Mobility as a Service

This post is part of our Age of Urban Tech discussion series, following the fifth edition of the New Cities Summit in Montréal in June 2016.

With Urban Tech pushing public transport towards deeper mobility convergence, Mobility as a Service set out to examine what it will mean for the future design and strategy of cities. As Nicola McLeod made clear, today’s urbanites increasingly want to envision life in the city without the car. Though McLeod works in the car-sharing industry, she drove home that preferences differ and citizens always want more options.

With its 11 modes of public transit and seven modes of public transport, Tim Papandreou, suggested that San Francisco is a pioneer when it comes to public transport. Papandreou firmly believes that public transport agencies and private transport firms should shift from a mentality of competing against one another to see who operates better, to collectively looking at the big picture to get citizens from point A to point B. Papandreou added, “the ultimate goal for us is to get people out of their cars.” He also warned, “if cities aren’t clear about the scenarios they want, they will be victims of the scenarios they get.”

Uber’s Andrew Salzburg brought a private sector perspective to the discussion. For Salzberg, collective thinking is paramount as he advocated for private firms and public authorities to formalize working relationships and to begin to coordinate at natural points of first and last mile rides. He advised there be backup options for every individual transport mode, which will embed more comfort and choice into the process.

For cities, integrating mobility as a service into the urban fabric is increasingly a priority. “One app to rule them all – a single app for mobility,” will emerge, suggested panel moderator and NewCities Senior Fellow, Greg Lindsay. But issues of accessibility and data-sharing must also be considered. McLeod spoke to Zipcar’s experience when she mentioned that data is shared among the members, but also mentioned that Zipcar works with cities and public agencies, sharing information on a variety of useful topics such as frequency of use and accessibility of vehicles, creating more opportunity for coordination. As Urban Tech presents a new range of transport possibilities, Papandreou insisted that equity, affordability, accessibility and interoperability remain as guiding principles to insure a digital dividend across all sectors of society.

Mobility as a Service – Greg Lindsay (moderator), Nicola McLeod, Timothy Papandreou, Luc Sabbatini and Andrew Salzberg. © NewCities


Nicola McLeod, General Manager Canada, Zipcar
Timothy Papandreou, Director, Office of Innovation at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
Luc Sabbatini, CEO, PBSC Urban Solutions
Andrew Salzberg, Global Mobility Policy Lead, Uber

Moderator: Greg Lindsay, Senior Fellow, Connected Mobility Initiative, NewCities