Dec 5, 2019

Why Asian cities have the edge on revamping transportation

People cycle before the city skyline on a hazy day in Singapore in September. Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images.

A handful of cities in Asia are ahead when it comes to preparing for and implementing the next-generation of mobility — ranging from autonomous vehicles, electrification, shared car fleets and multimodal platforms.

Why it matters: People are cramming into cities around the globe, leading to congestion and denser development. That means personal vehicles are getting pushed aside for more efficient and sustainable modes of transportation.

  • Five cities — Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul — ranked in the top 10 of the Urban Mobility Readiness Index compiled by Oliver Wyman Forum and the University of California, Berkeley.
  • European cities — Amsterdam, London, Helsinki and Berlin — are also showing progress, per the report.

Singapore gets high marks in terms of innovation by collaborating with academia and businesses, nurturing a "tech hub" attracting mobility startups and supporting smart-city experiments in autonomous vehicles and traffic management.

Hong Kong ranked first in terms of social impact — thanks to its high utilization of mass transit, which accounts for 88% of the city's transportation.

Beijing got the top spot in terms of "market attractiveness," due to the sizable government investments in public transportation, new energy and logistics industries — and developing its ride-hailing and vehicle-sharing through well-funded startups.

Seoul, while not the top scorer in any category, ranked in the top 10 in four out of five categories — the highest being infrastructure, such as walkability and density of public transit stations.

Tokyo ranks high in efficiency, meaning its public transportation system is highly reliable, well-run and affordable while the city prioritizes modes other than cars by providing bicycle and bus lanes.

"Cities score high not just because their subways run on time, but because they have established a pattern of policymaking and investing in mass transit that ensures incorporation of innovations over time."
— Oliver Wyman Forum's Urban Mobility Readiness Index

The bottom line: Chinese cities have benefited from the country's aggressive encouragement of electric car use and other centralized infrastructure policies.

Go deeper: How the future of mobility could impact the environment

Go deeper

Los Angeles launches low-carbon transportation plan

Data: International Council on Clean Transportation; Chart: Axios Visuals

Los Angeles officials and partners launched a low-carbon transportation plan that's aimed, among other things, at having electric vehicles account for 80% of vehicles sold and 30% of vehicles on the road in 2028.

Why it matters: The "roadmap" unveiled last week is the latest effort among major cities to move toward more climate-friendly transit options.

Go deeperArrowDec 2, 2019

Self-driving shuttle company May Mobility gets a $50 million lift from Toyota

May Mobility's Little Roady shuttle in Providence, Rhode Island. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

May Mobility, a self-driving electric shuttle company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., just raised $50 million in a Series B financing round led by Toyota.

Why it matters: The vote of confidence is more than financial. Toyota has also selected May Mobility as one of its partners to develop autonomous transportation-as-a-service for future mobility platforms.

Go deeperArrowDec 6, 2019

The Smart American city

Congressional Smart Cities Caucus co-chairs Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) in coversation with Axios' Kim Hart. Photo: Jeff Snyder for Axios

On Tuesday evening, Axios Cities Correspondent Kim Hart hosted a series of one-on-one conversations to discuss the future of smart cities, highlighting technology like AI and IoT.

Jeff Marootian, Director, District Department of Transportation

Director of the District Department of Transportation, Jeff Marootian, discussed how transit in Washington, D.C. has changed in the past ten years, and how the advent of ride-sharing apps has put pressure on the curbside.

  • How cities are fundamentally reimagining how the curbside works: "[D.C.] recently finished a pilot program with a curbside reservation system which allows for commercial delivery drivers to reserve curbside access so they don't have to circle around a block in order to find a place to pull over, to make a delivery or to do a food pickup.
  • On looking for creative solutions at the DDOT: "We have a great opportunity to reimagine our infrastructure. We know that the technology alone isn't going to get us there and the infrastructure alone isn't gonna get us there. It's really the marriage of those two things."
Hicham Abdessamad, Chief Executive, Global Social Innovation Business, Hitachi, Ltd. and Chairman of the Board, Hitachi America, Ltd.

In our View From the Top segment, Hicham Abdessamad sat down with Axios Executive Vice President Evan Ryan to discuss leveraging available data in cities to solve big problems around congestion. He highlighted the success of a recent initiative in Tequila, Mexico, which tracked the flow of people in and around the city center.

  • On looking at the big picture: "It's not really about smart cities. It's about solving big problems."
  • On utilizing available data to create smart cities: "We don't have the luxury to build cities from scratch all day. Countries around the world do that. So how do you retrofit or how do you leverage what's already out there to basically look at the problem and solve it in a different way?"
Kim Nelson, Executive Director, State and Local Government Solutions, Microsoft

Executive Director of State and Local Government Solutions at Microsoft, Kim Nelson, discussed the challenges for cities of all sizes to figure out what their top priorities are for leveraging technology, both in the short and long term.

  • On what catalyzes change: "Sometimes it's just an event that actually grabs a city, a leader or a mayor, and says it's time for us to do something about it...Houston is a great example. In the aftermath of [Hurricane Harvey], the mayor soon realized into his term that city wasn't nearly as resilient as it needed to be. And that started the conversation. "
  • On what it means to be a smart city: "Smart isn't simply about the technology. It's not about just the infrastructure, the sensors or the hardware. Being smart is about having the information."
Rep. Yvette Clarke and Rep. Susan Brooks, Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities Co-chairs

Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities Co-chairs Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) took the stage together to discuss constituents' priorities around access, cybersecurity, and privacy as cities continue to get smarter.

Rep. Yvette Clarke

  • On converting phone booths into wi-fi kiosks: "It's nowhere near what it needs to be in terms of being ubiquitous throughout the city of New York. But we know that the infrastructure and the commitment is there. And that commitment and investment has yielded dividends already."

Rep. Susan Brooks

  • On preparing the workforce of the future, particularly around cybersecurity: "We have to invest in those strategies at all levels of education, whether it's the teams in schools, whether it's coding camps, whether it's certification programs. We've got to think very differently about higher education and about how we are ensuring that everybody is ready for what is coming."

Thank you Hitachi for sponsoring this event.

Keep ReadingArrowDec 12, 2019