• Mark Ullah

'Electrifying' The Movement of People and Goods in Congested Cities.

There is more than one way to get a package or a person from point A to point B, but the prevailing technique has been to use diesel or petrol-powered vehicles - even for short trips. Although these vehicles have proven useful, and in many cases non-negotiable (e.g. public transport), they're fairly costly.

For Australia, there is significant uncertainty about the rate of uptake of electric vehicles. By 2025, between 6% and 36% of new fleet sales are estimated to be electric vehicles, depending on the level of government intervention however, even with massive uptake in electric vehicles, we're still left with a congestion dilemma.

Australia’s population is highly urbanised. About 59% of our population live in our four

largest cities, with 40% of Australia’s population living in the two cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Cities are becoming gridlocked. According to Infrastructure Australia, the annual cost of road congestion will be $39 Billion by 2031.

Help or hindrance: The digital economy is changing the way people and goods travel, and what we expect from our journeys. Ridesharing, which has been enabled by smart devices, is one example of a customer-focused transport product that responds to user preferences. The popularity of ridesharing is growing in Australia*, while potentially having wide network impacts. The degree to which ridesharing either helps or hinders dealing with urban congestion depends how it is introduced and managed. Whilst they provide highly personalised and convenient transportation choices, they don't always act in the best interest of a city - mostly driven by profitability over sustainable city goals.

Congestion could actually be made worse if ridesharing products are allowed to cannibalise mass transit patronage and occupy scarce CBD kerb space with passenger or parcel pick-ups and drop-offs. This brings into question the role of government in their quest to provide equitable and efficient mobility and freight outcomes.

Movement of Goods: Electric power trains will reduce the total cost of ownership, but vans can still make operations inconvenient and in some cases dangerous. Drivers often have to park in the middle of the road or mount a curb, endangering the driver when stepping out into traffic or putting nearby pedestrians and cyclists at risk. Players across the industry have questioned the dynamic: surely there are alternatives?

Electric motors have brought added speed and convenience to age-old solutions, meaning many last-mile deliveries can be made using a two- or three-wheeler mico-mobility solution. These are cheaper to buy than a fleet of vans, are easier to park when making a delivery, and will not require employees to attain a driving license under the right circumstances. Also, they should help reduce congestion in cities.

Movement of People: The (not so) new kid on the block is micro-mobility. e-Scooters and e-Bikes are providing organisations and riders with new freedom and excitement. Brisbane recently expanded the use of free floating e-Scooter programs like Lime, Neuron and most recently - Beam. All organisations aim to offer e-Scooter and e-Bike options. Cities are waking up to the benefits of micro-mobility and many commercial organisations have started embracing two- or three-wheeler mico-mobility solution to replace or complement their existing last mile delivery solution e.g. Domino's Pizza and Australia Post. Employers round the world are considering mobility budgets over company car benefits and in many countries, people are leaving cars at home in favor of micro-mobility. There is a problem: housing affordability. Many people are forced to live on the outskirts of cities where accessibility to public transport is problematic or not available. This can lead to the need to drive, adding to the congestion problem. Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) is helping to alleviate this problem.

Estimated e-Scooter market to reach $38.57 billion by 2024**

There is no doubt that the e-Scooter market is about to explode. People love the flexibility of micro-mobility but range anxiety, service availability and limited government incentive to connect to public transportation still prevents many owners / users from ditching the eco-friendly option in favor of the car. For last mile delivery of goods, organisations may need to re-think their distribution model and question whether micro-hubs, served by micro-mobility, is a more efficient and sustainable choice.

The balancing act: Not forgetting the flip side of the ledger, governments are responsible for ensuring the availability of power generation as well as transport network capacity as as such, they will face some big new challenges when integrating electric vehicles and charging stations into Cities. Electricity generation or network infrastructure may need to increase substantially to service the recharging requirements of an electric fleet.


#micromobility #sustainability #lastmiledelivery #escooters #ebikes #microhubs

With thanks to:

*IBISWorld 2018, Ridesharing Services - Australia market research report, IBISWorld, viewed 15 June 2021, www.ibisworld.com.au/industrytrends/specialised-market-research-reports/consumer-goods-services/ridesharing-services.html. **grandviewresearch.com

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