As recently as 2016, it would seem the UK has spent the lowest of all 34 OECD members on next-generation public transport. It ranked 20th out of 21 nations for spending on IT systems. It also ranked 23rd out of 27 nations for spending in other areas of industrial machinery too. This is a worrying statistic for Britons, particularly as towns and cities become ever-more crowded. With more populous urban areas comes the demand for improved mobility. As such, the UK could take a leaf out of the book of other nations. In particular, they should look to those countries who are adopting more innovative and ambitious approaches to international transport solutions.
Germany’s approach to electric transport
The German capital of Berlin is an important starting point for our discussion when it comes to transport innovation. Already, the city has reduced the number of private vehicles operational throughout Berlin to just 30% of all road vehicles. This is due largely to the city’s affordable, highly accessible monthly public transport passes. The city has also made a firm commitment that all new vehicles manufactured from 2030 onwards will be fully electric. Berlin already benefits from a string of wirelessly charged electric buses. These have greatly reduced the carbon footprint of public transport in the city.
Finland’s goal for public transport to be number one in Helsinki by 2025
The Finnish capital of Helsinki is another good example. The European city has managed to reduce the percentage of private vehicles on its roads to less than two-fifths (39%). It has also set bold, but laudable targets. These include making public transport the primary mode of transport for all residents in Helsinki by 2025. Plans are afoot to reduce the need for private vehicle ownership so much that they would be redundant by 2050. It’s hoped this would be achieved by improving shared mobility and developing demand-responsive public transport systems.
Japan’s investment in EV and alternative fuel technologies
The impending arrival of the 2020 Olympic Games has seen Japan ramp up its own investment in next-generation transport technologies. In the host city of Tokyo, there has already been significant investment in electric vehicles (EVs). The capital now boasts more EV charging points than fuel stations. It has also begun in-depth research and development into the concept of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. The city has also been an active player in the autonomous, self-driving vehicle sector.
The LA Metro’s ‘micro-transit’ plans to become the jewel in USA’s crown
Los Angeles is a US city that’s still heavily reliant on private vehicle ownership. Almost 90% of all vehicles on the streets are owned by domestic drivers. The LA Metro is taking steps to try and reduce that figure in the years to come. Plans are afoot to develop a new on-demand ‘micro-transit’ network. It would follow a live navigation system and respond to real-time stop requests generating more efficient shared public trips. For a city with such a vast geographic spread, it’s hoped that this solution could reduce LA’s overreliance on car travel.