2020 saw an unprecedented drop in mobility, due to restrictions: 6% to 7% of trains were running during the first confinement, -83% of car trips in France in March (1), and the generalization, on foot forced, teleworking. The consequences affect the entire sector: SNCF, for example, has decided to reduce its frequencies for the coming months. An unexpected paradigm shift that will have lasting consequences for the coming year and mobility in general.
Has the health crisis seen the emergence of new practices?
After a complicated year, 2021 will undoubtedly mark a break in the evolution of mobility, calling into question the underlying trends. The most obvious trend is of course the massive adoption of teleworking which will continue to reduce commuting.
Also in connection with COVID-19, the health restrictions and the concerns that result from them have in particular diverted users of public transport, with a shift to personal vehicles (2). But not just the car! It can be free-floating: scooters, scooters or even self-service cars, and of course bicycles, the practice of which has been widely encouraged by government officials.
But the little queen is not suitable for all uses (families, craftsmen…). And despite the goodwill of urban areas, for public transport to once again attract users, it will undoubtedly require significant investments in infrastructure: projects that could take between 10 to 20 years to complete.
It is therefore unlikely that changes will be observable from this new year!
In the immediate term, it is in fact multimodality which should continue its development in 2021. Large urban areas will continue to promote car-sharing and park-and-ride facilities, trying to respond to the problem of the last mile for users.
In terms of technological innovations, the electric car will certainly gain further popularity. While contactless payment, with digital solutions, will continue to be democratized.
This is the case, for example, in the United Kingdom where municipalities are gradually phasing out parking meters. New York City has chosen to deactivate its 14,000 parking meters to deploy a contactless parking payment application in record time.
If 2020 was the year of the advent of contactless, 2021 will undoubtedly be a “Mobile-first” year. With more and more transactions taking place from our home, the mobile will continue to impose itself in our daily lives, for its intuitive, practical and sanitary virtues. Indeed, mobile parking payments have experienced a real craze for 5 years; it is also the preferred method of payment for almost one in two motorists in large urban areas.
Are there more realistic measures to combat pollution and urban nuisances in the coming years?
Following the green wave in large cities during the 2020 municipal elections, the fight against pollution in cities remains a major concern for the coming years. From 2021, ZFEs (Low Emission Zones) will be created in various cities in France (Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux). A more inclusive approach, as is the case in London, would be preferable so as not to exclude part of the population. (3) On the other hand, it is certain that by diverting polluting vehicles from city centers, these areas should profoundly transform uses of motorists and encourage the conquest of cities through soft mobility. Other initiatives such as the creation of relay car parks will also help relieve congestion in city centers while facilitating access to public transport.
The application of these measures, added to the rise of electric or hydrogen vehicles and new teleworking practices, should have an impact on fine particle emissions. However, reflection on atmospheric pollution must be accompanied by reflection on noise and visual pollution: while town centers are increasingly closed to cars, how can congestion on the outskirts be avoided?
Traffic jams remain a well-known problem to which no satisfactory solution has really been found in recent years. Technology can be a response: in particular by making city data available to applications to make it easier for motorists to find parking at their destination (available spaces, prediction, etc.), as is the case, for example, in many cities in Germany or the Netherlands. (4)
What technologies for the city of tomorrow?
This growing use of data in mobility is gaining momentum in large urban areas. A city like Grenoble has created its “mobility pass” to combine its various mobility services. (5) 5G should also make it possible to bring much more information to on-board car systems.
We have barely started to harness the potential of data in mobility. We can imagine a city of the future in which forecasts will play a key role in optimizing travel: for example by anticipating pollution peaks to modulate school rhythms and work schedules to limit atmospheric pollution. (6)
The vehicles of tomorrow (electric, hydrogen, etc.) will not emit polluting gases, but can also be autonomous and increasingly digitized thanks to smartphones (+ 59% in number of transactions in 2020 according to L’Observation CB), in passenger compartments , or dashboards … But they will also undoubtedly be rarer, with a reduction in the space of the personal vehicle.
However, some vehicles remain essential: cities will have to seriously reconsider urban delivery spaces. While the phenomenon of meal delivery really exploded during containment (and should gain momentum) will we see the emergence of mobility hubs to make deliveries without cluttering the sidewalks of trucks, bikes or scooters from delivery men ?
1 Waze study – April 2020
2 Odoxa FNMS study – November 2020
3 City of London customer case – 25 August 2020
4 Find & Park. Bye, bye parking stress – August 24, 2020
6 Transport: employees working staggered hours to reduce traffic jams – June 26, 2019