Recent years have seen a sizable uptick in discussion and action regarding the future of our transportation systems as concerns over the emissions-heavy sector grow ever greater. This concern has spurred considerable action among the world’s governments, with national emission-reduction targets motivating cities to explore new means of realizing transportation systems. Among the most ambitious, active fronts in the efforts to renew urban mobility has been the corporate front, with SMEs and startups in particular identifying the potential in the development of new mobility solutions.

Now a new wave of startup companies are beginning to form a sizable group addressing long distance, intercity travel. Following the path of such new global leaders as Uber, Lyft, and established industry names such as BMW, with its DriveNow program, these companies are striving to bring the same emphasis on increased efficiency and demand-responsive services to long-distance travel as those in the intracity field have successfully realized.

A majority of this development, however, has focused solely on journeys within urban areas, now attention is turning to the trips taken between cities. Leading this development are companies such as New York-based Skedaddle, offering on-demand shuttle or bus service to groups; UK-based Zeelo, bringing big data to on-demand bus routes; the British Sn-ap, connecting users directly to reduce the cost of their journey; and British Vamooz, crafting crowdfunded bus routes. These innovative startups are experimenting with elements well-established in shorter travel, demand-responsive route planning supported by advanced algorithms, and the advantages of economies of scale, as exemplified by the success of Finnish long-distance bus operator Onnibus and its use of double-decker buses to improve efficiency and profitability.

As these service models mature and the related software is perfected, long-distance transportation will move into a new era of sustainability and improved efficiency which will only improve as gas-fueled engines are replaced by electric engines and the advent of autonomous technology expands the potential for ever more efficient route design.

Read about Skedaddle’s model at Techcrunch

See how Zeelo built its business

The Times reports on Sn-ap

Transdev reports on Vamooz 

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.