Friday, July 31, 2009

New Mobility Hubs: Connecting the dots

The next generation of urban transportation is about connecting the dots, bringing diverse innovations together in ways that work better for users than the single occupancy vehicle alone.
- Sue Zielinski reports from Ann Arbor MI USA.

Sue Zielinski introduces the New Mobility Hubs program, an initiative of City Connect, Ford Motor Company, the University of Michigan SMART project and local partners, with ongoing projects in N. America, Germany, India and South Africa.


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Recognizing that neither alternative fuels nor pricing alone will save the day in this rapidly urbanizing world, a groundswell of transportation innovation is arising worldwide. However these innovations are too rarely linked in way that can provide a convenient, practical, affordable door-to-door trip for the user. The next generation of urban transportation is about connecting the dots, bringing diverse innovations together in ways that work better for users than the single occupancy vehicle alone.

Connecting the Transport Dots Regionally and Globally

Imagine a day, when steps from your door, or even from inside your home or office, you could enter a vital network or grid of New Mobility Hubs, places near you that connect a whole range of transport amenities including buses, trains, streetcars, clean fuel taxis, auto rickshaws and car share or bike share vehicles, and in some cases, day care, satellite offices, cafes, shops and entertainment.

In more connected communities this is all brought together by a cell phone or pda that offers real-time information on arrival and departure times and availability, as well as access to other information. The pda also allows you to quickly and easily pay for these affordable modes and services with a single wave past the reader. You can transfer seamlessly from one mode of transportation to the other, informed of schedules and options all the way, using the best mode for the purpose, gaining access to car share at one hub, and dropping it off at another to pick up a waiting bus or train. It’s easy, it’s convenient, it’s affordable, and it’s 21st century.

For the user, hub networks connect an integrated set of services, products, and technologies door-to-door, addressing the “last mile” challenge. For the developer and operator, hub networks are scalable, starting by linking what exists and adding and enhancing as budget and will materializes. Since the key is connecting rather than competing interests, the process and the product includes rich and poor, a range of backgrounds and needs, and urban and suburban. For government leaders, this achieves social, environmental, and economic goals. For businesses in the emerging New Mobility Industry, this offers innovation opportunities that generate Open Source Transportation, spur Public Private Innovation, and supply the emerging market for sustainable urban transportation globally.

New Mobility Hub Networks exist or are being developed in Bremen, Toronto, Chennai, Cape Town, D.C., Atlanta, Ann Arbor and more.

Click here for more.

Susan Zielinski, Managing Director, SMART, susanz@isr.umich.edu,
Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation, www.um-smart.org
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

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