Why the future of big cities is multimodality

Do you know what multimodality is? Find out what this concept is and how it has been adopted by the largest cities in the world.

Find out what this concept means and how it has been applied around the world

More than half (55%) of the world's population lives in cities, which are expected to grow even more in the future. In 2050, this proportion will reach 70%, according to the United Nations. With many more people circulating in urban areas, we need to rethink the way we move through them now.

The individual transport model, for leisure or work, would not accommodate the daily coming and going of 6.8 billion people. Therefore, more attention has been devoted to multimodality, that is, how to enable the use of various means of transport to reach your destination in the best possible way, in terms of comfort, speed and economy.

This means, for example, going by bike or scooter to the bus stop or subway or train station, and even combining several means of public transport by paying a single fare. And, when necessary, order a taxi or car from an app.

“Public transport continues to be the backbone of multimodality, because it is the best solution for mass movement in an efficient and sustainable city. High demand requires high capacity”, comments Marcus Quintella, director of FGV Transportes.

From this central axis, Quintella points out, more modes are being integrated, such as bicycles, scooters and taxis, to give people more comfort or to offer non-polluting solutions to those who have the possibility of using this type of vehicle.

“The city of the future will have greater integration between all means of transport, with well-planned options that incorporate non-polluting modes”, says the expert. “This way, each person can choose how to combine these modes to have a better quality of life and reduce time and money spent on commuting.”

Cities that are an example

According to Quintella, Brazilian cities still need to improve in terms of integration, both in terms of tariffs (allowing discounts or paying a single fare to use all means) and physically, so that one means complements the route taken by another.

But, around the world, some cities are already putting this plan into practice. Among them, Quintella highlights Hong Kong, as it is the most densely populated in the world and has an efficient, cheap and sustainable public transport system.

There, the transport network is used by 90% of the inhabitants, who get around by combining small, medium and large buses, trains, subways, trams and ferries, paying fares that vary depending on the travel time and the social profile of each person. “The government also works to encourage the use of less polluting vehicles, such as those powered by gas, with tax exemptions, for example.”

Speaking of sustainable mobility, the city of Stockholm stands out for being the leader in the ranking of cities that evolve the most in this area, the Urban Mobility Ready Index 2021. The Swedish capital has seen an increase in the number of cyclists and is continually investing in electric vehicle charging stations and micromobility infrastructure.

To provide more transportation options, the ranking highlights the increase in access to shared bicycles in Berlin (Germany) and the number of cycle paths in Boston (USA), London (England) and Milan (Italy) — and the fact that Paris (France ) has committed to having an additional 180 km of cycle paths and quadrupling the number of bicycle spaces, reaching 240,000 by 2026.

Quintella cites Paris as a good example of multimodality, as well as Amsterdam, Tokyo and Barcelona. “These are cities that are evolving in urban mobility to provide more options for residents and tourists,” he says.

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