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by Menno Scheers, Club of Amsterdam
04 the future of Mobility
The future of Urban Development
The Club of Amsterdam organised a conference about the future of Mobility on March 26th, 2003. The main topic was about creating a vision and strategy for mobility issues in the future. This report will give you a brief summary of the topics and the discussion between the panel and the participants of the Club of Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is a country that learned to live with water, sometimes as a friend, sometimes as an enemy. It took a lot of time before the Netherlands had found a balance between safety, economy and environment. They even have a name for it: water management. Knowledge about water management is an export product of the Netherlands at the moment.
André Hammer (Connekt) stated that the Netherlands has to deal with mobility issues in the same way. The Netherlands has the image of a City-State comparable to Hong Kong and Singapore in foreign countries. The country is urbanised and a high quality of mobility is important for the image of the country.
Wim Korver introduced a lot of mobility concepts to give examples of what the features of the innovations on mobility are: The HELIOS (a combination between a helicopter and a car), Skycar, Aerocar, Zeppelin, capsule pipelines for mini containers with the help of air pressure, Swiss Metro high speed passenger transport system, The Aerobus, the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal (1901), ULTRA (an automatic demand responsive system), SkyLoop, Taxi 2000, SkyCar, SporTaxi, MAIT, CompuCar, Monorail, Transrapid and Autoshuttles.
Most new mobility concepts are not demand driven. A new vehicle is often the base of the transport concept. In most cases a new infrastructure is needed as well. Thereby there's no clear focus which transport market will be served. It is a total solution and no clear vision exists on how to upscale from prototype, to demonstration to full-scale deployment. High initial capital investments are needed as well. These features of innovation on mobility concepts undermine the success of the concepts.
Wim Korver thinks that based on historical analysis the new system innovation should start now. What comes after the airplane? Is it the High-speed rail, the Maglev, the Subspace planes, the decoupling ownership and use, the automatic vehicle guidance, fuel cell cars or the merging of collective and individual transport systems? Wim Korver is quite sure that the automatic vehicle guidance is the most promising concept for the future.
Frederik Johannes Abbink pleads for a long-term focus. The government should design a strategy and the rules. Private companies can fill in the rest. A participant of the discussion countered that for a politician it's not interesting to have a long-term focus. The lifecycle of people in politics are to short. The elections force the politicians to act short-term.
Wim Korver is not sure that the demand for mobility will increase. Is it possible to translate mobility to a service? Comfort, distance in a specific time for a specific price? There is no operator for public transport and therefor no commercial goal to bring changes. Companies for public transport are self-focused and trying to keep themselves in business. They don't think in chain mobility.
Luud Schimmelpennink and Wim Korver agreed that in the near future a new transport system will arise. Thomas Thijssen asked the panel and speakers which concept will be dominant in 2030 and what are drivers for a new transport system.
André Hammer thinks that the need for mobility will decrease by ict. For example, people will work more often at home, because they have a good IT infrastructure at home. Still there will be a big need for transport. A co-operation between government and companies is crucial to make new big projects on mobility successful.
Luud Schimmelpennink thinks that the time of 'heavy' transport means like cars is past. The new time will come up with lightweight products. These products will be below 10 kilos and be small. They won't even look like a bike or a car anymore. Satisfaction of clients is according to him an important driver.
Ronald Mallant is convinced that small transport means will become popular. They will have a maximum speed of 60 k/h. The saving of energy is crucial for new mobility concepts.
Federik Johannes Abbink thinks that the car and airplane will still exist in future. The use of fuel and the bad influence on the environment will decrease. Long distance travelling will increase. He thinks that the driver for a new transport system will be the mentality of people.
Wim Korver is quite sure that the automatic vehicle guidance will be the new transport system. A real innovation and driver will be a positive way of using travelling time. Forecasting technology development needs to be combined with economic and social innovations as well. To evaluate the feasibility do think in functional terms. Transport is a service and not a hardware product. Try to involve the user's view as early as possible in developing a new transport concept. Do experiment in different settings and involve manufacturers.
You can find more about 'the future of Mobility' - please visit:
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