How Can Autonomous and Connected Vehicles,
Electromobility, BRT, Hyperloop, Shared Use
Mobility and Mobility-As-A-Service Shape Transport
Futures for the Context of Smart Cities?
Alexandros Nikitas 1, *, Ioannis Kougias 1,2 ID , Elena Alyavina 1and Eric Njoya Tchouamou 1
1Department of Logistics, Operations, Hospitality and Marketing, Huddersﬁeld Business School,
University of Huddersﬁeld, HD1 3DH Huddersﬁeld, UK; Ioannis.Kougias@ec.europa.eu (I.K.);
Elena.Alyavina@hud.ac.uk (E.A.); E.Njoya@hud.ac.uk (E.N.T.)
2European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Directorate for Energy, Transport and Climate,
Energy Efﬁciency and Renewables Unit, 21027 Ispra, Italy
*Correspondence: A.Nikitas@hud.ac.uk; Tel.: +44-1484-471-815
Received: 24 October 2017; Accepted: 28 November 2017; Published: 30 November 2017
A smarter transport system that caters for social, economic and environmental sustainability
is arguably one of the most critical prerequisites for creating pathways to more livable urban futures.
This paper aims to provide a state-of-the-art analysis of a selection of mobility initiatives that may
dictate the future of urban transportation and make cities smarter. These are mechanisms either
recently introduced with encouraging uptake so far and much greater potential to contribute in a
shift to a better transport paradigm or still in an embryonic stage of their development and yet to be
embraced as powerful mechanisms that could change travel behaviour norms. Autonomous and
connected vehicles are set to revolutionise the urban landscape by allowing machines to take over
driving that for over a century has been exclusively a human activity, while electrical vehicles are
already helping decarbonising the transport sector. Bus rapid transit has been steadily reinventing
and rebranding conventional bus services revitalising the use of the humblest form of public
transport, while hyperloop is an entirely new, disruptive, and somewhat provocative, travel mode
proposition based on the use of sealed tube systems through which pods could travel free of air
resistance with speeds exceeding 1000 km/h. Shared use mobility mechanisms like car-sharing,
ride-sharing, ride-sourcing and public bicycles can help establishing a culture for using mobility
resources on an as-needed basis, while mobility-as-a-service will take this sharing culture a step
further, offering tailored mobility and trip planning packages that could entirely replace the need for
privately owned modes of transport.
urban transport; transport futures; smart cities; autonomous and connected vehicles;
electric vehicles; bus rapid transit; hyperloop; shared use mobility; mobility-as-a-service
Smart cities are the result of knowledge-intensive and creative strategies, aimed at enhancing the
socio-economic, ecological, logistic and competitive performance of cities [
]. This, from a transport
perspective, implies that any urban environment looking to be classiﬁed as a smart city, should respond
effectively, among others, to the dual mobility challenge, as deﬁned by [
], of rapid urbanisation and
growing trafﬁc congestion. The way to address this obstacle is by conceiving, designing and delivering
a transport system that provides socially inclusive, environmentally friendly, safe, cost-effective,
integrated and technologically informed travel options to road users that enable them to reach their
preferred destinations with ease. Transportation is, therefore, one of the most fundamental aspects of
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36; doi:10.3390/urbansci1040036 www.mdpi.com/journal/urbansci
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 2 of 21
the modern society [
], a key enabler of the many other notions that deﬁne and characterise a smart
city and a powerful indicator of future prosperity.
The present article has not a prophetic character per se. Predicting the future is by deﬁnition
a complex and uncertain procedure; it is more dark art than science especially when technological
breakthroughs, which are even harder to predict, can take transport to completely different avenues.
Instead, our work discusses a speciﬁc vision of tomorrow’s transportation based on an integrative
literature review that examined some key thriving, but not yet universally embraced, current transport
initiatives and some future ones that have been publicly demonstrated through piloting. The choice
of the mobility interventions discussed, although is subjective and directly referring to the authors’
expertise and interests, is based on potential impact considerations; all of these mobility mechanisms,
if widely embraced, can reshape transport, others with softer approaches, rebranding, complementing
or integrating already existing services and others with a harder approach transforming current
thinking. The core sections of the paper, followed by a discussion and conclusions part, present the six
chosen interventions namely: autonomous and connected vehicles, electromobility, bus rapid transit,
hyperloop, shared use mobility and mobility-as-a-service.
Autonomous and connected vehicles (ACVs), the developing crown jewel of the synergies
between artiﬁcial intelligence (AI), robotics, automotive design and information technologies, have the
potential to be the most robust intervention in the history of mobility by empowering the car to
take control and perfect the craft of driving, making calculated decisions and interacting with
the urban environment and trafﬁc ﬂow to heights unprecedented for a human. In theory at least,
fully connected driverless vehicles have the capacity to transform urban development as known today,
with a revolution in ground transport, regulations permitting, that could dramatically change the
landscape of cities and have an enormous economic, social, spatial, and mobility impact .
The future of oil economy, which in large depends on conventionally fuelled vehicle ﬂeets is not
only unsustainable but also very limited. In contrast, the electriﬁcation of the transportation sector
appears to be one of the feasible solutions to challenges such as global climate change, energy security
and geopolitical concerns on the availability of fossil fuels [
]. Therefore electric vehicles (EVs) may
have a critical role in how smart cities become more energy-efﬁcient and less polluted.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a mobility revelation, of South American origin, that already prospers in
164 cities across the world. BRT means to transform buses, the humblest of the public transport modes,
to a genuinely attractive travel alternative. BRT refers to schemes that apply rail-like infrastructure and
operations to bus systems in expectation of offerings that can include high service levels, segregated
right-of-way, station-like platforms, high quality amenities and intelligent transport systems for a
fraction of the cost of ﬁxed rail [
]. Thus, by integrating facilities, services, and amenities catering,
in theory at least, for the shortfalls of conventional buses, BRT can be competitive to car-oriented
mobility, to the degree that it could redeﬁne the very identity of a city by claiming space for the
upgrade of the city’s public transport service provision.
Hyperloop is the most ambiguous of the transport initiatives presented in this article; an idea that
has been scarcely piloted until now that aims to re-invent ground public transport offering services
travelling at faster speeds than commercial ﬂights. Hyperloop is projected to use magnetically-levitated
pods running inside tunnel systems free of air resistance. Despite its potential merits Hyperloop is
still widely considered as a futuristic disruptive transport mode that may supplant current mobility
service constructs  instead of complementing them.
Shared use mobility (SUM), a concept aligned with the grander notion of sharing economies, is a
way of rethinking and repositioning transport on the urban landscape. Rather than individual physical
items being purchased, owned, controlled, maintained and used solely by their owner, in SUM systems
the physical assets (cars, bicycles, vans, motorbikes, etc.) are accessed sequentially by multiple users
on a pay-per-use basis [
]. There are already thousands of bike-sharing, car-sharing, ride-sharing and
ride-sourcing schemes across the world but despite their merits, are widely perceived as ﬁrst- and
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 3 of 21
last-mile complements, tourist or visitor services, trip-to-work commuting initiatives and alternative
taxi mechanisms respectively and not complete transport solutions.
Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), a newly-born transport initiative with limited implementation thus
far, is a more radical solution that replaces privately owned transport and optimises the use of mobility
resources. MaaS platforms typically provide an intermodal journey planner (providing combinations
of different transport modes: car-sharing, car rental, underground, rail, bus, bike-sharing, taxi, etc.),
a booking system, easy-payment, and real-time information .
2. Autonomous and Connected Vehicles
Over the last two decades the automotive industries have made momentous leaps in bringing
computerisation into what has, for more than a century now, been exclusively a human function:
]. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) equipping vehicles with more computational
power, improved safety features, navigation systems and other driver-experience enhancing
mechanisms including adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance system, auto-parking, lane warning,
emergency driver assistance, intelligent speed adaption, adaptive light control, night vision, anti-lock
braking system have been already launched and are becoming standard features for high-end cars at
least. These features, although slowly diffused since, because of their isolated and incremental nature,
they do not represent a substantial upgrade for the overall service equivalent to that linked with a
full-scale implementation of autonomous technology, constitute the ﬁrst real evidence of a future
where car-oriented mobility could be machine-led. Pilots of entirely autonomous, but still humanely
supervised, cars are being tested in testbeds across the world meaning that road vehicles capable of
operating independently of real-time human control under an increasing set of circumstances will
likely become more widely available  and be at the very heart of a smart city’s transport system.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) also known as automated, driverless, self-driving, robotic vehicles
are projected not only to take over the task of driving per se but to have another meaningful power;
the capacity to interact and eventually ‘synchronise’ in real-time with all the elements and actors of
the transport network including other vehicles and road transport infrastructure. Connected vehicle
technology will provide real-time information about the surrounding road trafﬁc conditions and the
trafﬁc management center’s decisions improving efﬁciency and comfort while enhancing safety and
]. This section of the paper will primarily concentrate on vehicles with the dual capability
of being autonomous and connected (ACVs), better known as connected and autonomous vehicles
(CAVs), and not semi-autonomous or partially connected vehicles, since the former represent the most
likely and impactful way of adopting AV technology in the future.
2.1. The Potential to Impact Transport Futures
CAVs are anticipated to be the next golden standard of mobility, transforming smart urban growth
as conceived today, with a transport revolution that would radically change the very identity of cities by
impacting every facet of urban living. CAVs introduce numerous different beneﬁts, from substantially
reducing trafﬁc accident rates, road congestion, social exclusion for those currently unable to drive,
noise nuisance and carbon emissions but also some concerns about increased vulnerability to hacking,
software and hardware ﬂaws, loss of privacy, liability allocation, rise in user numbers, behavioural
adaption and user resistance problems [
]. CAVs have been also associated with the negative
socio-economic consequences of the loss of millions of driving-related jobs [
] although there are
] reporting that there are many transport experts who believe that human ingenuity will
create new jobs, industries, and ways to make a living, just as it has been doing since the dawn of
the Industrial Revolution. This will prevent the displacement of signiﬁcant numbers of blue- and
white-collar workers. If these jobs are not to be replaced this could lead to masses of people who will
be effectively unemployable, immense increases in income inequality and breakdowns in the social
order at least in a short-term basis.
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 4 of 21
CAVs may also have the ability to generate new opportunities for integrated services for two
other major transport initiatives that are critical for the future of smart cities because of their ability
to promote more resource-efﬁcient mobility patterns than private cars; public transport and shared
use mobility mechanisms. The incorporation of CAVs in the ﬂeets of public transport and shared use
mobility schemes will completely change their focus, the way of operating, managing and regulating
the services they provide and their marketing and branding strategies. Combining CAVs with
electromobility concepts, making these vehicles more inexpensive to use in environmental, economic
and social terms would improve their energy consumption efﬁciency and cost-effectiveness. As [
explicitly suggests the synergistic effects between vehicle automation, sharing, and electriﬁcation can
multiply the beneﬁts associated with those three transport initiatives.
2.2. The Current State of Development
Autonomous car technology is already being developed by many leading automotive
manufacturers that want to create the narrative for the forthcoming transformation and be in an
advantageous business position in the future, by ride-sourcing providers that want to replace human
labour with cheaper self-driving apparatus, and information and communication giants that see
this as a monumental opportunity to expand their services into and eventually dominate a new
technology-driven arena. Some of these companies joined forces forging partnerships and alliances that
will allow them to surpass the multi-dimensional challenges that CAVs now pose to their developers.
The key competitors so far, that have heavily invested on this new frontier and are now beyond an
early-stage exploration of the concept, with some of them being responsible for thousands or even
millions of autonomously driven miles, in alphabetical order are: Audi, Baidu, BMW, Daimler, Delphi,
Didi Chuxing, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Huawei, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Lyft, Magna,
Mercedes-Bosch alliance, Microsoft, nuTonomy, PSA, Renault-Nissan alliance, Samsung, Tesla, Toyota,
Uber, Volkswagen Group, Volvo, Waymo (Google’s self-driving cars project), ZF and Zoox.
Autonomous cars are already piloted in California having humans inside them at all times.
There is, however, enough political determination to make a leap forward so it is expected that
California will be changing regulations for self-driving cars to allow their unsupervised use in the
next few years. Volvo’s Drive Me project, will put a ﬂeet of 100 autonomous vehicles in the hands
of everyday drivers with the promise that they will not need to continuously supervise the vehicle
operation. These vehicles will be tested on public roads in Gothenburg, Sweden as a means of deﬁning
and evaluating how AVs impact the quality of life and the urban environment . At the same time
the UK Government is dedicating ﬁnancial resources for creating the world’s most effective CAV
testing ecosystem by building a number of distinct test capabilities. This is an investment that the
Government believes will cement the UK’s status as the go-to destination for development of CAV
]. Similarly, New Zealand Transport Agency supports manufacturers and developers
wanting to test AV technologies ensuring testing requirements that are easily navigated, and testing
processes that keep both the public and testers safe [
]. The Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative is
an effort to explore the impacts and requirements of CAV technology and make recommendations on
ways to safely and successfully bring self-driving vehicles to Australian roads [
]. Finally, Horizon
2020, Europe’s leading framework for funding research and innovation, has devoted thus far
for autonomous car technology [
] and the internet of things (IoT) [
], which is the equivalent of the
AVs’ connectivity backbone.
2.3. Barriers to Overcome
Despite this colossal amount of investment and interest in the development and uptake of CAVs,
the reality is that a full-scale launch of CAVs is not imminent; it is likely to happen later than most
expect. There are many obstacles that stand in the way of a full-scale introduction.
Technology is still lacking; despite serious progress more breakthroughs are necessary for
supporting such an unparalleled mobility paradigm shift. CAVs need to go beyond correctly
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 5 of 21
detecting and identifying objects in typical transport scenarios; they need to able to anticipate
their behaviour even under the most complicated and unexpected circumstances.
Despite some initial efforts to address it, legislation could be a barrier; road trafﬁc regulations,
liability allocation and enforcement strategies need to incorporate the use of CAVs.
