecosystems:

1. Sense of purpose: Defining a sense of purpose (or “reason to exist”) by reviewing mission statements, brand platform and values, in order to secure differentiation in the marketplace.

2. Customer experience: Increasing attractiveness and transforming customers into fans by better understanding mobility behaviours and customer needs; developing a superior customer experience across all touch points along the end-to-end journey; and a customer-centric commercial offering which takes into account differentiated customer needs.

3. Operational excellence: Maximising utilisation of assets and improving effectiveness and efficiency of all functions across the value chain through effective long-term capex planning; designing and operating future-proof transport and maintenance plans; and selectively implementing opportunities via innovation and digital technologies.

4. Ecosystem integration: Providing consumers with flexible, efficient, integrated and user-oriented mobility services through developing integrated mobility visions and transport plans, and implementing the concept of mobility-as-a-service to trigger a move from personal ownership towards usage of integrated transportation solutions.

5. Transformation: Successfully managing the company transformation in terms of leadership, culture, organisation and talent management to remain competitive in the short term and relevant in the long term – a shift that involves willingness to embark on a journey from the 'era of productivity' to the 'era of creativity'.

In the study, we elaborate further on those dimensions and detail 12 imperatives for mobility solutions providers to consider when defining their sustainable visions and strategies.

The solution for the future is an interconnected, multimodal mobility system with increased convenience and efficiency

Our Congress programme contained detailed discussions on everything from flying vehicles to big data and artificial intelligence. After an international event such as this, what needs to be the next step for mobility innovation on a global platform?

François-Joseph: The solution for the future is an interconnected, multimodal mobility system with increased convenience and efficiency, tailored to the city’s growth project and balancing economic development and well-being. Convergence through digitalisation constitutes a major opportunity to reinvent mobility systems as they gradually evolve to embrace mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), moving from the ownership of individual transport modes towards usage of multiple mobility modes as services. The role of public transport authorities is critical here in order to pre-empt the right MaaS market evolution scenario and set the appropriate governance for successful MaaS deployment, benefiting mobility as a whole.

Ralf: I can’t agree more. Legislation has to be introduced to drive sustainable change at all levels, and it is expected to play an important role in creating the required framework for the sound introduction of new mobility solutions and ensuring these will positively contribute to reaching the optimum system level. Appropriate regulation and incentives are also critical drivers to foster sustainable innovation.

Note: the full Future of Mobility 3.0 study can be accessed at www.adl.com/futuremobilitylab