The coming transformation in transportation is expected to be a radical shift from traditional models of ownership and private transportation and, as such, will have far-reaching effects on the city, its transportation as well as its very structure. These impacts are, as yet, the retinue of theorists and researchers who strive to understand how the changes in mobility patterns will come to change the behavior of residents, both introducing new needs and opportunities as well as reducing unnecessary frustration and developing new supports for the new urban environments.

One attempt to assess these possible changes is a recently published study by the International Transport Forum in its case-specific analysis reports series which analyzed the future of the Helsinki metropolitan region. The study was supported and funded by a group of organizations from the area, including Helsinki Region Transport, the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa, as well as the Finnish Transport Agency and headed by a project group of experts from the various agencies involved as well as related ministries.

The study sought to form an understanding of the impact of ride-sharing services on urban areas by examining the optimized use of such solutions during the course of a simulated day in the Helsinki metropolitan area, replacing all traditional forms of motorized road transport and partial adoption of new services (20%, in keeping with cautious estimates) and supplemented by the full complement of existing rail-based services. The analysis also delved into user preferences and behavior through a series of focus groups and gained detailed insight into individual patterns through a series of agent-based models.

The results of this research seek answers to a wide range of factors contributing to the future outlook for urban areas, including residents’ willingness to adopt new solutions, users’ preferences, questions regarding policy design, and the applicability of these solutions to wider areas. The results proved encouraging on a number of fronts, noting significant reductions in emissions with even minimal adoption rates, 20% of cars replaced, and observed considerable improvements in access from currently remote areas of the city as well as the efficiency and popularity of connecting or feeder traffic as means of accessing public transport, notably increasing the use of alternative methods of transportation among residents of more remote areas.

The study concludes by recommending that these solutions be implemented into the city’s operations as a new policy tools, yet with a mind towards their careful build-up and cost-efficiency, ensuring these modes of transportation feed public transport where possible, target areas underserved by current solutions, and consider increasing system capacity of and access to existing rail and metro stations.

Read full results from the study here.

And read another recently published study on the future of urban areas in the coming mobility transformation.

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