Although recent studies showed that a priori acceptability of CAVs could be likely for many
drivers today [
] the universal acceptance of such a transition is not guaranteed or certain [
Users might need to be convinced.
The implementation of CAVs, will not be straightforward, predictable, unproblematic or without
risks; there is a wide spectrum of social dilemmas that may arise from such an untested, disruptive
and robust intervention [
]. Motor vehicles will need to operate responsibly and replicate
or do better than the human decision-making process; but some decisions are more than just a
mechanical application of trafﬁc laws and plotting a safe path .
Ethics is an issue that has not been resolved. Even when it becomes possible to programme
decision-making based on moral principles into machines, will self-interest or the public good
prevail? CAVs will sometimes have to choose between two evils, such as running over pedestrians
or sacriﬁcing themselves and their passengers to save the pedestrians [
] and there is not yet a
clear pathway of what is the ‘right’ option.
Situational awareness, connection and engagement need to be guaranteed for users. The passive
human role when ‘driving’ CAVs may not allow users to build an appropriate mental model
of the situation that is essential for the recovery of system failure [
] and may also lead to
disengagement and discontent .
CAVs cannot properly function in today’s road network; they need a friendlier road transport
infrastructure that provides them with an environment ﬁt for their use. A lot more capital
investment is necessary at this end.
Mixed trafﬁc situations, where CAVs share road space with partially automated and conventional
man-driven vehicles could create more problems than the ones they are going to solve.
There needs to be a plan of how to address the transition from human-led to machine-led vehicles.
There is a risk of creating a two- or even a three-speed world; countries and cities’ progress in
developing and introducing CAV technology may come at different rates and times. This will
create imbalance, confusion and disharmony when transport’s deﬁnitive role is about integration
Business models for supporting the CAVs adoption process and the need for synergies with
(or incorporating) other transport initiatives are not clear yet.
Introducing AI to vehicle technology will be an unprecedented achievement in the history of road
transport revolutionising mobility for ever and shaping the future of societies but for now CAVs are
still more of an enigma than a deﬁnitive solution.
Typical Electric Vehicles (EVs) include means of transportation that are electriﬁed and powered
through batteries. The main difference of EVs over conventional vehicles is the fact that they utilise
electricity rather than traditional fossil fuels. EVs do not cause any direct CO
], reduce the substantial, long-term increasing fuel costs as well as radiated noise [
but their high private costs, despite the fact that their owners do not need to pay carbon-related
taxes, might hinder their market development [
]. EVs, although still at a relatively early phase
of commercial development, vary signiﬁcantly both in size and technology used. As far the urban
environment is concerned, EVs used inside cities mainly include electric cars, low-speed electric
vehicles (also known as neighbourhood electric vehicles NEVs), and various types of two-wheelers.
EVs of larger scale include electric vans and trucks as well as electric busses. The present section focuses
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 6 of 21
on the road transport for people, therefore electric rail-based transport (e.g., tram, underground) and
heavy good vehicles (HGVs) are beyond the scope of the present analysis.
3.1. Electric Cars
The car manufacturing industry has gradually increased its investments for research and
development for electric cars rather than conventional ones powered by internal combustion engines.
With electromobility presently representing a niche market several companies, including among others,
BMW, Bolloré, Chevrolet, Citroën, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi,
Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Smart, Tesla, Volkswagen, have announced mega-projects that aim to
support this transition.
The main type of electric passenger cars is the battery electric vehicles (BEVs). BEVs are fully
powered by locally-contained batteries that are charged by an external energy source. Hybrid electric
cars combine the electric engine with a conventional combustion engine at a degree of hybridisation
that varies among different models. Plug-in hybrid cars (PHEVs) can be charged directly from the
power grid, and accordingly they rely mainly on electricity. The remaining hybrid-electric vehicles’
categories (i.e., parallel, mild) are not considered as fully electriﬁed vehicles as they are heavily
dependent on their conventional combustion as the main source of propulsion, while electric engines
are only complementary power sources.
The leading nation in the utilisation of electric cars is Norway; the Norwegian ﬂeet is possibly the
cleanest and arguably the largest per capita in the world. This is the result of generous tax-relieving
policies to increase the sales and use of EVs. The typical Norwegian electric car user is a middle-aged
family father with higher education and income, who owns a Nissan LEAF as one of two cars,
drives his electric car on a daily basis because this saves him money and time and although satisﬁed
with his choice highlights longer range and predictable EV policy as two areas for improvement [
Nevertheless, this subsidy policy, implying very low costs to the electric car owner on the margin,
probably leading to more driving at the expense of public transport and cycling, is according to [
counterproductive, needs to change and should not be replicated by other countries. This illustrates
the need to utilise the electric car’s vast potential in a way that does not undermine the importance of
true car alternatives.
3.2. Electric Buses
Bus transit systems with electric traction are an important contribution in the future of mobility
since they can overcome the existing disadvantages of conventional buses using fossil fuel [
and support a push for modal shift to public transport. Electric bus ﬂeets can be emission-free, easy to
integrate into an existing infrastructure, ecological and customer-friendly but according to [
] due to
their expensive technology, lifecycle costs can be much higher in comparison to diesel or hybrid buses,
for now at least. The selection process of electric technology is highly sensitive to operational context
and the energy proﬁle of the city host but recent research [
] highlights that hybrid buses, due to
their signiﬁcantly lesser capacity to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be suitable only
for short-term objectives as a stepping-stone towards full electriﬁcation of transit. Overnight battery
electric bus is advocated as the most suitable solution going forward. The electric bus innovation
diffusion could be aided by the adoption of new risk management strategies, institutional structures
and business models that go beyond traditional measures like subsidies .
3.3. Neighborhood Electric Cars
NEVs are generally small electric cars that stand between EVs and electric two-wheelers.
The increased market interest, especially in the heavily populated urban cities of emerging economies,
has increased the interest on NEVs. NEVs sales in 2016 were between 1.2 million and 1.5 million,
and the annual sales’ growth since 2014 is 50% [
]. NEVs maximum speed is regulated to an
upper limit that depends on the country and is usually between 40 km/h and 70 km/h. Their small
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 7 of 21
power and short range are adopted to the urban needs for agile transportation over short distances
and easy parking. Additional advantages of NEVs are their low cost and favourable regulation
(e.g., no requirements for driving license or insurance).
3.4. Electric Two-Wheelers
Electric two wheelers are two-wheeled means of transportation with an electric motor. In many
aspects they are similar to regular bicycles, but are equipped with an electric motor for propulsion.
