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Author: Susan Zielinski
We are on the verge of a transformation in urban transportation called New Mobility.
In a classic 1950s photograph, a scientific looking man in a light suit is dwarfed by a mammoth mainframe computer he’s programming. It is unlikely that the idea of a “nanopod” would have entered his mind, let alone mesh networking, GIS, or “Googling.” He wouldn’t have conceived of the connectivity that a mere half-century later has brought these elements together, transformed the world, and evolved into one of the fastest growing, most pervasive global industries.
Today, we are on the cusp of a comparable transformation for cities called New Mobility. Accelerated by the emergence of new fuel and vehicle technologies; new information technologies; flexible and differentiated transportation modes, services, and products; innovative land use and urban design; and new business models, collaborative partnerships are being initiated in a variety of ways to address the growing challenges of urban transportation and to provide a basis for a vital New Mobility industry (MTE and ICF, 2002).
An early and very successful example of integrated innovation in New Mobility is the Hong Kong Octopus system, which links multiple transit services, ferries, parking, service stations, access control, and retail outlets and rewards via an affordable, contactless, stored-value smart card. The entire system is designed and engineered to support seamless, sustainable door-to-door trips (Octopus, 2006).
A more recent innovation, referred to as New Mobility hub networks, began in Bremen, Germany, and is evolving and spreading to a number of other European cities, as well as to Toronto, Canada (Figure 1). New Mobility hubs connect a variety of sustainable modes of transportation and services through a network of physical locations or “mobile points” throughout a city or region, physically and electronically linking the elements necessary for a seamless, integrated, sustainable door-to-door urban trip (MTE, 2004). Hubs are practical for cities in the developed or developing world because they can be customized to fit local needs, resources, and aspirations. Hubs can link and support a variety of diverse elements: