Sustainable Mobility as the Key to the Mobility Turnaround

At the meeting of the Mobility Competence Group on “Sustainable Mobility: Innovative solutions, new business models, smart projects”, eco joined the discussion on sustainable mobility solutions with various experts from the mobility sector. In the process, a clear picture emerged of what is necessary to make mobility more sustainable and realise the transport turnaround with increased use of digitalisation.

We are on the verge of a mobility turnaround, which we also urgently need in order to achieve the climate protection targets. Improved traffic flows will save up to 50 percent of CO2 emissions in urban car traffic by 2030, an eco study recently showed. Innovative business models, new concepts for intermodal mobility and new technologies are shaping the way ahead. The link between means of transport and the Internet is accelerating the development of ever new sustainable mobility concepts.

The increasing networking of vehicles and access to traffic and customer data are also giving rise to new business approaches along the value chain. Furthermore, there has been a change in the mobility behaviour of users, which has become apparent not least in the last two years. In addition to innovative approaches in individual transport, one of the prerequisites for this mobility turnaround is sustainable offers that are easy to book and use.

This guarantees the success of sustainable mobility in the future: Digital infrastructures as the basis of intelligent transport.

Necessary changes for sustainable mobility

According to the German-language study “A sustainable mobility system for all” by the Wuppertal Institute on behalf of Huawei Technologies Deutschland GmbH, the transport sector causes around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. It is, therefore, indispensable in achieving national climate protection targets. The goal for the transportation transition is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 40% by 2030. However, the transport sector is currently still the sector that will lag somewhat behind in achieving the climate targets if there are no changes. So there is an enormous need for action to get the transport sector on track to meet Germany’s climate target.

Fundamental changes are necessary for this:

Reduce overall traffic volume

This can be achieved through more efficient use of space and virtual mobility, for example through new-work approaches that replace daily commuting and regular business trips with home offices and online meetings.

Traffic conversion from environmentally harmful means of transport to the environmental alliance

An environmental network of walking and cycling, local and long-distance public transport and flexible sharing solutions is indispensable. To achieve this, the attractiveness of these alternatives, especially in comparison to private motorised transport, must be significantly increased. User-friendliness is an important aspect here.

Improve transport modes

This will require a significant increase in efficiency. A change in the way the vehicles function is also essential. In passenger transport, this can be achieved, for example, by switching to electric vehicles.

Specifically, these changes should succeed through the implementation of the following aspects in the mobility sector:

  • Every third car drives climate-neutrally
  • A third less motor vehicle traffic in the cities
  • Reduce parking-search traffic
  • Every second trip by bike, foot, scooter or e-scooter
  • Doubling public transport
  • Logistics: Every third tonne travels climate-neutrally

Digitalisation leads to sustainable mobility

Digitalisation and, above all, the use of relevant data play a central role in the mobility transition, the necessary changes and the associated concrete measures.

The collection, publication and networking of data enable an exchange of information in different areas and at different levels of the mobility sector, which should be used to improve existing mobility offers, develop new ones and, in the long term, design sustainable mobility.

Making sense of real-time information – enabling sustainable mobility

Smart city systems can, for example, also enable traffic monitoring of non-motorised road users. But also data on red light offences, weather data, data from bike and car sharing points, data on incorrectly parked cars and road works, occupancy of public parking spaces, real-time data from public transport or data generated by defect reports on potholes on cycle paths and footpaths can help to make mobility more sustainable and influence the following factors:

  • Demand-oriented transport infrastructure planning
  • Detection of security problems
  • Availability of transport
  • Real-time warnings of pollution
  • Parking-search traffic
  • Availability of bicycle parking facilities
  • Utilisation information
  • Availability of charging stations
  • and more

By making sensible use of such data streams, traffic can be made more consistent and reliable. Mobility can thus be oriented towards the actual needs of road users and link different mobility offers and solutions with each other.

Such data streams can be used, among other things, to improve the planning of transport infrastructure. Planning can be much more demand-oriented and sustainable.

Digitalisation as a prerequisite for sustainable mobility

Data availability plays an important role in the digitalisation of mobility. The requirements for the mandatory quality of the data provided must be designed in such a way that all providers are able to use data in a timely and secure manner. The mobility data marketplace (MDM) is a first step toward integrating data in a central location. Data spaces under the Gaia-X initiative, such as the “Mobility Data Space” can further enhance the exchange of mobility data.

Additional central points of the digitalisation of mobility are information and booking portals, where integrated information on all available transport options including current journey times, prices, etc. can be accessed and easily used in a portal including the booking of multimodal journeys. Mobility hubs are also an important element because a successful environmental network with various mobility solutions needs a suitable physical embedding in digital and analogue infrastructures. In addition, mobility in such places with daily services, such as packing stations or similar can be linked.

Another building block of the digitalisation of mobility is the standardisation of ticketing and fare systems by creating uniform fare structures, regardless of the transport method or destination. This would contribute to a much better user experience and could increase the acceptance of the use of alternatives to motorised private transport.

What is needed for the mobility turnaround and what framework conditions need to be implemented for sustainable mobility?

A fundamental mobility turnaround is essential to tackle the current climate crisis. The experts at the Competence Group (CG) Mobility session agreed that a new mobility system is needed that enables the same mobility with less traffic. Mobility is a basic need and means social participation. This basic need must also be shaped in the future in accordance with the common good. Incentives must be created to generate an active rethink and change in mobility behaviour and at the same time keep the city liveable. In the joint discussion, the mobility experts delivered some points that should be addressed in the implementation of a mobility turnaround.

Enable space for digitalisation

A common data space must support the findability and accessibility of data. Data must be used much more efficiently and more technical prerequisites for digitalisation must be created in various places.

Standardisation of Mobility-as-a-Service solutions

In order to achieve a uniform and sufficient level of service, clear standards are necessary. The current standards for mobility services are not sufficient to establish functional equivalence with private vehicles. The regulatory attractiveness should also be increased so that private on-demand systems can also be used more.

Thinking urban and rural spaces together

It is important not to view cities separately from rural areas and to think about mobility together and link it from the beginning. Solutions are needed that integrate both areas and thus make both living spaces more attractive and guarantee the basic need for mobility. Demand-oriented mobility design can be the key.

The courage to change

There is a need for more openness to innovation and, above all, more courage on the part of politics, industrys and society to implement new solutions and innovations. Outdated and outmoded systems and mobility solutions should be reconsidered and, if necessary, changed. It takes courage to rethink mobility across the board.


Sustainable Mobility as the Key to the Mobility Turnaround