Moreover, they are equipped with a battery pack that powers the motor. They are mainly distinguished
to electric bikes (e-bikes) and electric motorcycles (mopeds). As far as the e-bikes are concerned a
great variety of them exists worldwide. This variety extents from pedelecs with a small motor that
only assists the user to more powerful e-bikes that resemble the capabilities of a conventional scooter
or motorcycle. Generally four main categories of electric two-wheelers exist: pedal assist e-bikes,
throttle control e-bikes, speed pedal assist e-bikes and electric mopeds [
]. Electric two-wheelers
despite their obvious merits in terms of ﬂexibility and cost-effectiveness can also travel further on
less electricity and can be fully recharged in a relatively short amount of time when compared to
3.5. Electromobility as a Mechanism for Tranforming Transport and Cities
Shifting towards electromobility is an approach that gains an increasing support, especially in
cities. EVs are locally emission-free and therefore an important tool to solve air quality and pollution
challenges. Moreover, as the electric energy power mix changes and moves towards electricity
production from cleaner sources, the carbon content of the electricity powering EVs will continuously
decrease. This aligns with the climate goals set in the recent United Nations climate change conference
in Paris  and the European Union (EU) 2030 climate and energy framework.
The future of electromobility is strongly linked to the degree of penetration of renewable energy
sources (RES) in the future power systems. Thus, if the energy sources mix, which is used to produce the
electricity that will supply the EVs, has low (or even zero) GHG emissions, moving from conventional
to electric vehicles will also lead to GHG emissions reduction. Presently, the power portfolio of the
majority of the countries is dominated by fossil fuel-based power stations (e.g., lignite, hard coal, oil,
natural gas) hindering the shifting to EVs. The real beneﬁts as far as GHG emissions are concerned
depend on the clean electricity generation [
]. A 2013 study on the Chinese power system revealed
that shifting from conventional to electric cars in China would actually increase carbon emissions,
as the current Chinese power system is heavily dependent on carbon-intense coal power plants [
With the growing share of RES in countries’ power systems, the beneﬁts of the electriﬁcation of the
road transport will be better exploited.
Parallel to the transformation of the central power system, the widespread use of EVs will create
new opportunities for the electricity distribution both in regional- and city-level. So far EVs are charged
from grid-to-vehicle (G2V) connections. The ultimate target is to design systems where a bi-directional
connection will be developed, a concept known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) schemes [
]. V2G interaction
will transform the EVs’ ﬂeet to a large and ﬂexible energy storage capacity, providing invaluable
ﬂexibility to the power system, and allowing the efﬁcient operation of conventional power plants
(i.e., thermal). V2G schemes would increase the capacity factors of base and mid-load power plants.
The latter will allow further reduction of GHG emissions, supporting the fulﬁlment of climate targets.
Moreover, it will allow higher shares of variable/intermittent energy sources (e.g., solar, wind) in
the future energy systems. At present, technological knowledge to equip EVs in a way that can also
provide V2G services does exist. However, the relevant technology has not yet reached a degree of
maturity that justiﬁes the required additional cost [
]. More importantly, the operational framework
of V2G services has not been deﬁned and the policy regulations are still to be placed.
Considering the impact of the dual relationship between vehicles and the energy system, it is
expected that an unprecedented change will take place in the way vehicles are used in urban
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 8 of 21
environments. Alteration in the vehicle ownership schemes, novel usage paradigms and new
infrastructure that accommodates the special features of the EV technology will certainly change
the future cities.
4. Bus Rapid Transit
Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a hybrid form of urban passenger transportation, bringing together
bus’ ﬂexibility and cost-effectiveness with rail-like standards of service provision and rights-of-way.
According to [
] BRT has been thus far successful due to evidence of an ability to implement mass
transportation capacity quickly and at a low to moderate cost especially when compared with metro
and light rail investments. BRT essentially rebrands, the humblest of all public transport modes,
transforming conventional bus systems into a new mode that is given the license to dominate the host
city’s landscape, by taking space from cars, serving according to [
] more than 32 million passengers
per day in 164 cities across the globe. Despite these numbers and its competitive advantages BRT has
not been yet embraced universally to the degree that other mass-transit systems have; there is still a
massive untapped potential that needs to be realised if the future of transportation is to be developed
in a balanced way that embraces public transport initiatives.
4.1. The Elements Differentiating Bus Rapid Transit
A fully operational BRT system, which is superior in every facet of its activities from a conventional
bus system, and thus should not to be misinterpreted as one, according to [
] consists of the
State-of-the-art vehicles, including in some cases massive bi-articulated buses, which characterise
BRT’s image and identity, but also play according to [
] a strong role in achieving measurable
2. Stops, stations, terminals and corridors approximating the standards of rail-like infrastructure.
A variety of rights-of-way including dedicated lanes on mixed trafﬁc streets, special BRT busways
completely segregated from road trafﬁc and bus priority in signalised intersections. BRT routes
can run nearly anywhere including abandoned rail lines, highway medians and city streets [
Pre-board fare collection, for speeding up services and providing a robust funding mechanism
for the system’s long-term ﬁscal viability.
The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), for enhancing customer
convenience, speed, reliability, integration, and safety.
Frequent all-day services that need to operate at least for 16 hours per day with peak headways
of 10 min or less .
Brand identity, entailing of perceptual constructs substantiated by the strategic deployment,
placement, and management of communication elements that allow people to distinguish the
superior qualities of a BRT system. These include visual and nominal identiﬁers (e.g., system
name and logo), a color palette and long-term strategic marketing and advertising plans .
4.2. Origins and Worldwide Applications
The most important point of reference for BRT systems is South America, which is the birthplace
of this mass-transit concept and generates, as of November 2017, 60.74% of the travel demand
worldwide for these services. The ﬁrst real BRT system was implemented in Curitiba, Brazil, in 1963,
although dedicated bus lanes were not operating until 1974 [
]. It was based in the idea of its
mayor and architect Mr. Jaime Lerner, who wanted to re-invent the public transport system of
Curitiba but had no funds to build a metro or a light rail system. Curitiba’s BRT until this very day
remains one of the leading and most innovative schemes running in seven corridors spanning across
74 km and being responsible for 566,500 passenger trips per day [
]. Other BRT systems that have
achieved so far to at least dominate their respective city’s modal split are Bogotá’s TransMilenio
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 9 of 21
BRT (Colombia), widely considered to be the most successful scheme in the world in terms of
performance, innovation, capacity to create modal shift and ability to attract additional funding
resources, Istanbul’s Metrobüs (Turkey) the only intercontinental scheme in the world, bridging
Europe with Asia with its 52 km long corridor, and the only European scheme comparable to size with
the Latin American systems, the Guangzhou BRT (China), Asia’s second busiest system after the Taipei
BRT, that handles approximately 850,000 passenger trips daily with a peak passenger ﬂow second only
to the TransMilenio and the still developing New York’s BRT, North America’s largest scheme with
13 bus service routes serving currently 245,000 passengers in a day-to-day basis .
4.3. Problems and Challenges
The key challenges associated with BRT applications thus far, which have marginalised success
for some schemes, refer among others to:
Rushed implementation; transitioning to BRT needs time and careful planning including
2. Tight ﬁnancial planning (i.e., absence of operational subsidies).
Extremely high vehicle occupancy levels that in some cases reach six to seven standees per m
which adversely impact user experience.
Infrastructure maintenance issues; state-of-the-art bus infrastructure is more expensive and more
difﬁcult to sustain.
Inability to absorb extra travel demand due to a saturated system that lacks the capacity to
6. Difﬁculties with implementing and regulating fare collection.
7. Inefﬁcient communication especially during disruptions caused by road works.
8. Lack of integration with feeder modes like walking or cycling.
The belief shared by many policymakers that BRT, despite its merits, is still a second-tier solution
when compared to metro or light rail schemes.
Failure to brand and operate BRT as a signiﬁcant upgrade from conventional buses
(i.e., not providing essential infrastructure and rights-of-priority, equivalent to a BRT standard is
a recipe for failure).
4.4. Solutions for a BRT-Infused Future
There are many ways to surpass these challenges. First the planning process chosen needs to
mirror the speciﬁc needs and characteristics of the city hosting the scheme; low quality copycats or
rushed mediocre solutions mascaraed as BRT would not work. Buses need to be given the green
light to take over the city; they should be clearly prioritised over cars in any facet of urban planning
and be well-integrated with complementary travel modes. A strong political consensus (or at least
a political protagonist like Mr. Jaime Lerner) is often a pre-requisite for success. Financial support
and subsidies could be needed. Branding, image-making, marketing, advertising and communication
tools together with the provision of road user education and a feedback system enabling dynamic
interaction between the system operators and the users are all of critical importance. BRT should be
portrayed as an exciting and tangible long-term mobility solution and an opportunity for sustainable
growth and not as a mere upgrade of an uninspiring ﬂeet of conventional buses.
Adopting a scheme that, in principle, combines the convenience, reliability and ﬁnesse of a tram
or metro system with the ﬂexibility, maneuverability, adaptability and ease to operate of a conventional
bus system could be of paramount importance for any city that has aspirations of becoming smarter.
BRT is a realistic proposition that can be incrementally implemented in a variety of settings and types
with signiﬁcantly smaller investment costs than other mass-transit systems. Research on existing
international practice [
] strongly recommends that BRT can be a publicly acceptable mobility
mechanism for reducing trafﬁc-induced externalities and enhancing livability for cities.
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 10 of 21
Tube-based transportation, after years of being considered an unrealistic proposition with
fundamental ﬂaws and weaknesses that was outrageously expensive and risk-prone to develop
and run, has recently re-emerged in a dynamic fashion under the Hyperloop brand with the vision
to re-invent ground public transport offering services travelling at faster speeds than commercial
ﬂights in prices comparable to these of conventional rail services. Hyperloop widely associated with
Tesla’s and SpaceX’s architect and founder Mr. Elon Musk, since many people consider the latest
take in tube-based transport to be his brain-child, has been around as a concept for many decades.
The ﬁrst vacuum tube train system using a magnetic levitation (maglev) line and tubes or tunnels was
conceived by Russian professor Boris Weinberg in the early 1900s but did not progress beyond the
stage of early modelling. The concept has seen many different names and variations: Airless Electric
Way, Vactrain, Vaculev, Evacuated Tube Technology [
] but now Hyperloop is the most universally
acknowledged term in use and the one adopted by the present article.
5.1. Hyperloop Deﬁnition
Hyperloop will be based on the use of pods that will typically carry 12–24 people at 10 s intervals,
levitating on air or magnetic cushions in low-pressure tubes. A combination of linear induction
motors and lack of air drag will in theory enable these pods to reach speeds close to that of sound [
The expectation is that Hyperloop will be able to travel at speeds allowing this mode to be faster than
any passenger aircraft; traveling times between London to Edinburgh and Los Angeles to San Francisco,
two of the most discussed origin-destination combinations will be just 45 and 30 min respectively.
5.2. Opportunities and Challenges
Hyperloop pods could be offering many more advantages to travelers and societies besides their
speed; they will provide reliability comparable to that of a high-speed train, create substantially less
environmental damage than other modes, reduce road trafﬁc and air trafﬁc congestion, decrease
trafﬁc accidents, create millions of new jobs, minimise energy consumption since they will be fuelled
by electricity and be unaffected by weather conditions. Nevertheless there is a strong consensus,
at least when reviewing the initial design plans offered in Mr. Elon Musk’s 57-page open-source
Hyperloop manifesto [
], that the cost of infrastructure and maintenance, vulnerability to seismic
activity, susceptibility to accidents and terrorism and the difﬁculty of operating when equipment
malfunctions happen or emergency evacuations are in need, are severely underestimated. Other critics
of Hyperloop focus on the user experience per se. Riding in a narrow and windowless capsule-like pod
inside a sealed steel tunnel, that is subjected to signiﬁcant acceleration forces and having to tolerate
high noise levels due to air being compressed and ducted around the capsule at near-sonic speeds and
absorbing vibrations and jostling can be an unpleasant and even frightful experience [
]. Even if the
tube journey is relatively smooth, at high speeds, the smallest deviations from a straight path may add
substantial cause for discomfort.
5.3. Current Development and Future Promise
As of November 2017 there are eight companies that have dedicated efforts to develop and
commercialise Hyperloop technologies. These are in chronological order from the moment they
launch their plans, Virgin Hyperloop One, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, TransPod,
DGWHyperloop, Arrivo, Hardt Global Mobility, Hyper Chariot and the Boring Company/SpaceX.
Hyperloop One, lately supported by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin that has invested an undisclosed
amount of funds after the second successful testing demonstration, is the frontrunner to realise this
vision. Nonetheless, all of the listed companies have a clear vision about Hypeloop’s future. Mr. Musk’s
brand, for instance, was the one that initiated this discussion and the latest to announce the decision
to heavily invest on long distance routes in straight lines, such as New York to Washington DC,
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 11 of 21
after years of simply nurturing and facilitating progress in the ﬁeld without actively being involved in
a commercial sense. Their plan is to use pressurised pods in a depressurised tunnel to allow speeds up
to approximately 600 mph; as of now SpaceX is building a Hyperloop system at its headquarters in
Hawthorne, California, approximately one mile in length with a six foot outer diameter.
Hyperloop is projected to have a relatively strong performance on social and environmental
performance criteria and can potentially be a very safe mode but at the same time might end up being
more expensive than what its investors aspire to be since the low capacity, due to the small vehicles,
may lead to high break-even fares that might be more applicable for the premium passenger transport
]. Hyperloop is still a very novel and untested concept that can develop in many different
ways. It is projected to be a very powerful and potentially disruptive technology that will revolutionise
transport futures with an impact that could be even more profound than that of CAVs, especially if it
ends up replacing high-speed rail services.
6. Shared Use Mobility
Shared use mobility (SUM) is transforming the way people move around cities and is challenging
consolidated transport modes such as the private car, taxi and public transport [
]. SUM schemes
are in principle an entirely different breed of travel alternatives that try to maximise the utilisation
levels of the ﬁnite mobility resources that a society can realistically afford to have by disengaging their
usage from ownership-bound limitations. SUM schemes provide ﬂeets of vehicles that can be accessed
and ridden by their subscribers (subscriptions are open to the general public) on an as-needed basis
typically for a modest fee directly associated with usage criteria.
