How will we cope with an increasing volume of traffic in the cities of the future? How can alternatives be found in the face of permanent, everyday congestion? How can rural areas share in new transport concepts? These were some of the questions raised by participants in the panel discussion about the future of mobility during the Destination Day at the ITB Berlin Convention.
Transport systems are currently in transition: Car sharing, self-driving vehicles and mobility platforms, electric propulsion, hire bikes, cable cars and other solutions are some of the possible ingredients of the new mobility concepts. Christoph Weigler, General Manager of Uber Germany, expressed his conviction that the solution for the transport of the future has to be found in a portfolio of different possibilities. “If all the products can be easily combined and interlock seamlessly then it will be possible to relieve the pressure on transport and improve travellers’ comfort too”, Weigler stated. For example, Uber, now present in some 600 cities, is expanding its German portfolio to include e-bikes. Weigler commented: “We want to offer the right option for everyone, to enable them to get from A to B.”
As the Deputy Director of the International Business Development Department of Doppelmayr Seilbahnen GmbH, Wolfram Auer is responsible for the African, Indian and European markets. Auer justified his product by stating that going underground, the usual way of coping with transport in large cities, is not practicable everywhere. “With our cable cars we are defining a new level for transport”, Auer commented. His product is ideal for cities of all sizes and can be installed in a short time. “We have just been in Cairo: The city is expanding at a fast pace, and a transport concept that becomes effective in ten years time is of no use.” The Bolivian city of La Paz for example, urgently needs more transport options. A cable car provides a quick solution, and now this same cable car is also a tourist attraction.
Stephan Pfeiffer, who is responsible for strategic partnerships and public affairs for ioki, the new digital branch of Deutsche Bahn, is convinced: “Self-driving vehicles will transform transport!” This is a products that functions equally well in the city and in rural areas, from the shuttle that awaits passengers at the end of their train journey to self-driving buses that can replace sparsely used lines in rural areas. Initial test routes have shown that users’ scepticism can be quickly allayed as they realize that new technology can restore their mobility. All the participants in the discussion agreed that mobility will increase and that it must be made easier for users (locals and tourists alike). The biggest challenge is in the minds of people.