Beyond the Pandemic: Mobility Trends, Opportunities and Challenges in Cities

October 2021

Sustainability issues are pushing forward a new chapter in how people get around in cities. From using shared mobility, to buying electric vehicles, urban mobility is a fast-changing industry. The briefing examines urban mobility trends, focusing on commuting habits, transport spending and vehicle ownership. It touches on the opportunities and challenges cities are facing, examining key issues such as urbanisation, mobility as a service, and low and zero emission mobility.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Urbanisation is requiring a new approach to mobility

Global urbanisation by 2030 will reach 60.0%, and 63.7% by 2040. This will require urban planners to engineer a new approach to mobility - a focus on delivering clean and shared mobility that will help mitigate the pitfalls of cities such as high traffic congestion and excessive air pollution.

Most commuting is still done by car or public transport

Public transport and private passenger car travel remain the most popular modes of commuting in major cities. Public transport has faced a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in large-scale social distancing, but will rebound in 2021. Passenger car travel is being targeted by municipal governments with parking restrictions and congestion charges, in an attempt to encourage alternative mobility. 

Emerging markets to dominate transport spending

Emerging market cities will remain the cauldrons of economic growth over the next 20 years. This is expected to drive transport expenditure as more consumers enter the middle class. Cities such as Shanghai, Mumbai and Jakarta are expected to deliver some of the fastest rates of transport expenditure growth in the next two decades.

Electric vehicles are a growing niche

In the 2021 Mobility Survey, 83.0% of global respondents suggested having at least one gasoline-powered vehicle, followed by diesel (27.2%), hybrid (10.6%) and electric (8.9%). However, electric vehicles are becoming more popular. Compared to the Mobility Survey in 2020, the share of electric vehicle owners increased by 1.5 percentage points in 2021.  


Key findings
CASED acronym underpins the major urban mobility trends
Smart mobility is gaining prominence as global urbanisation rates rise
Remote work has the power to change commuting
Spending to shift from owned to service-based mobility
Commuting habits
Most commuting is done using public transport and passenger car travel
Public transport investment is critical in fast-growing cities
Case study: Luanda to start building a light rail system in 2022
Flexible/remote working could be a solution in cities where commuting is frequent
15 minute city model will be easier to achieve in cities with short commutes
Multi-modal mobility is planting the seeds for Mobility-as-a-Service ( MaaS )
Case study: Pittsburgh announces the creation of a MaaS system
Shared mobility has high potential in markets with an undeveloped transport sector
Case study: Milan teams up with Vianova to develop shared mobility vision
Micro-mobility infrastructure development can alleviate pressure in highly motorised cities
Case study: Paris seeks to toughen car traffic rules in 2022
Spending patterns
Flexible work arrangements could help reduce transport costs in expensive cities
Most consumers spend up to USD20 per week on public transport
Urbanites in emerging and developing markets more likely to buy a new car
Most urban inhabitants report transport spending to remain unchanged over the next year
Emerging market cities in Asia to dominate transport expenditure growth
Vehicle ownership
Cities with high automobile ownership face sustainable mobility challenges
Smaller Indian and Chinese cities more than double passenger car numbers in five years
Asian cities are leading markets for motorcycles and mopeds
Electric and hybrid vehicles are a growing but small proportion of automobiles
Incentives and better infrastructure should be used to promote zero/low emissions transport
Key business takeaways
Urban mobility opportunities and challenges


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