According to [
] the various modes that could be classiﬁed under the umbrella term SUM
are car-sharing, ride-sharing, bike-sharing, ride-sourcing (or ride-hailing), personal vehicle-sharing
(i.e., P2P car-sharing and fractional ownership) and scooter-sharing. Lately SUM initiatives are also
used in the freight and logistics industry since these principles boost proﬁtability; maximising the load
of HGVs and eventually cutting down excessive trips is cost-effective.
In general all SUM services:
1. Provide a wider range of mobility choices.
2. Deliver ﬁrst- and last-mile solutions to help riders connect with other forms of transport.
3. Reduce trafﬁc congestion, vehicle km travelled and CO2emissions.
4. Lessen parking pressures and free up land for new uses.
5. Create independence for those who cannot afford buying or running their own private vehicle.
6. Increase efﬁciency, ﬂexibility and convenience.
7. Cut down transportation costs for individuals and households.
8. Help drivers to share trip costs or earn extra income by utilising excess vehicle capacity.
9. Establish an ethos of sharing resources on as-needed basis within communities.
Bike-sharing systems, also described as public bicycles or cycle hire programmes, lately enjoy an
unprecedented rise with close to 1500 schemes of various types and scales operating worldwide [
as of November 2017. Bike-sharing can be deﬁned as a locally customised provision of affordable
short-term access to bicycles on an as-needed basis that could extend the reach of public transit services
to ﬁnal destinations and be a door-opener for increased bicycle usage [
]. Bike-sharing was ﬁrst
launched in Europe back in 1965 but re-emerged about a decade ago as a result of enhancements of ICT
capabilitiesthat allowed a lot more control and safeguards in renting out bicycles. Some of the most
popular schemes today facilitating thousands of trips per day are Barcelona’s Bicing (Spain), London’s
Santander Cycles (UK), Paris Vélib’ (France), Hangzhou Public Bicycle (China), BiXi Montreal (Canada)
and New York’s Citi Bike (USA).
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 12 of 21
The key advantages of bike-sharing are decreases in trafﬁc congestion and fuel consumption,
reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, ﬂexible mobility, physical activity beneﬁts, individual
ﬁnancial savings and support for multimodal transport connections [
]. Nonetheless, there are
critical problems that bike-sharing is currently facing that refer to: schemes being systematically
underused, misused or severely underdeveloped; political or/and public resistance when there is a
need to sacriﬁce car parking space; slow and complex planning procedures; no appetite for incremental
expansion to more destinations; cycling legislation restrictions forcing compulsory helmet use and
thus creating the need for people to own and carry or alternatively rent a helmet; unprotected
bike-sharing infrastructure; cycling safety concerns; severe competition between similar schemes;
unrealistic operator expectations in terms of return on investment; lack of adequate cycling investment
by the host city that could complement and support bike-sharing; and not being appropriate for hilly
and cold weather environments. Another problem that the conventional station-oriented schemes
face (i.e., the inability to provide door-to-door services) seems to be solved by the introduction of
the dockless schemes that started in China, from companies like Ofo and Mobike, and now provide
smart bicycles that lock and unlock through the use of mobile applications in hundreds of cities.
There are some issues with these new-age systems especially when these do not have GPS-based
technology, their own mobile application to track, lock and unlock the bicycles, good safeguards,
effective communication/branding tools and follow over-aggressive and rushed expansion strategies.
Nevertheless, learning from the mistakes of the past and taking advantage of the continuously growing
potential of IoT will allow for enhanced bike-sharing services in the future.
Car-sharing is another mode that has emerged to challenge the hegemony of private car use
in many cities [
] being a service that is appealing to road users who make only occasional use
of an automobile and to those who want sporadic access to a car of a different type than the
one they might be typically using. Car-sharing (also known as car clubs) is an evolving mobility
industry in which subscribed drivers can access for a moderate cost a ﬂeet of shared vehicles for
short-term use only. Since the beginning of organised car-sharing activities, it has been solidiﬁed
that car-sharing can encourage more sustainable travel behaviour, reduce the need of owning private
vehicles, and promote dense urban forms [
]. Car-sharing can be perhaps thought off as a systematic
short-term car-rental initiative [
] but is actually signiﬁcantly different from traditional car rentals in
many ways: car-sharing is not restricted by ofﬁce hours and can easily run 24/7 because reservation,
pickup, and return are all self-service and app-based; automobiles are rented usually for signiﬁcantly
shorter time periods typically spanning for a few hours; users are registered subscribers of the scheme
and therefore known qualities that have passed the necessary control checks; fuel costs usually
included in the rates; there are more pick-up and drop-off points that tend to be closer to mobility
hubs (i.e., thus more potential for integration with other modes); better insurance policies are in place;
car-sharing is usually more inexpensive than car rentals.
Zipcar (USA/worldwide), Cowheels Car Club (UK), Enjoy (Italy), GoGet (Australia), Greenwheels
(Germany), Cambio (Germany) are all relatively successful schemes. Several car rental companies
launched their own car-sharing services including Avis on Location by Avis and Hertz on Demand
by Hertz, while EasyCar Club is an Easyjet subsidiary. Many schemes nowadays are electromobile
or at least have a number of electric automobiles in their ﬂeet; coupling SUM with electromobility
initiatives ampliﬁes the ability of any given scheme to promote urban sustainable growth and better
energy consumption behaviours. Autolib’ is an electric car-sharing service, which was launched in
Paris (France), in late 2011, operated by the Bolloréindustrial group. The Autolib’ scheme maintains
a ﬂeet of 4000 all-electric Bluecars for public use on a paid subscription basis, employing a citywide
network of parking and charging stations.
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 13 of 21
Ride-sharing (or carpooling) refers to a mode of transportation in which individual travellers share
a vehicle for a trip and split travel costs such as gas, toll, and parking fees with others that have similar
itineraries and time schedules [
]. This sharing approach has an immediate and potentially easily
measurable impact on mobility patterns since if three potential drivers, people that are not susceptible
to shift to another mode of transportation, decide to share a ride this means that only one car will be
used instead of three. In theory, ride-sharing is a system which combines the ﬂexibility and speed of
private cars with the reduced cost of ﬁxed-line systems and is directly battling the negative externalities
of single occupant car travel, which is the most unsustainable form of travel behaviour. Ride-sharing is
relevant, and if presented in a potent way could be also particularly attractive, for commuters that want
to go to work in a cost-effective and ﬂexible way; there are many employers that promote and organise
ride-sharing programmes for their staff. Advantages of ride-sharing for participants (both drivers
and passengers), to society, and to the environment include saving travel costs, reducing travel time,
mitigating trafﬁc congestion, conserving fuel, and reducing air pollution [71,72].
Today, dedicated platforms allow drivers to post their rides online helping to mitigate many
issues, which previously limited ride-sharing. These digital platforms help by establishing trust among
strangers through rating and review systems, meaningful proﬁles, user veriﬁcation, and automated
booking and payment processes and by dramatically decreasing transactional cost for ride listing and
]. These technological advancements, which will only continue to improve as IoT evolves
and real-time monitoring and live matching capabilities become better, have already enabled the
establishment of large ride-sharing initiatives like RelayRides, BlaBlaCar, or Carpooling.com that
facilitate millions of trips per day.
