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The shape of things to come: Experts on future transport in 2017

Category: Insight & Vision
Published: 26/01/2017

2016 was a breakthrough year for future transport and mobility. Among many other developments, car giants embraced new approaches to movement, magazines expanded their editorial remit to factor in this emerging industry, and a myriad of companies focused on delivering insight into transport.

Will 2017 be just as transformative as the previous 12 months? We asked a range of transportation experts to tell us their predictions on future transport for the year ahead.

Data connectivity

Warwick Goodall, director of transport technology at Deloitte UK and author of Transport in the Digital Age

Everywhere we move, we generate breadcrumbs of data – in booking tickets, driving to the station, boarding the train, taking a taxi. This data is the thread that brings together all the components of our personal journey, across different types of travel and public and private operators.

Many traditional transport companies now realise that their asset is data and are forming innovative new partnerships to use data to personalise journeys

In 2017, I envisage a turning point in the way customer data is used and shared. Many traditional transport companies [like rail operators] now realise that their asset is data and are forming innovative new partnerships to use data to personalise journeys.

In automotive, I am seeing leading manufacturers of the connected car rethink how they architect the technology in cars to harvest new data, allowing them to rapidly build new services.

The value chain of the end-to-end personal journey is complex, and no single player has the full picture. This year we’ll see a trend for transport providers and startups to work together on commercial ways to share and monetise data, creating new services that will unlock the value of mobility for users.

Smart cities and fewer car journeys


Smart city Songdo at night

Hank Dittmar, director of Hank Dittmar Associates and author of Transport and Neighbourhoods

In 2017, we will realise the smart city is already here, and it will lie in the smartphones we use daily, rather than centrally programmed networks.  

The smart city is made of platforms providing real-time information and services to empowered individuals for transport (public transport and cycling, as well as Uber), for services and goods, and for making the most of our city’s neighbourhoods (mapping, checking in and meeting up).  

Going electric

Electric car charging

Demand for electric vehicles is increasing

Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee

It is encouraging to see an increase in demand for electric vehicles in the UK, with new registrations of plug-in cars increasing from 3,500 in 2013 to around 85,000.

However, we are still in the foothills of a huge mountain to climb. Practical considerations about how electric charging points operate still need to be addressed and charging fee issues need to be quickly tackled.

Integration and convergence

Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research

2017 will continue an ongoing trend toward greater multimodality and use of on-demand modes and mobile technologies, such as smartphone apps to route, reserve, and pay for public and private transportation modes. Rather than making decisions between modes, consumers will make decisions among modes. 

2017 will see an ongoing trend toward greater multimodality and use of mobile technologies

Automakers and mobility operators will continue toward the development and convergence of on-demand shared mobility options, automation, and electric drive technology. Vehicles will retain their fundamental importance, but this convergence will significantly change our relationship with them. 

Courier network services – apps that provide for-hire delivery services – are also beginning to reshape the urban goods movement, not only changing how people get around but also how they engage in commerce. 

Mobility as a Service

Mark Ruddy, COO of Transport Systems Catapult

2017 will see Mobility as a Service (MaaS) become a hot topic. Through a MaaS platform, mobility solutions would be purchased as monthly or annual bundles – ‘miles of mobility on demand’  – rather than tickets for individual journeys. Major manufacturers are investing in this space.

2017 will see MaaS become a hot topic

Seamless data integration

Joe Chung, co-founder and CTO of Redstar Ventures

The most important transportation trend for 2017 is data integration between previously disparate transportation systems. Each mode of transportation – rail, air, private car, subway, livery, and so on – has up to now existed within its self-contained data bubble.

Now, empowered decision-makers are pushing to seamlessly cross these systems depending on their needs and whims, creating demand for data transparency and exchange.

Governments are finally investing in open APIs for public resources like roads, rights of way, parking, and licensing, which underpin all transportation systems. Data integration and open APIs will transform how people get around.

Blurring the boundaries between public and private

Steve Cassidy, managing director of Viaqqio Ltd

The UK transport industry is on the edge of a fundamental shift to an integrated service economy. The lines between passenger and private transport will become increasingly blurred.

There is still a need for infrastructure spending, but the focus needs to be on getting the most from that infrastructure, managing demand and pulling the whole system together to satisfy existing users and retain new ones.

The mobility service subscription economy will consign the term ‘public transport’ to the history books

Transport must move to the subscription economy. With the right package of transport at the right price, combined with personalised support, the mobility service subscription economy will consign the term ‘public transport’ to the history books.

Return to the countryside

Country lane

Marko Guček, CEO and co-founder of GoOpti

As central hubs become more congested, and as technology evolves at a pace, more people are choosing to live and work away from urban hubs.

By the end of next year, we’ll have felt, rather than just observed, the greener travel movement take hold

An increasingly remote workforce means we’ll start to see a distinct shift in not just urban, but rural mobility.

In the old days, this would have meant that the personal car would have been relied upon more heavily. These days it means smarter ride-sharing, pooling mechanisms and schemes that seek to optimise the vehicle’s use, reduce travelling costs and reduce overall C02 environmental impact.  

By the end of next year, we’ll have felt, rather than just observed, the greener travel movement take hold.

Active travel

Ben Rogers, director of the Centre for London

Active travel will dominate the agenda in London. Mayor Sadiq Khan’s next London Plan, due for release later this year, will shape policy direction for the management of London’s roads and streets. 

Cycling has taken off in London, in part because policy has encouraged it. But the next iteration of the London plan will place even more focus on cycling and a new emphasis on encouraging walking. 

The Centre for London is setting up a Commission on the Future of London’s Roads and Streets for 2017. It will examine how the capital can best manage the conflicting pressures on its roads and streets, and tackle problems of congestion, pollution, affordability and road safety besetting London’s surface transport system.

The year of the cyclist

Pair of cyclists in city

Vince Cifani, founder and CEO of Joyride

We’re seeing more and more cities interested in building integrated cycling infrastructure to get more citizens cycling and feeling safe.

With the recent commitment of £770 million on cycling initiatives from the Mayor of London, 2017 will be the year of the cyclist

More cycling means less money spent on healthcare and more money spent in the economy.

Mobility innovation

Martyn Briggs, industry principal, mobility, at Frost & Sullivan

2017 will see a more effective convergence of mobility services. Several companies are using new technology and platforms – such as RideCell – to offer several mobility services such as car-sharing, ride-hailing, and ride-sharing through a single platform.

We expect more pilots by cities and private mobility providers to deliver Mobility as a Service solutions in urban areas; in particular, linking public and private transport services, and optimising their networks with minimal additional investment.

We expect to see more investments, more partnerships, and new mobility brands from OEMs, such as InMotion

City authorities are becoming far more important in the mobility decision-making process. They will dictate future policies such as emissions and private car restrictions, as well as frameworks/tenders for new mobility services.

All global vehicle manufacturers are transforming themselves to become mobility service providers in the long term. We expect to see in 2017 more investments, more partnerships, and new mobility brands from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), such as InMotion.

Finally, trials of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and the formation of partnerships happen every day. In 2017 we expect to see a combination of the demand responsive transport (DRT) services, new shuttle services, and city-backed pilots for AVs.

What major transport trends do you see happening in 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.