It is nothing new when people say that we need transport systems that are more adapted to the growing number of people inside cities. This article is not about giving a theoretical overview on how to build an efficient transport system, but rather to highlight 3 innovative projects that are already in place across the globe.
Here are some of the most interesting ways people commute in and between cities.
The Travel Smart program in Singapore is a great example of a Public Private Partnership. What did they do? They brought together the 200 largest corporations in Singapore and proposed to these companies to change the working hours of their workers. The nature of Singapore’s economy, based on services and working with a large majority of overseas clients, for whom the working time is not such an issue as it is in a country whose economy is more locally based also helped a lot. The idea was the following: the government was giving them a budget to hire a specialized consultant to do an individual mobility plan for each individual worker based on where the worker lived and how they traveled to work. Together they would decide what would be the best time and the best way to commute into the city. After that, the workers who accepted to travel during the hours planned for them would also get some kind of reward. This was very easy to monitor when the person was using the transportation system through their Smart Pass city card. And as a last measure for this project, they also offered some kind of reimbursement for the companies as a compensation for changing the working time of their employees. This is now a scale project, but it was firstly a very successful pilot project and they spent much less money by investing in re-planning the working time than by buying more buses. Rather than everyone traveling to work at the same time in busy conditions, they have spread out the flow of people, benefiting citizens, city budgets, and the environment.
Future Plans for Zaragoza, Spain
Zaragoza has one of the most interesting smart city strategies and their mobility projects are not to remain unmentioned. The municipality of Spain’s fifth largest city already implemented public services like pools, libraries, and theaters onto a smart card and they are now working to integrate public transport as well. Their city view was presented at the beginning of November in Stockholm at the Nordic Smart Cities conference and the whole idea is to strengthen the link between existing public services. They are working on giving citizens the chance to mix the available means of transport to best suit their daily needs and making them more attractive than the use of personal cars by applying discounts. Different organizations in the municipality are putting efforts together to profile the citizens in order to adapt discounts based on the social and economic needs of each citizen. For example, if a citizen has a disability then the benefits added to their card will be adapted in order to make traveling around the city easier for them. Zaragoza has a very well planned smart city strategy that focuses on the needs of the citizens and their potential to contribute to the development of the city, this works well alongside the current infrastructure and makes it easier for mobility projects to be implemented.
Imagine what it would be like to commute between ten different cities just like you would go for a walk along the local river. That’s the plan of Loop City in Denmark. They want to connect Copenhagen to ten surrounding municipalities in order to increase the region’s growth and quality of life and the way to do that is by building a green light rail connecting these areas. The reason why this project is a valuable one, not only for Denmark but serves as an example for others, is the collaborative approach it is based on. Having ten municipalities working together is not an easy task to accomplish, as Anja Kraag told us in an interview (insert the link of the interview when it’s the site) last September, but it is one of the best examples of building a plan according to a shared vision. It has enabled them to put politics aside and focus on delivering for the citizens of all 10 municipalities. Initially, Loop City was a technical light rail project that has now evolved into a complex smart city project – adding job creation in the digital sector as an additional focus. Technology and cooperation seem to be the drivers for innovation in all aspects of smart city development, and transportation is an area that allows quick and very noticeable change because most of the infrastructure is already in place. The three examples above are a great source of inspiration as well as confirmation that goals can be achieved if they are citizen driven.