Ride-sourcing refers to an emerging transport service that allows registered private car owners
to drive their own vehicles to provide for-hire rides. More speciﬁcally, ride-sourcing dynamically
matches travel supply and demand by enabling travellers to request car rides in real-time from potential
suppliers using a smartphone application [
]. Ride-splitting is an interesting form of ride-sourcing
where riders with similar origins and destinations are matched to the same ride-sourcing driver and
vehicle in real-time, and the ride and costs are split among users [
]. Ride-sourcing, in any of
its variations, is distinct from ride-sharing since ride-sourcing drivers operate for-proﬁt per se and
provide rides not subsidiary to their own trips; this is utterly a new-age taxi-like service that came to
life with the recent emergence of app-based platforms. Because of their convenience and competitive
prices, ride-sourcing services provided by companies like Uber and Lyft, typically classiﬁed under the
umbrella term Transportation Network Companies (TNS), have successfully attracted many riders,
eroding the traditional taxi market and creating controversy .
Ride-sourcing companies, despite their success, have troubled policymakers and legislators;
there is no consensus of how to embrace and regulate these measures. While many cities have not yet
given their verdict about TNS services, some, with London being the latest and possibly the largest city
to do so, have decided to ban them considering these services as illegal on the premise that constitute
unfair competition for their regulated taxi services and create public safety and security implications.
There are other cities that have adopted them and support them as a new thriving travel mode that
gives to their residents more mobility choices and have passed ride-sourcing laws and regulations that
help them prosper. Although these legislative frameworks have some differences, they all essentially
codify the insurance coverage, driver background check, and inspection protocols that ride-sourcing
companies already have in place [
]. The digital labour of Uber-like businesses is also a puzzling
]; drivers working for TNS are neither real contractors nor employees, typically receive smaller
incomes than their load of work implies, are bound to follow TNS rules and orders of how and when
to operate (i.e., ﬂexibility of choosing when to operate might be penalised) and are assessed at a
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 14 of 21
If these issues are addressed, the authors, believe that ride-sourcing services could be of some
value for crafting more livable futures. Their impact however may not be as signiﬁcant or positive as
those of other SUM initiatives since TNS companies work for proﬁt (diminishing the sharing factor’s
value) and could be attracting people currently using public transport services, which is not an ideal
modal shift direction.
The future of urban mobility, may not be about creating and adapting to new, transformative and
disruptive modes of transportation or vehicles but in innovating the ways the current transport is used.
SUM could be viewed as a door-opener for a more radical solution known as mobility-as-a-service
(MaaS) that replaces privately owned transport with personalised mobility packages that give access
to multiple travel modes on an as-needed basis by exploiting the riches of modern information and
communication technologies. MaaS is the holistic provision of integrated on-demand multimodal
services enabled and accessed via powerful digital platforms that eliminates the need for multiple
tickets and payments for subscribers, helps users to optimise their transport choices, provides access to
real-time journey information, including trafﬁc and even weather conditions and allows commuters to
surpass issues, unexpectedly arising during their journey. It is a way of making urban travel controlled,
resilient, and convenient. The transport industry is closer than ever before to making this future
a reality. Various changes to the structure and management of public transport services like smart
] and the lately booming SUM initiatives are clearly aiming at integrating mobility services
and hinting to this direction [79,80].
The present digitalisation trend is the main driver enabling this shift [
]. Simultaneous availability
of wireless connection, 3G/4G/5G networks and interfaces, such as smartphones and tablets, enable
access to shared mobility services at any place and time convenient to consumers. Accessible internet
connections allow not only the effective utilisation of shared transport modes but also the utilisation
of other services that make urban commuting easier. Such services include navigation, which helps
monitor and control the journey, journey information and planning, which allows comparing various
travel options and mode combinations by, for example, the cost of the journey or the time it takes,
and cashless payments for transportation. Although already widely utilised, such services are
unimodal in their nature, and the beneﬁts of using them are moderated by the need of ﬂicking
between the screens when creating a journey. A seamless uniﬁcation is thus the key for MaaS.
7.1. Current Practice
Although MaaS is at a very early stage in its development, there is already some experimentation
]. One of the most famous MaaS initiatives is the Whim mobile application.
Since 2016, the residents of the Finnish capital Helsinki have been able to plan their journeys
using Whim by entering a destination, selecting their preferred transport mode or a combination
of the modes where no single mode could cover the journey, and pay for the service as part of
their monthly subscription or in a pay-as-you-go basis. The mobile application puts together more
than 2500 taxis, rental cars and public transport as well as provides information on all the routes,
Another well-known MaaS initiative is the Qixxit electronic application
of Deutsche Bahn. Whilst Whim services cover Helsinki’s area solely, the Qixxit application offers
mobility services all over Germany. The services include taxi, public transportation and access to
SUM schemes; however, although the cashless payment service is available, a separate ticket needs
to be purchased for each of the vehicle types of the multimodal journey [
]. Other examples of
MaaS initiatives that have been piloted or are functional at the moment include the Viennese SMILE
application and Daimler’s Moovel, which is operational all over Germany as well as in Helsinki .
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 15 of 21
7.2. Potential Beneﬁts
Many researchers believe in the potential of MaaS to bring signiﬁcant social, economic and
environmental paybacks to cities and urban societies. The social beneﬁts of MaaS may include the
access to opportunities, such as healthcare and leisure, improved social inclusion and reduced isolation
as well as the support of healthier and more active lifestyles. The economic beneﬁts could refer to
enhanced access to jobs and skills as well as services and markets, and, in addition, making the
urban areas more attractive to live, work and invest in. And, ﬁnally, the environmental beneﬁts
are projected to be the ones that deal with the main urban mobility challenges, namely trafﬁc
congestion and the consequent air and noise pollution, since MaaS is encouraging more sustainable
Nonetheless, the potential beneﬁts of MaaS have not been tested
systematically yet in real-life terms; they are mostly theoretical. As MaaS is a new mobility service
and its implementation is limited, there is a scarcity of research that managed to identify the impact of
MaaS on travel behaviour, while at the same time data availability is limited deterring the development
of models to assess its effect on travel demand .
So far the only example of a MaaS initiative that has been thoroughly examined for its potential
to improve urban mobility is the UbiGo project described in studies [
]. UbiGo is the MaaS web
interface that offered access to a range of travel services to its 195 customers all being residents of the
city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Customers paid a monthly subscription of minimum 1200 SEK, equivalent
135 at the time, which included personalised combination of, and a number of credits for, a range
of different transportation options, such as bus, tram, taxi, car- and bike-sharing. The application
allowed its users to book and activate tickets and trips, amend bookings and access already activated
tickets. Customer service and support was also provided within the UbiGo application. The pilot
project was operational between 1 November 2013 and 30 April 2014. During this time span, the UbiGo
customers were regularly interviewed, and the collected interview data was utilised to analyse the
effect the use of UbiGo had on customers’ attitude towards car ownership and the possible impact
of the implementation of UbiGo on trafﬁc congestion and the environment. At the end of the trial,
the majority of UbiGo users reported that they would want to continue their subscriptions and became
more positive towards SUM options as well as public transport and less positive towards private
cars. As a result, the overall number of journeys, performed by private cars, reduced, which, patently,
could improve the trafﬁc situation in the city [84,91,92].
