In 2010, large American cities generated almost 85 percent of the American GDP – a contribution far greater than that made by large cities in other countries. But American cities are not only great players on the home turf, they are also hugely important on the global stage – in the next 15 years, 259 large U.S. cities are expected to generate more than 10 percent of the world’s GDP1 . Mid-sized cities are also set for growth – as more and more young people choose an urban lifestyle, medium-sized cities in the U.S. will grow at three times the rate of other urban areas. It is for those reasons that it is now more important than ever that cities and urban areas deal with the problems which have been plaguing them for decades. Half a century of worsening air quality, growing traffic congestion, unsuitable parking, suburban sprawl and deteriorating public transportation infrastructure, has undermined the urban spirit and led to a lower quality of life in American city cores. People living in urban areas are more likely to suffer from stress and fatigue than those living in rural areas and a recent study found urban living raised the risk of anxiety disorders by 21 percent. Yet, many cities are no closer today to solving their problems than they were 20 years ago, even as a new set of challenges, driven by advancements in technology, changing social forces and consumption trends, is starting to emerge.
As the world’s population moves towards urban centers, the result is greater traffic congestion, frustrated travelers and reduced productivity
- CAPACITIES AND CAPABILITIES: As city populations grow and needs of city dwellers change, many of the challenges cities face exceed the capacities and capabilities of their traditional institutions.
- MANY PLAYERS: At the moment, almost all major cities in the U.S. are made up of a number of governmental jurisdictions and a mix of public and private agencies and so the responsibilities for different transportation services are fragmented across various institutions.
- DECISION-MAKING: Transportation decision-making in cities is becoming increasingly difficult. Transportation projects are more costly to implement and finding new revenue streams are getting progressively harder.
- MEETING EXPECTATIONS: Many commuters are increasingly expecting ‘on-demand’ travel – both in the private and public sector.
There are multiple benefits of a shared vision and integrated operations. When two or more agencies can come together to save money, improve operations, increase efficiency and customer satisfaction by sharing operational expenses, they can also create new ways of generating capital. Integration underpinned by technological solutions allows agencies to enjoy improved network efficiency and resource utilization by eliminating the need to manage multiple, unconnected systems. It can also increase individual agencies’ revenue, since well-developed transportation networks promote intermodality among citizens and encourage greater use of public transportation. Finally, stronger coordination with other agencies promotes lower development costs and capital expenditures, through more effective planning of infrastructure, marking a move away from ‘install and operate’ towards a service delivery model.
By adopting the right mindset, focusing on collaboration and open data and adopting multimodal transportation management platforms, such as Cubic Transport Management, cities can empower their citizens to reach their own conclusions about the impact their daily travel choices have on their community and encourage them to make better decisions for themselves and for the city. While Cubic believes technology has a strong part to play in solving the problems of today’s cities, transforming them into smart urban spaces of tomorrow is not merely a question of adopting the newest technologies but a much broader question of organizing strong collaborations between government, agencies and other stakeholders, and bringing people, technology and data together, for the benefit of all.