7.3. Barriers and Challenges that Need to Addressed
The ﬁrst MaaS transport systems are already operating and their beneﬁts seem, according to
early-stage research at least, to be real but it is difﬁcult for the urban transport sector to make
the leap as yet and provide urban residents with this breed of seamless digitally-planned travel.
There are still considerable barriers that challenge, and for now do not allow, the uniﬁcation of
transport infrastructure and transport related technologies [
]. Firstly, the public transport and
SUM providers as well the providers of digital interfaces and electronic applications are currently
lacking the desire to cooperate with each other and share the available data, which can be easily
explained by the service providers facing the risk of losing the direct relationship with their customers.
Secondly, the legislation in many countries does not act as a supporter of innovation and change
when it comes to mobility. For instance, the current taxation policies create barriers for behavioural
change, allowing urban commuters to continue travelling by private cars. Thirdly, national and local
governments are not actively giving, thus far, an emphasis on ﬁnancially supporting MaaS pioneers.
This lack of support was the main reason behind the discontinuation of the Swedish UbiGo pilot.
7.4. The Future of Mobility-As-A-Service
Although MaaS is a fairly new transport paradigm, it has great potential and could soon evolve
beyond pilot applications. The likely beneﬁts that MaaS could deliver to the urban environment,
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 16 of 21
by reducing road trafﬁc congestion in the cities, are overwhelming. The beneﬁts for urban travelers are
just as compelling; a public that has already got experience with similar mechanisms, such as travel
aggregators that allow booking any preferred ﬂight options with add-on services matching them with
hotels and car rentals, will be given an opportunity to get in a similar fashion, travel beneﬁts on a
daily basis. MaaS will revolutionise people’s ability to reach destinations without the need of a car.
Cities need to push towards this direction by investing more on research and development and by
trying to start up their own piloting MaaS programmes.
8. Discussion and Conclusions
With the transformative powers of urbanisation reaching unprecedented heights and redeﬁning
the dynamics and direction of urban development across the globe, cities face more than ever before
the need to craft more sustainable and smart pathways in their attempt to provide enhanced standards
of livability. Transport is at the very heart of this developmental process being the apparatus that
is set to provide people with seamless connectivity and access to destinations and activities that are
necessary for them; as [
] suggested the rise of the modern city is built on mobility. Improving access
opportunities, decreasing trafﬁc congestion, preventing environmental degradation, enhancing trafﬁc
safety and security, ensuring integration and multimodality, maximising the return from the offerings
of mobility and wireless technologies and reshaping conventional transport wisdom that is still
dominated by fossil-fueled, human-led, private car considerations are challenges that need to be
addressed effectively so that transport plays its deﬁnitive role.
The mobility initiatives that have been highlighted by the present work can be protagonists in
helping transport to transform and set a solid foundation for sustainable growth. Transport will
not change and evolve towards a single direction. A balanced mix between high-tech and low-tech
solutions must be provided; especially since there is a need to cater for the transition period between
today’s mobility paradigm and an AI-led one. On the one hand, there will be disruptive technologies
altering how societies envision and manage mobility and reshaping how transport networks will
operate, technologies like CAVs and Hyperloop, and on the other hand there will be less intimidating
initiatives that will help people get the most out of the untapped potential of more traditional modes,
initiatives like BRT and SUM.
The process of transforming the transport system, however, will not be uncomplicated, predictable,
unproblematic or without risks and early-stage ﬁascos. State-of-the-art concepts with disrupting nature
like CAVs and Hyperloop or others, like MaaS that may not alter the transport network per se but
nevertheless mean to redeﬁne travel behaviour by exploiting the riches of information technologies and
integration capabilities, are not easy to implement and not always likely to be acceptable from societies
without a fair amount of criticism, reluctance, suspicion and negativity. The transition will need time,
patience, ﬂexibility, political persistence and continuous investment. Many trials will go wrong before
scientists, technology developers, mobility providers and policymakers get it right; there is a need for
a ‘trial and error’ process. Efforts should be directed not only towards technology, infrastructure and
service provision per se, but towards supporting instruments like legislation, education, marketing
and branding that will allow for these changes to be viable long-term. Potential distributional
impacts should be also closely monitored and controlled so that the likely beneﬁts of these mobility
initiatives are not enjoyed only by high-end users; these should be mechanisms designed for all and
not instruments that will create new layers of transport-related social exclusion. Future transportation
should be designed to work in the context of developing countries too; progress should not be an
excuse for creating a two- or three-speed world but one for bridging knowledge gaps. To the extent
that this would be ﬁnancially feasible, the potential for extending some of these services (or linking
them at least) with more rural contexts should be also investigated.
There will also be a need for measures, not in the scope of this paper but still of vital importance,
which instead of trying to create voluntary travel behaviour change, as the ones outlined herein,
they will try to enforce and regulate modal shift pushing people out of their cars. Policies like road
Urban Sci. 2017,1, 36 17 of 21
pricing as deﬁned by [
] and other travel demand measures involving charging, taxation and
bans have a key role to play. This need for ‘sticks’ further highlights the underlying tensions that will
continue to exist in the future between a car-centric school of thought that will be likely to invest in and
prioritise continued automobility and those realising that changing the vehicle’s engine or removing
the driver does not address fully the real issue which is ultimately about achieving a more balanced
modal share; this is a transition that should be primarily centred around the provision of better public
transport and active mobility options.
All in all, there is a need for policymakers to integrate the mobility mechanisms this paper
reviewed or at the very least create synergies between their respective technologies; potential beneﬁts
will be ampliﬁed if this is the case. A near perfect version of transport futures, based on such an
integrated approach therefore, would be revolved around shared used CAVs fuelled by electricity,
produced solely from renewable energy sources, that will operate under MaaS principles, meaning
that they should be accessible only as part of packages primarily offering electriﬁed public transport
from initiatives like BRT and Hyperloop.
The authors thank their employers for allowing them to work on this review paper and
Urban Science for the invitation to write for this issue. Many thanks to our anonymous reviewers for helping this
work to improve with their feedback.
Author Contributions: All the authors contributed in the writing process.
Conﬂicts of Interest: The authors declare no conﬂict of interest.
ACV Autonomous and connected vehicle
ADAS Advanced driver assistance systems
AI Artiﬁcial intelligence
AV Autonomous vehicle
BEV Battery electric vehicle
BRT Bus rapid transit
CAV Connected and autonomous vehicle
EV Electric vehicle
GHG Greenhouse gas
HGV Heavy goods vehicle
ICT Information and communication technologies
IoT Internet of things
NEV Neighbourhood electric vehicle
PHEV Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
RES Renewable energy sources
SUM Shared use mobility
TNS Transportation network companies
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